Naked on a bearskin rug
And he has favorite television series of 2010!

The year of 2010 was a year where television was on. Some of that television was compelling and some of it was not. I’ve compiled my list of the best. You can feel free to casually scroll though the titles, but if you want to relive the highs with me, I’ve broken down the key episodes so you can remember the gasping you did when someone took a fateful baptism, turned into claymation, and finally left that damn island.

Without any more adieu, my 10 favorite shows of 2010 with an additional 10 runners up.

1. Community

Following the misadventures of a group of students at a community college, this is the FUNNIEST show on TV because it’s not only wacky and out there, but also grounded by real characters who continue to evolve. What started out as a standard one camera show based in our reality soon became another that was willing to try anything. It works, and though the homage episodes (one to gangster films using chicken fingers; one to space movies using shameless Kentucky Fried Chicken propaganda from the 90’s) are often the most showy, the smaller episodes (Britta trying to be nice to Troy’s evil grandmother no matter how impossible it is; Annie makes the whole cast spend an entire episode in the study room trying to figure which one of the group stole her pen) are just as funny and remain true to the characters.
This cast is top notch. There’s a reason why Danny Pudi’s Abed is the breakout character, sort of a geeky Dwight from The Office. But I love both Alison Brie’s prescription pill addict gone goody goody Annie and Donald Glover’s often very confused delivery as Troy. Of course I would feel remiss if I left out the supporting ladies Gillian Jacobs and Yvette Nicole Brown as uncomfortable in her own skin Britta and sweetly self righteous Shirley, respectively. And Joel McHale is the glue that keeps the show together, with added props given to him for gracefully evolving with the series into an ensemble instead of fighting it to remain the lead. Really, only Chevy Chase and Ken Jeong seem like they could be the weak links, but seeing how often they shine, it’s just not the case.

Key Episodes:
"Investigative Journalism" in which Jack Black suddenly becomes a member of the group.
"Beginning Pottery" in which Jeff takes a pottery class where no one is allowed to act out the classic scene from "Ghost."
"Modern Warfare" in which Greendale becomes a post apocalyptic wasteland because of a paintball game.
"Epidemiology" which is the best zombie movie a zombie movie could be in 23 minutes.
"Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas" which optimizes the obscure and heartfelt that Community balances so perfectly.

2. Mad Men

Mad Men continues to rock my world in a way few shows can. This season we saw Don in a new light, an unsuccessful one. We saw other characters in a different light (Peggy the powerful and Betty the bitch) but my favorite thing about the show is the ability to let smaller characters come forward and have a huge impact. We may never see Salvatore again, but his small role still pops into our minds when we see Lucky Strike’s closeted hot shot come in and boss Roger around at the Sterling Cooper Draper Price’s Christmas party. And especially notable is Sally Draper, a character I never thought during the first or even second season would become such a major player in this universe but she (and the actress that plays her, Kiernan Shipka) have matured into the most fascinating to watch.
But perhaps Mad Men’s greatest strength, even more so than the way it allows one generation to relive history and another to view it in the context of every day life, is the way that it so seamlessly flows between comedy and drama. It’s not uncommon to find yourself laughing hard with (and often at) the characters and feeling goosebumps for them in the same scene. It’s a delicate act and Matt Weiner and Co show no signs of disappointing us in the near future.

Key Episodes:
"Waldorf Stories" in which Don wins a Clio, descends into a deeper drunken despair, and unknowingly steals a slogan. Also, Peggy wins a game of Chicken regarding nudity.
"The Suitcase" which could be a two person character play between Peggy and Don stuck at work on her birthday, except for the occasional interruption by her boyfriend Paul (with her family, Surprise!) and her former lover Duck. But the meat of the episode is Peggy finally standing up to Don and Don finally cracking over the news he receives from LA.
"The Beautiful Girls" in which Sally runs away from home to be with Don and, in one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the entire series, falls flat on her face in front of the office. Also, Joan and Roger totally do it in an alley and Miss Blankenship gets the Weekend at Bernie’s treatment during an important meeting.
"Blowing Smoke" in which someone is finally proud of Sally, Betty wants to continue confiding in a room adorned with cartoon animals, Don doesn’t get a phone call from Ted Kennedy, Trudy snips Pete’s balls off regarding their bank account, and Midge from season 1 returns and she’s not the girl you remember.

