Gary Steel’s entirely subjective pickings from a year now fully gone.
1) Joanna Newsome – Have One On Me
2) Jaga Jazzist – One-armed Bandit
3) Pansonic – Gravitoni
4) Brendan Perry – Ark
5) Lorn – Nothing Else
6) Autechre – Move Of Ten
7) Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here
8) Thomas Fehlmann – Gute Luft
9) Jonsi – Go
10) Caribou – Swim
Michael Jackson – Michael
Santana – Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time
– As a music fan I’ve always been a generalist who, magpie-like, picks his way through a vast stylistic range to find those niblets I find to be of interest. It was a smaller world when I first started reviewing in the late ‘70s. Although probably UK-centric, my ‘best of’ lists from that era would still stand, by and large, as seminal releases by ‘important’ artists at their peak, and they would be representative of the zeitgeist of their time. In 2010, not only wasn’t I part of the zeitgeist that is the young man’s prerogative, but the music world has evolved into a micro-universe of styles and sub-sub groups. This is my way of saying that there is no definitive ‘best of 2010’; it’s possible that, subjectively speaking, the best of any recognisable genre in 2010 wasn’t even on conventional album format, and it’s equally possible that it didn’t get to many people at all. What makes something great? That a bunch of eggheads all agree that it is so? I don’t think so. It’s possible that I could have caught the greatest concert performance of the year down at my local wine cellar; it’s equally possible that the greatest album of 2010 could have been a limited download by an unknown that very few people heard about. In presenting my own ‘best of 2010’, I’m also aware that I’ve probably missed out on hearing the greatest albums: the ones that would have displaced the ones chosen. In 2010 I spent too much time feeding off the diseased teat of the “majors”, and not enough time researching/purchasing material from the independent sphere; and there’s no doubt in my mind that that’s where it’s mostly happening. So in 2011, I’ll be getting out more, and listening to less corporate crap, and devoting my listening passion to seeking and devouring the really good stuff, wherever it’s from.