Thursday, December 30, 2010

InRO Feature: Year in Review - Top 20 Albums (Staff)

I hate to be so hasty after such a great year for music, but I really have little else to add as far as commentary goes for InRO's Top 20 Albums of 2010 list. I obviously contributed to the proceedings, writing up eight of the records included (and casting my vote for a few others which I'm glad found a place), but with a 2.5 hour End of Radio podcast set to drop this weekend--during which Brian and I talk at length about the year in music-- I'm quite frankly exhausted. So much so that I can't even really begrudge the inclusion of Taylor Swift or Kanye West at the top spot of our list (though I do smell a conspiracy), or fret over the missed opportunity of honoring some of the great drone records of the year (see: Emeralds; Oneohtrix), particularly when such modern classics as Going Places and Paul's Tomb: A Triumph found the support necessary to climb into our top ten. There really was an embarrassment of riches this year, and so it goes I suppose that we spread the wealth a little bit. In any case, there is more than enough here to appeal to all kinds of sensibilities. And in case you missed it, don't forget to check out my solo top ten albums feature and complete top 15 Yearbook entry (which is the list I submitted for this InRO feature). Hope you enjoy.

InRO Feature: Year in Review - Top 20 Films (Staff)

We're closing out the year at InReviewOnline over the next couple of days. This weekend brings the final End of Radio podcast of the year-- a countdown of the 15 best albums of 2010-- but today our staff polls have been revealed for both film and music. Our top 20 films list is kind of a mixed bag in my view-- certainly no bad films, but a handful of solid films by great filmmakers (see: Shutter Island, True Grit, and Black Swan-- even Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl, which is actually very good, but like a lot of Oliveira's most recent work, relatively minor when contrasted with his great late-December release, The Strange Case of Angelica, my #1 film of the year, which enough of our staff just obviously didn't get a chance to see in time) which slid their way in through the consensus-built process of averaging out individual writer's top 10/15/20 lists.

Beyond that, it's mostly all pretty great (and there's really no point arguing our top three films-- seriously legit), though it's unfortunate that some of the year's tougher offerings-- such as Harmony Korine's underground gutter-film homage Trash Humpers or Alain Resnais' dizzyingly brilliant Wild Grass-- were excluded in favor of, say, the visually interesting but hollow Amer or a couple of documentaries (October Country, Exit Through the Gift Shop) that are enthralling but aren't what I would consider amongst the best of a very strong 2010 non-fiction field (do yourself a favor and seek out Last Train Home, Sweetgrass, or Henri Georges-Clouzot's Inferno for examples of a few that just missed out on my personal list). Perhaps because of this, I didn't contribute a capsule to this feature, though I did vote and feel that, at the very least, each of these films is worthy of consideration. Anyway, decide for yourself, but after such a scatter-shot twelve months, it'll be nice to welcome 2011, a year which is already lining some of the best films in recent memory. Prepare accordingly.

Friday, December 24, 2010

InRO Feature: Year in Review 2010 - Staff Lists: Jordan Cronk (Music)

I revealed my fifteen favorite albums of 2010 yesterday via my annual Yearbook entry, but today at InReviewOnline I go all in with a good 3,500 words on my official top 10, along with some thoughts on five songs that helped define the year for me. I don't really have much to add that I don't already touch on in at least some fashion in this feature, so all I can really do is point you over there. When you're done though, I'd recommend browsing some of our other staff lists as well, since the diversity on display is really indicative of the quality we were consistently offered this year. And keep an eye out next week for our staff-wide lists of the best films and albums of 2010. To my mind, however, you can't do much better than these ten. Merry Christmas and happy listening.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Yearbook (Music): 2010

• 2010 - 2019 •
• 2010 • 201120122013 • 2014 •
• 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 •

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti / Before Today
Beach House / Teen Dream
Emeralds / Does It Look Like I’m Here?
Flying Lotus / Cosmogramma
Four Tet / There is Love in You
Frog Eyes / Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph
Menomena / Mines
Nina Nastasia / Outlaster
Joanna Newsom / Have One on Me
Oneohtrix Point Never / Returnal
Swans / My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky
Sharon Van Etten / epic
Women / Public Strain
Yellow Swans / Going Places
Zs / New Slaves

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Yearbook (Film): 2010

• 2010 - 2019 •
• 2010 • 201120122013 • 2014 •
• 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 •