3. Friday Night Lights

Few shows with such a well oiled machine of an ensemble would dare mix it up and bring in new faces, but in order to stay believable, that’s exactly what Friday Night Lights had to do. A new class of students are the focus of Dillon high, with reminders of the old sticking around. The fourth season (which I watched on NBC this past summer) began the journey for many of these new characters and the fifth season (which is at about the halfway point on Direct Tv channel 101) is seeing everyone to the end of the show for good. While the Taylors continue to be the most fascinating and believable family on TV, new characters have bloomed including Vince who evolves from thug to role model, lost babe in the woods Becky, and Buddy Jr. being “re-imagined” as the personification of Buddy’s mistakes and hopefully his redemption…
When the show wraps for good in the next couple months, I know it will be one that has gone out on top creatively and I fully expect to be sobbing because honestly, it wouldn’t be Friday Night Lights if I wasn’t blubbering like a little baby when all was said and done.

Key Episodes:
"The Son" is possibly Friday Night Light’s finest episode ever, in which the perpetually saddled with responsibility Matt Saracen literally buries his father.
"I Can’t" in which Tami counsels a pregnant Becky on her next step (abortion or motherhood) while Luke deals with the ramifications of possibly being a baby daddy on his own. This is also the episode that goes to a dark place with Vince having to decide how he’s going to help his mother. Not surprisingly, Michael B. Jordan who plays Vince was also on The Wire.
"Keep Looking" which finds stripper Mindy unexpectedly taking on the role as caretaker for Becky and Buddy finds out how being a crap dad has affected Buddy Jr.
"Kingdom" in which the team bonds during an away game, Coach compromises his integrity for the win, and everyone in Julie’s dorm finds out that "Julie Taylor Is A Slut!"

4. Terriers

A show that admittedly started slow, but by the end of episode three was firing on all cylinders creatively. Part laid back dude comedy, part detective noir, part surfer soap opera, the show could best be defined as the love child of a “Veronica Mars”- “The Big Lebowski”-“Chinatown” orgy. The dialogue is a writer’s dream, the performances great, and the surprises plentiful. Just when you think you know where it’s going, guess what… you don’t. It’s too bad nobody watched. Blame the (terrible) advertising, blame the masses not ready for such dense tet-a-tet dialogue, blame the show for not putting its best foot forward in the pilot when it really should have (the pilot should always be a strong example of what’s going to happen but shows lately have not been adhering to this very basic philosophy… this is definitely going to be a blog topic for a later date). None the less, another good one bites the dust but not before delivering an incredibly satisfying first season. I urge anyone interested in a smart and fun mystery to seek this first season out on demand or dvd when it gets released. Watched back to back, it’s an awesomely addicting ride.

Key Episodes:
"Change Partners" is the third episode in the series but probably should have been the first as it’s the first episode to get all the elements right. A crafty case involving the affair of a rich banker’s wife (sublime guest star Olivia Williams), check. Character serialization kicking into gear (an old friend of Britt’s decides to blackmail him about his past, Hank’s suspicions of his ex-wife’s new fiancee kicks in), check. An ending that hooks you with a stellar cliffhanger (a mysterious figure disappears into the roof behind Hank while he relaxes, oblivious to the intruder), check.
"Fustercluck" accelerates the action on so many levels, most excitingly with the death of a major player that literally comes out of nowhere.
"Asunder" is the episode the series has been building to, a wedding in which all the character’s stories reach a boiling point. A taut and tense episode filled with twists and turns galore and an emotionally wrenching final act.
"Quid Pro Quo" in which many characters, good and bad meet their fates, for better or worse. And then there’s still one more episode after it to (loosely) put the pieces back together.

