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  • Hotcakes' Albums of 2010

    26 Dic 2010, 15:49

    Full article

    2010 is all but up and what a year of music it’s been. The bakers at Hotcakes have been putting their collective toques together and these are our favourite albums of the year:


    1. Beach HouseTeen Dream
    This album came top by a country mile, which just goes to show how exceptional it is. Regardless of your tastes and genres, it is so hard to not be bowled over by all ten songs, right from the first riff of Zebra all the way to the looping chorus of Take Care. The duo have been at the forefront of all lists and on the lips of all bloggers since they released Teen Dream all the way back in January this year.

    Often, an album that gets released in January loses its freshness and appeal by the time decision time comes around in December. It takes something really special to maintain a love for an album through twelve months, through all seasons, through all moods. Animal Collective managed it last year. And Beach House have proven themselves in the same league this year.
    words: chapperdeemus


    2. Gil Scott-HeronI’m New Here
    At the age 61 and recent resident of New York state penitentiary, it seemed unlikely that Gil Scott-Heron would make such a stunning
    comeback let alone has completely reinvented his sound. With the fusion of , and and his proto-rap style replaced
    with a brooding, dark, electronic Scott-Heron has broken completely new ground, amazing considering the distinguished career he has had.

    The ominous electronics recall the of the 1990’s and suit the lyrical subject matter perfectly. I’m New Here finds Gil self-reflective and confessional, and his poignant, moving and honest poetry is spoken through and cracked, rich and distinctive tone. When Heron moves away from the powerful spoken word pieces, he produced some of the tracks of the year, covering blues standard I’ll Take Care Of You, an incredible reimagining Robert Johnson’s Me and the Devil and the brilliant New York Is Killing Me.
    words: ollieclaxton


    3. Caribou - Swim
    For many people, Swim came out of nowhere. Sure, the Canadian-born producer had released a whole host of records as both Caribou and Manitoba, but this year’s release was a sure-footed step out of the obscurity and into the bright lights of the nightclub. Yes, this is a and one of the highest calibre.

    The man behind Caribou, Dan Snaith, previously stated he wanted to make dance music that sounded more like water than metal and it is his voice that provides that elemental fluidity. You find yourself lulled into a molten world of softly spoken, repetitive lyrics set against intense synths and beats that flow from one track to the next without hesitation. Odessa will likely be the album’s high point for many people but all nine tracks form 43 minutes of the smoothest, most atmospheric and enjoyable dance music there is.
    words: Simjob


    4. Arcade FireThe Suburbs [review]
    The Suburbs takes the listener through a journey that anyone can relate to. Only a band of Arcade Fire’s calibre can make such a creative and inspiring album out of such a mundane subject. The album opens with a track that feels like you are drawing the curtains yet again to another rainy morning, and closes with the same track in reprise as though your head is hitting the pillow at the end of a long day. Everything in between flows so perfectly that the over-hour-long record flies by.

    Win Butler et al have proven themselves real all time greats with their third album. When you have a band so revered in both cult and mainstream realms these days, you know you have something unique.
    words: chapperdeemus


    5. LCD SoundsystemThis Is Happening [review]
    Despite how high this album is in our chart, This Is Happening was a slight disappointment. That just goes to show how incredible some parts of this album are. But being only eight songs long, there can be absolutely no room for filler or mistakes, especially from such a seasoned pro like James Murphy. But the album is pulled down by Somebody’s Calling Me and lead single Drunk Girls. And One Touch is a bit boring.

    That’s probably because no song has a chance when it follows Dance Yrself Clean. It is nine minutes of sheer brilliance, that the rest of the album has trouble bettering. But it damn well gives it a go; with All I Want and You Wanted a Hit proving that Murphy and Co. have still got it.
    words: chapperdeemus


    6. Crystal CastlesCrystal Castles II
    What a preposterously good second album. The awkwardly titled Crystal Castles (II) has easily avoided the sophomore slump that strikes down so many bands (*ahem* Klaxons *ahem*). Ethan Kath and Alice Glass have grown up a bit in this album, and with the exception of Doe Deer, have tidied up their production values. Yet, the album is still great fun, full of speaker destroying bad boys and mental vocals.

