albums2015

“I’m too hot, hot damn! Call the police and a fireman.” Ring any bells? Of course it does. Uptown Funk will most likely go down in history as 2015’s biggest hit and no doubt Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars will have bought themselves plenty of ‘Chucks & Saint Laurent’ for  Christmas.

Besides this stonker 2015 will probably be remembered for OMI finding himself a Cheerleader, for Drake sharing his late night cellphone habits with us in Hotline Bling (this version is way better!), for Adele’s long awaited return (Lionel Richie much?) and for the sudden acceptance of Justin Bieber as a ‘grown up pop artist’ thanks to uncles Diplo and Skrillex.

I confess, I too was swayed by the poptastic fabrications of team Bieber this year… But fear not: I gathered up a bunch of top tunes with plenty of indie rock cred to compensate!

I’ve compiled the usual list of 50, available for your playlist cravings on Spotify of course. Below you can eye up the videos for the top 25 too. And for my list-obsessed comrades: my stupidly big ‘2015 long list‘ is also up for the streaming.

Please do share the tracks you obsessed over this year in the comments and berate me for the gems I mistakenly left out. Happy new year!

25. Mini Mansions feat. Alex Turner – Vertigo

LA smooth lads Mini Mansions cleverly asked buddy Alex Turner to donate his special brand of raunchy delivery to a couple of lyrics. It works a charm and adds some broodiness to this poppy tune.

24. Christine and the Queens – Christine

One of the best performances I saw this year was Christine and the Queens, who take the word ‘performance’ very seriously. The whole show was meticulously choreographed and a joy to watch.

23. BØRNS – Electric Love

An over produced glamfest of a song, but it’s so damn chirpy!

22. Justin Bieber – Sorry

Yes. This happened. #sorrynotsorry

21. De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig – Manon

DJVT keep churning out catchy tunes and this ode to (a female called) Manon has a super addictive chorus. And a video full of cats!!

20. Shura – 2Shy

Like an indie-version of an early Madonna song, sounds like it could actually be from the eighties.

19. Shamir – On The Regular

Discotastic funky number from this androgynous hipster guy (yes!) from Last Vegas. Also, you can never have too much cow bell.

18. Typhoon – Liefste

A plain and simple love song by Dutch hip hop artist Typhoon, with beautifully written lyrics that describe the push and pull of a relationship.

17. The Maccabees – Something Like Happiness

It’s a long standing love affair, me & The Maccabees. They are one of the first bands I remember getting completely bowled over by at a summer festival. This song has exactly that festival anthem quality they understand so well.

16. Viet Cong – Continental Shelf

It’s a miracle this song made the cut really, as the Viet Cong gig I saw this year was a mess. Continental Shelf got massacred in a screaming noise fit and lost all its eerie haunting quality. Still though, killer tune.

15. Sef – Wakker

More Dutch hip hop from Sef in this fresh tune with a nostalgic nineties club vibe going on. Incidentally also my boyfriend’s favourite song to wake me up with (makes me less grumpy).

14. Nadine Shah – Stealing Cars

This was one of my big finds this year. I’d never heard of Nadine Shah but this track would get stuck in my brain for days. She also collaborated with Gostpoet this year.

13. The Districts- 4th And Roebling

Nothing new or innovative about this one, but it’s just such a lovable raggedy romp of a rock tune.

12. Jack Garratt – Worry

Smashing mix of soulful songs and electronics, somewhere in that James Blake – Jamie Woon – Flume – Chet Faker niche market. Also cool how he really rocks it out more when performing live.

11. Sufjan Stevens – Should Have Known Better

Just a beautiful song from the beautiful album Carrie & Lowell. Nobody can put intense lyrics about life and death to a ukulele quite like Sufjan can.

10. Major Lazer, MØ, DJ Snake – Lean On

My festival anthem of 2015 was a bit of a creeper-upper. Not as immediately convincing as predecessor Bumaye, but worthy all the same.

9. Mura Masa feat. NAO – Firefly

Thank you Mura Masa for popping up on our radars this year! Loving the whole melancholy R&B vibe that comes off his tracks, with enough glitchy and exotic sounds to keep you intrigued.

8. Foals – What Went Down

Yes yes yes. This is the sort of manic stuff we want from Foals and plenty of it.

7. Kendrick Lamar – Alright

There were almost too many standout tracks on Lamar’s much hyped second album for me to choose from. Apparently Obama’s favourite is What a dollar cost, which has that moody Radiohead sample. Nice choice mr. president!

6. Hot Chip – Need You Now

Songs about feeling in some way disconnected are Hot Chip’s forte and it shines through in the beautiful desperation of Need You Now. The video is a great partner to the song too.

5. Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian at Best

Whenever I play this song my boyfriend says Courtney is sucking all the life energy out of the room. I couldn’t disagree more! Barnett’s trademark comedic ramblings on life and her grunge-throwback tunes always make me smile.

4. Tame Impala – Let It Happen

Well no surprises here, many-a-year list has crowned Tame Impala with the top position this year and it’s easy to hear why. I wasn’t big on the psychedelic stuff they put out before, but these 8 minutes (!) of musical magic really won me over.

3. Young Fathers – Rain Or Shine

The new Young Fathers album first left me in a state of total confusion, but I kept coming back to it for more. It’s all over the place, in a good way. After seeing them perform live a couple of months ago I was sold. These guys give it everything and just explode with raw energy. This song made the top three thanks to the clever Metronomy-hook.

2. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love

Up until this year UMO were a band that I’d heard of, but never really bothered to look into. Apparently it took the lead singer and his wife entering into a polyamorous love traingle with another woman, and then going through a dramatic break up with her, to make an album that really caught my ear. Multi-love for the win!

1. Father John Misty – Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)

I long contemplated the top three positions of this list, but if I’m perfectly honest: there is absolutely no contender man (or woman) enough to squeeze father John from his well earned winner’s spot. The only son of a ladies man acually fell in love, and made a glorious album about all the highs and lows involved. From paranoid self doubt to wondrous ecstacy, it’s all there. And if you ever get a chance to see him deliver this rollercoaster of emotions on stage, do not miss it!

 

The remaining top 50 tunes, in alphabetical order:

A$AP Rocky, Rod Stewart, Miguel &Mark Ronson – Everyday
Alabama Shakes – Don’t Wanna Fight
Auntie Flo feat. Shingai – So In Love
Blur – Go Out
Death Cab for Cutie – Black Sun
Django Django – First Light
DMA’S – Your Low
Florence + The Machine – What Kind Of Man
Fresku feat. MocroManiac – Kreeft
Ghostpoet feat. Nadine Shah – X Marks the Spot
Happyness – Great Minds Think Alike, All Brains Taste The Same
Hozier – Someone New
Jack Ü, Skrillex, Diplo & Justin Bieber – Where Are Ü Now (with Justin Bieber)
Jamie xx feat. Romy – Loud Places
Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin
Lil’ Kleine& Ronnie Flex – Drank & Drugs
Lizzo – Ain’t I
Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
Miguel feat. Wale – Coffee
Rihanna – Bitch Better Have My Money
Patrick Watson – Places You Will Go
The Tallest Man On Earth – Sagres
The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face
Vaults – Premonitions
Years & Years – Take Shelter

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If I had to pick one tune that infiltrated every fiber of 2014 it would have to be Pharrell’s Happy. At first I liked it, then loved it for a bit before intensely hating those five frantic opening notes every bloody time they came on the radio… Which is probably the average life cycle of any major hit song. And can someone please explain to me how one feels like a room without a roof!?

Anyway, as opposed to last year’s ear worms, Happy didn’t make the cut. Besides, it was actually released in 2013 already! You will, however, be treated to a delectable smörgåsbord of 50 bites of audio-yumminess from 2014, with the top 25 sporting eye watering visuals too. As per usual you can check out the entire top 50 in my Spotify playlist too, or for my fellow ultimate listomaniacs (loveya!) my ridiculously large ‘2014 long list‘.

