Thursday, December 23, 2010

Top ten, part three

And, finally:

3) The National; High Violet
Three is an appropriate number for this one, since I have seen my favorite band perform not just one but three times this year, at Radio City, the Electric Factory, and Prospect Park. This album does not flow as effortlessly as the band's Boxer, which is among my top ten favorite albums ever, but most of the songs are genius. "England" is definitely the best piece of popular music I have listened to in a long time. It's a great album for all moods--the bleak despair of "Afraid of Everyone," the power of "Bloodbuzz Ohio," the dreaminess of "Runaway." Plus, there is a song about zombies that is not cutesy at all. What's not to like?

2) Belle and Sebastian; If You're Feeling Sinister
Though I'd been meaning to before, I never properly listened to Belle and Sebastian until the veryvery end of last year. If You're Feeling Sinister is the album I played constantly at the beginning of 2010; unlike many, it's an album that's worth listening to in order from start to finish. Belle and Sebastian did release a new album this year, Write About Love, which I have purchased, but I haven't listened to it yet since I am trying to listen to all their work in more or less chronological order. I saw them play live at the Williamsburg Waterfront; though the weather forecast had a 100% chance of rain, B and S prevailed with a dry night. I even, thanks to the grace of the security guards, was able to stand to the side and *see* the band, an unusual occurrence owing to my, um, vast height. I look forward to absorbing even more of their music in the coming year.

1) Mumford & Sons; Sigh No More
Mumford takes the top spot here because their songs are so joyous. They are similar to one another, but in a way that makes me feel I'm revisiting an old friend rather than listening to the same tired chords over and over. I saw them in concert and got goosebumps as they played "Awake My Soul"--many of their other songs are just as good and make me feel like I'm able to take on anything. "Awake" most notably, as well as other songs, really helped in my late-year project to, well, awake in the mornings at a much earlier hour, and much more coherently, than in years past, and is perfect to listen to as the sun climbs higher in a winter morning sky. It is also worth mentioning that Sigh No More has some great angry songs; Mumford really does all emotions so that you feel them yourself.

*Honorable mention: Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra
Though this piece was obviously not recorded remotely recently, I had my attention brought to it by C.-- earlier this year (in response to a post I made here, in fact). He could tell you the story behind it much better than I could, but suffice it to say it was a triumph for Bartok, as well as for me! Shostakovich 5 will always be my favorite, but this one's pretty damn close. I saw it live, too (what a lucky year I've had for concerts!) and hope I'll be able to again.

Thanks for reading and later, folks; I'm going to listen to some Sufjan Stevens Christmas carols while it's still the season.


  1. I will have to listen to the National. I've been hearing about them from many people. Also I will listen to Sigh No More because MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING awesomeness. I frequently tell my roommate to sigh no more. I think I've told you this already, I'm playing Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra this semester. Yay!