I admire people like Toby who stick to genuine singles for their year end lists, but I can't do it. It's harder and harder to know what it means anyway. The Fresh & Onlys made a fancy video for "Waterfall" but didn't release it as 7" — is it still a single? (It's not on list anyway, but another of theirs is.) I don't worry about it, clearly, as my #1 was an album cut. An AWESOME album cut. I do still feel singles are meant to be ephemeral. If I'm not listening to some of these tracks next year, that's okay. And when it comes to in-the-moment listening, the poppier, the dancier the better. For the most part. As you will see:
- Club 8 – Dancing with the Mentally Ill [Labrador] MP3
My favorite song of 2010, maybe for the first time, wasn't actually released as a single. Not sure why the best song on Club 8's The People's Record didn't get the 7" treatment, but Labrador Records has never followed conventional label wisdom. Really, who cares… killer bassline, genius production, bongos worthy of Bjorn. I first heard this song in March and have yet to get tired of it. That's the way it is.
- Count & Sinden feat Mystery Jets – After Dark [Domino] MP3 | Video
This collaboration with producers The Count and Sinden is catchier than anything on Mystery Jets' album they released this year. (And it was pretty good.) A hyperactive club track with funky rhythm guitar worthy of Chic, or at least Haircut 100. And it's about booty calls.
- Janelle Monae feat Big Boi – Tightrope [Bad Boy] Video
Janelle Monae's wildly ambitious The ArchAndroid is an easier album to admire than to actually enjoy. "Tightrope," however, is just about perfect. They call that classy brass. And what a video.
- Allo' Darlin - If Loneliness Was Art [Fortuna Pop] MP3 | Video
Indiepop Song of the Year from the Indiepop Album of the Year. It is absolutely astonishing that this album hasn't gotten an official release in America. Sha-la-la, la-la…
- Foals – Total Life Forever (Sub Pop) MP3
Again, not an an actual single but the title track to Foal's triumphant second album. There's a kind of big Trevor Horn vibe to it — listen to the drums on this song — but it's funky and genuinely danceable. Foals used to be easy to like hard to love. Not so hard this time out.
- The Drums – Best Friend [Moshi Moshi] MP3 | Video
Listening to the whole of The Drums' debut album might give some listeners perkiness fatigue (not me), their songs perfect single serving pop delivery devices. Maybe the catchiest on the record, with high replay value.
- Edwyn Collins – Losing Sleep [Heavenly] MP3 | Video
Title track to Edwyn Collins' fantastic new solo album is a worthy successor to "Rip it Up," "Lean Period," "A Girl Like You," and "Magic Piper of Love." There is joie de vivre in every "hoo hoo."
- Breakbot – Baby I’m Yours [Ed Banger] MP3 | Video
I first heard of Breakbot from his genius, '70s-lounging remix of Metronomy's "A Thing for Me" which graced Summer Fridays 2.3 last summer. Real name Thibaut Berland, he's kind of like a non-robot Daft Punk, giving everything a warm beating heart. Like all good Frenchmen, Breakbot is signed to Ed Banger and this is his debut single, one of my favorites of the year so far. The '70s vibe remains. Have you seen the amazing video?
- Avi Buffalo – What’s In It For? [Sub Pop] MP3 | Video
On Sub Pop and, yes, it does kind of sound like the Shins but what a great, great song. Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg is still a year from legal drinking age but seems wise beyond his years, lyrically, and is an indie guitar hero from the Doug Marstch mold. Also an insanely good grasp of melody too.
- Discodeine feat Jarvis Cocker – Synchronize [DFA] MP3
If Jarvis just wanted to guest on disco singles for the rest of his career I would totally be okay with that.
- Unnatural Helpers - Sunshine/Pretty Girls [Hardly Art] MP3 | Video
If you believe this song, Unnatural Helpers will never suffer a Yoko situation. Nothing will stop them from being rock n' roll. I hope not, especially if they keep pumping out grizzed punk hooks like this.
