30 Ty SegallMelted
29 ShackletonFabric 55
28 CaribouSwim
27 Mount KimbieCrooks & Lovers
26 DeerhunterHalcyon Digest
25 Erykah BaduNew Amerykah Part II: Return of the Ankh
24 The WalkmenLisbon
23 TennisTennis (cassette)
22 Arcade FireThe Suburbs
21 Frankie Rose & the OutsFrankie Rose & the Outs
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20 Twin ShadowForget

mp3:
Twin Shadow :: Slow
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19 Forest SwordsDagger Paths

mp3:
Forest Swords :: Miarches
Forest Swords :: Rattling Cage
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18 HarlemHippies

mp3:
Harlem :: Gay Human Bones
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17 The SampsThe Samps

mp3:
The Samps :: FXNC
The Samps :: Peppergood
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16 GrimesGeidi Primes

mp3:
Grimes :: Feyd Rautha Dark Heart
Grimes :: Rosa
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15 Dum Dum GirlsI Will Be

mp3:
Dum Dum Girls :: Jail La La
Dum Dum Girls :: Bhang Bhang, I’m a Burnout
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14 Big K.R.I.T.wuz here

mp3:
Big K.R.I.T. :: Country Shit
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13 Twin SisterColor Your Life / Alternates

mp3:
Twin Sister :: All Around and Away We Go
Twin Sister :: Lady Daydream (cassette version)
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12 Earl SweatshirtEARL

mp3:
Earl Sweatshirt :: Couch (feat. Ace Creator)
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11 Toro y MoiCausers of This

mp3:
Toro y Moi :: Blessa
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10 GirlsBroken Dreams Club

More earnest pop gems from Girls: Broken Dreams Club is honest and heart-wrenching and revelatory in a way that you could only expect from these two. A very natural extension of Album, but also a tremendous step up, punctuated by tighter production and sonic explorations that exude a well-earned confidence. “Substance” charms with help from Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls, and “Carolina” — a jam we’ve had in our head for roughly two years — rounds things out in epic fashion.

mp3:
Girls :: Heartbreaker
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09 White DenimLast Day of Summer

With the the looser, “fresh and casual” approach (their words) that White Denim takes on Last Day of Summer, the band comes closer than ever to capturing the preternatural chemistry and seemingly effortless shapeshifting flow they consistently display in their live shows. Not bad for what essentially amounts to a stopgap / “little summer retreat” while we wait for the band’s proper third full-length. Download it for whatever you’d like to pay here.

mp3:
White Denim :: Some Wild Going Outward
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08 GamesThat We Can Play

In which ’80s homage/nostalgia is elevated to instant classic status by masterful pop deconstruction — and subsequent magical reconstruction — from Oneohtrix Point Never‘s Daniel Lopatin and Tigercity‘s Joel Ford. Granted, the run time here is slight, but the EP’s brevity works in its favor, as there’s not a wasted second on this thing. Also featuring one of the best songs of 2010, the unexpected “Cruel Summer“-recalling pop hit “Strawberry Skies,” which features vocals from Laurel Halo.

mp3:
Games :: Midi Drift
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07 Lower DensTwin-Hand Movement

Like most of the uniformly stellar (and underrated) output from Texan Jana Hunter, the self-titled debut from her new band Lower Dens is understated and unassuming, almost to a fault. But repeat listens reveal gorgeous waves of ringing, shimmering “post punk drone pop,” bolstered by Hunter’s emotive, vaguely androgynous vocals and a tangible, increasingly rare cohesiveness for such a young band. This one crept up on us, and cliched as it may sound, it’s fair to say that the whole here far exceeds the sum of its parts.

mp3:
Lower Dens :: Tea Lights
Lower Dens :: Hospice Gates
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06 Big BoiSir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty

The highly anticipated, perpetually delayed solo joint from one of our favorite rappers is a triumphant return on all fronts. Despite a few still-kind-of-awesome missteps — who invited Vonnegutt? — Big Boi’s classic, ridiculously dexterous flow and the record’s always inspired, deliriously out-there production cement this as the most fun (and funkiest) thing released in 2010. Best driving music of the year, too.