Please do share your faves with me too and shout at me about the ones I was oblivious to in the comments!

25.  Tiga – Bugatti

Clean, concise & devilishly sexy, Tiga doesn’t waste a single beat or syllable.The video is style perfection too.

24.  Clean Bandit – Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne)

Such a chirpy tune! A simple catchy love song that takes you back to memories of a high school sweetheart.

23.  Real Estate – Talking Backwards

West Coast jingle jangle at its best, even though the band is from New York. Perfect roadtrip song.

22.  Usher – Good Kisser

Sultry, minimalistic and funky at the same time, Usher is back in shape!

21.  Sinkane – How We Be

A slow clapping head bopper, bringing together the sounds of Sudan and London the way Sinkane does so well. Was lucky enough to catch the band live at Berlin Festival this year and they killed it.

20.  Sia – Chandelier

If you’re anything like me and you’re always wondering what on earth Sia is mumbling about, you might find this tutorial very amusing. On a more serious note: this song tackles Sia’s problem with drinking in a suitably dramatic fashion, I think it’s her over the top masterpiece so far.

19.  Bombay Bicycle Club – Luna

This song is the perfect example of what I love about BBC: seemingly soft spoken conservative Brits who surprise you with little bursts of joyous excitement bubbling just under the surface! Also: who can refuse a video with synchronised swimming?

18.  Dan Croll – From Nowhere

This song is the very first thing I heard by Dan Croll and I was immediately smitten.

17.  Elbow – New York Morning

Oh Guy. You’ve done it again. Be sure to check out the video about the lovely Dennis & Lois!

16.  The War On Drugs – Under The Pressure

Yes, it’s the song with the ridiculously spun out ending, but if you afford yourself the time to sit back and enjoy it in full it’s so worth it. And if you get to hear it jammed out live it makes complete sense.

15.  Tove Lo – Habits (Stay High)

A refreshingly honest take on breaking up from this Swedish singer, who also wrote songs for Icona Pop and Girls Aloud.

14.  Flume – Drop the Game

Even if you think the song has been played to death, at least watch the video for the incredible dancer. I still haven’t tired of this soulful stomper.

13.  Typhoon – Liefste

Typhoon’s much lauded 2014 album Lobi Da Basi is the cream of the crop in Dutch hip hop for 2014, including incredible live performances with his big band. This sweet small tune about the small aggravations that can niggle at a relationship is one of my favourites.

12.  SOHN – Artifice

SOHN has made an album full of tracks for those looking to wallow in misery, with Artifice as the crowning glory. “Somebody better show how me how I feel, cause I know I’m not at the wheel”

11.  Sam Smith – Stay With Me

My how Sam has grown! No I don’t mean in the waistline.. I saw him play a small venue in March, when he was almost painfully shy at times. It’s great to see how 2014 has made Sam Smith into an MTV VMA-show worthy performer. Plus hallelujah for coming out! Not that he was kidding anyone😉

10.  Hozier – Take Me To Church

I’m sucked in by the darkness and outrage in this Hozier song. The video is a worthy companion and controversial to say the least, well worth a watch.

9.  Banks – Drowning

I love the rhythm Banks uses in her lyrics, she delivers them with such intensity. She also reminds me of Aaliyah in a subtle way, which is a cool throwback.

8.  Mapei – Don’t Wait

Don’t underestimate the radio friendly pop sweetness of Don’t Wait, Mapei turned out to be a lot more kickass than expected when I saw her at Lowlands! I’m curious what she’ll come up with next year.

7.  St. Vincent – Digital Witness

I think this is my favourite track yet of the ever quirky and slightly intimidating St. Vincent (who was also at Lowlands and ran off stage after throwing a tantrum).

6.  Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots

Sharing its theme with St. Vincent’s song, Damon quietly ponders our empty social media lives.

5.  Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You)

Apparently I’m one of the few people who heard and loved this song before seeing the legendary Letterman performance. Still not sure whether Samuel T. Herring’s intense antics are for real or for show, but is doesn’t take away from the soulful eighties brilliance of this song!

4.  The Preatures – Is This How You Feel?

This is probably my most played tune of the summer. I just couldn’t get enough of the bouncy excitement Isabella Manfredi and Gideon Bensen bring to the song, very infectious .

3.  Röyksopp & Robyn – Do It Again

Ok to be honest I am still upset with Lowlands for this massive oversight. How on earth did they not book the Robyn & Röksopp tour!? Thankfully their collaborative album also contains the beautifully reflective Monument for me to work through this grief.

2.  Stromae – Tous Les Mêmes

It was a tough struggle at the top of his list, but in a very respectable second position we find the illusive Belgian genius Paul van Haver, better known as Stromae. I love the whole album Racine Carrée, and Tous Les Mêmes is one of the standout singles. His clever use of African rumba rhythms and European dance combined with very witty and sometimes razor sharp lyrics make Stromae one of the best artists 2014 had to offer in my book! And so goddamn stylish too.

1.  Jungle – Busy Earnin’

I was trying to remember the massive impression Busy Earnin’ made on me the first time I heard it, but I’ve played it so often now it’s become like a coundtrack to my everyday life already. I was lucky enough to see the band no less than three times this year and they didn’t disappoint once. They’ve got soul, sex and sweet harmonies that will bring out the hipshaker in even the most static music lovers. Perfect tunes to get a bit grabby with your significant other to…

Also, I need to learn that dance!

Numbers 25 – 50 in no particular order:

Ariana Grande & The Weeknd – Love Me Harder

Beyoncé & Jay-Z – Drunk in Love

Caribou – Can’t Do Without You

Chad VanGaalen – Where Are You?

Damien Rice – I Don’t Want To Change You

Flying Lotus – Never Catch Me (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

George Ezra – Budapest

Glass Animals – Gooey

Half Moon Run – Call Me in the Afternoon

Katy Perry – Dark Horse

Kwabs – Walk

Little Dragon – Klapp Klapp

Mac Demarco – Salad Days

Michael Jackson – Love Never Felt so Good

Oliver – Light Years Away

Paloma Faith – Can’t Rely on You

RY X – Berlin

School Is Cool – Black Dog Panting

Schoolboy Q – Man Of The Year

Ta-ku – Beggining To End

Temples – Shelter Song

Ten Walls – Walking With Elephants

TRAAMS – Fibbist

Villagers – Occupy Your Mind

Wild Beasts – Wanderlust

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Unless you were cut off from all media for the last year there was absolutely no avoiding the Holy Trinity of 2013: Daft Punk’s discotastic latest release, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ hipster thrift shop anthem and of course: Robin Thicke’s ubiquitous blurred lines. My guess is there are goat herders on Peruvian mountain tops humming “Hey hey hey!” to themselves. Although their initial sparkle has dulled somewhat through extreme overexposure, you will still find these three staples in the brokenbranches picks for best songs of 2013. They have served me well as dance floor seductors throughout the year and have earned their spot.

If you are wondering what other songs have delighted and wooed me this year: look no further! My annual top 50 has been painstakingly put together, with the top 25 available in youtube clips for your eager ears and eyes. Of course you can check out the entire top 50 in my Spotify playlist too, or even my ridiculously large ‘2013 long list‘ for my fellow insatiable list nerds. I would love to hear your favourites, so drop them in the comments!

25.   Wild Belle – Keep You

Laid back reggae flavoured debut single from Chicago based brother & sister duo Wild Belle, which manages to incorporate a baritone solo and not be annoying.

24.   Snakehips – On & On

Another song perfect for kicking back in the sunshine (or warming up your winter), with George Maple’s soulful sweet vocals trickling over this London duo’s production.

23.   Blende – Rikki

Enough snoozing in the sun, time for some disco! London dj Blende obviously has a knack for super catchy dance tunes, this has been stuck in my head for weeks. You’d better run right back Rikki Rikki.

22.   MS MR – Hurricane

Slowly addictive track from New York duo MS MR with a very peculiar video. Anyone else think that smurfette singer Lizzy Plapinger looks like Gillian Anderson a.k.a. Skully?