- Reading Rainbow – Wasting Time [Hozac] MP3
Just when you thought you were done with married indie rock duos… Reading Rainbow do it better. Cute but not saccharin, punk and poppy but not punk-pop, with just enough polish to show they mean business. Even on a song about slacking.
- Mark Ronson & Business Intl – Bang Bang Bang [Universal] Video
Young, rich, handsome… crazy talented. Dating Rose Elinor Dougal. You just want to hate Mark Ronson. But this song…the hooks are undeniable.* Plus: Q Tip and MNDR.
- Dum Dum Girls – Bhang Bhang I'm a Burnout [Sub Pop] MP3 | Video
Back to back B(h)angs on the list. The look, the sound, the songs…Dee Dee's got it all figured out. One of the many standouts on Dum Dum Girls' debut LP.
- Wild Nothing – Chinatown [Captured Tracks] MP3 | Video
Pulled along by a rippling mellotron riff, this is for sure the standout track on Wild Nothing's very good, if samey debut. This one's different.
- Hundred in the Hands – Young Aren't Young [WARP] MP3
Not a single, but my favorite THITH song so far, the lead track on their eponymous debut LP. Though totally out of fashion with what's going on in their Williamsburg neighborhood, this is slinky, sexy, cool.
- Translations – The Wanderer/The MO [Ampeater] MP3
This free downloadable single from Brooklyn upstarts Translations rocked both "sides" with their Flying Nun/GBV vibe. Cannot wait to hear more.
- Klaxons – Twin Flames [Modular] MP3 | Video
While I found Klaxons' second album to be a disappointment, "Twin Flames" has all the elements I love about them: romance, bizarre sci-fi lyrics, anthemic choruses, a otherworldly shuffle groove. Oh, and a sick video.
- Gold Panda – Snow and Taxis [Ghostly] | MP3 | Video
Glitchy, ethereal, yet eminently danceable. A real stunner from GP's Lucky Shiner.
- Warpaint - Undertow [Rough Trade] MP3 | Video
This song starts off so unassuming, that little guitar riff, but it builds and builds…it took a few months for this song — and the album its on — to sink it's hooks in me but it has done so deeply. It's got me in the…oh you get it.
- LCD Soundsystem – I Can Change [DFA] MP3 | Video
James Murphy doesn't even try to hide his influences — this is Eurythmics' "Love is a Stranger" with some major Gary Numan going on — but that has never stopped LCD from being great in their own right. By all rights I should be sick of this song already… but it still sounds soooo good.
- The Besnard Lakes – Like The Ocean Like the Innocent [Jagjaguwar] | MP3
"Epic" was one of 2010 most over/misused words, but it's the only one that aptly describes the opening salvo on The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night. If you don't get it, you haven't listened to it loud enough.
- Richard James – When You See Me (In the Pouring Rain) [Turnstile] MP3 | Video
No, not the Aphex Twin guy. This Richard James was in Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and has just released his first solo album, and if you were a fan of his old band you're gonna like this too. Supercatchy standout.
- The Tony Castles – Black Girls in Dresses [Famous Class} MP3 | Video
I refer to my Favorite EPs writeup: "Dreamy keyboard-heavy pop with a dose of funk lite brings to mind Prefab Sprout. Too much music this year banked on warm vibes, but Tony Castles understand That Summer Feeling without having to mention the beach, sun or surfing." Especially on this one. Definitely one of the year's more under-appreciated songs.
- The Fall – Bury Pts 2 + 4 [Domino] MP3 | Video
This was a Record Store Day only single, a condensed version of the increasingly polished takes on the song that is on Your Future Our Clutter. This edit never came out digitally I don't think, so I did my best to recreate it. I love The Fall and can find quality in all their releases but… MES is back on his game for real.
- The Fresh & Onlys – Vanishing Cream [Plastic Spoons] MP3 | Video
A very good year for this band, and this was them at their catchiest. Weirdly, only released in France. It's about time for them to release a Louder Than Bombs.
