Saturday, January 1, 2011

Top 10 of '10!

It's a new year, so, as a music lover, I'm required to give my annual Top 10 list. Of course, I think these Top 10 lists are bogus. I mean, how many musical projects were released in the past year? Thousands? Millions? And how many of them did I hear? Only a very small non-zero fraction of them. What are the odds that I've actually heard the "best" release of 2010? Very slim. So I guess to be more accurate, this would be a list of my favorite 10 musical projects released in calendar year 2010 that I was able to hear in calendar year 2010. So, in no particular order, here's my list:

1. Hey Champ - Star. Learned of these guys through an animated gif of a lady with dolphins for boobs, which turned out to be extracted from a music video from this band, which turned out an album's worth of excellent dreamy synth pop. Ear candy.

2. Wizwars - Telstar Arcade. 2010 is the year I really "got into" chiptunes. I discovered the genre in 2008, but it wasn't until this year that I really began to appreciate it for reasons other than novelty. Wizwars is a regular over at The Shizz (my Internet hangout of choice lately), and after falling in love with his Game Boy Rock! Special Edition CD, I became a bonafide "fan." He writes catchy, dancey chiptunes, generally on Game Boy target hardware. Lots of funky sounds and beats and catchy melodies. Telstar Arcade is his latest, and is quite a bit darker than most of his previous stuff I've heard, which isn't at all a bad thing. Still groovy, just .. darker. I like it.

3. B.o.B - B.o.B Presents the Adventures of Bobby Ray. 2009 is the year I first started getting into mainstream hip-hop of the modern era (that is, post-early-90's), and B.o.B unleashed this ambitious debut on us this year, led by his awesomely catchy hit single "Nothin on You." The album runs a pretty wide gamut of stylistic blending, from old-school R&B, to fuzzy pop-punk, to whatever you call the trippy "Fifth Dimension," to good old fashioned straight-up southern rap. Lots of fun stuff, but also just plain very creative and enjoyable, with moments of poignancy.

4. Various Artists - A Chip off the Shizz Block, Volume Two. Okay, yeah, I know I was part of this .. but I still really like it. Actually, now that I think about it, it was listening to this in my car that really cemented my love for the chiptune genre. The quality of some of the stuff on here is kind of spotty, but the good stuff is really good.

5. Marina and the Diamonds - The Family Jewels. I was pointed to this talented young lady by the folks at the Progressive Ears message board while debating the merits of Lady Gaga. She's young and pretty, which is probably part of why she's gotten as far as she's gotten, but she writes and performs catchy piano-driven pop music with enthusiasm and quirkiness that I like.

6. Rush - "Caravan" b/w "BU2B". Rush is currently in a 3-way tie for my favorite band at the moment (with Camel and Anglagard), and this is their latest effort, a little preview of an album their working on, called Clockwork Angels. Maybe to be released in 2011? Who knows. Anyway, they released this as a digital download, and I guess you can mail-order a CD or something. I like it .. it seems right on par with the best stuff from their last album, Snakes & Arrows. I look forward to hearing more.

7. Sunstroke Project (with Olia Tira) - "Run Away". Lol wut? Okay, so I got completely hooked on this song via the EPIC SAX GUY Internet phenomenon. The song is cheesy and the EPIC SAX GUY is completely ridiculous, but dang the song is catchy. Well worth the $0.99. I think.

8. Norrin_Radd - Anomaly. Chiptune death metal from another fellow Shizzie. Well, chiptune death/prog/tech-metal. With sci-fi lyrics. Very busy and dense. Well done, but I'm not sure it's really "my kinda thing."

9. Jake Kaufman - Shantae: Risky's Revenge OST. Aka "virt", Kaufman has been a busy boy in the video game industry doing sound design & music & whatnot. This is the soundtrack to the long-awaited follow-up to the Game Boy cult classic "Shantae." Kaufman did a very memorable (and equally cult-classic) sountrack to the original, and he did a very nice soundtrack here as well. I'm not sure it stands out quite as much compared to the original, but it's still pretty good. I haven't really had much of a chance to absorb it yet.


Huh, well I can't think of any other 2010 releases that I actually heard this year, so I guess I'll have to stop it at 9. Hey, it's better than the ~3 I got to in 2009, and the 1 I got to in 2008! Maybe I'll have a whole 10 at the end of 2011. I know I'll have at least one, the latest chiptune collection from Disasterpeace entitled Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar. Spacy, proggy, intricate .. good stuff. And released JUST TODAY. See how relatively cutting edge I am? lol

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