    Despite using cleaner beats and samples to their debut, they’ve also managed to steer clear of the annoying dance anthem that pollutes the top 40, with Celestica the only track on the album that could really be considered a chart song. If only the charts were full of more songs like it.
    words: chapperdeemus


    7. Sleigh BellsTreats
    The highest place debut record on our chart is evidence of just how Sleigh Bells stormed onto the scene this year. Sleigh Bells exploded onto everyone’s speakers in April with the release of album opener and absolute barnstormer Tell ‘Em. The song was so brilliantly catchy and so damn loud it was impossible to not sit up and take notice. And when Treats was released in mid May, one listen was all that was needed to realise ‘Tell ‘Em’ wasn’t a one off.

    Treats is 12 awesome tracks of distorted, dance-punk that could only be made from a meeting of the former guitarist of band Poison the Well and the vocals of a former member of teen-poppers RubyBlue. It shouldn’t work but the cheerleader chant of Alexis Krauss’s vocals are incredibly addictive, and the dirty guitar lines of Derek Miller are huge. This album is impossible to ignore!
    words: ollieclaxton


    8. Four TetThere Is Love in You
    Four Tet was a pioneer in the early part of the decade in the move away from and 2010 has seen the release of his fifth album, his best since 2003′s Rounds. It starts as it means to go on with the opener Angel Echoes – the higher tempo and looped vocals takes a step towards Kompakt-esq while fuzzy synths and crackling samples feature as a reminder of his collaboration with Burial last year; however this is achieved without sacrificing the warmth and intrigue found in his previous, slower and more melodic releases. It really is a thing of beauty.

    This is probably Four Tet’s most dance orientated album yet but having seen him perform live I can say that it definitely isn’t a dance album in the physical sense of the word; there’s simple too much happening at any one time to be a club success. However that actually sets it apart from both club music and bedroom . The ability to uniquely transform all the vast array of separate parts and the shear number of ideas contained within each track into a lucid whole is something Hebden has always excelled at but has never been more evident than in There Is Love In You.
    words: Simjob


    9. Wild NothingGemini
    Gemini’s top-10 placing on the list proves that 2010 well and truly picked up where 2009 left off. Last year’s scenes belonged to the kind of , sound which edged Pains of Being Pure at Heart to the top of 2009′s end of year lists. Wild Nothing is the moniker of Virginia native Jack Tatum, who’s crafted an album of beautifully dreamy pop gems.

    Tatum’s fuzzy, guitar pop brings to mind recently popular shoe gaze acts, Wild Nothing’s debut full length definitely owes a tip of its hat towards classic acts like New Order or Cocteau Twins. However, it’s not all imitation or revivalism, there’s more than enough evidence of originality and authenticity on the album, especially on stand out tracks like lead single Summer Holiday and opener Live In Dreams.
    words: ollieclaxton


    10. YeasayerOdd Blood
    For an band to appear in this list is perhaps a surprise but then Brooklyn-based Yeasayer’s second full length album is an album that is full of surprises.