21.   Stromae – Papaoutai

First male vocalist in this list is Belgian-Rwandan rapper Stromae with his massive hit Papaoutai, lamenting a fatherless childhood over a contrastively upbeat dance track. Unafraid to deal with more serious topics than your average chart-topping dance act while still remaining extremely radio friendly, I think Stromae will be an interesting character to follow.

20.   De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig – Bewuste Sabotage

De Jeugd are no strangers to my best-of-lists and they made it again this year. This nasty song features the boys doing what they do best: sabotaging any situation they get into.

19.   Charli XCX – You – Ha Ha Ha

Bubblegum pop princess here today gone tomorrow or savvy up and coming pop artist? Don’t be fooled, UK riot grrrl Charli XCX has a good head on her shoulders and already has the art of writing edgy pop gems down to a tee. Did you know she penned Icona Pop’s  2013 stomper I Love It?

18.   Daughter – Human

Understated indie-folk song of heartbreak and woe from London band Daughter’s debut album. A quiet moment of contemplation as we move up this top 25.

(unofficial video)

17.   Great Minds – Doag

Cream of the crop of Dutch hiphop in 2013: three rappers (Jiggy Dje, Winne en Sticks) who joined forces in ‘supergroup’ Great Minds.

16.   Haim – Don’t Save Me

The hair-swooping Haim sisters with their indielicious mix of R&B and Fleetwood Macness. I was lucky enough to see them live twice this year, they rock.

15.   Disclosure – Latch

Sam Smith delivers the perfect vocals for this seductive Disclosure track, cleverly accompanied by a fitting video full of beautiful people falling in love. Smith’s acoustic rendition is worthwhile too.

14.   Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop (feat. Wanz)

No for real, ask your granddad, can I have his hand-me-downs?

13.   Half Moon Run – Full Circle

Montreal’s Half Moon Run sooth the soul with their layered vocal harmonies, but having seen them live a couple of times I know they are equally well able to turn up the amps for some Rawk!

12.   Bombino – Azamane Tiliade

Hypnotic North African nomad rock from local hero Bombino, who fled Niger to avoid persecution for simply playing guitar. That dedication and love for music was clearly visible for anyone who saw him play at Lowlands this year, quite something. No wonder The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach was eager to produce the record.

11.   The Child of Lov – Fly

In a strange turn of events I found out the mysterious Child of Lov I had been obsessively listening too for the last few months was actually a Dutch spoken word poet in the same week he unexpectedly died at the age of 26. Oh and gents, pay attention, I’m sure you will appreciate this video.

10.   Mount Kimbie – You Took Your Time (feat. King Krule)

Kicking off the top 10 is this intoxicating tune with King Krule’s languid lyrics and Mount Kimbie’s tripped out production. Also easily the best video in this top 50, a short film of suburban teenage boredom and tension boiling just below the surface.

9.   Kavinsky – Odd Look (feat. The Weeknd)

If I’m completely honest, Odd Look basically made the top 10 because it is an excellent make out song. I encourage you to try for yourselves.

8.   Foals – My Number

This is the eighties inspired party anthem from Foals’ third album and it definitely does the trick for a festival crowd. Although a little less arty-weird and more stadium-ready these days, they’ve managed to keep their energetic Foals feel in the process.

7.   Arcade Fire – Here Comes The Night Time

2013 also saw the release of the new Arcade Fire! This is the Afro-Caribbean flavoured festive number, which is my current favourite on the James Murphy produced album (although it still changes all the time). Here is the cameo-packed extra long ‘salsateque’ video that combines Here Comes The Night Time, We Exist and Normal Person:

6.   Kendrick Lamar – Swimming Pools (Drank)

This song really blew me away when I first heard it and it stuck with me throughout the rest of the year. Cocky and vulnerable at the same time, with a subtle but mesmerising track to back up the clever lyrics. It will be interesting to see how Lamar will continue after this hype-year.

5.   Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know?

Honestly I lost interest in Arctic Monkeys soon after Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, but when I saw them do the closing set at Best Kept Secret festival this years I realised I was missing out on the cool stylings of their latest album AM. Alex Turner grabbed my attention, his laddishness now replaced by the persona of a confident band leader. Do I Wanna Know is the sexiest song on the album as far as I’m concerned, eloquently appealing to feelings we’ve all had at one time or another.

4.   Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines (feat. T.I. & Pharrell)

Hey hey hey! What can I say. This funky cow bell ditty hits all the marks and it’s no wonder you can switch between 5 radio stations and hear Blurred Lines on every single one of them at any given time. Also: there is a scantily clad girl holding a sheep.

3.   Daft Punk – Instant Crush

Yes, Get Lucky would have been the obvious choice (oh look, it’s Pharrell again!). And in fairness: it’s a great song that could have just as easily ended up on top of this list. But Julian Casablancas’ melancholy autotuned lyrics and the old school Daft Punk synths made Instant Crush my instant favourite.

2.   Major Lazer – Watch Out For This [Bumaye] (feat. Busy Signal, The Flexican & FS Green)

It would be simply embarrassing to divulge how often my friends and I have attempted to grind, twerk, bounce, dagger, dutty wine and slutdrop to this monster dance floor stomper… Suffice to say it has been our number one go-to Friday night anthem the entire year, and rightfully so. If you are equally inclined to join in with the insane dance moves in the video, I would be particularly interested to see anyone who is able to do this one. We haven’t quite managed yet.

1.   James Blake – Retrograde

In a complete mood change to Major Lazer’s Jamaican mayhem, I present you 2013’s number one brokenbranches pick: James Blake’s Retrograde. It is just a thing of sheer beauty. It hit me full force when I was at Lowlands this year. I was by myself and wandered into the warm Bravo tent feeling fairly hungover and sleep deprived. I stood there with the waves of Blake’s compositions rolling over me in my mild zombie-state, and when Retrograde started it  just felt like the perfect place to be at that moment.

For those who have made it this far down the blog, I give you songs 26-50 in alphabetical order (or head straight to the Spotify playlist):

Cashmere Cat – Mirror Maru

CHVRCHES – The Mother We Share

The Don’t Touch My Croque Monsieurs TDTMCM – Helikopter

Everything Everything – Cough Cough

Ghostpoet – Meltdown

Iamamiwhoami – t

James Vincent McMorrow – Cavalier

Janelle Monáe – We Were Rock & Roll

Kate Boy – Northern Lights

Laura Marling – Master Hunter

Local Natives – Heavy Feet

Lorde – Royals

MØ – XXX 88

Phoenix – Bourgeois

Phosphorescent – Song For Zula

Satellite Stories – Kids Aren’t Safe In The Metro

Talib Kweli – Come Here – feat. Miguel

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Swim and Sleep [Like a Shark]

Vampire Weekend – Unbelievers

Villagers – Nothing Arrived

Volcano Choir – Byegone

WE ARE TWIN – The Way We Touch

The Weeknd – Wanderlust

Woodkid – I Love You

Youth Lagoon – Dropla

So we managed to survive the Mayan apocalypse, but there are more urgent matters at hand! Which songs will go down in music history as representatives of all that was good about 2012? Which songs bowled us over from the get-go and which ones snuck into our subconscious and slowly indoctrinated us?

I have analysed my last.fm stats, reviewed my raving tweets and facebook fangirl posts throughout the year and accumulated the following 50 songs (singles) that sum up the best of 2012 for me. The shining shimmering top 20 get some extra love in the form of a youtube clip. For all my fellow streamers out there the list can of course be found on Spotify as well. Please tell me which songs I shamefully omitted in the comments!

20. Boy & Bear

Milk & sticks

A typical brokenbranches favourite with it’s changing rhythms, irresistible giddy-up-and-go tune and singalong harmonies. A nice treat from down under to start off the top 20.

