Best Films of 2010

Here, belatedly, are my choices for the best films of 2010. Even now, I feel like I’m not quite ready to decide on my list, since there are several significant, critically praised films I haven’t had a chance to see. But like any year-end list, this is just a snapshot of my opinion at the time. And as always, I faced some bedeviling questions about what qualifies as a 2010 film. I included a few films that played at the Chicago International Film Festival but haven’t shown up yet for regular runs in theaters. And I included a couple of films made in 2010 that finally showed up on Chicago screens in January. And I also tossed in The Secret of Kells, which got an Oscar nomination for the best animated feature of 2009 but didn’t show up in Chicago until 2010.

My list is dominated by foreign and independent films, which were simply more authentic and interesting than the bulk of mainstream movies in 2010. The Social Network, True Grit and the flawed but compelling Inception were near misses for me. I could see putting just about any of the films I ranked 11 to 20 in my top 10 — it’s a strong lot, in my opinion.

I edited together clips from the trailers for my top 10 films into the video below:

As I put these scenes together, it struck me just how violent and unsettling most of these films are — with Another Year and The Secret of Kells being notable exceptions. I didn’t set out to pick films with any sort of theme running through them, but many of these films deftly explore the cruelty that people inflict on one another all too often.


1. DOGTOOTH (Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, Greece)
Watch it if you dare. This is not an easy film to stomach, but it’s a brilliant depiction of how a closed society can go horribly awry. The society in question here is just one family, with a father who’s determined to shield his children from the outside world — twisting their sense of what’s real and what’s moral. The family unit comes to resemble a religious cult or totalitarian state in miniature. All of this unfolds with dark humor and painful violence. When this Greek film played last March during the Gene Siskel Film Center’s European Union Festival (one of the essential cinematic events each year in Chicago), the sense of shock was palpable in the room. As the closing credits appeared on the screen, a man in the back of the room said, “No! No! No!” — as if he couldn’t take what he had just seen. I turned around and saw a woman in the room behind him, sitting there with her mouth agape — looking a bit like one of those stunned audience members in The Producers witnessing “Springtime for Hitler.” It’s rare to see a film that shocks the system like this one. (Warning: Even the trailer, posted below, is disturbing.) FILM WEBSITE

2. WINTER’S BONE (Debra Granik, U.S.)
The best American film of 2010 presented a believable picture of backwoods ravaged by poverty and drugs. Jennifer Lawrence is great as the fierce young woman at the center of this drama, and the rest of the cast is strong, too. FILM WEBSITE

3. MY JOY (Sergei Loznitsa, Russia)
This odd journey through the Russian countryside may seem to meander, but it’s actually following a logical path toward its tragic conclusion. The film, which screened at the Chicago International Film Festival, make a radical break from formulaic screenwriting by going off on surprisingly long tangents — flashbacks to historical events involving some of the characters and places we see in the present day. And the central character goes through a stunning change halfway through the film. It unreels without any obvious explanation, sometimes feeling a bit like the films of the great Soviet-era director Andrei Tarkovsky. My Joy is likely to baffle or bore some viewers, but if you immerse yourself in its world, it’s quite compelling. FILM WEBSITE


4. MARWENCOL (Jeff Malmberg, U.S.)
A remarkable documentary about Mark Hogancamp, a man recovering from head injuries who constructs a miniature world with dolls — becoming an artist in the process. It’s a moving portrait of someone who doesn’t quite know how to relate to other people in the ways our society considers to be “normal.” FILM WEBSITE

5. CARLOS (Olivier Assayas, France)
See the long version — a five-hour epic biography of one of the most notorious terrorists in modern history. While the dramatic film does not exactly make him a sympathetic figure, it does portray him as human — an egotistical man hungry for his own strange sort of celebrity. The long version of the film never lags, making a strong argument for the notion that some stories deserve to be told on the screen at greater length. FILM WEBSITE

6. ANOTHER YEAR (Mike Leigh, U.K.)
Mike Leigh is quite simply one of the greatest filmmakers of the past few decades, capturing the rhythms and complexity of real life on the screen time and again, using his unique improvisational process of developing stories and characters in collaboration with his actors. Another Year is a subtle film, and at first glance, it may seem understated or even uneventful. But like the best of Leigh’s work, it feels unforced, almost like a documentary showing real people in their everyday lives. As in his last film, Happy-Go-Lucky, Leigh looks at the question of why some people seem to be naturally sunny while others seem cursed with unhappiness — but this time, it’s a more sophisticated study of the topic, with a wider range of characters. The whole cast is excellent, and the film’s emotional undercurrents sneak up on you. FILM WEBSITE

