Photo by hgxxyb
‘Tis the time of year where we’re forced to narrow down the immense amount of wonderful music that has been released. I personally go through a last minute panic of albums I’ve forgotten or haven’t given the proper time to. I know other bloggers experience similar compulsory behavior and sleepless nights surrounding the process. However, this is a labor of love. We’re all here because music is something drastically important and wonderful that has impacted our lives significantly. These are the songs that made us smile and the songs that made us cry; the songs that soundtracked our 2010.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to, read, and told a friend about The Ruckus this year. We are eternally in your debt. You’ve helped us in our journey through 2010 and hopefully we’ve added something to yours as well.
Your Editors - Tiffiny & Melanie
Maximum Balloon f. Tunde Adebimpe - Absence of Light
This is probably my highest played song released this year. I spent many days listening to it on repeat, singing along to Adebimpe's distinctive vocals and slowly falling in love with electro pop - a genre I had rather unfairly avoided before. I count the entire record as one of my favorites of the year.
Sarah McLachlan - Awakenings
Laws of Illusion had a seemingly impossible task: try to measure up to the rest of Sarah McLachlan's discography in my heart. At first it seemed unlikely; it had seven years of play counts to catch up on. But the album grew on me quickly, and "Awakenings" was one of my immediate favorites. Listening to it makes me feel like I'm in high school again - but in a good way.
The National - Bloodbuzz Ohio
This was the first song I heard off High Violet, and I immediately fell in love with its addictive drum beat intro and steady instrumental climb over Berninger's gravelly vocals. The song also elicited some heavy nostalgia, due to the completely superficial way I related to the lyrics "Ohio don't remember me," having been born in and subsequently moving away from the state myself.
The Phantom Band - O
I don't know what it is about this song that is so catchy, but the synth beat and chanting chorus invoke a mysterious and almost foreboding atmosphere that draws me in every time.
These United States - Water & Wheat
What Lasts is a thematically intense story of loss and survival, and this closing track makes sure to end the tale on an upswing. It's one of the more energetic and vibrant tracks on the record, urging you both in tempo and words to keep moving, regardless of past or current hardships hanging over your head. It's advice I truly believe in, and this song has been a wonderful reminder.
Josh Ritter - Another New World
I find it difficult to pick just one song from So Runs The Word Away, so I didn't force myself to. This track is just hauntingly beautiful and a perfect example of Josh's astounding talent when it comes to lyrics.
Gaslight Anthem - Boxer
A band that fellow Ruckus staff member Tiffiny introduced me to, as well as this son in particular when she put it on a playlist for a road trip this summer. It immediately grabbed me and I had to listen to it again.
Josh Ritter - The Curse
So Runs The World Away is another incredible release from Josh Ritter and The Royal City Band. When I first just read the lyrics of “The Curse”, I knew it would be an instant favorite without even hearing it. It was the first track of the album that I found myself playing on repeat.
The National - Lemonworld
Another band that I can thank Tiffiny for introducing me to. It's hard to pick just one song from their release High Violet this year, but this is the song I find myself drawn to, from the drum beat to the lyrics. It's perfection in music form.
Dan Craig - Touch is a Touch
Denver local Dan Craig is an absolute favorite of mine. I've loved every release of his and Alchemy has been no different. To pick just one track from the album wold have to be this one for me.
Mumford & Sons - The Cave
This song not only led me to this band, but it awoke in me a joy and determination increasingly hard to come by.
Mumford & Sons - Awake My Soul
This one further awoke an awakening heart.
Arcade Fire - We Used To Wait
In many ways this song seems to sum up my teenage years. It serves as a reminder, as the album does in general. Remember innocence, remember where you're going and why. “Now are lives are changing fast... hope that something pure can last.”
James - Hero
Remember also to remain open.
Black Dub - Canaan
Joy is ever the goal.
Glasser - Apply
The start of Glasser's debut album is a beautifully layered mix of strong vocals, tribal beats, and tricky production. Glasser herself may be one of the best musical discoveries I've made this year.
Metric - Black Sheep
Recorded with 2009's Fantasies, this song found eventual release first through the band's Facebook page then the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World soundtrack. Not to take anything away from the album with which it was recorded, which I quite enjoy, but this song blows away everything on that release.