19. Rihanna

Diamonds

I have a friend who insist on calling Rihanna’s multitude of dance floor stompers his guilty pleasures. I however will gladly defend my love for the Barbadian beauty’s masterpieces in public, what’s to feel guilty about?

18. Hospitality

Friends Of Friends

This band is one of my favourite finds of the year, and this song makes me happy. In fact their whole album is just this upbeat feel-good antidote for grumpy Monday mornings.

17. Sleigh Bells

Comeback Kid

Listening to a Sleigh Bells album track is such a pale comparison to the live experience it’s like attempting to explain what a skydive is like. Still though, it’s good t get some practice in before you fling yourself out of the aircraft.

16. First Aid Kit

Emmylou

When I first heard this song I was humming it for weeks, an instant classic which pleasantly bypassed the dubsteppification of  2012.

15. Usher

Climax

I must admit Usher hasn’t popped up on my radar for years but this song is a thing of sheer beauty. Mr. Usher I commend you.

14. Django Django

Default

Britnerdpop at its finest, such an addictive summer tune!

13. Stealing Sheep

Shut Eye

You should’ve got a better bed, better for your head, better heads need shut eye! Gorgeous little song.

12. Grouplove

Itchin’ On A Photograph

Although Grouplove unleashed their infectious let’s-all-hang-out-and-never-go-home tunes on us last year I was a bit of a laggard, so I am sneaking this 2012 single in here.

11. Grizzly Bear

Sleeping Ute

The Bear is finally back, with even more intricate mind boggling work then on Veckatimest. First single Sleeping Ute slowly nestles itself in your subconscious.

10. Major Lazer

Get Free

Not quite what we’ve come to expect from Diplo’s raunchy alter ego Major Lazer, but what a delicious treat!

9. Jay-Z & Kanye West

Niggas In Paris

Well, that shit cray.

8. M.I.A.

Bad Girls

This is M.I.A. simply doing what she does best, with an amazing video that deserves its own mention.

7. M83

Reunion

This is the kind of song that makes me wish I was a film maker, so I could come up with the perfect scene to accompany it. Now my imagination reaches no further than a cheesy montage.

6. alt-J

Breezeblocks

It feels a bit wrong for such a creepy song to be so catchy at the same time. “Please don’t go, I’ll eat you whole, I love you so”

5. Azealia Banks

212

This song probably had me hit repeat the most out of any this year. I just couldn’t resist the urge to memorise the gutter mouth lyrics coming out of this pretty Mickey Mouse jumper wearing girl, genius combination.

4. Bombay Show Pig

Sancho Panza

Yes, finally a decent Dutch band with an stonker of a single this year! From easily the best album to come from The Netherlands rock/ indiescene in 2012.

3. Purity Ring

Fineshrine

I appear to have a thing for songs that make me feel slightly uneasy and trippy Fineshrine fits the bill with its disturbing lyrics delivered in a child like way. To love someone so much you actually want them within your rib cage, not sure I’ve ever heard anything like it.

2. POLIÇA

Lay Your Cards Out

This beautifully hypnotic song just begs to be put on unlimited repeat so you can allow yourself to drift off into some kind of underwater meditative trance. I can confirm it makes even a trip to the supermarket on Christmas eve a zen experience. And those drums! Double drums! Heaven.

1. Father John Misty

Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings

This to me is the most seductive song I heard all year. It’s unapologetic rock, but with a grimy tense undertow. I have to admit it doesn’t hurt to imagine being in some sort of drug fueled frenzy with  J. Tillman, but I’m sure that’s not clouding my judgement too much.. What an incredible song to reset his solo career with, it left me wanting so much more.

And now, in no particular order, the remaining gems in this year’s top 50:

Alabama Shakes – Hold On

Atoms for Peace – Default

Beach House – Lazuli

Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe

Chiddy Bang – Ray Charles

Clock Opera – Once And For All

David Byrne & St. Vincent – Who

De Staat (Torre Florim) –  Firestarter

Death Grips – The Fever (Aye Aye)

Fiona Apple – Every Single Night

Foals – Inhaler

Frank Ocean – Pyramids

Fresku – Op De Hoogte

Great Mountain Fire – Late Lights

Grimes – Oblivion

Hot Chip – Night And Day

Japandroids – The House that heaven Built

Kendrick Lamar – The Recipe

Kodaline – All I Want

Le Le – Neen

Lianne La Havas – Forget

Miguel – Adorn

Miike Snow – Paddling Out

Passion Pit – Take A Walk

Patrick Watson – Into Giants

San Cisco – Awkward

Staygold – Wallpaper

The Black Keys – Gold On the Ceiling

The Maccabees – Pelican

Todd Terje – Inspector Norse

Zulu Winter – We Should Be Swimming

Dear blogreaders, here’s hoping you end 2011 in good spirits and you have started making magnificent plans for 2012! May it be a year full of musical discoveries. I leave you with a taste of nostalgia, my favourite 50 songs of 2011 in a Spotify playlist. Enjoy.

Adele – Rumour Has It

Arctic Monkeys – Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair

Ben Howard – The Wolves

Beyoncé – Run The World (Girls)

The Black Keys – Lonely Boy

Bombay Bicycle Club – Shuffle

Bon Iver – Holocene

Cloud Control – Gold Canary

Danger Mouse  – Two Against One (feat. Jack White)

Das Racist – Girl

De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig – Sexy Beesten

Death Cab for Cutie – You Are A Tourist

The Decemberists – Don’t Carry It All

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Home

Elbow – Lippy Kids

Emeli Sandé – Heaven

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Florence + The Machine – What The Water Gave Me

Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks

Friendly Fires – Hawaiian Air

Gotye – Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)

James Blake – The Wilhelm Scream

Jay Z, Kanye West, Frank Ocean – No Church In The Wild

Joe Goddard – Gabriel

Katy B – Witches Brew

Kings Of Leon – Back Down South

Kurt Vile – Baby’s Arms

Lady Gaga – Born This Way

Lana Del Rey – Video Games

Little Dragon – Ritual Union

Lykke Li – I Follow Rivers (The Magician Remix)

M83 – Midnight City

Metronomy – The Bay

The Naked And Famous – Young Blood

Other Lives – For 12

Radiohead – Lotus Flower

Raphael Saadiq – Radio

Real Estate – It’s Real

Rihanna – S&M

Robyn – Call Your Girlfriend

SBTRKT – Hold On (feat. Sampha)

Seasick Steve – You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

Smith Westerns – Weekend

Tyler, The Creator – Sandwitches f/Hodgy Beats

The Vaccines – Wetsuit

Warpaint – Elephants

Wolf Gang – Lions In Cages

Wye Oak – Civilian

Young the Giant – My Body

Yuck – Get Away

I feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland being hurried along by the white rabbit who keeps telling me I’m late, late, late! While all The Blogs have published their best ofs in early December, I am still scrubbing paint from my finger nails in the last stages of renovating my house.

Scouting for good new music hasn’t been high on my agenda the last few months. Thanks to my contractor and his tone-deaf but talented workmen I have had an endless stream of David Guetta, Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, LMFAO and Sean-da-bloody-Paul poured down my ear canal.  All the more reason to sit down and recap what were the real musical gems I did come across these last few days of the year.

10. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes

Lykke is no longer a little bit in love, she is in charge and whoever is the object of her affection had better be ware for the girl means business. She’s your prostitute & she’s gon’ get some.

9. Bon Iver – Bon Iver

This one took some time to win me over, in no small part due to the extremely wishy washy lyrics. But the songs get me all the same, with gems like Michicant that wrap you up in a warm blanket and put you in front of the log fire with a hot toddy.

8. Other Lives – Tamer Animals

I got hooked on this album after hearing the spaced out dreamscape that is For 12, with its perfectly matched astronautical video. Luckily the almost fragile beauty of this song wasn’t a one-off, Tamer Animals is a gorgeous album.

7. The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?

On a bad day, the quickest way to perk up my spirits would be to stick on Wetsuit by The Vaccines. And then If You Wanna. And then Norgaard. And then, well, you get the idea.

