As this has been my 30th year on Earth, and a vintage year for music, here are my 30 favourite releases of the last 12 months...
Something for Everybody
20 years after the release of their last album, Devo returned in 2010 with a new album to remind us all that the de-evolution of mankind that they warned the world about back in the 1970's has indeed become reality, and in doing so made their best album since 1980. Devo pulled out all the stops using modern marketing techniques to promote their ninth album, including focus group studies which allowed fans to help determine the shade of their new energy dome hats and decide upon the running order for the album, a cat listening party (during which a litter of felines were broadcast live across the internet, listening to the record while climbing over a giant energy dome scratchpost) and a faux-reality series documenting the making of the album, all of which perfectly complimented the catchy, upbeat content on 'Something For Everybody', and against the odds proved that they can still produce forward-thinking, subversive, modern pop music even as they head toward their 40th anniversary as a band.
Tags: american; electronic; pop
If it's predecessor 'Pre-Emptive False Rapture' was the sound of the Hoof filling their cauldron with chamber music, disco, funk, jazz, prog rock and heavy metal to create their own brew of molten 'doom disco', then 'Crush Depth' is the sound of the 10-piece blasting off on a journey of space exploration, before their return is superseded by their cosmic debris crashing back down to earth. A near perfect record, the expansive, cinematic atmosphere of 'Crush Depth' is singularly let down by it's last song 'Anorexic Cyclops' which causes the record to disappear with a fizzle rather than the explosion threatened by the preceding 12 tracks, and serves only to leave the listener salivating in anticipation of the next installment in the genre-defying adventures of Chrome Hoof.
Tags: british; avant-garde; progressive rock
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy contains a litany of grandoise arrangements, featuring inspired sample choices that showcase Kanye's approach to sampling as an artform, rather than the songwriting shortcut that it has become - the kind of which Yeezy himself has displayed on previous records - and his ear for perfectly utilising guest contributors to serve each track impeccably. Kanye's own lyrics balance the self-assured and self-concious, straddling contradictions with a painful honesty which result in a few cringeworthy moments which seem fitting considering Kanye's awkward celebrity persona. As the pioneers of rap continue to disappear into irrelevance and the rest of the mainstream continue to chase the yankee dollar, Kanye has produced a modern rap album of monumental proportions, threatening to single-handedly revive hip-hop's golden age as he carries the weight of the entire hip hop genre toward the apocalypse.
Tags: american; pop; hip hop
Not to be confused with the Swedish black metal douchebags of the same name, Norwegian four-piece Shining delivered the first great album of the decade, a record which saw their experimental jazz-rock sound encompassing industrial and black metal to create a genre hybrid all of their own. Blackjazz is a ferociously intense listen, not recommended for the feint of heart.
Tags: norwegian; progressive; black metal
The debut from the US boy/girl duo, Treats overflows with with colossal programmed crunk beats and earsplitting processed riffs coated in layers of saccharine sweet vocals to provide a tinnitus-inducing album full of relentlessly loud, exuberant pop songs. Like a rollercoaster, it's short, fun and bordering on nauseating, but you'll be eager for another spin in a flash.
Tags: american; lo-fi; noise pop
The inimitable Mike Patton returns, backed with a 65-piece orchestra for an album of cover versions of Italian pop songs from the 1950's and 60's. Patton spoils us with bilingual crooning and the occasional trademark scream, rendering the listener defenseless to his seductive charm.
Listen: Il Cielo In Una Stanza (Live)
Tags: italian language; orchestral; pop
The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster
Blood & Fire
The long overdue third album and unexpected return to form from the UK's finest, most frenetically destructive psychobilly band, brimming with frenzied, antagonistic rock anthems.
Listen: Love Turns To Hate
Tags: british; gothic; psychobilly
Displaying talent and musicianship far beyond their years, the spazzcore five-piece retain their turbulent youthful energy and further expand their musical spectrum to deliver their best, most eclectic release yet.
Listen: Party Wounds
Tags: british; progressive; spazzcore
Hard Rock Pafe
Debut release from members of Plus-Tech Squeeze Box and Milch of Source featuring an effervescent collection of electronic picopop covers of classic 80's rock songs.
Listen: We Will Rock You
Tags: japanese; electronic; picopop
Get your headphones on, turn the volume up, close your eyes and immerse yourself in Ufomammut's monumentally heavy atmospheric doom metal soundscapes.