Crystal Castles - Empathy
Typically, over the course of heavy listening of an album, the songs I consider favourites shift. Songs that didn't grab me initially will become the ones I love and the ones I loved right away lose some luster. "Empathy" grabbed me the first time I heard it and has never let go. The sequenced pinging is at once poppy and creepy and Alice Glass's computer-shifted vocals are entrancing.
Saul Williams - ExplainMyHeart
This song is available as a free download but won't be released as part of an album until next year. Easing off his last album's fantastic hip-hop/industrial mixture, the vocals, and therefore the lyrics, feel like they take more of a precedence above the pounding jungle beats.
Josh Ritter - Rattling Locks
This entire album is one great song after another, so it's hard to choose just one, but "Rattling Locks," like Crystal Castles' "Empathy" mentioned earlier, is one that has struck me on immediate listen and stuck strong with me through heavy rotation.
Josh Ritter - Change of Time
I could just quote lyrics. I was thirsty so I drank/and though it was salt water/there was something about the way/it tasted so familiar. I remember feeling utterly overwhelmed by this song the first time I heard it. Even now, so many months later, it lingers.
Brian Eno – Emerald & Lime
This was the year of old music for me. There aren't many albums I can recall truly absorbing that came out this year, but Small Craft on a Milk Sea was an exception. These tracks followed me everywhere – to work, out and about, on numerous busses, planes, and trains, and to bed as I went to sleep at night. The sort of sounds you could swim in.
Black Dub – Ring the Alarm
Oh man, oh man, how I was looking forward to this album. Black Dub is Daniel Lanois's new group and seeing these songs performed live was a joy. Ring the Alarm is filled with a vibrant energy that propels you along in the day to day.
James - Kaleidoscope
I wrote about this one earlier. Suffice it to say, it's one of the saddest lyrics I've heard this year, and I mean that in the best way possible. Though it doesn't carry the reckless energy of other tracks on their most recent album, the simple melody works for me, and I love the way they add a twist even when you think you've sussed what the song is all about.
Laura Marling - Devil’s Spoke
My all time favourite off the I Speak Because I Can album. With help from the Mumford & Sons lads and Pete Roe, “Devil's Spoke” builds to an enchanting finish with humming, guitar rhythms and drums all combined for an abrupt finish. It's a fast number, I love it.
Uffie - Difficult
I love Uffie, I don't even care if anyone judges. This song is about sick beats and attitude, it's a Friday night kind of tune; whether you're getting ready for a big one or dancing, it's a Tune.
I Dream in Colour - If You
This song has sexy guitar riffs, beautifully charged vocals and a loud chorus. It restored my faith in British Indie music from some very lovely guys. [check out our interview with I Dream In Colour here]
The Mariner's Children - It Carved Your Name Into The Ground
This is a deliciously angry alt folk song, complete with breathless and animalistic cries. Seeing it live sold me on it, there was thigh slapping, shouting, hand clapping and foot stomping. It's a beautiful yet angsty song.
Misty Miller - Remember
“Remember” is a charming, poppy ukulele tune. The lyrics make me smile an extortionate amount; 'I’ve got a few more things pierced and I think they look well fierce/And once day I hope you’ll see, and they will make you love me', Misty wrote this song at just 12 years old but they are quirky, catchy and easy to relate to. [check out our interview with Misty here]
Ra Ra Riot - Boy
Oh, this song. Simply titled “Boy”, the track is distilled with stunning instrumentation from tight guitar and bass solos to their signature violin and cello, cleverly culminating in a cinematic symphonic-pop masterpiece that reaches back to the core of Ra Ra Riot whilst simultaneously ushering us into their future.
The Lowly Knights - You Can't Help Who You Love
I love this song, and since I can't top what I said about it a few months ago, I'll say it again here: the harmonies are brightly wound, cleverly entangling with the lyrics and brilliant instrumentation. Don't be surprised if you find yourself singing. Or crying, depending on what an emotional wreck you were to begin with. "You Can't Help Who You Love" is an enormous celebration of love, baby. Get in.
Amy Seeley - Catalinas
Amy's voice is breathtaking, and "Catalinas" is stunning, with lyrics that entwine their way around my heart and crack it open with a revelation that resonates deep within, telling the story of the beautiful things that we find within ourselves and in the world.
