Tuesday, December 21, 2010

4 LIST MANIA: Nik's 10 Favorite Records of 2010

SRG Founder Nik Christofferson | Photo by Erinn J. Hale
I had a really hard time coming up with my top 10 records of the year list this time around. The first 5 or so were sure things but filling out the remainder, I was almost forced to draw straws due to the rather lengthy list I compiled. I guess I listened to a shit load of new music in 2010.

There was a ton of excellent stuff to sort through and of course in a last ditch effort to verify I didn’t miss anything, I of course found a record that has driven home so deep that I had no choice but to give it a high ranking despite only a few weeks play time.

Looking over the year’s releases, it’s pretty clear that 2010 was stellar from beginning to end, where as in 2009 all my favorite records seemed to flood in during the final months of the year. For my tastes, I compiled at least 12 really solid local releases that are high on my overall list, and of course metal is where I spent most of my time. Without further adieu here are my 10 favorite records of the year and a best of the rest list as well. Enjoy! 

The Top 10:

10. Torche – Songs for Singles (Hydra Head)

My first response upon hearing there would be a new Torche EP released in 2010. Oh great, it’s going to be a bunch of b-sides and outtakes and will no way match the amazing “Meanderthal”. Well, it turned out “Songs for Singles” is a more than a solid follow-up, chalk full of Torche’s signature hook-laden sludge. It even features probably my favorite Torche track to-date “Out Again”, a beautiful 6 minute stoner metal dream sequence complete with relentless pounding drums and tribal percussion that whisks me away to happy-land on each and every spin.

9. Kylesa – Spiral Shadow (Season of Mist)

Kylesa continues to impress sonically while providing thick walls of sludgy goodness throughout their 5th studio release, “Spiral Shadow”. They also decided to dig deeper into their bag of psychedelic tricks, experimenting further with the nuances of the genre. The atmospheric build-up of the record’s lead-off track and cornerstone “Tired Climb”, combined with that brilliant explosion of chugging guitars, makes for one the most intense listening experiences of the year.

8. Coliseum – House with a Curse (Temporary Residence)

On “House with a Curse”, Kentucky’s Coliseum beats listeners into submission with sonic proficiency almost unmatched on any other release I’ve heard all of 2010. Coliseum’s driving punk infused metal anthems contain some of the most furious drumming I’ve heard this year as well. All in all it’s a barn burner of record.

7. The Black Keys – Brothers (Nonesuch)

Even though I enjoyed “Attack and Release”, it took me a while to warm to the Keys’ move to a more produced and experimental sound. I love the rawness of their earlier work and the simple power of Dan’s guitar and Patrick’s drums. Somehow on “Brothers” they have combined both the rawness of the old Keys’ but continue to evolve their bankable catchy songwriting into simply put -- some of the best modern day rock music available.

6. Lesbian – Stratospheria Cubensis (Important Records)

On “Stratospheria Cubensis”, it seems Seattle's own Lesbian leaves no metal genre stone unturned. At times, they ferociously and other times elegantly meld elements of death, doom, prog, stoner, classic, and black metal in a virtuously flawless sophomore effort. With the guidance of some illicit substances for certain, Lesbian has created an hour long collection of songs, none shorter than 8 minutes and the longest at 22 minutes, that builds and meanders, but never wavers and never grows boring. It’s an epic listening experience that so far has been immune to even the shortest of attention spans.

5. Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart (Jagjaguwar)

The third full length record by Vancouver B.C.’s Black Mountain has to be our link to the rock and roll excesses of the past. I sometimes wonder how cool it must have been to be alive during the heyday of heavy classic rock. The 70’s had to have ruled right? Well, Black Mountain is certainly bridging the gap for us youngsters. I really prefer just to sum up this record by pulling you into a room containing a massive wall of speakers and just simply dropping the needle on the magnificent “Old Fangs”. Any takers?