Listen: Eve (Trailer 1) & (Trailer 2)
Tags: italian; psychedelic; doom metal
Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites
Daft Punk-esque electro-house meets gratuitous mechanical dubstep beats with insanely huge drops and possibly the dirtiest, filthiest synth sounds ever set to tape.
Listen: Rock N' Roll (Will Take You To The Mountain)
Tags: american; electro; dubstep
If you dare take a look beyond the unashamed Entombed plagiarism, the death'n'roll revivalists debut is a joyous display of raw, unadulterated energy and pure aggression.
Listen: Black Sin (Spit On The Cross)
Tags: american; hardcore; death metal
Ghostdini returns with his ninth solo album, smothering his trademark strident flow over the hard funk beats of this nostalgia-soaked set of soulful old school hip-hop.
Listen: In Tha Park
Tags: american; hip-hop; gangsta rap
Sparkling rhythms and magical, glistening melodies creating a glowing, neon resonance that obliterates the constraints of modern electronic music genres like a toddler bursting bubbles. File under 'fantasy-hop'.
Tags: british; experimental; hip-hop
Analog vibrations rumble beneath duelling drums and playful computerised melodies to concoct a collection of cosmic tribal jams.
Listen: 50/50 (Live)
Tags: japanese; experimental; krautrock
Organic instrumentation and twisted electronics entwine throughout irregular programmed beats, conceiving this vessel of ethereal, quasi-hip hop.
Listen: Zodiac Shit
Tags: american; experimental; hip-hop
A Sufi and a Killer
A bewitching, otherworldly collection that takes in avant-blues, earthy hip-hop and electronica, forming a sturdy brace for Gonjasufi's haunting vocals.
Listen: She Gone
Tags: american; abstract; blues
Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones
Earth-shaking riffs with gargantuan proportions of punk attitude on this behemoth of an album.
Listen: Scared To Death
Tags: canadian; hardcore; metal
Polysics return as a three-piece after Kayo's "graduation" with more hyperactive synthesized rock'n'roll mayhem.
Listen: How are You?
Tags: japanese; new wave; electro rock
The Damned Things
Debut release from the alt-rock supergroup, featuring members of Anthrax and, um, Fall Out Boy delivering a short sharp shock of rollocking FM rock.
Listen: We've Got a Situation Here
Tags: american; hard rock; heavy metal
A streamlined re-release of their 2009 free downloadable album, $O$ features a selection of last years finest next level beats and a handful of fresh new cuts from the afrikaans electro rap crew.
Listen: Evil Boy
Tags: afrikaans; electronic; rap
10 riotous blasts of bone-crushing metallic hardcore that clock in at a little over 13 minutes.
Tags: american; hardcore; deathgrind
The sound of one man's haywire imagination, Face Tat is a cluster bomb of explosive, schizophrenic, psyche-pop collages.
Listen: The Sacto Smile
Tags: american; psychedelic; noise rock
The Dillinger Escape Plan
An all out assault on our brains and ears from the math-metal legends as we are launched head first into their labyrinth of aural chaos.
Listen: Farewell, Mona Lisa
Tags: american; progressive; mathcore
Flylo expands on the 8bit electronica that he hinted at on parts of 'Cosmogramma' with this lighthearted follow up to this year's full-length.
Listen: Kill Your Co-Workers
Tags: american; experimental; hip-hop
A wonderfully unhinged display of gratuitous riffage from the post-hardcore indie metallers.
Listen: I Hate This, Do You Like It?
Tags: british; post-hardcore; metal
John Zorn & Fred Frith
Zorn's alto-saxophone rampages against Frith's electric guitar in a wild, discordant freeform jazz soundclash.
Listen: Horse Rehab
Tags: american; avant-garde; jazz
Feed Me's Big Adventure
Jon Gooch (aka drum'n'bass producer Spor) dabbles in gnarly, dancefloor obliterating house, electro and dubstep.
Listen: Muscle Rollers
Tags: british; electro; dubstep
The Gaslamp Killer
A disappointingly brief hypnotic trip through William Bensussen's maze of macarbe abstract beats.
Listen: Carpool Dummy
Tags: american; experimental; hip-hop
Hellbilly Deluxe 2
Rob takes a break from directing schlocky Hollywood slasher flicks and revisits his former musical glories with an album of surprisingly decent redneck disco metal.
Tags: american; shock rock; groove metal
So, what have I overlooked? Feel free to post me any recommendations from this year in the shoutbox below.
Thank you for the music, 2010.