    Although Odd Blood is certainly a step towards the mainstream when compared to their debut effort, it is in no way a pop album and the variety of songs on sure keeps you entertained right from the off. Track two, the advice-laden Ambling Alp, is Yeasayer at their most -influenced and one of the tracks of the year. The other singles, O.N.E. and Madder Red, arguably form two other highlights but it would be unfair to just single out individual tracks for praise. The entire self-produced album is the best example this year of an amalgamation of left-field rock structure and song-writing together with everything that’s great about pop music.
    words: Simjob

    Here’s how the rest of the list shaped up:

    11. Hot Chip – One Life Stand [review]
    12. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy [review]
    13. Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner [review]
    14. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach [review]
    15. Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot, The Son of Chico Dusty [review]
    16. Tallest Man on Earth – The Wild Hunt
    17. These New Puritans - Hidden
    18. Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record
    19. Mount Kimbie – Crooks & Lovers
    20. Vampire Weekend – Contra [review]
    21. Pantha du Prince – Black Noise
    22. Surfer Blood – Astro Coast
    23. Male Bonding – Nothing Hurts
    24. Morning Benders – Big Echo
    25. Skream – Outside the Box
    26. Scuba – Triangulation
    27. Darkstar - North
    28. Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
    29. Massive Attack - Heligoland [review]
    30. The Roots – How I Got Over
    31. Magnetic Man – Magnetic Man
    32. The Chemical Brothers – Further [review]
    33. Dirty Projectors & Bjork – Mount Wittenberg Orca
    34. Foals – Total Life Forever
    35. Kele – The Boxer
    36. Booka Shade - More!
    37. How to Dress Well – Love Remains
    38. Broken Bells – Broken Bells
    39. Girls – Broken Dreams Club
    40. Maximum Balloon – Maximum Balloon [review]
  • Hotcakes' Albums of 2009

    26 Dic 2010, 14:46


    1. Yeah Yeah YeahsIt’s Blitz!
    A pretty much unanimous Hotcakes decision, this album has dominated our listening this year. Taking on such a different sound to their early days, the trio have maturity oozing through them, whilst still maintaining the early vigour and life throughout the album.

    This is one of those few brilliant records that delight the mainstream and alternative types alike. A truly beautiful collection of slow, fast, rousing and sorrowful songs, carried out by rigorously powerful instrumental work and vocals that we had no idea Karen O was capable of.

    One of Hotcakes best live bands of the year also, Karen O can work a stage as well as I dream she can work… you know… other things.
    words: chapperdeemus


    2. Major LazerGuns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do
    A debut collaboration of epic standards that shocked eardrums all over the world. The rhythms flow throughout but it’s the sheer diversity of sounds and genres that make this album so unique and give it a replay value rivaled by only a select few releases this year. They Dominated Leeds Mint Club when we saw them.

    Diplo and Switch are both highly respected through their solo work as DJs and remixers but it’s through the coming together of these two titans that we see their true talent as well as what really sets them apart from the competition. Fingers crossed Major Lazer isn’t just a fleeting experiment.
    words: Simjob


    3. Arctic MonkeysHumbug
    What the boys from Sheffield have done with this album is make a flowing, brooding and simmering record from start to finish, to completely challenge their first two brilliant albums.

    Lead single Crying Lighting seems the only track poppy enough to succeed in the charts. But the chorus on opening song My Propeller, the drum beat on Dance Little Liar and the lyrical delivery in Pretty Visitors provide exceptional moments in a slow burning album.

    Remember 2009 as the year where the Arctics instruments achieved what their new haircuts failed to do: they’ve become the sort of band your children will listen to in 30 years time.
    words: chapperdeemus


    4. Passion PitManners
    A divisive album it may be but Passion Pit have found a niche in a somewhat saturated market that makes their sound enjoyable, highly remixable and downright fun to dance to. By treading a fine line between being sickly sweet and contagiously joyful, the album harnesses the best of pop music while still being grounded in superb production and songwriting.

    With a frontman in Michael Angelakos, who’s falsetto lyrics form the main drive of the album, the band have an unusual sound (and almost shy, yet endearing stage presence) that begs to be let loose on the dancefloor. I’m sure I’m not alone by saying Manners formed the foundation of my summer soundtrack.
    words: Simjob


    5. The Prodigy - Invaders Must Die
    The dons are back. And it’s all of them this time. I’m not knocking Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, but let’s face it, without the energetic vocals of Keith and Maxim, Liam is more limited.