Alamar / Pedro González-Rubio
Around a Small Mountain / Jacques Rivette
Bluebeard / Catherine Breillat
Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl / Manoel de Oliveira
Everyone Else / Maren Ade
Mother / Bong Joon-ho
Ne change rien / Pedro Costa
Our Beloved Month of August / Miguel Gomes
Secret Sunshine / Lee Chang-dong
The Social Network / David Fincher
The Strange Case of Angélica / Manoel de Oliveira
Trash Humpers / Harmony Korine
Unstoppable / Tony Scott
White Material / Claire Denis
Wild Grass / Alain Resnais

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

InRO Feature: Year in Review 2010: Home Movies - International DVD & Blu-Ray Releases

We're kicking off our year-end festivities over at InReviewOnline today with myself and Kathie Smith's lengthy look back at the year in DVD & Blu-Ray releases. Kathie was kind enough to let me pitch her this last minute idea for her Home Movies column and it all fell into place rather easily. To come up with the actual list, we each selected our own personal favorites of the year, of which we overlapped on ten. So those ten provided the bulk of the feature, while the remaining five were divied up between the two of us, with me picking up three and Kathie rounding out the last two. Of course, with so many great companies coming to the rescue of so many classic films, we obviously couldn't include everything. Some others worth considering are the BFI's handsome packages of two Maurice Pialat masterpieces, A nous amours and Under the Sun of Satan; Second Sight's digital debut of R.W. Fassbinder's resurrected World on a Wire; Eureka/Masters of Cinema's pristine renderings of Jia Zhangke's modern classic The World and Kon Ichikawa's late-50s gem The Burmese Harp; and the many other great Criterion releases, including The Night of the Hunter, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, The Thin Red line, The Magician, Paths of Glory, and the 3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg box set. Nevertheless, these are our 15 favorites, and it's just the tip of the iceberg for our upcoming "Year in Review" features. Keep an eye out in the coming days for our various editor's year-end lists for film and music, including my own top 10 albums of the year on Friday. [InRO]

(Note: For archiving purposes, I've included my personal contributions to this column below. Please follow the link provided above to read the entire feature - JC)

Letters from Fontainhas: Three Films by Pedro Costa [DVD] (Criterion; Region A)

I feel there could be some debate amongst Kathie and myself over the very best Blu-Ray release of the year, but with that being said, I’m fairly confident in stating our joint opinion on the merits of “Letters from Fontainhas: Three Films by Pedro Costa”, without question the most important and essential DVD package of 2010. Arguably the most rigid formalist amongst current art-house luminaries, Costa’s extreme neo-realist portraits of the impoverished and since demolished Lisbon outskirt slum known as Fontainhas are the stuff of festival legend, and only with this Criterion box set are they now receiving Stateside availability. 1997s “Ossos” is the most narratively traditional of the trilogy, detailing the disquieting relationship between a desperate young couple and their newborn child. However, it was the arrival of “In Vanda’s Room” in the year 2000 that announced the importance of Costa the international artiste. With its strict, almost documentary formalism, the film saw Costa recruiting actual Fontainhas residents—including the titular Vanda—to more or less live their daily existence in front of his patient, probing lens. One of the few directors to internalize Abbas Kiarostami’s method of disintegrating the space between documentary and narrative filmmaking, Costa would refine these techniques with 2006s “Colossal Youth”, which turns its focus to the deity-like Ventura, who haunts the abandoned remnants of the town with a magnetic solemnity that resolves as a kind of lament for this troubled but vivid area of third world Portugal. The box set is equally impressive, featuring multiple interviews with Costa and Jean–Pierre Gorin about each film’s development, video chats with a handful of critics and crew members, a documentary on Costa as he returns to the demolished Fontainhas, a video installation piece, and two short films, among other things. While a great deal of ink gets spilled every year on resurrected classics entering the digital realm, I think equally it’s important to be aware that some of the most substantial works in modern cinema still have trouble reaching other shores. “Letters from Fontainhas: Three Films by Pedro Costa” is a love letter not only to a lost region, but also to modern cinephiles, who thrive on packages as complete and indispensible as this.

