New music for 2010

Another new year, another annual round-up of the main “new-to-me” artists I’ve listened to over the past year, as recorded by my Last.fm account:

I wouldn’t say this has been a particularly epic year for discovering new music, but there’s some good stuff in there.

Way ahead of the rest is the Wu Tang vs the Beatles album, Enter the Magical Mystery Chamber, released for free by its creator, DJ Tom Caruana. Sadly (but unsurprisingly) this fell foul of a “cease and desist” letter from EMI’s lawyers and is no longer available, but if you were to happen across a copy then it’s well worth listening to. It’s a superbly-executed mash-up of the Wu Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) album with various samples of Beatles songs (mostly cover versions, which works better than you might expect) and samples of archive recordings of interviews with the Beatles and their fans.

Stand-out song: Got Your Money (language warning, as for pretty much the whole album). You won’t believe it wasn’t recorded like this originally.

Another theme from this year’s list: something of a “hipster Christian” element, with David Bazan’s “breaking up with Jesus” album Curse Your Branches, Over the Rhine (mostly The Trumpet Child) and Letting Go by Jennifer Knapp, whose coming out as gay made her comeback album something of a cause célèbre.

Unusual source of the year: Marina & the Diamonds, who I discovered via a Sherlock-themed Spotify playlist put together by someone on Twitter. The list included Marina’s rather moving single, I Am Not a Robot. (Remember: she is Marina; we are the Diamonds…)

A couple more videos from this year’s list that are worth checking out:

  • Janelle Monáe: Tightrope (cracking song, cracking video).
  • Basia Bulat: Heart of My Own (title track from her latest album).

This year, I’m also including a list of my overall top-ten, to show how my listening has been dominated by artists I already knew prior to 2010. This saddens me a little: 2006 to 2008 in particular were something of a “golden age” for finding new artists, and it’s a shame that the last couple of years have been less fruitful. This year has also seen the end of an era, in that I’ve finally abandoned my eMusic account: the combination of Spotify and huge reductions in eMusic UK’s catalogue finally took their toll.

Still, plenty to look forward to in 2011. Queued up on my Spotify playlists ready to check out are a couple of Regina Spektor albums, prompted by her song at the end of the Prince Caspian movie, The Call (though I’d been meaning to check her out for a while). Maybe she’ll be featuring on this list next year…

Previous years’ reports:

  • 2006
  • 2007 (Rufus! Neko! Arcade Fire! The New Stenographers! Cat Power! The Eels! What a year…)
  • 2008 (The National! Chumbawamba! The Magnetic Fields! You see what I mean about a golden age…)
  • 2009
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