7. TUESDAY, AFTER CHRISTMAS (Radu Muntean, Romania)
This Romanian film about a husband committing adultery — and wrecking what seems like a perfectly fine marriage — feels honest. It doesn’t make any excuses for the man’s behavior, and it vividly shows the consequences of his action. When this film screened at the Chicago International Film Festival with director Radu Muntean in attendance, it sparked angry questions from audience members (mostly from women): Why would this man do something like that? As in real life, there was no easy answer. FILM WEBSITE

8. THE SECRET OF KELLS (Thom Moore, Ireland)
An amazingly beautiful animated film that draws on old Celtic books and artwork for its singular look. The screen practically bursts with colors and ornamental patterns, as the film tells a charming story inspired by Irish history. FILM WEBSITE

9. WHITE MATERIAL (Claire Denis, France)
Like other films by the great French director Claire Denis, this one doesn’t tell its story in a straight line. It’s a mystery, a montage of scenes flowing like a fever dream, pieces for us to assemble. One of the great actresses of our time, Isabelle Huppert, plays another one of her headstrong anti-heroines, this time in an African countryside exploding with violence. A powerful meditation on post-colonial conflict. FILM WEBSITE

10. BLUEBEARD (Catherine Breillat, France)
That macabre fairy tale concerning the king who has a penchant for killing his wives becomes an oddly compelling feminist fable in the hands of Catherine Breillat. It plays with the sort of understated dialogue that distinguished the films of Robert Bresson, along with a wicked sense of humor. FILM WEBSITE

11. The Social Network (David Fincher, U.S.)
12. Inside Job (Charles Ferguson, U.S.)
13. True Grit (Joel and Ethan Coen, U.S.)
14. Inception (Christopher Nolan, U.S.)
15. The Illusionist (Sylvain Chomet, France)
16. Greenberg (Noah Baumbach, U.S.)
17. A Prophet (Jacques Audiard, France)
18. Everyone Else (Maren Ade, Germany)
19. The Fighter (David O. Russell, U.S.)
20. Please Give (Nicole Holofcenter, U.S.)

RUNNERS-UP:
Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich, U.S.)
The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper, U.K.)
A Somewhat Gentle Man (Hans Petter Moland, Norway)
Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky, U.S.)
The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko, U.S.)
Uncle Boonme Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand)
Skeletons (Nick Whitfield, U.K.)
Bunny and the Bull (Paul King, U.K.)
The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski)
King’s Road (Valdis Óskarsdóttir, Iceland)
Erratum (Marek Lechki, Poland)
Lebanon (Samuel Maoz, Israel)

Best concerts of 2010

GRINDERMAN Nov. 22 at the Riviera. Nick Cave was pushing himself up against the crowd, letting the fans in front touch with him their hands as he spouted his funny, vulgar, erudite and/or raunchy lyrics. Grinderman’s albums are almost but not quite non-stop rock, and the show was similar, whipping up even more intensity. Cave let out a few more blood-curdling screams than he does in the studio, and his bandmates sang the call-and-response backup vocals like people yelling for help in an emergency. Read More / Photos

BONNIE “PRINCE” BILLY Sept. 28 at Ronny’s. The new songs were transformed into sprawling, loose-limbed, full-band arrangements. … Will Oldham took the stage and removed his flip-flops, revealing his pink-painted toenails. Oldham’s fingernails had pink nail polish, too, and his eyes were underlined with black makeup. The eyeliner was smeared on the left side of his face, looking like a bruise. As usual, Oldham’s face was covered with bristly hair, including a walrus mustache. As he sang, Oldham often contorted his legs and arms as if he were improvising some yoga moves. … As Oldham writhed and the band filled out the songs with an almost jazzy sense of exploration, it reminded me sometimes of Van Morrison from the Astral Weeks era. Read More / Photos