    But this time last year we were loving the title track Invaders Must Die, safe in the knowledge that in the coming months there would be a new album with all the members for the first time since the days of Smack My Bitch Up.

    And the fathers of electronic music did not disappoint. Omen owned. Thunder thrashed. Colours crushed. A mental album and THE best live band of the year for Hotcakes.
    words: chapperdeemus


    6. Simian Mobile DiscoTemporary Pleasure
    After the runaway success of their first album and huge international demand for their DJ talents, much was expected of SMD’s follow up effort. Following The Chemical Brothers method of collaborating with other artists, SMD took a risk of the sound no longer being their own and of producing a series of disjointed singles without any sort of coherence.

    However, as you’ll know, they succeeded at every hurdle as Temporary Pleasure positively booms with their own unique form of house that won them legions of fans the first time round.

    Surely a must-buy for any dance music fan, SMD proved themselves worthy of the hype and hopefully will continue to please in years to come. Great singles, amazing live and a fantastic album.
    words: Simjob


    7. Toddla TSkanky Skanky
    2009 has in many ways been this man’s year. The meteoric rise of Tom Bell, a.k.a. Toddla T, can easily be explained if you’ve ever read an interview with him, listened to him on the radio or in fact listened to any of his tunes. Almost single-handedly bringing the side of Sheffield’s sound back to the fore is no mean feat but one that rests comfortably on the Toddla’s shoulders. He’s infectious and he’s brilliant.

    Skanky Skanky is a record that wants to be played loud, proud and in spite of any club sensibilities you may have. Bass-led, sounds accompanied by superb cameos from featured friends, especially Mr Versatile, create an album that is youthful and hedonistic in spirit while the solid production and force that it hits you with belie the age of the man himself. A simply fantastic album.
    words: Simjob


    8. KasabianWest Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
    Every song on this album is genius. The choice of song order is absolutely perfect. Despite there being an equal measure of mellow songs and rifftastic anthems, each song leads brilliantly into the next and you are never left feeling slapped by an abrupt change of pace.

    Rarely does an album with so many catchy singles flow so well. Normally, if you want to make a great album that flows from start to finish, you have to sacrifice single success a bit.

    But not West Ryder…. It is so easy to get into and love this album. And sometimes you need that, an album where you don’t have to be a snobby little bitch music lover where you have to try to “get” the sound that is being “portrayed”. This is straightforward brilliance.
    words: chapperdeemus


    9. The xxxx
    From obscurity to almost universal celebration, the xx have had quite a year; their success is however well deserved and their debut album is something of a masterpiece.

    Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim provide the perfect counterpart to each other’s vocals while soft instrumentals build into seemingly intense crescendos only to fade away like the half whispered, half sung lyrics.

    A truly individual record, the album can easily be described as “lovers’ rock…for lovers who can’t help but talk about their love”. This perfectly sums up the sensual, sometimes frustrated, sometimes quietly confident lyrical content of many of the tracks that leaves the listener in somewhat of a limbo deep within Croft’s and Sim’s relationship.

    A true friend through the night, the album grows with every listen and I hope we’ll be hearing a lot more from this London-based group in the years to come.
    words: Simjob


    10. Mumford & SonsSigh No More
    It was fantastic to hear this multi-instrumental band go through the stages. Seeing them in May for the first time supporting The Maccabees, in July at [event]Oxegen Festival[event], then in August at [event]Field Day Festival[/event], their progression was phenomenal.

    By the time I saw them for their headline tour in October, the band were brimming with confidence to match their ever-present talents.

    They finished the year by bringing out one brilliantly produced LP. With songs like Sigh No More, Dustbowl Dance and Thistle and Weeds, the quartet are keeping Britain in touching distance with American bands like Fleet Foxes, Monsters of Folk and Bon Iver in the folk takeover of 2009.
    words: chapperdeemus