5. Vampire Diaries/True Blood

This is not a cheat! If you could put these two shows together, you’d have a number one on my list. As they stand, they are two separate but equally worthy heirs to #5. If Vampire Diaries could have the freedom to go as far out there as True Blood does, it would be even stronger but alas it’s limited by being a network show. If True Blood could have character arcs and payoffs as great as Vampire Diaries, it would be adored for more than its stylistic charms (which are, I must say, very enticing) of over the top sex, gore and language. These shows are similar on the surface, yes but they do offer different approaches. Bill and Sookie get to have the hot and dirty sex, Stefan and Elena get to have the tortured true love. Eric Northam gets to be sexually ambiguous and scheming, Damon gets to be aloof and shirtless. Alcede’s wolf gets to be cool as a cucumber, Tyler’s wolf gets to be pained and terrified. Sidekick Tara gets great R-rated comebacks and constant victimization, Bonnie gets to be holier than thou and powerful.
True Blood is here because of its consistent ability to go over the top in a way that’s damn near impossible to take your eyes off of. The only problem (and this has become one that has reappeared all three seasons) is that the adrenaline is so strong in the beginning, the ending can never deliver the way it should. Great storylines like Tara’s dabbling with darkness in the form of crazy vampire Franklin, Eric and Bill’s dealings with the powerplays in vampire monarchy of Sophie-Ann and Russell, and Sookie’s quest for self discovery are weighed down by nonstarters like Sam and his boring family, Jason and his boring hick girlfriend, or total letdowns like Sookie’s origin or Tara’s aborted suicide. As much as I love True Blood, it can really kill all the goodwill it garners by following a string of superior TV with a complete thud (see the season finale).
Vampire Diaries is here because the excitement and cliffhangers do not disappoint. The actions have reactions and the characters continue to learn from their mistakes and behave in ways that make them believable in unreal circumstances. Though it is missing some of the humor that makes True Blood so much fun, it also delivers story arcs with exclamation points that cap off the action perfectly.

Key Episodes (True Blood):
"It Hurts Me" in which we see Bill’s (flashback) transformation from man to vampire, Jessica seeks advise from Pam, Franklin interjects himself into Tara and Jessica’s lives, and Bill and Lorena have some really twisted hate sex.
"I Got A Right To Sing The Blues" which opens with one of the most awesome scenes of True Blood history, a swirling continuous take in slow motion in which Russell drags Bill and Sookie into his house, someone gets staked, and someone gets really pissed that the house is getting destroyed. Oh yeah, Tara gets to be a real badass for once. She takes a bite out of Franklin, crushes some skull with a mace, and rescues Sookie with nothing but her sassy attitude and a bowl of almonds.
"Night on the Sun" which has a kick ass training sequence between Bill and Jessica, Sookie breaking up with Mr. Compton, and Eric exacting a very sexy and gory revenge.

Key Episodes (Vampire Diaries):
"Isobel" in which Elena meets her real bitch of a mom and Damon meets her mom’s two lovers, a gay rodeo cowboy and a french hussy.
"Founder’s Day" is the first season finale, an episode that brings all the storylines together in a flurry of excitement, then ends with a delicious cliffhanger in which someone is not who they appear to be slices off someone’s hand…
"Masquerade," the single best episode the show has done so far which brings all the players together in unexpected ways for one mission (take down Katherine or Elena, depending on which side the characters wind up). Part John Hughes teen adventure, part Heist movie, part psychological thriller, the episode ramps up everything I love about the show. It was so good I had to watch it twice to revel in all the action.
"The Sacrifice" would qualify solely for the scene where Caroline and Tyler discover a videotape of Mason’s transformation. It is so deftly played, it’ll break your heart. Of course it also has bad ass things like Katherine being all Hannibal Lector in her tomb, an emerging love triangle with Bonnie/Jeremy/the new warlock, and lots of Damon and Elena tension.

6. Fringe

The show continues to evolve from the mystery of the week format into a rich and dense exploration of family, duty, and parallel universes. In a science fiction fan’s wet dream of a season, this third one has been using the parallel universe to make our heroes villains (and then redeem them too), a perfect way to get you to see the characters as fully realized. Also pushing the show are the lead performances by Anna Torv who has given Olivia so many dimensions, and John Noble who gives the show its quirk and heart in Walter.

Key Episodes:
"Peter" is the episode that changes everything (including the opening sequence). By the end of it everything we know about Joshua Jackson’s character (Peter), Walter’s insanity, and the Observer’s motives have shifted.
"Olivia," the first episode to nearly take place "over there." It shows just how expansive this new universe is going to be.
"Entrada" in which Peter discovers the woman in bed beside him is not who he thinks she is and the proverbial pieces that have all been put on the table come into place.