Profound Desires of the Gods
[Blu-Ray] (Eureka – Masters of Cinema; Region B)

A lot of the film’s you’ll be reading about on this list will have made the cut because of pristine picture quality and/or an immersive number of extras. Eureka’s resurrection of Shohei Imamura’s grandiose 1968 epic “Profound Desires of the Gods” does in fact sport a wonderful transfer, but the simple fact that this film is arriving in digital format in, honestly, any fashion, is a remarkable occurrence (a subtle excerpt from Glenn Kenny’s Blu-Ray review: “Holy s**t. Yes, holy s**t. As in, holy s**t.”). Arriving hot on the heels of his awesome run of mid-60s Japanese new-wave classics—consult Criterion’s indispensible early Imamura box set from last year, “Pigs, Pimps & Prostitutes” for further reference—“Profound Desires of the Gods”, with its taboo-busting incest subplot, gaudy color schematics, and indulgent 3-hour runtime, effectively thwarted Imamura’s rise to popular prominence. His next narrative film, 1979s “Vengeance is Mine”—also released this year by Eureka and equally essential viewing; think of this as a vote for both—wouldn’t arrive for eleven years. But in many ways this feels like the culmination of Imamura’s initial burst, exaggerating all the tension (“Intentions of Murder”), irreverent humor (“Pigs and Battleships”) and fetishistic sexuality (“The Pornographers”) that so defined his early work, and this ‘Masters of Cinema’ package does right by that legacy. The film is augmented with a nice interview by Japanese film scholar Tony Rayns, who also provides a typically fantastic essay for the lavish, 44-page booklet. Unfortunately for North Americans, the disc is Region B locked. If ever there was a reason to indulge in a region-free Blu-Ray player, however, this is most certainly it.

The Red Shoes [Blu-Ray] (Criterion; Region A)
Black Narcissus [Blu-Ray] (Criterion; Region A)

It’s obviously great to see so many world cinema classics and obscurities continue to make their way into the home viewing landscape each year, but with so many riches out there to discover, it can be easy to overlook some widely-considered classics which have also arrived in their definitive editions. Two such examples are the new, updated Criterion Blu-Rays of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s late-40s classics “Black Narcissus” and “The Red Shoes”. Quite frankly, these Technicolor marvels are the reason Blu-Ray exists in the first place, and the restorations by Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation are literally and appropriately breathtaking. Legendary cinematographer Jack Cardiff is rightly profiled and lauded amongst the extras on both discs, and I have little doubt that these transfers have the films looking as good as they ever have. Included within the packages is a fascinating look at the extensive restoration of “The Red Shoes” (conducted by Scorsese), multiple interviews with folks associated with each production, audio commentaries, documentaries, and typically hefty booklets containing various essays and interviews. With the Film Foundation reportedly in the midst of a couple other Powell & Pressburger restorations—for 1943s “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp” and 1946s “A Matter of Life and Death”—it’s a great time to be a fan the Archers, and an even better time to be fan of classic British cinema. Criterion had a banner year in 2010, and these are two of the cornerstones of the collection. Do not hesitate.

Oshima’s Outlaw Sixties [DVD] (Eclipse / Criterion; Region A)

One of the shrewdest moves the folks at Criterion have made in recent years was the launch of their Eclipse DVD line. Dedicated to highlighting some of the more fringe or under-recognized titles in cinema history, Eclipse often contextualizes movements, genres, studios, or in the case of “Oshima’s Outlaw Sixties”, a single director’s formative early work. Arriving just a year after their awesome back-to-back releases of Nagisa Oshima’s landmark 1970s films “In the Realm of the Senses” and “Empire of Passion”, “Oshima’s Outlaw Sixties” sees Criterion continuing to shed light on some of the key works of the Japanese new-wave. As its title implies, these five films are bold and daring works, both thematically and structurally, favoring swift editing and restless cinematography, mirroring many of the off-color protagonists that Oshima favors. As Kathie said in her original review of the set, the jewel of the collection is 1967s “Japanese Summer: Double Suicide” (rare even amongst these films), and is reason enough to indulge. Each film is worthy in its own right, however, with 1967s “Sing a Song of Sex”—with its pointed melding of the erotic and the political—and 1968s elliptical “Three Resurrected Drunkards” each pointing the way most accurately to the work Oshima would do in the coming decades. With sets such as these—and other releases like Eureka’s “Profound Desires of the Gods” Blu-Ray—the groundbreaking work by some of Japanese cinema’s true progressives can finally be recognized alongside the names—Kurosawa, Ozu, Naruse, Mizoguchi—that this movement was attempting to spiritually snuff out (“My hatred for Japanese cinema includes absolutely all of it”, Oshima has memorably stated). Lucky for us, we don’t have to choose one or other, and “Oshima’s Outlaw Sixties” proves that the well is all but endless for film’s looking step up into the cannon.