4. Ghost (Sweden) - Opus Eponymous (Rise Above)

I’ve only had this Swedish band’s debut for a few weeks (it’s not even available physically in the states yet). Ghost scratches a number of itches, first and foremost my love for satanic-themed classic metal bands like Mercyful Fate-- the King Diamond force is strong in Ghost’s anonymous satanic-pope lookalike front man. There is no one that sounds like Ghost – classic metal riffs, satanic lyrics, but the pop sensibilities of 70’s rock bands like Boston and BOC? Ghost’s “Opus Eponymous” is the most intriguing metal record I’ve heard all year. They have riffs, hooks, creepy imagery, and bring something completely out of left field to the table. I love satanic cheese!

3. Melvins – The Bride Screamed Murder (Ipecac)

On the Melvins’ 20th studio release, Buzz and co. continues to churn out some manically sludgy jams. Would you expect anything less? There are super-sized riffs galore and of the course the glorious tag-teamed drum thunder once again provided by Dale Crover and Coady Willis. The questionably oddball tracks that bookend this release are all but forgiven following a good ear drum massage by the meat and potatoes of “The Bride Screamed Murder.” They just keep going and going and going. Here’s hoping they’ll never stop.

2. The Austerity Program – Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn (Hydra Head) 

I have an idea, let’s just create some of the most mind blowing and insane noise rock available, and just hang out in New York and never tour. I want to hate New York’s Austerity Program for depriving us of the crushing sounds contained on their most recent EP, Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn, but it’s just so damn good. The cacophonous blizzard of distortion, bass, and drums on “Backsliders…” is a breath of fresh air, a noise rock sledgehammer to the face not heard since Big Black was active. They can bless me with their amplifiers forever and ever. Bigger Blacker.

1. Christian Mistress – Agony and Opium (20 Buck Spin)

Over the summer, Olympia, WA based metal band Christian Mistress swooped in unexpectedly and knocked me on my metal loving ass with a shredtastic and raucous ode to the metal bands of yesteryear. A classic dueling solo, NWOBHM metal sound combined with the unexpected magic of Christine Davis’ vocals (which sound something in the way of Lemmy fuckin' Janis Joplin’s ghost), creates for one of the freshest sounding metal records to come along in some time. You can tell the four members of CM grew up metal heads, it’s in their blood, it has to be because there is nothing contrived about what CM does, this is metal is it’s most stripped down and honest form. Nothing beats this record in 2010.

The Best of the Rest:
The Locals*:
Vultures 2012 – Bare Your Teeth
The Ruby Doe – Getting Ahead in the Music Business
Unnatural Helpers – Cracked Love and Other Drugs
The Lights – Failed Graves
Midday Veil – Eyes All Around
Past Lives – Tapestry of Webs
The Moondoggies – Tidelands
Wildildlife – Give in to Live
Black Breath – Heavy Breathing
Brad – Best Friends
He Whose Ox is Gored - OP AMPS II: Into the Ethers
Narrows / Heiress 7"
Same-Sex Dictator - Beneath You It Devours
Smooth Sailing demo
Absolute Monarchs demo
Cold Lake demo
Consulate demo
Ancient Warlocks demo
Grenades demo
The Spits - The Haunted Castle

*If you are not on the locals list -- you fucked up Bobby! -- send us your demo or record in 2011!

The Rest:

Red Fang - Tour EP
Dukatalon - Saved By Fear
Grinderman – II
Boris / Ian Astbury - BXI
Agalloch – Marrow of the Spirit
Daughters - S/T
Deftones - Diamond Eyes
Shining – Blackjazz
Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier
The Sword – Warp Riders
Danzig – Deth Red Saboath
Mark Lanegan / Isobell Campbell – Hawk
High on Fire – Snakes for the Divine
The Black Angels – Phosphene Dream
Electric Wizard – Black Masses
Coffinworm - When All Became None
Cough – Ritual Abuse
Cave In – Anomalies vol. 1
Nails – Unsilent Death
Knut – Wonder
Bison B.C. – Dark Ages
Kill the Client – Set of Extinction
Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky
Neil Young - Le Noise
Black Tusk - Taste the Sin

Words by Nik Christofferson


  1. Good list Nik!

    That Austerity Program EP is so damn good. Fingers crossed they're able to get out to the west coast one of these days.

  2. Good stuff Nik! Nothing better than end of the year lists.

  3. Excellent list. I am in complete agreement on the awesomeness of the Austerity Program EP. And thanks for reminding me about the Lights album that came out this year.



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