Published Jan 18, 2011The mantra of blending electronics and music has always been to push boundaries and move forward. Some years, it may be heartening to spend most of our time refreshing bygone trends, but it's safe to say that 2010 wasn't one of those years. In fact, if any one characteristic holds all ten artists who made our Frequencies critics' poll in 2010, it would be their undercurrent for creating music that was not easy to categorize.
Flying Lotus's Cosmogramma was one of the most extreme examples anywhere of an indefinable work to come out over the last 12 months. Coincidentally, the Los Angeles native took top honours in this category. You could argue that when mounds of music are ubiquitously available, the only quality that keeps a listener from growing increasingly cynical is an artist's ability to throw us curve balls and keep us on our toes.
That was also the case with Canada's Caribou, who has never made the same album twice in his decade-long run of excellence. In 2010, he delivered what many consider his best album yet, the utterly original Swim, a record that won over purists from both the indie and electronic worlds for its sheer singularity.
Simply put, no one else today makes albums the way Dan Snaith does, but if you missed Swim, it's streaming here all week on Exclaim.ca.
Joining Flying Lotus and Caribou in our top 10 were LCD Soundsystem and Holy Fuck, two acts who have also made the list in past years and were highlighted once again for maintaining such a high standard of quality with their genre-bending abilities. Both those artists arrive to the electronic world via indie backgrounds that still infuse their sounds, but both managed to create records that were head and shoulders above what goes for dance rock, chillwave, witch house or any other indie-derived trend of 2010, many of which didn't impress our critics as much.
What did appeal to our ears was an original and idiosyncratic outlook on songwriting and melodic texture, as opposed to simply beat-making or trend-hopping. Acts like Gonjasufi, Darkstar, Emeralds, Pantha Du Prince, Bonobo and Morgan Packard all stood out from the massive influx of music we heard in 2010 because they weren't afraid to hook us with memorable tunes, as opposed to just riding a toolbox of sounds and software.
To see Exclaim!'s entire Frequencies Year in Review 2010 list, head here. And to check out all our Year in Review coverage, head here.
Caribou's Swim will be streaming on Exclaim.ca until January 24.
Stay tuned for these future full-album streams on Exclaim.ca:
Buck 65 20 Odd Years January 25 to January 31
Young Galaxy Shapeshifting February 1 to February 7
Bright Eyes The People's Key February 8 to February 14
Rural Alberta Advantage Departing February 22 to February 28