6. Metronomy – The English Riviera

Another album that quietly snuck in to my top 10, but is now undeniably in a firm sixth position. I didn’t really get Metronomy before, but The English Riviera has a mellow but thoughtful summery feel to it I find irresistible.

5. James Blake – James Blake

James Blake would have to be the first artist whose name I had read about 500 times through every single social interweb exit before I even heard a single note of his work. It was the day Limit To Your Love was released, and as we all know, indie pandemonium ensued. Quite rightly so. This album shakes you to your core, both emotionally and physically if you have the right sound system.

4. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

How rare is it these days to find an album that just makes you happy from start to finish? Beautiful opening track Montezuma sets the tone and the album doesn’t disappoint from there on in. I played it to my mom when we went on a trip together and she instantly hummed along as if it was an old favourite album of hers from back in the days, brought a big smile to my face.

3. Wye Oak – Civilian

I can’t believe I haven’t seen this album make the cut of the big 2011 lists, it’s such a thrilling, honest and moving little beaut! Title track Civilian gives me goose bumps every single time, and the suppressed tension of Holy, Holy makes me want to ride super high roller coasters just like in the video. It’s Beach House with more bite, and it’s delicious.

2. Radiohead – The King of Limbs

What? Brokenbranches, named after Radiohead, positioned a Radiohead album in mere second position?! Yes. After a long hard talk with myself in the name of honest journalism I have come to the conclusion that it is only fair. Although I gobbled up every minute of TKOL many many times over and rejoice in its ever quirkier rhythms on tracks like Feral, in Thoms genius Lotus Flower spasm-dance, in the glorious glow of Codex and the old school Radioheadness of Little By Little, they all got outplayed by the undeniable number one:

1. Elbow – Build a Rocket Boys

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. Sure I listened to SBTRKT, Skrillex and Wu Lyf this year, all amazing albums in their own right. But when it comes to what really moves me I find it’s becoming more and more simple the older I get. A good honest popsong with lyrics from the heart, that’s all I really want. This description is probably what had me avoid Elbow for years and years previously. I condemned them for being ‘rather mushy’. That’s a load of bollocks looking back. Elbow have mastered the art of real, heartfelt songs delivered without any pretension to a tee and Build a Rocket Boys is crammed with them. The only really mushy thing is me at their concerts, welling up at every other song.

Listen to my favourite albums of 2011 in this Spotify playlist (sadly without the Wye Oak album).

If there are still any regular visitors of this neglected bit of interweb left (hi and thank you!), they will have noticed a severe lack of content over the last months. Rather than apologising I shall point the finger of blame shamelessly at the blog Lowlove.nl, where I have been contributing my two cents on everything and anything to do with the Lowlands festival. Which has been rather wonderful.

But seen as Lowlands took place last weekend (I have just barely been able to scrape the mud and dust off my aching body), it is high time to inject brokenbranches with some reviews! Here’s a day by day roundup.

FRIDAY

To kick off Lowlands 2011 I went to see the wonderfully sultry Anna Calvi, who delivered her seductive roars while cradling her guitar close to her chest. It was all a bit too spacious and spun out to really captivate me musically (more suited to a Tarantino soundtrack as a friend of mine noted), but miss Calvi is a sight to be seen all the same and a few songs really did hit the mark.

In the new festival lay out I walked the longest stretch of terrain all the way from India to Charlie stage to catch the indie pop creations of Wolf Gang. Although the set definitely leant heavily on the few singles, the supremely catchy Lions In Cages in particular, it was an enjoyable show overall with plenty of light-hearted pop goodness. The gold earring sporting guitarist seemed to be having the time of his life at least, singer McElligott was a bit harder to gage.

Next up were the prodigal sons of Dutch hiphop, De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig, who were finally allowed to take seat in the throne of Lowlands: the Alpha stage. They pimped up their act with ballerinas and a horn section, but in all honesty those weren’t necessary to have the entire tent jumping up and down and singing along to every word for an entire hour. Each member was allowed their moment to shine in the second half of the set, but it never dragged on too long before Bas Bron threw on the next beat to keep the crowd entertained. It was a seemingly effortless homerun of a show. The next two days the line ‘Waar is het feestje? Hier is het feestje!’ (Where is the party? Here is the party!) was heard throughout the festival.

Not as cheeky but definitely as danceable were the synth dripping songs that Friendly Fires served up in the newly positioned Bravo tent. These boys definitely know how to pull the stops out in a live show and the new songs fitted right in. Although I was standing at the back all around me were happy faced girls shaking their hips, their male companions awkwardly attempting some form of appropriate movement. The Pala visuals on the screens were beautiful too, but I would say Friendly Fires are best enjoyed in a small sweaty venue.

Speaking of sweaty venues, my Lowlands theory is that you should see at least one act in the boiling X-Ray cauldron a day, as it is usually filled with pleasant surprises. I wanted to see Japanese act Trippple Nippples from an arthouse freakshow perspective, wondering if it really was as bizarre as I thought. The answer is yes, it was as bizarre and then some, with the singers prancing around in diapers, white duct tape boobcoverage and glowing wings, but combined with the thrashing electro screamfest they produced it actually worked really well.

I wandered over to Noah and the Whale for a little while but I couldn’t really get into the music. A guy behind me said “there’s a lot of suppressed tension but it’s not coming out” which seems a good analysis. The understated Lou Reed style singing of Charlie Fink became monotonous after a while and failed to hold my attention. Many young girls wearing jeans hotpants and Ray Bans were having the time of their lives though. I decided to try The Naked And Famous in stead, but the tent was so packed I couldn’t get in, same story for Beardyman. Seems you really have to get to the smaller tents like India and X-Ray well on time these days.

Luckily there was still loads of space in the Grolsch at the start of Fleet Foxes, but they managed to fill it up in no time with their warm folky glow of goodness. I was worried if their sometimes delicate sound would hold up in the big tent, but the band were on a roll and played a great festival set. Sometimes they would churn out a few songs back to back, one flowing into the other, really keeping the energy high. Pecknold was giving it his all, with his eyes closed and tilted head almost hanging from the microphone stand. This was definitely the highlight of festival Friday for me.

Time to close the festival day with all my friends gathered round, no better place to be than at the laid back Lima stage with Edward Sharpe and his Magnetic Zeros. It was chaotic on stage with 10 people joining in, making for a bit of a messy performance that dragged on somewhat here and there, not helped by Sharpe’s vocals being hardly audible for most of the gig. There were a few songs that stood out but it was plain to see that everyone was there for the flower power finale Home. Everyone joined in from opening line Alabama, Arkansas and made the most of it, but it could have been so much more.

SATURDAY

First band of the day for me was Young The Giant, with a performance like the one they gave a few months ago at the Walk The Line festival in The Hague: solid, energetic, polished and ready for the rock arenas of Europe. Nothing wrong with that, sometimes you don’t want wholesome leafy greens for dinner, you just fancy a juicy fast food burger and chips that will hit the spot. And what better festival anthem than My Body?

My expectations were high for Bombay Bicycle Club, but I left the India stage feeling distinctly underwhelmed. The performance lacked energy and drive, was a bit all over the place and the indie magic I was hoping for was nowhere to be found. I would definitely give them another chance in a club show though, there’s plenty of gems on those records.

After I was lucky enough to get a back stage tour of the festival (Guy Garvey waved at me! *swoon*), I felt a craving for some Syrian house beats and so I headed over to the X-Ray sauna for Omar Souleyman. Strange how an act with zero stage presence (a bored looking synth player and Souleyman himself, aloof with his mirrored sunglasses and the occasional hand gesture) and lyrics hardly anyone can make out can cause such a frenzy in its onlookers. There were quite a few people who donned tea towel head dresses for the occasion and there was a lot of yelping and shaking going on, the nervy thumping Arabian sounds worked like a dance virus and infected all present. Jalla jalla!

