The end is nigh’, and so is this bout of yearly music. It doesn’t really signify the end of music, but it is a good chance to name the top 10 of the year.

10. Surfer Blood – Astro Coast
Astro Coast is a totally rad surf pop album. With so many teenage surf angst albums, its hard to filter out the good stuff. Surfer Blood seem to have got this fun party vibe but also managed to keep the album from going to loud, settling with a pretty chilled style. The album is basically “chill”, lyrics like “Take It Easy“, in the track… “Take It Easy”, lyrics aside, the small things like the coconut like percussion, and the crisp flow of the album, are both something to marvel on. There’s something weird about albums about surfing, or have surf connotations, you don’t have to be a surfer to understand. There is something profoundly relaxing, maybe its the harmonics, or the echoes, but Surfer Blood capture this, and at the same time play energetic music. Unfortunately, winter isn’t the ideal time to listen to Surfer Blood, so I’ll probably put them on hold till summer, but this album defined my summer.
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9. Sleigh Bells – Treats
Sleigh Bells are awesome. Pure unrelentless sound, that pounds your ear drums into a painfully good coma. The guitars in overdrive, and huge drums backing it all up, Sleigh Bells produce loud aggressive dance music. Something that I haven’t heard since Death From Above 1979. Opening tracks “Tellum“, which is arguably one of the best intro’s ever, with metal like power and the sweet pop grace of Alexis Krauss’s vocals, it’s like “My Little Pony” meets “Apocalypse Now”. The whole album keeps this power going throughout the album, not backing down once, and without becoming repetitive. One track that truly blew me away was, “Crown On the Ground“, which was totally fucking awesome. The hectic rush and pop powered force is something that can’t be forgotten. Signed to M.I.A’s label, you can tell why she got them, I really hope I don’t over play this.
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8. Four Tet – There Is Love In You
This album is a real change for Four Tet, it’s still done in his unique style, but its more structured. Tracks like “A Joy” from “Everything Ecstatic”, that where definitely more scattered, have changed into something more harmonious, like “Angel Echoes”. “Angel Echoes” is an excellent opener, it gets the album going but paces it, the album really kicks off with “Love Cry”, that builds for a good 4 minutes before the killer vocals kick in. The whole album is quiet but definitely has a dance element to it. This especially with tracks like “Sing“, which has a bleep like synth that contrasts with the raw feel of the song. Four Tet keeps the track at a steady pace, not going to fast, which works really well, and the overall more structured style definitely makes it more accessible and easier to listen to.
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7. Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here
Gil Scott-Heron’s return to music this year was definitely one of the highlights. Even for those, like myself, who had not heard his previous work. Gil Scott-Heron is an elusive character, not turning up to gigs, and rarely appearing to the music media. This partly makes “I’m New Here” so brilliant, it doesn’t need any promotion, it sells it self. Its not often you can comment on such emotion with in an album, the two tracks “On Coming From A Broken Home”, part 1 and 2, which are both spoken word over a beat that sounded like one of Dilla’s. The pure honesty and soul of the two put the album into a context that makes everything right. The sound of the album is essentially jazz/blues, with a modern edge. Album banger “New York Is Killing Me”, which has been covered by various hip hop heads, is amazing in its own right. Its stripped bare style, gives Herons soulfully rough voice a lead that it rightfully deserves.
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6. Beach House – Teen Dream
On a more smooth tone, Beach House’s “Teen Dream”, stole our hearts, and took us to a nicer place. Beach House made an album that captured both a quiet but powerful record. Vocalist, Victoria Legrand, has an unbelievably low voice, which gives Beach House their uniqueness. However it is not pure biological advantage Beach House have, their ability to write incredible pop songs is also an aid. Their simple guitar, and quiet fuzz works amazingly. Despite the albums name, “Teen Dream”, it has quite a gothic feel, and a definite dark side to Beach House is present in this album. Without a doubt one of the defining albums this year, Beach House have created their own sound that sets them from the rest.

5. Baths – Cerulean
I seriously can’t tell you how much I’m in love with this album. It maintains a soft hearted approach to this disjointed electronica, based solely on programmed beats and samplers. In comparison with the other electronica artists in this genre, mainly Brainfeeder, who have focused more on a hip hop side, and a little darker, Baths has created his own interpretation. With overlapping beats and sampled vocals, which I believe to be his own, Baths creates a planned mess of sound that has your head unintentionally bobbing along. One particular track, “Aminals”, really got me. I have never heard a song that actually feels childish, obviously the track title suggests this, but it has this upbeat feel that is perfectly set to the sampled guitar.