7. Parks and Recreation

I think we all wanted to love this when it first started. Amy Poehler was finally going to star in her own show and it was from the team that brought us The Office. However, no amount of goodwill could have made that first season consistently funny. Thankfully the show got into its groove and the episodes that aired in 2010 were the funniest yet. With the late season addition of Adam Scott and Rob Lowe in very funny roles (The Boy Mayor and Perfect Male Specimen, respectfully), they’ve joined what is gelling into one of the funniest ensembles on television.

Key Episodes:
"Park Safety" is possibly the funniest half hour of television that aired last year. An episode that puts the show’s secret weapon front and center, Jerry Gergich (who is both a schlemiel and a schlamazel according to Ron). There are so many great one liners (My favorite is "Scientifically hummingbirds are the world’s cutest animals. I mean they’re so small, they have tiny beaks and they only eat sugar water. I mean what beats that? Come on. Baby monkeys in diapers? Yeah, they do. Baby monkeys in diapers are cutest."-Leslie) and a really funny guest turn from Andy Samberg as Carl, a ranger who is oblivious to how loud he talks. But nothing beats the scene where Jerry makes a presentation and an ass out of himself while the whole office tries not to laugh. It’s two minutes that are hysterical in its purest form.
"Sweetums" in which the new privatized concession stand for the Pawnee parks distributes health bars that are actually pure sugar. We also discover that Ron can drink. A lot.
"Freddy Spaghetti" in which a concert for kids in the park must go on after the big act is booked somewhere else. Leslie goes on as Renatta Ricotta, Tom has an awesome new girlfriend, April tells Andy her feelings, and Rob Lowe’s character Chris is really really strange. It’s an episode that says goodbye to a regular character and brings in two new ones to the fold in a way that leaves us wanting more!

8. Parenthood

Since the show premiered in the spring of 2010, it’s gone on quite a journey. It started as a show that was not as funny as the promos made it out to be. But once I accepted that it was not an hourlong comedy, I was free to love what it really is: A depiction of the life of a family focusing on the small moments as much as the big ones. The way the characters talk, with real pauses and tics and laughs, it’s so genuine. And, being that it comes from the same crew that makes the incomparable Friday Night Lights, it’s also heartwarming. This show aired 23 episodes, a 13 episode first season and 10 episodes of the second last year and what’s happened is that it’s carved out a neat little universe for itself. The Braverman family is the focus with the patriarch and matriarch having their own late marital issues, their two sons (one dealing with his son having Aspergers, the other discovering he is a father to a five year old) and their two daughters (the oldest a single mom/general failure in life no matter how well intentioned she may be and the youngest an overworked ice queen), but then there’s the grandkids who have their own problems, Alex the volunteer who pushes Haddie to be better, Gaby the behavioral therapist working with Max, Jasmine’s judgmental mom, Suze the mom of another Asperger’s kid. The show continues to enrich and the stories always resonate. If you’ve not watched this show, I say get in now. Its viewership is small and deserves to be on the air for many years. A show with values like this could actually make you a better person. How can you argue with loving that?

Key Episodes:
"Rubber Band Ball" in which Julia and Joel worry their daughter might have Aspergers, Crosby meet’s Jasmine’s family for the first time and also sees the birth of Jabar on a videotape, and in a moment that could warm even the coldest heart, mother Camille confides in her oldest daughter Sarah the she thinks Sarah is the bravest of all her children.
"Team Braverman" features the most realistic high school fight I’ve ever seen when Amber and Haddie come to blows over Steve. The rift between them spreads to the whole family as everyone picks a side to fall on. And we see Kristina grapple with Max not realizing he is Autistic even as he is excited about "raising money for those kids with Autism!"
"I’m Cooler Than You Think" finds both Sarah and Adam wanting to connect with their kids, Julia and Joel struggling over having another child, and Crosby fighting Jasmine’s mom for time with Jabar.
"Orange Alert" is the Halloween episode which finds Zeke trying to throw the best Halloween even as he finds opposition from most of his family, Amber has to act responsibly in the face of lying to her mom about going to a party, and Kristina’s micromanaging of Max’s trick or treating climaxes at the scariest house on the block.