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05 Joanna NewsomHave One on Me

There’s no question we fell in love with the more immediate songs on Have One On Me upon first listen, although like most, we initially found the record as a whole kind of daunting and impenetrable. But as you witness Newsom bring these songs to life, you’re forcefully reminded of her very literally prodigious and virtuosic ability as a musician, songwriter, and lyricist, which only reaffirms how graceful and delicate and achingly beautiful these subtly complex compositions are. Revisit this one, it wears in like an old friend.
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04 James BlakeCMYK / Klavierwerke

Ghostly, living/breathing atmospherics from London’s James Blake, who, in CMYK + Klavierwerke, has created two of the year’s most groundbreaking releases. Blake’s Burial-esque manipulation of vocals and unique and imaginative use of space is incredibly soul-stirring and affecting in ways that are unlike anything I’ve ever heard. Nowhere is this more evident than on the mournful, fairly mindblowing “I Only Know (What I Know Now),” which sounds like being born/dying, or as P4k’s David Bevan put it, “like infinity trapped inside of five minutes.”

mp3:
James Blake :: CMYK

James Blake :: I Only Know (What I Know Now)

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03 Shabazz PalacesShabazz Palaces / Of Light

Originally self-released at the end of ’09 and re-released by Sub Pop last month, Seattle’s Shabazz Palaces thrillingly juxtapose the platinum voice and conscious/menacing lyrics of Palaceer Lazaro — aka anti-Kanye Ishmael Butler of Digable Planets — with bumping, futuristic Brainfeeder-level beats to create the most adventurous and inventive hip-hop release of the year. Look for a full-length in early 2011.

Shabazz Palaces :: Blastit…


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02 Ariel Pink’s Haunted GraffitiBefore Today

EXCLUSIVE: we asked Carles to write a blurb for us about Ariel Pink‘s brilliant Before Today, which was recorded in a real studio:

“Alas! The brilliant lofi texturewave artist Ariel Pink has finally done it, leaving many of us wondering: “What did music sound like Before Today?” which is coincidentally the title of his gamechanging 2010 release with his band of lofi talismans known simply as the Haunted Graffiti. Merging his ambient bedroom recording artist textures with the modern textures and professionalism of the modern recording vibes required for ‘mainstream indie coverage’, Ariel Pink has emerged from the shadowy textures of yesteryear and has evolved into a modern indie star. It seems as if perhaps the world has finally caught up with Ariel Rosenberg, and our ears are finally ready for his textures. “Before Today” is history, while the future is a mystery but today is a gift which belongs to Ariel Pink.”

–Carles of Hipster Runoff

mp3:
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti :: Round and Round


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01 Beach HouseTeen Dream

The most elegant, visceral, sensual release of the year comes from one of our favorite bands in the history of this blog. Teen Dream was born of a fully evolved vision and the indefatigable connection between Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand, whose voice is quickly becoming an iconic one. And, it has the best songs.

mp3:
Beach House :: Zebra (edit)
Beach House :: Norway
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GORILLA VS. BEAR’s ALBUMS OF 2010

01 Beach HouseTeen Dream
02 Ariel Pink’s Haunted GraffitiBefore Today
03 Shabazz PalacesOf Light/Shabazz Palaces
04 James BlakeCMYK/Klavierwerke
05 Joanna NewsomHave One on Me
06 Big BoiSir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
07 Lower DensTwin-Hand Movement
08 GamesThat We Can Play
09 White DenimLast Day of Summer
10 GirlsBroken Dreams Club
11 Toro y MoiCausers of This
12 Earl SweatshirtEARL
13 Twin SisterColor Your Life / Alternates
14 Big K.R.I.T.wuz here
15 Dum Dum GirlsI Will Be
16 GrimesGeidi Primes
17 The SampsThe Samps
18 HarlemHippies
19 Forest SwordsDagger Paths
20 Twin ShadowForget
21 Frankie Rose & the OutsFrankie Rose & the Outs
22 Arcade FireThe Suburbs
23 TennisTennis (cassette)
24 The WalkmenLisbon
25 Erykah BaduNew Amerykah Part II: Return of the Ankh
26 DeerhunterHalcyon Digest
27 Mount KimbieCrooks & Lovers
28 CaribouSwim
29 ShackletonFabric 55
30 Ty SegallMelted

*disclaimer: can’t believe that new Ghostface hasn’t leaked yet // also, we excluded a couple of Forest Family-affiliated bands that would have otherwise figured in here somewhere

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