The Obligatory Best of 2010 List - Part One

Another year has past and so bloggers and the music press the world over feel the need to try and convince you of the best albums of the past twelve months. And so as much in an attempt to fill our pages in a quite spell as convince you of anything here are not so much the best, but our most enjoyed albums of 2010.

Not a top ten, or a top 50 even, but a good old honest top 18. Because that's how many albums we really liked this year.  Part one will cover the bottom nine - come back for the rest soon.


18. There Is Love In You - Four Tet

On which Keiran Hebden stopped trying to revolutionise with every record and instead brought everything together to create something which feels a bit like a best-of approach to Four Tet. It lacked the standout moments of the classic Rounds but besides that it is his most focused work.


17. Wave and Cloud - The Whiskey Priest

Unnoticed by the press but don't let that put you off, Wave and Cloud's obscurity only serves to make it even more deserving of your time. A frail and honest record that relies on songs and little more. The coupling of the weatherworn 'A Seafarer's Lament' and the heartfelt and beautiful 'If a Train Was a Doctor Was a Song' remains on of this year's best album openings.


16. Latin - Holy Fuck

Another album that appears to have been forgotten... Latin may not have garnered the praise heaped on previous album LP, but it demonstrates Holy Fuck's ability to continue to innovate. 'P.I.G.S.' remains one of the ill-est sounding joints we heard all year.


15. Swim - Caribou

The first Caribou release to really capture BlackPlastic's attention, Swim, along with Matthew Dear's Black City, was 2010's most danceable record for people that like to think. Simultaneously organic sounding and strangely electronic this is an album that felt more like a collaboration than an album by one artist ever normally could - one moment subtle and understated and the next needy and epic.

14. Real Life Is No Cool - Lindstrøm & Christabelle

Almost not on the list because we heard it in 2009 it makes it here on a technicality - it wasn't officially released until 2010. It's sun-drenched cosmic disco sound is also staggering - this is the sound of taking a dip in the 40 degree heat. By adding in Christabelle, Lindstrøm went and made his best album.


13. The Age of Adz - Sufjan Stevens

Prolific and at times frankly unfocused, Stevens only seems to release two types of record - challenging and flawed or challenging and fantastic. The Age of Adz is undoubtedly the latter, from the delicate opening of 'Futile Devices' through to the 25-minute-plus 'Impossible Soul' this is the sound of Stevens tearing up the few rules he had previously adhered to. At its best, on the furious and rapid 'I Want To Be Well', complete with it's repeated "I'm not fucking around" chorus, Sufjan sounds more vital than ever.


12. Contra - Vampire Weekend

It seems that everyone but BlackPlastic loved Vampire Weekend's debut. By rights, this - the follow up to a smash record we passed up on - should have been of little interest. And yet something in Contra really captures the listener. Whether on the tight upbeat pop of 'Run' or 'Giving Up The Gun' or the slow and considered numbers that just sparkle as on 'I Think Ur A Contra' this was pretty much the perfect pop record.


11. Subiza - Delorean

In a year when BlackPlastic returned to the White Isle nothing encapsulated the feeling of basking in the Balearic sunshine quite like Delorean's debut... If one band lead the Chill Wave movement for us then it's Delorean. A bit like Animal Collective mixed with a beach, some house vibes and quite a lot of ecstasy Subiza is just too hot and sunny to resist, particularly with songs as beautiful as 'Real Love'.


10. Causers of This - Toro y Moi

Causers of This is one of 2010's sleepers for BlackPlastic - so much so that we haven't mentioned it before now. The problem is that it is flawed, if only mildly so, in that a number of it's charms are hidden away in the latter half. 'Blessa' starts things off in a pleasant but slightly uninspiring manner but there are some of 2010's best moments here - just check the snappy, funky closing couplet in the form of 'Low Shoulders' and the title track. One of this year's most promising debuts, Causers of This is the heart broken record you can dance to.

BP x

Album Review: Real Life Is No Cool - Lindstrøm & Christabelle

With snow covering the ground in England at present reviewing Lindstrøm's latest album, a collaboration with vocalist Christabelle, feels a little incongruous. Yet at the same time it's a perfect fit, and that is because more than anything else Lindstrøm has done, even his laid back cosmic disco collaborations with Prins Thomas, Real Life Is No Cool feels like the warmth of the sun shining on your face.

Once past the slightly uncomfortable entrance of looping, reversed vocals Real Life Is No Cool quickly settles into a groove of tropical sounding beach vibes. It is quickly apparent that this is Lindstrøm's most straight-up house album yet. Opening track 'Looking For What' boasts a soulful piano refrain and waddling bassline that wouldn't sound out of place in a modern deep house track but it is the playfulness between the music and Christabelle's vocals that really lift things up, as on the break three minutes into this opening track.

There are traces of disco, Moroder and 80s experimentation throughout, as on the thick, heavy bassline of 'Lovesick', the sheer camp-celebration of 'Baby Can't Stop' or the acidic synthesizers of 'Let's Practice'. But more than anything this album is simply a relaxed lie down in the sun. At its best the result is utterly sublime - the repeated vocal refrain from the shimmering 'Keep It Up' feels like a dip in a pool whilst the impeccable stop-start timing of 'High & Low' ends things on a high note.

By basing the album around Christabelle's performance Lindstrøm has given Real Life Is No Cool a greater emotional depth that makes this album more than just excellent, it also makes it interesting and beautiful.

It may be cold outside but Real Life Is No Cool will undoubtedly chase away the chill.

Whilst the CD version doesn't see a full release for more than a month it is currently available at Rough Trade, where it comes packaged with two bonus CDs, one featuring remixes (including the ace Aeroplane mix of 'Baby Can't Stop') and another featuring an exclusive 43-minute cover of the Christmas classic 'Little Drummer Boy'. The latter proves a highlight provided you are prepared to ride its utterly bonkers journey to completion. Based around the song's trademark marching-band rhythm it gradually drills itself into you skull.  In the closing minutes it begins to sound like a bizarre sci-fi epic space-war battle march, only one which culminates not in laser fire and trench-runs but in a battle where the weapons are snowballs and mince pies. It's totally ridiculous, and frankly essential Christmas listening as a result.

BP x

Real Life Is No Cool is available now from on MP3 and released on January 25 on CD and LP [affiliate links].

Album Review: II - Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas

When Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas collaborated on their eponymous album for Eskimo two years ago it became the kind of cult hit most producers only dream of. Not only was it released to huge praise but it also helped kick start a Renaissance in italo and cosmic disco that has sent ripples of influence across much electronic music since.

Back with a follow-up, once again on & Eskimo Recordings, II is unsurprisingly more of the same.  Yet if more of the same was ever more welcome, BlackPlastic can't put his finger on when that would be.

And once again, this is a beautiful record. It's slow and slightly ponderous but at the same time does so much across its length that to complain would be churlish. The mood is literally perfect. This is a record to consume with an espresso whilst watching the sun rise and with a beer whilst watching the sun set. With the current bought of good weather we have recently seen in the UK BlackPlastic can't imagine a better soundtrack for being lazy in the sunshine.

Words can't really convey what it is like to listen to - instead of reading just go and check it out.

BP x