9. Boardwalk Empire

Martin Scorsese producing a TV series was a very exciting prospect for anyone who loves good television. So while I was initially grabbed by the pilot episode’s design and grand scope, the subsequent episodes left me cold for quite a while. As beautiful as it looked, it took a while for the show to compel. The change began once the show turned its focus to the widow Margaret Schroeder. Not that the lives of Atlantic City royalty Nucky Thompson, aspiring Kingpin Jimmy, and repressed Agent Van Alden were boring, it’s just that her journey was so much more fascinating. And then, to quote my astute friend and co- pop cultural enthusiast Adam Sass “once the show got its weird on” it REALLY began to pop. Introducing a character with half a face, secret lesbian affairs, and exploring the most twisted mother and son relationship on TV really gave the show some juice. It’s typical of many HBO shows to take their time laying the foundation in the first season for a strong series and that’s exactly what the first half of Boardwalk Empire did. But then it showed us what was behind the curtain, wetting our appetites for what is sure to be a spectacular second season.

Key Episodes:
"Anastasia" which introduces us to the Atlantic City chapter of the KKK, brings Jimmy to Chicago where he and Al Capone become partners, and gives us the first hint that Margaret Schroeder has the brain to spar with the most powerful men in Atlantic City when she banters with the best at Nucky’s surprise party.
"Home" introduces the most interesting character on the canvas, Richard Harrow, the man with half a face who is instrumental in Jimmy’s revenge for the opium loving prostitute who was victimized to get to him. And Jimmy’s wife is having a torrid affair, but not with who we suspected.
"The Emerald City" in which agent Van Alden does not make love to Margaret no matter how much he pretends Lucy is, Nucky retaliates against the D’Alessio brothers after their botched assassination attempt, Jimmy gets really angry-like throwing someone through a glass door angry, and Margaret realizes what a pawn she is in Nucky’s game, but is it too late?
"Paris Green" is the penultimate episode of the season but it’s the meatiest as it concerns a botched baptism, Margaret’s discovery of Nucky’s behind closed doors life, Angie’s desperate plan to flee to Paris, and the discovery that someone is poisoning the Commodore. Did I mention that there is a baptism in the woods that goes horribly wrong?

10. Lost

A show that captured my heart and my brain for endless hours finally came to a conclusion. Was it the conclusion I wanted? No, it did fall short. But in all realistic probabilities, the show could never have reached the heights it set up for itself. SO while the show lacked the grand ending it should have had, it did still succeed in providing the emotional ending for the characters it needed. I know that the creators maintained to the very end that the show was about the characters first and foremost, but that attitude shortchanges that the show was also about the magic of the Island and in the end they shortchanged that aspect. Still, it was a cathartic ending to see Jack finally sacrifice himself for everyone else and watching the gang ascend to Heaven, rebirth, or another planet. Which ever ending you choose, well that is part of Lost’s charm isn’t it?

Key Episodes:
"Ab Aetemo" in which we discover Richard Alpert’s "origin story." It is, quite possibly, one of the most moving love stories told on tv (including Penny and Desmond, the other star crossed lovers of the show).
"Happily Ever After" in which, in an alternate universe, Charlie shows Desmond something new by driving the car into the ocean, and then Desmond fully awakens when he meets alternate Penny.
"The Candidate" in which Sun and Jin are finally reunited on the island, and then get on a fateful submarine…
"The End" in which Jack gives NotLocke a badass beatdown and everything comes full circle… Jack lies in the grass and Vincent comes to his side as he closes his eyes forever. I just got goosebumps typing that.

Runners up:

11. Rubicon
A show that should have come out of the gate with more boom, let this be a lesson to showrunners. Grab your audience and make sure they know that there is some good shit coming down the line. Had people gotten through the slow first episode, slower second and third, they would have discovered a rich and tense series full of moral ambiguity. Alas, it is a one season wonder…

12. Cougar Town
Though not as culturally prolific as the show leading into it, this one has really won me over with characters that love each other and have all kinds of in-jokes. What other show would have an In Memorium montage for a big wine glass?

13. Modern Family
ABC’s crown jewel is consistently funny, often times hilarious, and always rooted in characters we’ve come to love.

14. 90210
THIS was the teen show it aimed to be the first two seasons. But now it’s really hitting its stride and finding the perfect mix of over the top guilty pleasure cheese and topical awareness.

15. The Walking Dead
A perfect pilot, with spotty episodes following it. None the less, this was the scariest thing on TV and when it hit the right notes, it played them perfectly.

