MY BEST OF 2010: By CityLifer Chris Gilliver

 

My Album of the Year

MGMT’s Congratulations contained sparks of pure genius, ‘Flash Delirium’ being my track of the year, but on the whole it was too much of a self-absorbed chin-stroker for it to be a truly engaging experience. The Suburbs saw a return to form for the formidable Arcade Fire. It captured some of the magic of Funeral, and proved that AF is at their best when they don’t venture beyond their hometown borders. The world’s issues are too big for any band to transcribe successfully, but Neon Bible saw them overshoot by a distant margin. On their sophomore album, Crystal Castles proved that the controversy about their purportedly difficult interview “technique” is irrelevant and dull. Their uncompromisingly interesting fusion of dance, indie, video games and horror was equally compelling, both in its singularity, and its ability to make unusual sounds feel like pop music. The XX won the Mercury Music Prize with an excellent, if somewhat monotone, album.

But in the end it’s a more unusual album that struck me as being unusually thrilling. Derivatives, a reimagining of William Fitzsimmons’ breakthrough album The Sparrow and the Crow, is something sublime. Never (and I mean never!) has the heartbreaking meltdown of someone’s marriage – brought on by the onset of Fitzsimmons’ blind parents’ marriage – been so directly and honestly conveyed.

The result is something akin to Give Up by The Postal Service, where reinterpretation and remixing leads to something better than the originals. I love this album because it’s simultaneously incredibly accessible and meaningful. Derivatives is the sound of Fitzimmons turning himself inside out, leaving little left to hide. For him it must have been a risk, but it’s one, we are very glad to say, that was well worth it.

My Gigs of the Year 

The Naked and Famous at The Ruby Lounge 10/11/2010

 Bands are always at their best when they’re on the way up. When there’s that palpable sense of momentum, and a feeling that something vaguely historical is happening, the show becomes intoxicating. New Zealand’s The Naked and Famous will be the breakthrough act of 2011, and the November show at The Ruby Lounge proved that this was far more than overblown critical hype. Fusing synth-pop, shoegaze, indie and rock their repertoire is bold and broad, and armed with songs like ‘Young Blood’ (which has accrued over 1 million views on YouTube) and ‘Punching In A Dream’ there are no limits to the level of success that they could achieve. Amazing gig!

Debt At The Dancehouse 16/10/2010

A revelatory experience for this newbie, the Debt Records showcase was a fascinatingly eclectic show. With a mixture of bluegrass, comedy, performance poetry, Nick Cave style rock (and lots of other stuff besides), the truly stirring thing about this show was that every act was exceptional in someway. Our hats off to Hannah Moulette, Alabaster Deplume, Richard Barry & The Chaps, Red Tides, Becca & The Broken Biscuits, John Fairhurst, and Louis Barabbas and The Bedlam Six. Sorry if I missed anyone out.

Raghu Dixit at Band On The Wall 19/09/2010 

I would be lying if I told you that this was the most musically accomplished show of the year, but no other gig was quite so joyful. Dixit’s warm personality filled the room, and the combination of hair rock and traditional Indian music kept the crowd bouncing, smiling and laughing.
01 I Don’t Feel It Anymore (Featuring Brooke Fraser) (George Raquet Remix) by brunodalvi

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