Dust in the Wind [Blu-Ray] (Central Pictures / Sony Music; Region Free)

The arrival of Hou Hsiao-hsien on Blu-Ray this year was not only unexpected, but darn near unfathomable, as most all of the Taiwanese master’s greatest works continue to linger in digital obscurity. In fact, the only US-friendly package even close to being in circulation—which is to say, not at all, as it’s now OOP—is the eight film “Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Classics” set, which, to say the least, left something to be desired as far as A/V quality is concerned (still, get your hands on it if you can). In other words, we would have been satisfied with a competent DVD rendering of, say, any of Hou’s early work, let alone a revelatory Blu-Ray of arguably his most heartfelt and accessible early picture. In fact, the only criticism I could throw at this edition of 1986s “Dust in the Wind” is that it’s transferred at 1080i as opposed to full HD 1080p. Imperceptible interlacing aside, the picture quality takes a gigantic leap forward, presenting this formative work in its most glorious rendering yet. Also, those hesitant about the Japanese import accessibility can rest easy as this is, amazingly, a region free disc. Arriving ahead of Criterion’s long-rumored debut of Edward Yang’s “A Brighter Summer Day”, this is the first glimpse of the Taiwanese new-wave in the Blu-Ray format. I’m happy to say that future discs—fingers crossed—have a lot to live up to.

Une femme mariee [Blu-Ray] (Eureka – Masters of Cinema; Region Free)

The purpose of a feature such as this, and by extension the individual write-ups which accompany each selection, should ostensibly serve to outline the importance of these current digital releases, but in the case of Eureka’s vital resurrection of Jean-Luc Godard’s 1964 masterpiece, “Une femme mariee”, they’ve done the leg work for me, detailing the film’s relevance on the back cover rather succinctly. “Long out-of-circulation and unavailable for home viewing”, it reads, “‘Une femme mariee’”, has, until now, represented the ostensibly ‘missing’ key work from the zeitgeist-defining phase of JLG’s filmography”. What I can add to that contextually is how the film’s significance reveals itself in relation to Godard’s later work. “Une femme mariee’s” subtitle, “Fragments of a Film Shot in 1964 in Black and White”, acknowledges not only the film’s construction—which alternates between disorienting bodily close-ups in its bookending segments and impressively held head-shots in its individuated interview-style mid-section—but also its inquiring relationship to the cinema itself, with visual and thematic references to Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock and Alain Resnais, among others. Looking back, it’s a pretty obvious precursor to his more cerebral late-60s work (particularly 1967s “2 or 3 Things I Know About Her”, which would bring this approach to its fullest realization), as well as his first flirtation with the essay-film format and the most erotically charged of his flabbergastingly productive first decade. The disc’s lone extra is Godard’s personally cut version of the film’s trailer, but this is made up for with an intimidatingly dense 85-page booklet, featuring a roundtable critic’s discussion, multiple essays on the film itself, and the most ridiculously anti-self-reflexive self-reflexive “overture” introduction by Luc Mollett that I’ve ever read. And it’s region free; there’s absolutely no reason every serious cinephile should be without this.

Close-Up [Blu-Ray] (Criterion; Region A)

For such an internationally lauded, influential, and groundbreaking director, it’s surprising how underrepresented Abbas Kiarostami is on the digital front. Sure, Criterion has the Palme d’or winning “Taste of Cherry” amongst the collection, but as spine #45, it’s not exactly what anyone would consider definitive. These slights were corrected in a big way this year, however, as Kiarostami’s landmark 1990 docu-fiction hybrid “Close-Up” made the restoration rounds before landing on Blu-Ray in a stacked edition from Criterion. Along with the original feature—to my mind (and many amongst our staff) one of the greatest cinematic accomplishments of the 90s—the extras-stacked package includes a new interview with the director himself, two documentaries (one on the film’s main character six years after the events recreated in the film, and one on Kiarostami), an audio commentary by the two foremost Kiarostami experts, Jonathan Rosenbaum and Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa, and most generously, the director’s first feature-length narrative film, 1974s “The Traveler” (something of a classic in its own right). With interest in the director’s work at an all time high (his new film, “Certified Copy”, is—spoiler alert—an instant classic), hopefully this release prompts the future resurrection of such comparable Kiarostami classics as “Where is the Friend’s House?”, “Life, and Nothing More…”, and/or “Through the Olive Trees”.