16. Treme
A slow burn series that paid off in dividends in the end.

17. How To Make It In America
At first I thought this was going to be a lame Entourage knock off. Thank HBO it wasn’t. It’s a show about the underdogs, about figuring out who you want to be in your 20’s, and about the endless possibilities (fame, love, redemption, heartache) that can happen in New York City.

18. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Always twisted, always funny.

19. Caprica
Some deep shit was going on in this show. I didn’t even know what it was half the time but damn if I didn’t enjoy myself trying to figure it out.

20. Lone Star
Only two episodes of this complex soap set in Texas aired, but it was the best new show this year anyway. Some things are just too beautiful for this world.

An Open Letter To Christina Aguilera:
Dear Christina,
I recently had the opportunity to watch the film “Burlesque.” After watching it, one of the many questions I had were, do you really want to be an actress?
Yes, you’re a superstar right now. You’ve sold many of albums, changed your name and hair extensions plenty of times, and have been rubbed the right way as a genie in a bottle. So do you need to expand in to cinema?My gut tells me no.
In the film, whenever you sing, you are clearly in your element. However, when you are required to carry on conversations with others, it just doesn’t seem believable. It’s as if you’re saying the lines phonetically but aren’t sure what they mean, which is strange because it if English, a language I think you’re fluent in.
Even though your character Ally is supposed to be the one we root for, it never seemed like she deserved to succeed aside from the fact that she had a nice voice. When you play her, you talk to everyone with thinly veiled contempt. It seems that your own life as an adored diva was really affecting your performance.
So perhaps you should only play diva’s who do not learn or grow at all. That is all you are qualified to play.
Good luck to you, Xtina. I hope you take acting classes or grow a soul behind those dead eyes of yours.

An Open Letter To Christina Aguilera:

Dear Christina,

I recently had the opportunity to watch the film “Burlesque.” After watching it, one of the many questions I had were, do you really want to be an actress?

Yes, you’re a superstar right now. You’ve sold many of albums, changed your name and hair extensions plenty of times, and have been rubbed the right way as a genie in a bottle. So do you need to expand in to cinema?

My gut tells me no.

In the film, whenever you sing, you are clearly in your element. However, when you are required to carry on conversations with others, it just doesn’t seem believable. It’s as if you’re saying the lines phonetically but aren’t sure what they mean, which is strange because it if English, a language I think you’re fluent in.

Even though your character Ally is supposed to be the one we root for, it never seemed like she deserved to succeed aside from the fact that she had a nice voice. When you play her, you talk to everyone with thinly veiled contempt. It seems that your own life as an adored diva was really affecting your performance.

So perhaps you should only play diva’s who do not learn or grow at all. That is all you are qualified to play.

Good luck to you, Xtina. I hope you take acting classes or grow a soul behind those dead eyes of yours.



And he has favorite albums of 2010!

It was a great year for music. I don’t say this lightly. No frivolity. This year, if you had ears, they had no reason to be displeased. They should have been dancing right off your head.

Ahead of me are my ten favorite albums of the year, as well as then runners up that deserved to be noted. And then there’s probably ten more I could list that I liked a lot and were close to being noteworthy… but that’s the thing about lists. You have to rank, you have to choose, and everyone’s choices are subjective. There is no right list, except for mine which laughs at all others and their clear inferiority.

SO without further waiting I present to you MY FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2010

10. Two Door Cinema Club: Tourist History
Many surprises await you…

The rousing “Do You Want It All?”
Crowd pleasing “Something Good Can Work”
Hard hitting “I Can Talk”

Sometimes you just want to have fun. That’s where Two Door Cinema Club come in. Energetic, catchy, and fun all without being insulting. If you’re looking for a deeper meaning, well you probably ain’t gonna find it here. Not that you’ll notice, you’re going to be to busy shaking and singing along to notice that this is strictly grade A surface stuff here.

9. The Drums: The Drums
Everyone’s gotta love somebody but I just want to love you

Love anthem “Forever and Ever Amen”
Beach Boys influenced “Let’s Go Surfing”
Post punk “Me and the Moon”

The Drums and Best Coast were two bands that embraced the 50’s/60’s inspired sound, but unlike Best Coast who pay a direct homage to that style(and I really did like even if they didn’t make the list) The Drums use the influences to create a sound that is simultaneously new and reminiscent of the old. And the songs, they’re just great fun songs.

