I didn't think I was going to end up doing one of these end of the year lists for 2010 because I simply didn't listen to enough new music in the past year to justify believing that my opinion on the year's music matters, but then I decided that maybe the fact that I was actively avoiding new music this year means the music I did enjoy in 2010 must stand out in some way.
SO, here is my list which is short, in no particular order, and by no means meant to be comprehensive for the entire year of 2010:
Netherfriends - Barry and Sherry
I have never not been impressed with a Netherfriends release. The man behind this band, Shawn Rosenblatt, recently decided to throw in the towel in the working world and try out being a full-time musician the good ol' fashioned way -- through relentless touring, a no-choice-in-the-matter DIY attitude, and any excuse he can find to remain productive, and it all shows on this album.
The self-recorded production is of a higher quality than ever before and the content is larger (though still filled to the brim with shit-talk), but manages to communicate itself as simply as a grade-school student stretching himself as thin as he can in order to raise his hand higher than everyone else in the classroom, in hopes that someone will eventually call on him.
Baths - Cerulean
While every other chillwave band this year was spending their time digging through old records looking for drum machine beats not too overlayed with everything that sucked about the 80's to keep them from sampling it, this kid was taking advantage of the same laptop-makes-it-easy technique as everyone else, only he was creating something a little too heavy to just sit and bob your head to, something more like all of those early hip-hop producers intended when they invented the art of sampling as we know it today.
Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk - Skeletor & Me
Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk are one of the best bands you don't remember you heard at that one house show where you saw them open up for so-and-so but you couldn't remember their name or you didn't understand what they said when they said their band name through their effect-pedaled microphone... and I think they prefer it that way.
On Skeletor & Me, BBDDM dwells somewhere just outside of those late 90's emo instrumentals, always considering a complete collapse into an absolute mess of sound, leaving us wondering if that was the guitar, the keyboard, or the sampler making all of that noise. Yet, despite all of the confusion caused by the quick construction and deconstruction of sound layers, there is still something recognizable that hides deep enough to keep you from putting a finger on what it is exactly this band reminds you of.
Panda Bear - The Singles
Panda Bear is often given credit for inventing chillwave, an honor which he rejected via a stream of 7" singles completely unlike everything everyone loved about Person Pitch.
Candy Claws - Hidden Lands
What a perfect album title. This band seems entirely uninfluenced, instead deciding to explore locations where others only dream of as they stare, overwhelmed, at the synthesizer wall at Guitar Center trying to decide which one will be the easiest to figure out.
Hidden Lands manages to make recorded music sound like jungle acoustics so natural and beautiful that people would even close their eyes to a utopian landscape in order to completely focus on what they are hearing.
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Deerhunter finally made an album that sounds as completely good as the high points in previous albums always suggested they could be. They finally seemed to complete their sound. This album does nostalgia and throwback as well as anyone else without dwelling too long in the past.
Ocean Age - Forest EP
I got really lucky with this one, stumbling upon this band at a show I went to within the first few weeks of moving to Portland. This band is a perfect example of why I wish more music students listened to Animal Collective.