The Only Son / There Was a Father: Two Films by Yasujiro Ozu [DVD] (Criterion; Region A)

A frequent misconception about the Yasujiro Ozu style is that the great Japanese director’s career built towards—or eventually arrived at—the level of strict rigidity that we so commonly identify with the master’s later and most widely seen work. As more and more of Ozu’s early work begins to surface on DVD, however, it’s easy to see that, despite a few more traditional camera movements, or the use of dissolves, or even just a more liberal utilization of original music, the basic aesthetic—mostly static, tatami-level angles; perfectly balanced, geometric compositions; and direct, conversational eye-line defiant character placement—was intact. Criterion continued their efforts to rescue as many surviving Ozu films as possible with this two-film set, which collects 1936s masterful “The Only Son” (his first talkie) and the devastating “There Was a Father”, from 1942. Extras are slim but essential with scholars David Bordwell, Kristin Thompson, and Tadao Sato all offering thoughts on the films in interview segments. But while this set is the most readily available for North American fans, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that for those not currently region-locked, the BFI began an impressive duel-format roll-out for Ozu films this year as well, packaging each as a double feature—look especially for “Tokyo Story”/ “Brothers and Sister of the Toda Family”, “Late Spring”/ “The Only Son”, and coming early next year, “Good Morning” / “I Was Born But…”, among others. You can’t lose either way.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Podcast: End of Radio #30 - Delivering the Good

"Returning for one final show before their year-end extravaganza, your End of Radio co-hosts Jordan Cronk and Brian Webster present another grab-bag of tunes from throughout the decades, at various points contrasting the mainstream and underground worlds of the 1970s, while also wading through a few of the outlying genres of the 1990s."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

PopMatters Feature: The Best 20 Re-Issues of 2010

PopMatters continues their look back at the year in music for the remainder of the week, but today marks the end of my contributions to the proceedings. The staff's list of the 20 best reissues of the 2010 is now up, and while I would never undermine the quality of the album's included, I nevertheless question what some of my fellow voter's consider a good reissue. For the record, PopMatters puts no limitations on what we can vote for in any of these categories, but in the case of the word "reissue", you can kind of interpret that a few different ways apparently. I, for one, decided early on that I wouldn't be including any compilations on my list-- with only five slots, it didn't seem fair to measure a collection of great, years-spanning songs against a self-contained album. So with that personal technicality ruling out some of my favorite releases of the year-- such as Walter Gibbon's Jungle Music, Black Tambourine's Complete Recordings comp, and The Method Actors' This Is Still It collection-- I instead stuck pretty firmly to what I would consider vitally important reissues of full-length albums that were either obscure and/or out-of-print.

Looking at the results, however, it's fairly obvious I am in the minority on this sort of designation. The top five, for example, is wall-to-wall classics-- no argument there. But singling-out the umpteenth reissue of Bitches Brew or the clockwork-like anniversary re-packaging of the John Lennon catalogue feels misplaced to me. Anyway, this is all a long way of saying that only one of the records I voted for made the list, and at #18 at that. Serge Gainsbourg's & Jane Birkin's legendary 1969 collaborative album was in fact my #1 choice, however, so I can't really complain too much. For those interested, I cast my other votes for The Incredible String Band's The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, Robert Wyatt's Rock Bottom, Galaxie 500's On Fire, and The Soft Boys' Underwater Moonlight. I should also note that at the time of my list submission, the Orange Juice box set, Coals to Newcastle, hadn't yet been released, and I totally blanked out on it's inclusion. It could have very easily taken my top spot, so who knows how much higher into the top 10 my vote would have placed it. Anyway, it's essential and, frankly, indispensable, unlike some of these other packages. Can't argue with the merits of the original products though.

Monday, December 13, 2010

PopMatters Feature: The Best 70 Albums of 2010

Today PopMatters continues their two-week retrospective of the year in music with our biggest list yet, the 70 best albums of 2010. Once again, I contributed my personal top 10 to the site, and while I'm not quite done finalizing my Yearbook 15, I will reveal that about nine of the albums overlap between the two, which is saying something. Should be no surprise at this point that one of these is Oneohtrix Point Never's breakthrough LP, Returnal, placing here at #67 and on which I offer my thoughts at my editor's request. I feel like I've written about the album so much by now though, that's it's hard to convey just how great this thing is, but the mileage I've gotten out of it in less than a year is truly impressive. I can't honestly say that I agree with everything that made the final cut here, however-- some of it skews a little too close to the middle for my liking, but at the same time the breadth on display is amongst the most generous currently on the web. I helped out with the site's Best Reissues of 2010 list as well, which should be dropping by week's end, so stay tuned another PopMatters dispatch in the next few days.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sight & Sound - 2010: The Year in Review