8. Crystal Castles: Crystal Castles (2)
Do you pray with your eyes closed, naturally?

The ethereal “Celestica”
Mysterious and claustrophobic “Empathy”
Old school rave (with a healthy dose of rage screaming) “Baptism”

You can really lose yourself in Crystal Castles music. There’s a lot going on, a lot of emotions and sounds being thrown around. It can get a bit disorienting, but in the best way. Initially, I thought they were going to be some sort of bubblegum dance group, judged solely off of the band’s name. But it’s actually rather abrasive. But under the throbbing beats, the screaming, and the hard electronic exterior, you can feel the heart of Ethan Kass and Alice Glass’ seeping through so that heart meets mind by way of toe tapping.

7. Vampire Weekend: Contra
You stand this close to me, like the future was supposed to be

Strong contender for song of the year “Run”
Hand clapper “Giving up the gun”
The gradually building “White Sky”

I think we all kind of wrote Vampire Weekend off as a one trick pony after the last album, right? It was a lovely album, that first one, but it felt like they had done everything they could with their style. On behalf of everyone, I would like to apologize. The guys have taken their style and built upon it. As great as this album is (and it is indeed a great one!), the best part is the promise of great things to come from these artists as they continue to evolve and push expectations.

6. The National: High Violet
Got my head in the oven so you know where I’ll be

Dirgelike “Afraid of Everyone”
The upbeat (for The National) “Conversation 16”
Declarative “Anyone’s Ghost”

Simultaneously darker and hopeful, The National returns with an album that captures regret, longing, and cigarettes in an alley behind the bar just after last call. It seems that after their last album, the nearly flawless Boxer, The National had their work cut out for them. They rose to the occasion with an album that manages to hit the low notes but never forgetting to implement the melodies that make great music.

5. Groove Armada: Black Light
I got an inkling, That I got an Avalanche, Falling on top of me, Crushing my everything

“Paper Romance” is one of the catchiest songs of the year, if not the decade.
The sexy, seductive lure of “Shameless”

"Just For Tonight" is a song perfect for driving on a snowy night with your lover
Groove Armada has a slew of different voices manning the vocals on their new album of original work (not to be confused with their DJ sets), but it’s not just the vocals that change the songs. A true mix tape is accomplished by running the gamut of straight up ballads, rockers, 80’s inspired dance numbers, and dangerous noir melodies. Rumors have been swirling that this is the last Groove Armada album we’ll hear of original tunes, and if so this is the ultimate preview of what the music producers will get to continue on to do.

4. Beach House: Teen Dream
Anyway you run, you run before us

Siren Song “Norway”
“Lover of Mine” which may or may not sample a music box
Album capper “Take Care”

We grow up but we never really stop being teenagers, do we? We still find ourselves facing petty jealousies, get our feelings hurt, care what about others think about us. Initially, I didn’t know what the Teen of Teen Dream meant, but Beach House’s music is all about the angst and wonder of life and it is most definitely has a dream like quality. The new album is full of self contained songs that have a similar tone (dreamy wistfulness) but have their own identities, a problem that’s plagued previous albums from the duo which tended to bleed into one long song. It’s a really beautiful album, the kind that haunts you in the best way possible.

3. Yeasayer: Odd Blood
Stick up for yourself son, never mind what anybody else does

The eerily crooned “Madder Red”
Nostalgically beautiful “I Remember”
Brimming with energy “Mondegreen”
Dance party starting “O.N.E.”

An album that mixes experimental sounds with accessible hits, Yeasayer’s disc this year was a revelation. Though I was a fan before, it wasn’t until they really put themselves in the two extremes of my taste that I could really see how I loved them. You’ll clap your hands alongside them in some songs, and others you can’t help being lured into the sonic soundscapes carved by these guys.

2. LCD Soundsystem: This is Happening!
People who need people are just people who need people.

The guaranteed to get your ass shaking “Dance Yrself Clean”
Dreamy Jam “Home,”
New Wave Inspired “I Can Change,”
Post Punk “One Touch,”
And the EFF YOU to Corporate Music “You Wanted a Hit”

There’s a reason there is an exclamation point at the end of the title. LCD Soundsystem continues to be one of the most exciting bands making music right now. And if the rumors are true that this is their last album, what a way to go out (I’m really trying to look on the bright side of them hanging their cowbells up for good). A nine song album, each track builds upon itself from a humble beginning or hook and continues to layer sound and texture until something simple has become… well, let’s face it. A masterpiece. Thought provoking lyrics go hand in hand in with songs that make it damn near impossible to sit still for.