After the disappointment of BBC earlier in the day I was a bit hesitant what Cloud Control would deliver on the same spot, but the complete opposite happened. Here’s a band that I only know two songs of, but captivated me the entire set. None of this quietly cool indie jingle jangle, this band is came in for the win, guitars amped up and ready to go. The perfect soundtrack to the end of a sunny Saturday afternoon. Also quite funny to hear loads of people singing they want to buy a gold canary.

We stayed at the India stage lounging around in the grass outside during Cage The Elephant. Obviously not the best way to enjoy their music, which you should probably consume while moshing fiercely or crowdsurfing, but I enjoyed it all the same. You could feel the manic energy well outside the tent, with a roaring crowd to boot. I was attempting to save some energy for the next stop, must be getting old…

Making sure to get to the majestic Alpha stage in plenty of time to get in the front section, it was time to get ready for the last band of the day: Elbow. I had been hyping up this show to my friends for ages, promising a lovefest of epic proportions, a joining together of hands and voices of all present. Big promises to make, but somehow I was completely sure it would turn out this way, and I am glad to report that it did.

Guy Garvey has the magic ability to have a multitude of thousands eating out of his hand from the moment he sets foot on stage. Guys want to join him in the pub for a pint, girls want to crawl into his arms and be safe and loved by this smooth voiced teddy bear. I myself have only been converted to the church of Elbow recently and stood in awe at the ease and confidence with which the band slowly builds a set that ends in a euphoric climax of togetherness. I see how a non believer (as I was until last year) might vomit in their face a bit reading all this luvvy duvvy goo goo talk, but it is the best way I can describe it.

When Garvey asks if everyone is alright, when he gets the people inside and outside of the tent to great each other, when he says that we’re going to do festival things together and gets everyone to raise their hands and wiggle their fingers, he is walking the thin line of cheesiness. But he gets away with it easily because he, and the entire band, are so goddamn down to earth and likable. When the obvious closing song One Day Like This sets in and we all sing ‘One day like this a year would see me right‘, I look around to see little pools of water brimming in the eyes of most of the people standing there. Elbow understands the need for uplifting pop songs in times of chainsaw dubstep noise and I welcome it.

SUNDAY

Sunday was a horribly humid, sticky day and I think it did De Staat no favours. They were the second band on the bill in the massive Alpha tent, which had a fair amount of people in but very spaced out. There were loads of people hanging around on the grass outside like zombies, probably exhausted from 2 previous days partying and the heat. However, you wouldn’t be able to tell from the performance of the band who rocked it regardless, frontman Torre strutting his rock moves and belting out their hits. The set took a bit of a nosedive towards the end, but the short cover of Snoop’s Drop It Like It’s Hot going into the majestic Sweat Shop was a high light for me.

I decided to skip the frenetic stylings of Crystal Fighters to check out Other Lives at the Charlie stage and was not disappointed. Wonderfully mellow dreamy pop songs drifted across the stretch of water to the bridge where I sat listening, completely contented. This is a band I would love to see in a small venue, hopefully they will head this way again soon. Across the way The Roots started up, their soulful funky hiphop sound a welcome change from most of the Lowlands lineup. Sadly I had to leave early and missed my old-time favourite You Got Me, but they tore up the stage from the opening minutes so I’m guessing it was a stomper of a set.

Still in a hiphop mood I headed over to Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All a bit later, anxious to see if they would bring down the Bravo tent, get taken off stage for indecent behaviour or encouraging kids to crowdsurf or anything else remotely dangerous. None of that happened, it was a surprisingly polite affair with Tyler The Creator even thanking the Dutch audience for being so great and hugging every single security guy at the end of the show.  This is not to say the gig was boring, the energy on stage was incredible. Tyler himself hardly held back by the fact his leg was in a cast, jumping and cycling (!) all over the place ignoring his specially placed bar stool most of the time. Not everyone in the extensive OFWGKTA crew managed to wow the crowd and the gig was a bit messy at times, but nobody in the front seemed to care. One guy whose face was bleeding after a mosh pit encounter came right back after being patched up to mosh on some more, that’s dedication.

After the manic mayhem of the Odd Future gang I was in need of some soothing sounds, and who better to dish them up than the ethereal ladies of Warpaint? Stretched out in the grass, the waves of dark psychedelic harmonies and spaced out guitars made for a pleasant drug free trip in the late afternoon. So much so I almost drifted off to sleep, though festival fatigue was probably to blame for that.

Right, back on my feet for some dancing moves I was off to see Lykke Li, whose second album I have played many a time over the last few months. I was all set to go, but found the first twenty minutes very bland and stand offish. Lykke seemed a million miles away in her own artistic black bubble, mumbling through her songs. I was almost about to leave when all of a sudden there was a major turnaround in energy. Two big drums featured centre stage and woke everyone up with some thundering percussion and from then on Lykke got her groove and so did the audience. We were treated to crowd pleaser I Follow Rivers, a version of Youth Knows No Pain with a sample from Kanye Wests’s Power, a bit of The Knife’s Silent Shout, and of course Get Some to top it all of.

There was some more drama to be enjoyed over at the Charlie stage with Wild Beasts, where singer Hayden Thorpe expressed his gratitude to the people there for choosing them over the likes of Aphex Twin (“we’ll show those electro people how it’s done!”). Wild Beasts seem out of place at the Charlie stage with a few albums already under their belt, so it’s a nice privilege to see them up close and personal. Their music can come off a bit cool and posh sometimes, but their set remained interesting in large part thanks to the variation in vocals between Thorpe’s lofty voice and guitarist Tom Fleming’s unexpected husky warm sound. Definitely another band I would be interested to see more of.

The final bands of the final festival night jostled for position, but I wasn’t in any mood for the dated punk pop greatest hits of The Offspring or the dark and uncomfortable beats of legendary Aphex Twin. In stead we opted for an plain and simple party to end this wonderful weekend, and that’s exactly what CQMD (Ceux Qui Marchent Debout) were dishing out at the Lima stage. This happy bunch from Paris brought lots of horn, lots of funk and plenty oom-pah-pah that had everybody shaking their groove thang (or dancing like your embarrassing uncle). They even took the entire band off stage to play a few songs in the middle of the audience. Lima is the place to be at the end of the festival as far as I’m concerned!

ROUNDUP

This was the seventh Lowlands festival I attended and it won’t go down in the books as most memorable or most impressive edition by a long shot. Aside from Elbow and perhaps Fleet Foxes there were no extreme highlights, astounding surprises or overwhelming discoveries to be made. Overall it was a mellow, relaxed weekend for me. Not to say it was a bad edition at all, I wasn’t bored for a moment and there was plenty of great music to be enjoyed. Hopefully next year the organisation will have a few more gems touring Europe at the end of August to choose from, to add that extra bit of sheen to an already wonderful festival.

Today was the day you could finally get your greedy mits on the real deal: the physical tangible huggable edition of Radiohead’s latest album The King Of Limbs. And if you were lucky enough to be near one of the selected major cities you could have scored the free newspaper that accompanied the release too: The Universal Sigh. If you missed out on this little presie from the Oxford boys, or like me you’re waiting for a copy somebody went to get for you, you can check out the contents at Kicking The Habit. Just like the album’s artwork, the atmosphere of the paper reminds me of the poster standing at the foot of my bed (yes really) from the Amnesiac era: we are back to the ominous and inevitable threat of ‘something’ ghastly.

It’s been well over a month now since the band released the download version of the album, and I was astonished by the lightening speed with which the online community devoured it, analysed it, reviewed it, reinterpreted it and moved on. Even before it was released you could read a hilarious review over at Viceland, on the day itself there were ‘in depth reviews’ popping up left right and centre within hours, a band called Robotanists managed to cover the entire album in 1 day, and soon you could watch Thom Yorke dancing to Beyonce, Zorba The Greek, and auditioning for Black Swan.