4. Caribou – Swim

Caribou came back this year with a brilliant alternative dance album. It’s hard to describe this album as simply a ‘dance’ album, as its not strictly true. It’s pretty funky, the beginning track “Odessa” has the best guitar that really should of been used more. The album actually feels a tincey bit like the Chemical Brothers, “Sun”, definitely replicates this. Despite this, Caribou keeps the things that made him so great with “Andorra”, this summery psychedelic vibe, but definitely with a more 80′s dance feel. The album is one of those albums that feels nutritious to listen to. It feels complete, and taking into account the time that Caribou took on it, he definitely made sure it was what he wanted to make. I can see many remix’s coming off this, and rightly so, this should not be forgotten anytime soon.

3. Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma
Now to the final three, starting with Flying Lotus. Flying Lotus has killed it this year, gigging relentlessly, releasing an LP and an EP, on top of that he’s been managing his label Brainfeeder. Flying Lotus is truly a master in his own game, and an influence on a vast number of contemporary artists today. “Cosmogramma”, is amazing, it’s trippy weed fueled expeditions sounds like what the Beatles may have done with “Yellow Submarine” if they were more into electronica at the time. In fact, if you listen to “Pepperland” from “Yellow Submarine“, you can see some massive similarities, more importantly the strings. “Comsmogramma”‘s mixture of electronic, gameboy like sounds, and orchestral music, that sounds like something out of very old romantic films. Flying Lotus, manages to conduct this sounds to work impeccably. You can see he takes a great influence from J Dilla, with the suppressed drums and odd times that various samples appear. The album is actually quite long, which gives Fly Lo to really show what he can do. Each track is different to the other, whilst maintaining the flow of any other blinding album.

2. Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner
Gold Panda has remained quiet secretive of his releases, not much is known about him, apart that he’s from Chelmsford and like music from the great east. Incorporating sounds from China, India and Japan, he has an eye for culture. Before releasing “Lucky Shiner“, he was noted for “Quitters Raga”, which is an outstanding electronic track that manipulates this amazing vocal track. “Lucky Shiner” is more subtle, less in your face than “Quitters Raga“. Apart from “You”, the clear single of the album, “Lucky Shiner” strays away from the sampley stigma he could be landed with, and heads in a more dance felt direction. Tracks like “Vanilla Minus”, “Snow & Taxis”, and “Marriage” would all feel very at home in a club, but at the same time, in your car or in your room. Gold Panda doesn’t just stick with this though, he does manage to capture a more emotional side to the album, which is surprising. “I’m With You But I’m Lonely”, builds from a quiet pizzicato violin sample to a crashing drum machine.

1. Bonobo – Black Sands
At number 1, is Bonobo, Black Sands. I remember when I found out that he was releasing a new LP, I didn’t think to much of it. His last few were mainly chilled hip hop, not much different to other artists in his genre. When I listened to Black Sands I was blown away. It’s got substance, there’s more than a crackling drum beat. There’s violins, piano’s, whole orchestra’s, all crafted into the sickist hip hop/electronica album of the year. Tracks like “Kiara”, a dark but uplifting song, you can hear so many sounds. Violins leading the way, whilst the drum beat drives the track forward. Truly a great way to start an album, it sounds like the beginning of something. The album progresses with a chilled tone, reminiscent of his previous work. This time there’s a difference, its more focused on the track as a whole rather than individual sounds. The album feels like a breath of fresh air, it dips into nature like sounds and even has some woodwind instruments which add an interesting spin on things. All whilst keeping a dance like edge on it, Black Sands is simply great music, the electronic side of Bonobo really shines through, which has definitely made the album more creative. It doesn’t feel “samey” each track carries a particular tone. One that really got my attention was “We Could Forever”, which has this echoey like guitar, and amazing sub-bass. Its considerably faster than the other tracks, and feels pretty tropical. This is a surprising album of the year for me, if someone asked me if Bonobo would be mine for 2010, I would of said that its unlikely. However Bonobo has come through with a blinding electronic album, the use of more acoustic instruments alongside programmed beats has never sounds so good.