1. Arcade Fire: Suburbs
Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock.

The instant classic “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”
The chant worthy “Rococo”
Understated and introspective “Modern Man”
The Bruce Springsteen inspired “Half Light II (No Celebration)”
Dizzying “Empty Room”

A truly epic album, from beginning to end. I could leave it at that and really, I should because it’s nearly impossible for me to talk about this album without gushing endlessly.

If you’ve listened to Arcade Fire before, it’s hard not to think of this album as a sequel to their song “No Cars Go.” If that song is about teenagers looking for a place where they can be alone to makeout, this is the album that expands on that universe. Songs about kids riding their bikes in the street, waiting for letters to arrive, and disappearing behind miles and miles of buildings (or mountaint beyond mountains). These are small things that make life, but they’re important building blocks of our very existence and they deserve to be explored in such a thoughtful manner. Also, the music is layered, catchy, and tends to zig when you expect a zag. One song rocks, the next an introspective journey, then a rousing sing along, and then a dance party.
This is life, changing and growing. That’s why Arcade Fire remains the soundtrack of mine.

Ten More Notables:

11. Foals: Total Life Forever
Complex music that takes you all over the place. You’ll ponder, you’ll rock out,and it’s only going to grow on you the more you listen.
Spanish Sahara, Total Life Forever, This Orient

12. Mumford & Sons: Sigh No More
The best Americana of the year came from across the pond. Go figure.
Awake My Soul, The Cave, Little Lion Man

13. Home Video: The Automatic Process
If Radiohead had come out of the gate being all experimental and electronic instead of a straight acoustic band, they would have sounded like this exciting New York duo.
The Smoke, You Will Know What To Do, Business Transaction

14. Interpol: Interpol
The self titled release from the group finds them in familiar territory for the most part, but their dabbling with electronic sounds keeps hopes for a better album from the gloomy stalwarts.
Try It On, Barracade, Lights

15. Caribou: Swim
A funky, fun, chill blend of beats and synths guaranteed to get you up and moving.
Odessa, Kaili, Lalibela

16. Broken Bells: Broken Bells
James Mercer and Dangermouse team up for what is essentially an electrified Shins album. No one complained one bit.
The Ghost Inside, The Mall & Misery, The High Road

17. Band of Horses: Infinite Arms
What’s not to love about these guys? They do what they do and they do it well.
Factory, Dilly, Compliments

18. Gorillaz: Plastic Beach
Things have not mellowed out for the spastic collective here, and that’s a good thing. Alternating between fun and poignant, it’s always interesting.
On Melancholy Hill, Empire Ants, Rhinestone Eyes

19. The New Pornographers: Together
Every album from this band is so good, you sometimes take for granted that it’s going to be solid. This may have happened with me and them this year, but none the less it’s a noteworthy release from the always reliable super group.
Crash Years, Silver Jenny Dollars, Up In The Dark

20. Local Natives: Gorilla Manor
A real gem in the LA music scene, this guys has a phenomenal year and deserve all the success (both earned and coming). Their attention to harmony is spectacular as is the way they toy with the rhythm.
Wide Eyes, Sun Hands, Cubism Dream

Hello Tumblr

Hello Tumblr.

This is my first blog post on you! I’m so excited! Exclamation point!!!!!

I’ve heard you are good. You are nice. You’ll let me write things that will inspire. You’ll push me to be my best. You are my new mommy and my new daddy. My lover and best friend. Wait, are you my enemy too? Why are you looking at me like that? Am I disappointing you already? We’ve just gotten started and you already want me to give you some space? What kind of bullshit is this?

That’s it. I hate this website. I never wanted to do it anyway, I’d just heard from other people that it would be a good place to explore my feelings and thoughts. I just wanted to be cool.

Listen to me! What are you making me into, Tumblr? WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?

Okay. Good first blog. I think we worked some things out. I think this is going to be good. You’ll never leave me, will you Tumblr? Never.