I decided I wanted to spend a bit more time with the album. And so, over the last month, I got to know it better, took it for walks and bike rides, and even took it to bed once or twice. Now that we are well acquainted I can officially say: we might have a bit of a thing going on. When we just started hanging out its jerky rhythms and off kilter melodies (In Bloom, Lotus Flower and most of all Feral) were an instant attraction. When the initial lust wore off, I went looking for the heart and soul of it. It told me fragile stories of loves won and lost in Give Up The Ghost and the pleasantly familiar ring of Little By Little. When we finally bared all to each other, I was rewarded with the breathtaking Codex.

The King Of Limbs might not be my first or even The One, but for now, let’s just say we are enjoying each other’s company very much.

Much more fun to pick out the best songs of the year than the best albums. Mainly because I get to pick more, so it’s slightly easier. And I get to stick some of the quality chart toppers in there, even though the rest of the album might be utter crap. If you want to guzzle up this top 30 without having to hit play 30 times, you can find them it handy playlists on Spotify (here) and YouTube (here) too.

Let me know what you think! What songs have I unforgivably left out?

30. Katy Perry

Teenage Dream

[insert shriek of outrage here]
Yes, I love this song. It’s just a perfectly crafted poptastic happy singalong and I’m guessing it was inspired by Perry’s blossoming romance with British bad boy Russell Brand. “I’ma get your heart racing in my skin-tight jeans be your teenage dream tonight”

29. Moss

I Apologise (Dear Simon)

A gorgeous jingle jangle song with hand claps and singalong aaahhhhs, and from Holland no less! It got played to death on the radio, but it hasn’t bored me yet.

28. Two Door Cinema Club

Something Good Can Work

A peppy summer popsong from these young Northern Irish lads, picked from an album jam packed with happy go lucky energetic songs for bright and sunny days. It may not be deep and meaningful, but who reads Dostoyevsky every day?

27. Mark Ronson & The Business Intl

The Bike Song

Bit of a slow burner for me this one, but such an endearing little song. The video perfectly portrays the sugar coated happiness of just riding around on your bike, checking out the local talent. Love Spank Rock’s mumbled little rap too: “I run around town, around round the town, with the pedal to the me… the pedal to whatever”

26. Jack Parow

Cooler As Ekke

In the toss up between Parrow and fellow South African group Die Antwoord it’s the long cap wearing laid back rapper that wins in the long run. Die Antwoord has high impact bizarre appeal, but it wears thin after a while. Cooler As Ekke is a witty introduction to the SA-soundwave that hit our shores this year.

25. Martin Solveig feat. Dragonette

Hello

It might be a bit manic in its upness, but very addictive too. Dragonette’s innocently cooed lyrics are perfectly suited to this bouncy song.

24. Blaudzun

Quiet German Girls

For me this one works even better together with the video, how captivating to watch beautiful women scream silently to this song!

23. Laura Marling

Rambling Man

It could have gone either way with Laura Marling after her promising if somewhat shaky debut, but thankfully she stayed true to herself and made a confident and more well rounded second album. This is my favourite track, a folky ballad. “But give me to a rambling man, let it always be known that I was who I am”

22. Cee Lo Green

It’s OK

What a joy of a record Cee Lo made, it’s just uncomplicated goodness, but very clever at the same time. It’s Ok is a funky, upbeat song with a nice luvvy duvvy message for the holiday season: “It’s ok, to say that you love me”

21. Faberyayo & Vic Crezée

Uniform

Faberyayo, known from De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig and side project Le Le, dropped a rather amazing mix tape called Het Grote Gedoe with Vic Crezée online earlier this year. Just a little free download, like it were nothing. Just goes to show his amazing creativity and broad scope, this boy is going places (two places in my top 30 for instance).

20. LCD Soundsystem

I Can Change

LCD at their eighties synth best, its got Eurythmics written all over it (Love Is A Stranger), but in a proper tribute sort of way. You’d almost believe James Murphy when he promises “I can change I can change I can change, if it helps you fall in love”

19. Janelle Monae

Tightrope

Not moving is not an option, tap them toes people! Janelle Monae is this year’s breath of fresh air in the pre-programmed R&B landscape, she doesn’t fit in any standard boxes and it works for her. As does the look. “When you get elevated, they love it or they hate it”

18. Adele

Rolling In The Deep

Adele is back and in the two years since her debut album it sounds like she’s been listening to a lot of White Stripes and blues, good choice! We get her soulful voice with a bit of a raw edge to the song, works like a charm. “Think of me in the depths of your despair”

17. The New Pornographers

Crash Years

The New Pornographers have produced a great record this year and Crash Years sums up all that is great about the band. Plus it had the unbeatable Neko Case on vocals, can’t go wrong with her. “Honey child you’re not safe here”

16. The Third Twin

Technolers

Could it be? Is this really Daft Punk in disguise, dodging their Tron publishing restraints? It sure does sound like it! Their album Homemade is much more satisfying for Daft Punk fans than the Tron soundtrack, which is good but, well, soundtracky.

15. Broken Social Scene

Meet Me In The Basement

The only completely instrumental track on the album, but one of the most attention grabbing and exciting all the same. It makes me want to get up and start a protest movement. Any cause will do.

14. De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig

Sexy Beesten

The brutal beat, the trademark Jeugd lyrics and most of all Wiwa’s auto tuned rap at 2:35, “Kijk in de spiegel bitch je bent magnifique!”

13. Hot Chip

I Feel Better

It’s as simple as this, “when you hold me, I feel better”. And to celebrate this glorious fact Hot Chip called in the assistance of a steel drum band at Glastonbury, stroke of genius.

12. Foals

Blue Blood

Such a heartfelt song and one of Foals’ best yet. The boy in the video is also all kinds of awesome. “You showed me. Where to go. To my home.”

11. The National

Bloodbuzz Ohio

2010 is the year I started to understand what The National is about. I have the feeling I’m not quite there yet, but Bloodbuzz Ohio is without doubt one of the finest songs of the year. “I still owe money, to the money, to the money I owe”

10. Yeasayer

Ambling Alp

A lot of what Yeasayer does and sings remains a complete mystery to me, take the song title Ambling Alp for instance, but I do know I find this psychedelic weirdness irresistible. “You must stick up for yourself son, never mind what anybody else done”

9. Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce

Telephone (vevo clip, sorry)

There is no denying the genius in the madness of  Lady Gaga. Last year she had gay choirs and glee clubs all over the world singing Bad Romance, this year she teamed up with Beyonce for one of the catchiest songs of 2010. “Should’ve left my phone at home cause this is a disaster!”

8. Caribou

Sun

An intoxicating dizzy trip of a song, addictively pulsating and hypnotising you with it’s simple mantra: “sun sun sun sun sun sun sun sun sun…”

7. Kanye West

Monster

Only Kanye gets away with mashing his royal rap highness Jay-Z, log cabin troubadour Bon Iver and outrageous Nicki Minaj on one track and making it the most accomplished on the album. “I’ma need to see your fuckin hands at the concert!”

6. Villagers

I Saw The Dead

The most eerie and haunting song on Villager’s debut album, but then it is about a room with dead people. “You take the torso, and I’ll take the head”

5. Beach House

Zebra

Soothing, comforting and warm, and as a bonus it’s about a beautiful zebra. You didn’t know you needed a song about a zebra in your life, but it turns out you do. Beach House doesn’t avoid the weird, but it works out wonderfully. “Don’t I know you, better than the rest?”

4. James Blake

Limit To Your Love

Such precision and delicate delivery from a 21 year old, it’s almost hard to believe. James Blake takes this Feist song to a whole new level, darker, deeper and more exciting. His album leaked this week and I suggest you all hit download ASAP!

3. Local Natives

Airplanes

This song really struck a chord with me. It remembers a lost loved one in such a sweet and honest way, almost child like. Maybe it was even written from a child’s perspective and that’s why it works so well, judge for yourselves. “I love it all, so much I call, I want you back”

2. Robyn

Dancing On My Own

This is Robyn’s year and Dancing On My Own is the juicy cherry on her Body Talk pie. It’s a mystery to me you don’t see or hear more Robyn on (M)tv and radio, surely this album will appeal to masses of people? As she puts it herself: “I’m right over here, why can’t you see me?”