Pezzettino - For You and Your Headaches
Margaret Stutt is easily one of my favorite people in music. She is authentic and beautiful and incredibly talented, over and over and over. "For You and Your Headaches" has earned a permanent spot on on my personal soundtrack as much for its clever, sweet lyrics (Stutt possesses a breathtaking mastery of poetic narrative) as the lovely melody. This song makes everything better.
Florrie - Give Me Your Love
The only true pop track on my list, "Give Me Your Love" is just a solid, catchy tune. It has a fairly sick beat that you can dance to, but it would also be perfectly at home on a summer road trip mix.
Frank Turner - I Still Believe
Frank's music has largely defined my entire year; he masterfully covers the highs, lows and in-betweens with the kind of grace and heart that no one else can quite match. "I Still Believe" is an anthem for all the drunks and revelers who see music as something that we could never survive without. "Now who'd have thought that after all, something as simple as rock & roll would save us all?"
Guster - Jonah
Guster's clever lyrics and beautiful harmonies stand out in this spirited retelling of the story of a man and his metaphorical whale, underscored by bursts of percussion so precise that they could almost belong to a military march. "Jonah" is my favorite Guster tune in years; I adore it.
Kevin Devine - She Stayed as Steam
Kevin Devine breaks my heart in the best way. The indie folk god's spot on this list is a beautifully visual, achingly earnest tale of loss. This song has been developing for a couple of years, and this version is the sweetest, I think - it feels whole to me. I am secretly happy that it didn't end up on 2009's 'Brother's Blood', because it is secretly my favorite song of his ever and I feel that it deserved a special place of its own to flourish.
Black Keys - Tighten Up
Amazing, amazing, amazing. By far one of the best albums of the year. One of my favorite bands, and "Tighten Up" is by far one of my most listened to song of 2010.
Angus and Julia Stone - Santa Monica Dream
One of the most beautiful songs on the album-- which is saying something because the album is so incredibly solid. The lyrics, the melody.... love love love love love!
The Secret Sisters - Big River
I normally wouldn't choose a cover for this list, but this one stood out so much that I had to. I'm immediately floored by the guitar (courtesy of the legendary Jack White) which continues to be nothing short of amazing throughout the song.
Laura and Lydia Rogers harmonize the vocals, giving a performance to remember.
Zoe Keating - Escape Artist
I don't have the appreciation for classical music that I should.
However, those artists that blur the line between pop and classical styles always come very high on my list. One of those being Zoe Keating. This year she self-released "Into the Trees" which has been a constant in my listening queue. This song especially struck me- there's something about it that makes my heart beat.
Tim Bruns - Forgive Me
This track came from a project to raise money to pay medical bills (SongsInRecovery.com), but carries the weight of something much bigger. "Forgive Me" is delicate and aching. It has the ability to hit me like a ton of bricks over and over again.
Kitten - Kill the Light
If I really had to pick a single song for 2010, it would be this one.
Fronted by the very young Chloe Chaidez, who reminds me of Karen O. while referencing Morrissey and Bruce Springsteen, Kitten has the brightest of futures. "Kill the Light" is sad and gorgeous and manages to strike me in the most profound way.
Wolfgang Schaefer - Mirror and the Lamp
Wolfgang Schaefer is possibly my favorite musician that I started listening to this year. I saw him by chance at a coffee shop in Boulder and was captivated by the weight of his show. Thankfully an EP was available, containing five songs that I have played into the ground. "Mirror and the Lamp" is like a sad, scratchy slow dance.
Megan Burtt - Pay It Now
Megan Burtt's music takes this unexpected path that is refreshing to hear. "Pay It Now" is invigorating. Megan's voice is clear and beautiful, decorated with a few harmonies here and there and bold guitar.
Frightened Rabbit - Swim Until You Can't See Land
As the title implies, this song tells a story. I love how it progresses and captures the listener, burying itself in your head.
The Watson Twins - U-N-Me
I first heard this song at a show way back in 2009 and was immediately taken with it. Officially released on the album Talking To You, Talking To Me in February, "U-N-Me" features striking vocals and an irresistible beat.