- James Blake – CMKY [R&S] MP3
From my EPs writeup: "It's like listening to someone tune between radio stations and making it work as music on its own. Of the many records Blake released this year, 'CMYK' was the most mesmerizing."
- Blur – Fool’s Day [Parlophone/EMI] MP3 | Video
This was released as a single for Record Store Day (as well as a free download), the first new song from Blur in seven years and easily their best, Blur-iest since "Coffee and TV." If they just want to release sporadic singles every six months or so, that's fine by me. Especially if they're as good as this.
The rest of the list after the jump…
29. Catwalk – Please Don't Break Me [Captured Tracks] MP3
This is like some lost '80s College Radio classic, jingle jangle like Miracle Legion or the dBs, crazy catchy, over and out in three and a half minutes.
30. Spoon – Mystery Zone [MERGE] MP3
Has anyone ever set this song to footage from the last season of LOST? It would work. Spoon continue to make great records, even while we take them for granted.
32. Yuck – Georgia [Fat Possum] MP3 | Video
All band's first singles should be this good. The chorus… jeebus, I mean, so catchy. If you like Teenage Fanclub and Pains of Being Pure at Heart, here's your next favorite band.
34. Bat for Lashes w/ Beck – Let’s Get Lost [Chop Shop/Atlantic] MP3
This will probably be the only thing every associated with the Twilight movies that I will truly love until Warpaint do a song. Which is inevitable.
35. La Sera – Never Come Around [Hardly Art] MP3 | Video
Vivian Girls should just break up. All the splinter groups are better. This is Katy's other (new) thing, and easily the best thing she's done since the Frankie days of VGs.
36. Ariel Pink's Haunted Grafitti – Round and Round [4AD] MP3 | Video
Clearly not my #1 Song of the Year, but you can't stop the press. Still, a pretty great fake '70s soft rock jam nonetheless. I look forward to his next, genuinely hi-fi album.
37. The Jameses – Rat People [Self-Released/Captured Tracks] MP3
Florida seems to finally be escaping the MMC/Limp Bizkit/Marylin Manson stigma, with actual great bands. We'll see how the Jameses fare, but this first single is terrific, jamming on an almost Spacemen 3 type riff — thick with keyboards, guitars and reverb — but with a distinct joyous party vibe.
38. Shrag – Tights in August [Where It's At is Where You Are] MP3
Indiepop can be a bit of a dirty word but SHRAG are flying the flag defiantly, with some balls too. Like Comet Gain, these folks deserve a bigger audience beyond the cardigan crowd. This Comet Gain-esque track is maybe Shrag's easiest access.
39. Soft Moon – Breath the Fire [Captured Tracks] MP3
We are in classic goth territory here, with a great propulsive groove (and whispered vocals) that would be perfect for the soundtrack of Neuromancer if they ever made a movie out of that. Somebody get on that.
40. Sky Larkin – Year Dot [Wichita] MP3
Not only is this danceable and hook-laden, it's one of Katie Harkin's best lyrics if you ask me. "Two piles of bones so they know we were friends"… BRILLIANT. This track may move higher as the months move on.
41. Magic Bullets – Lying Around [Mon Amie] MP3
Like garage rock, this sort of danceable indiepop — Orange Juice dripped on its sleeve — never seems to go away. There's always a few bands doing it, though most of them don't have any umph behind them. Not so with Magic Bullets who have great tunes, solid musicianship and production that has just enough balls.
42. Darwin Deez – Constellations [Lucky Number] MP3 | Video
Like a more danceable Strokes, Darwin Deez has basically been ignored in America damn if his record has been stuck in heavy rotation since early summer. Look past his look — this guy is crazy talented.
