10. R.E.M. – Blue
After more than 30 years together, and 15 albums, R.E.M. split in September. Their final album, Collapse Into Now was generally well received, and Blue is the final track. It’s a strange, dark song, with a droning guitar sound, stream of consciousness lyrics almost rapped out by Michael Stipe, and a haunting guest appearance from Patti Smith. It sounds nothing like R.E.M., and perhaps that is what makes it so good.
9. Funeral Party – Finale
If you think the band and track names suggest something downbeat and depressing. Finale is the sound of irritatingly young people with great hair having a great time. A fast and furious party anthem, it marks out Funeral Party as a band that could really make it, and become the soundtrack to a thousand parties.
8. Arcade Fire feat. David Byrne – Speaking In Tongues
The Suburbs was one of 2010’s great albums, and a deluxe version was released this year. Rather than sticking a couple of videos and b-sides on the album, Arcade Fire produced a new edition with a Spike Jonze directed short movie, an 80 page booklet and two new tracks. Speaking In Tongues is the better of the two, and wouldn’t sound of out place in the middle of the album. David Byrne brings his distinctive vocals to arguably one of Arcade Fire’s best tracks.
7. TV On The Radio – Will Do
TV On The Radio’s fifth album, Nine Types Of Light was undoubtedly one of the albums of the year. Will Do was the first track to be released from the album, and has a sound that is unique to the band. It’s accompanied by a beautiful video, and as fans of the band will know, features the best beard in rock, that of Kyp Malone.
6. Coldplay – Charlie Brown
Coldplay’s fifth album, Mylo Xyloto, might be their best yet, but Charlie Brown is certainly the best track on the album. For a band often accused of being depressing, Charlie Brown is a soaring song, bursting with life. Coldplay will never be everyone’s favourite band, but they are always evolving and changing their sound, and Charlie Brown was one of the highlights of the year.
5. WU LYF – We Bros
WU LYF are without doubt the best new band of the year. After a year of hype in which they played few live shows and gave no interviews, they unleashed their debut album Go Tell Fire To The Mountain in June and We Bros is the centrepiece of a classic debut. The lyrics are almost unintelligible, aside for the cries of ‘We bros!’ throughout, and they sound like no-one else due to the massive organ sound dominating the album.
4. Radiohead – Lotus Flower
Radiohead do things on their own terms, so for them to announce a new album then release it four days later seemed almost expected. And with it being Radiohead, that album was of course brilliant. Lotus Flower’s video is almost more well known than the song itself, featuring Thom Yorke’s unique dance moves. Like most of Radiohead’s recent output, it’s a more dance oriented than rock track, and features a brilliant Yorke vocal. The video has been spoofed and aped more times than you can count, but as always, nobody does it better than Radiohead.
3. Kasabian – Switchblade Smiles
If I was to describe Switchblade Smiles in a word, I’d probably go with mad. The video is mad, the lyrics are mad, and so is the tune. But it’s still one of the best things Kasabian have done and it rocks mightily. Beginning with a pulsing electro sound, it explodes into life with massive guitar riffs and furious drums. Tom Meighan might be singing nonsense, but it’s a vital, pulsating track that is guaranteed to get the crowd jumping.
2. Noel Gallagher – AKA…What A Life!
Noel Gallagher took his time when it came to releasing his debut solo album. Released well after the turd that was the Beady Eye album, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds was a fine start to his new career. While most of it could hardly be described as a radical departure from the Oasis sound, AKA….What A Life could do Noel’s first attempt at dance music. Driven by a classic sounding piano riff, AKA sounds like a lost Hacienda classic. The video, featuring Russell Brand, is absolutely mental.
1. The Rapture – How Deep Is Your Love
In May, DFA records announced that The Rapture had re-signed with them. Then in early June, they posted news of the vinyl pressing of a new song, How Deep Is Your Love. The accompanying video was merely the record being played, but what a track! Built around a simple but rhythmic piano riff, the song keeps building and building, and even the saxophone that comes in later sounds good. It’s The Rapture’s finest moment, and a reminder that DFA Records is still the home to some of the best dance music being produced today, even after LCD Soundsystem have split. If you only listen to one more song for the rest of the year, make it this one.