1. Arcade Fire

Rococo

From the menacing opening notes you immediately know this is one of The Suburbs’ key songs. Thom Yorke would say: something big is gonna happen. And it does. Win Butler rips the tragic hipster culture to pieces in this intelligent and harrowing anthem.  “Oh my dear god what is that horrible song they’re singing”

LINKS

This top 30 and some of the runners up in a Spotify playlist.

This top 30 in a YouTube playlist.

This year I’m changing the top 10 albums approach. Usually it turns into this tormented process in which I weigh many complicated and mysterious factors to select and order the nominees. Something like {(personal preference + indie coolness + critical credibility) / commercial sell out index} – predictability rating = ranking score. This year I have thrown all Pitchforkian considerations to the wind and gone with the gut! Partly with this funny & succinct blog post on top tens in mind.

To put it nice and simple, only the albums that moved me the most in 2010 have made the cut. A few have moved me literally, urging me onto the dance floor, some have warmed the cockles of my heart with their melodious deliciousness, others brought a delicate tear to the corner of my eye. One thing is for sure, they have all had many many repeat spins on my ipod.

10. Caribou – Swim

I would not consider myself well versed in the world of electronica, but this terrific album obviously reached even a lay person as myself due to its cleverly crafted crossover appeal. It deserves mention for the two standout singles Odessa and Sun alone, but there is much more to discover. The hypnotic trip that is Bowls for in stance, and the poppy track Hannibal with its old school Phoenix vibe. For me though, Sun has got to be one of the best songs of 2010, in addition to winning the award for most minimalistic lyrics.

9. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

The incredible amount of raving press this album has received in the last three weeks almost made me want to ignore it, but what a waste that would have been! Kanye is back. He lost me after College Dropout and Late Registration, but he sure put those hamster cheeks to good use on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  So much has been written already, but for me its brilliance is in the diversity, accessible yet innovative beats and production and last but definitely not least: a cast of amazing guest vocalists. Kanye knows he’ll never be Jay-Z, but he can get him to drop some lines and lift a track to a higher level.

8. Foals – Total Life Forever

It’s great to see Foals are still upping their game. Total Life Forever may be a bit less frantic and dancy, but it has made way for a more diverse style, more room for experiment and more catchy mid tempo tunes. In a way it’s a diesel train of an album. You might be lured in by the jumpy drum driven lead single This Orient and then be won over by the raw emotion of Blue Blood or the slow burning repetitive mantras of Spanish Sahara. I am still discovering new corners and side alleys on this album.

7. Hot Chip – One Life Stand

Hot Chip doesn’t dilly dally or beat around the bush. They know what it’s all about: love, synth nerds need it as much as anyone. And so on One Life Stand they set out to pay tribute to the subject in all its guises, and they have the perfect beats and grooves to do the job. You cannot help but smile when Alexis Taylor sings “I’ve known for a long time, you are my love life” in Hand Me Down Your Love, or “We have love, give it up give it up, there is nothing else to be proud of” (We Have Love). And besides smile you must dance. Hot Chip insists.

6. De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig – De Lachende Derde

Yes, in the brokenbranches top ten it is entirely possible that a Dutch hiphop release ranks higher than Kanye’s megalomanic ‘record of the decade’, and for good reason. DJVT have taken their characteristic combination of incredibly sharp and witty lyrics, making up a whole new vocabulary along the way, with Bas Bron’s supreme beatsmanship to another level on De Lachende Derde, their third release. There’s the silliness you would expect in songs like the winning single Sterrenstof and Get Spanish (don’t be fooled though, silly but shrewd as hell). But the youth is growing up too, as can be heard in Zo Volwassen, Zo Beleefd and tear jerker Huilend Naar De Club. Most exciting of all there are some proper dance floor stompers like Sexy Beesten and Elektrotechnique I can’t wait to hear in the club.

5. Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record

I’ve had a thing for BSS for quite some time now, but somehow they have always remained a bit elusive to me, just out of reach. Perhaps not so strange considering the band is constantly shape shifting. But I’ve really been able to sink my teeth into Forgiveness Rock Record and now I get it. It’s official, they have made it into the ‘favourite bands’ category you’d list on an online profile page. I like everything about this album, the way some songs gently meander (Sweetest Kill, Highway Slippery Jam), others amp up the drama (anthem in the making World Sick and the majestic instrumental Meet Me In The Basement) and how it brings together magical guest contributions like Amy Millan, Feist and personal favourite Emily Haines on Sentimental X’s.

4. Beach House – Teen Dream

Zebra, what a song to open an album with. The mysterious name alone will make you curious, then you’re welcomed with a friendly guitar tune, soothing aaaahhhhhs and Victoria Legrand huskily asking you “Don’t I know you better than the rest?”. It makes you wish it was true. I’m at a loss to pick songs to highlight on Teen Dream, there is such a bounty to choose from. From the woeful wailing of Silver Soul to the light and airy beauty of Norway, the melancholy piano driven Used To Be and Take Care‘s heart breaking lyric “I’ll take care of you, if you ask me to”.

3. Local Natives – Gorilla Manor

Now it’s getting serious, top three time. Let’s just get those two words out of the way first: Fleet Foxes. Yes, Local Natives have had a good listen to their west coast peers, but in my opinion they have masterfully blended americana and folk influences with a hearty dollop of indie and pop sensitivity and have come up trumps with this extremely accomplished debut album. There is a remarkable number of quality hook-laden singalongs like Wide Eyes, World News, Shape Shifter and Talking Heads cover Warning Sign. And let’s not forget the moving single Airplanes, about a son who misses his mother. Go see them live too, such a nice and talented bunch!

PS Just found out this album was already released in november of 2009! Oh well, I only discovered it this year, allow me one cheat…

2. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

Well, no surprise for any brokenbranches regulars, this one was bound to end up in my top 3. A stroll through blogville and twittland have taught me it is apparently uncool to list this album for your top ten as it is too predictable a pick and ‘not that good’. Well, I beg to differ! This is the album Arcade Fire have been aiming for over the last years, the soundtrack of a generation. It is the perfect culmination of years of pent up suburban boredom, having to grow up, longing for days gone by and fear of what is to come, clinging to those you want close to you in the face of approaching ugliness. The Suburbs is therefore the perfect opening song and album title, moving straight into the excitement of Ready To Start. Other album highlights include the haunting Rococo, a real showcase of Win’s growing confidence and ability as a frontman, We Used To Wait and Deep Blue. It might take you longer to let The Suburbs into your heart than Funeral or Neon Bible, but it’s a keeper.

1. Robyn – Body Talk Pt. 1

The number one slot is even a bit of a surprise to me, but so deserved. I have played Robyn’s first Body Talk release to death! For anyone who hasn’t noticed yet: the days that Robyn was a mainstream poppy R&B chart girl are long gone. Her 2005 self titled release saw a definite turn in her career and the Body Talk trilogy has sealed the deal: make way for Robyn the electropop hiphop dancehall queen. I could have gone for the final of the three releases which combines most of Body Talk Part 1 & 2, but I think the first one stands out on its own.
Dancing on My Own is easily one of the best songs of the year, and the super-disco-sexy Röyksopp co-production The Girl And The Robot will stick in your head for days. Part 1 has the acoustic version of Hang With Me, which holds it’s own and turns into Part 2’s standout track in the electronic version. Dance Hall Queen and None Of Dem show off Robyn’s sassy side, and I was able to witness in Paradiso she has all the necessary moves to back it up. Robyn has really come into her own. Her music is sincere, from the heart and from the gut, and she has a perfectly tuned ear for what makes a good song amazing. To see her on stage is a delight, a confident, gorgeous and talented woman doing what she does best.

If you’re on Spotify, check out these albums in my best of 2010 playlist.

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