News of the Sight & Sound best films of 2010 list trickled out last week in an abridged, 63 critic version (which is still essential reading, as it's more comprehensive, with a total of 23 films represented), but today the full, 85 contributors list hit the web, and it's another intriguing list of American independent standouts and a slew of world art-house fair. What's interesting about S&S is that they don't put release date qualifications on their picks-- these are simply the best films these particular writers saw in 2010, regardless of festival exclusivity. Meaning, there are many great films here that won't be released in the States until 2011. For example, my favorite film of the year (and the single best film I've seen in the last three years or so), Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, is still making the festival rounds before it's American bow next Spring. Same goes for Jean Luc-Godard's dizzyingly realized Film Socialisme, Lee Chang-dong's supremely affecting Poetry, and a few others such as Nostalgia for Light, which I haven't had the opportunity to see.

Without these release date boundaries, however, films have a tendency to either make a weaker showing than they probably could/should, and/or show up on lists in consecutive years, which is what A Prophet manged to do this year, after topping this poll in 2009. Which is to say that I'm fairly confident that a film such as Abbas Kiarstami's latest, the elliptically brilliant Certified Copy, will make a stronger showing here next year (along with, presumably, Kelly Reichardt's hugely acclaimed Meek's Cutoff, which I also haven't yet seen). Anyway, technicalities aside, this is sure to once again be one of the more competent lists out there, as it includes contributions from a majority of writers still at the vanguard of modern film criticism, including Amy Taubin, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Tony Rayns, Kent Jones, Nick James, and Michael Atkinson, among others. Check out the Top 12 after the cut, and be sure to click over to full poll, to see individual writer's picks and their thoughts on some of the other cinematic highlights of 2010. Good show Sight & Sound.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Music Review: Supersilent - 10 / 11

There’s a good chance this review will run contrary to the majority of others out there—or at least the ones I’ve come across—but at the very least I think these two new Supersilent releases provide a convenient opportunity to ponder just what exactly it is we expect from this Norwegian avant-jazz institution and where they can possibly take their highly idiosyncratic music in the future. There is plenty to recommend in both these records mind you, but the divide between the two, at least on paper, wouldn’t at first blush seem so slim. The band’s official album of all new material, 10, is their stylistic return to form as a three-piece after the departure of drummer Jarle Vespestad and the transitional Hammond organ experiments of last year’s polarizing 9 (although chronologically, it was apparently recorded prior to 9). Supersilent 11, meanwhile, is a vinyl-only release comprised of six outtakes from the sessions that produced 2007s monumental 8, and yet of the two, this is the record that I continue to return to as well as find more intrinsically fascinating, both from a cerebral and—by dint of their recent output at least—nostalgic standpoint.

Monday, December 6, 2010

PopMatters Feature: The 60 Best Singles of 2010

Today over at Popmatters, we kick off our two-week retrospective look at the year in music. Things get started with the 60 Best Singles of 2010. It's a pretty wide-ranging list, showing off the diversity of the staff, and as a result, I'd say most of the year's major trends and genres are represented. For my part, I contributed lists of my favorite songs, reissues and albums of the year, and was asked here to write-up our #36 selection, Oneohtrix Point Never's "Returnal (Voice by Antony)". Other tracks which I voted for that make an appearance are the Frog Eyes epic "A Flower in a Glove" (#44) and my personal #1 choice, Ariel Pink's "Round and Round" (which topped out here at #8). There will be genre-specific lists coming later in the week from a variety of writers, but continue to check back for my contributions to the reissues and albums lists.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

GvB's Albums of 2010

After yesterday's thoroughly depressing and bafflingly out-of-touch Paste list, it's nice to see another online publication come through with some actually interesting and original choices for their year-end album list. Gorilla vs Bear is always a good gauge to measure trends in the hype cycle, but they've narrowed their selections down to a nice crop of likable records here. With that being said, only a couple of their choices overlap with my forthcoming list, but there is plenty of stuff here that is worthy of consideration, from Forest Swords to Grimes to James Blake to Mount Kimbie. All in all, not a band cross-section-- the only thing I could probably do without is the Arcade Fire. Anyway, check out the feature (w/ MP3 links) here, or browse the full list of 30 after the cut.