43. Gold-Bears – Tally [Magic Marker] MP3
I'm a sucker for the slightly sloppy jangle and Gold-Bears are in firm (meaning loose) control of this, the A-side to their new single on Magic Marker. They've got a way with melody too, a little bit in the Pains of Being Pure at Heart school of anthemic choruses.
44. Cherry Ghost – We Sleep on Stones [Heavenly] MP3
Like the melding of Elbow and Richard Hawley (or I Am Kloot), Cherry Ghost make anthemic, textured rock music that doesn't scream "SOCCER MOM!!!" Virtually ignored in America. If you dig this –and you should — please check out their LP Beneath This Burning Shoreline.
45. Spectrals – Peppermint [Moshi Moshi] MP3 | Video
Jarman Brothers, move over. There's a new man in Wakefield. His name's Louis Jones and Reverb-drenched, but in a Phil Spector kind of way, Spectrals' sound like old favorites you've never heard before. This was arguably the best of his many 2010 singles.
46. For Ex-Lovers Only – Coffin [Magic Marker] MP3
When you name after a Black Tambourine song, your debut single comes with high expectations. "Coffin" doesn't disappoint.
47. Jacuzzi Boys – Bricks or Coconuts [Mexican Summer] MP3
While definitely within the garage milieu, there's definitely more going on here with this Miami's Jacuzzi Boys. "Bricks and Coconuts" is less blown-out sounding than most of their brethren, with a strong post-VU New York vibe with them — Television and The Feelies are pretty obvious influences here I think. This bests anything on last year's No Seasons.
48. Holy Ghost – Static on the Wire [DFA] MP3
This duo are maybe the most overtly disco of DFA's stable of artists and I'm really digging their debut EP, this being the title track. Featuring the funky keys of Juan Maclean… I am particularly defenseless against a clavinet.
49. Wavves – Supersoaker [Fat Possum] MP3
See, there were good songs under all that sludgy non-production. Dennis Herring (who worked on Camper Van Beethoven LPs amongst others) produced Wavves new album, which is really good. "Super Soaker" has an almost My Bloody Valentine thing going on, yeah?
50. Woven Bones – I Gotta Get [Hardly Art] MP3
Woven Bones first single for Hardly Art easily trumps anything on their recently-released album on Hozac. Where that LP was a fine exercise in sound and style, "I've Gotta Get" is an actual catchy song. Looking forward to more of them.
51. Two Wounded Birds – On My Lonesome [Holiday] MP3
Lost soundtrack to a '60s teen angst drag race movie. This was the best single released on Holiday Records, the free download singles label started by Jacob of The Drums, and Two Wounded Birds will be the second release on sister label Holiday Friends…early next year.
51. Hot Chip – I Feel Better [DFA/EMI] MP3 | Video
I still can't listen to this song without thinking of "La Ilsa Bonita" but I think if I heard Madge's song, I would also think of Hot Chip which is something. I prefer the "I Feel Bonnie" version of the song with Bonnie Prince Billy on lead vocals.
52. The Title Sequence – Lovers [Moshi Moshi] MP3 | Video
I put this on my mostly-in-French Summer Fridays 3.7 mix, this being one of the English languge tracks on it, but it's got that sort of Frenchy feel nonetheless. Kind of like The Aluminum Group. Lovely first taste, can't wait for more.
53. Family Trees – Dream Talkin’ [Father Daughter] MP3
Another band that evoke That Summer Feeling in the right way. This could've been on the Endless Summer soundtrack. I love the chord change in the "ooh wee ooh" chorus.
54. Twin Shadow – I Can’t Wait [Terrible] MP3
Looking like a modern day Phil Lynott, George Lewis Jr makes pigeonhole-defying music. (Though he does clearly love The 80s") Let's just call it Very Good.
55. Bon Homme – Mother [Fake Diamond] MP3 | Video
Bon Homme is the pseudonym of Tomas Høffding of Danish band WhoMadeWho. His solo material is a little more electropop that his band's music, but no less catchy. As you can hear on this great single. You should also watch the hilarious video.