ROBBIE FULKS RESIDENCY all year long at the Hideout. One of the most delightful things happening in live music in Chicago is the ongoing residency by Robbie Fulks on most Monday nights at the Hideout. As a series, this perhaps deserves a special place outside my top 10 concert list, but let’s give Fulks the kudos he so richly deserves and just say that live music rarely gets better than this. He played 38 dates at the Hideout in 2010, and a fellow fan who’s been keeping track of the set lists tells me he’s played more than 400 different songs over the course of those shows. Fulks doesn’t just do the same sort of set every week. He plays with a revolving set of other musicians and singers and sometimes organizes the shows around themes, such as tributes to Alex Chilton or ’70s country music. I feel like something of a slacker because I made it to only five Fulks Hideout shows. (I saw Fulks perform with Nora O’Connor Feb. 8 and Dec. 27, with the Hoyle Brothers April 5, with Greg Cahill April 26, and with Robbie Gjersoe and Jenny Scheinman Aug. 23.) Fulks is a terrific guitarist, very skilled at acoustic finger picking, the sort of musician who can quickly learn new songs and improvise. He’s also an excellent songwriter, a good singer and one of the funniest, smartest raconteurs around. All of that, plus his great taste in music and musicians, adds up to an experience that’s truly enchanting to witness. The sets I saw with O’Connor were probably my favorites — she’s such a beautiful singer — but the other sets included many highlights, too. At the show with Gjersoe and Scheinman, it was exciting to see the three musicians skillfully finding their way through some songs they clearly hadn’t rehearsed, playing with a sense of improvisatory exploration — and doing it with a light sense of humor about it all. Photos from Feb. 8 / / Photos from April 5

THE NATIONAL Sept. 26 at the Riviera. Lead singer Matt Berninger began the concert closely hugging his microphone, but as the show went on, he became more animated, bouncing his microphone stand like a toy. During instrumental passages, he paced the stage, raising his clenched fists, like someone fighting off voices in his head. Berninger’s dance is awkward, lacking the typical rock-star moves, but it feels authentic. He seems to be expressing the emotion and energy he’s feeling from these songs in the only way he can. … It was thrilling how the National’s songs built to dramatic climaxes … During the final song, “Terrible Love,” Berninger walked out into the audience, singing out in the midst of the crowd’s voices for several minutes. Read More (Note: The photo above is actually from a different National show, their set this summer at Lollapalooza.)

THE ARCADE FIRE Aug. 8 at Lollapalooza in Grant Park. The seven musicians in the Arcade Fire are still swapping instruments and working up a sweat as they pound away with their violins, guitars, keyboards and even a hurdy-gurdy. The songs from the new album The Suburbs, sounded strong, but older songs provided the cathartic climax of the concert, as the audience sang along with “Rebellion (Lies)” and “Wake Up.” It was as if the crowd was defying the lyrics Win Butler had sung earlier in the new song, “Month of May” — “Now, some things are pure and some things are right/But the kids are still standing with their arms folded tight.” These kids were not just standing there with their arms folded tight. Read More / Photos

TITUS ANDRONICUS July 17 at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park. From my review for Signal to Noise magazine: The Bruce Springsteen influence was obvious from the opening seconds of the first song, “A More Perfect Union,” when singer Patrick Stickles yelled out the lyrics: “I never wanted to change the world, but I’m looking for a new New Jersey, because tramps like us, baby, we were born to die!” Guest players on horns and strings gave the songs a sense of grandeur resembling Neutral Milk Hotel, as Stickles and his bandmates flailed around with their guitars every chance they got. An American flag was draped over the front of the keyboard, and the Stars and Stripes dangled from Stickles’ guitar, too. Titus Andronicus is hardly your typical bunch of patriotic flag-wavers, but the band’s lyrics show a deep appreciation of American history and the long struggle to secure our freedoms. Amid the loud, rollicking chords and Stickles’ keening, emotion-drenched vocals, the crowd chanted, “U.S.A.! U.S.A! U.S.A.!” Read More / Photos

JÓNSI April 28 at the Vic. The concert built from a hushed quiet in the early songs to a cathartic burst in the encore, with Jónsi singing in a falsetto that was often angelic and occasionally demonic. The set itself was a masterpiece, with a shifting series of projected images making the stage feel like a cabinet of wonders. Photos

JANELLE MONÁE March 29 at Schubas. She wowed me with her strong voice and her sense of drama. I also noticed some interesting almost orchestral flourishes in the song arrangements. She and her backing musicians came out onto the stage in druid robes for a Spinal Tap-esque entrance, with a fog machine going, and the whole show had an air of spectacle about it, despite being at little ol’ Schubas. Photos

RICCARDO MUTI CONDUCTS THE CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Sept. 19 at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. It was a great spectacle to see so many thousands of people cramming into the park to see (or at least hear) the debut of the great maestro as the CSO’s new musical director. The fans waved Muti flags as he nimbly led the orchestra through a lovely outdoor concert, making even the most familiar pieces of music (such as the Fantasy-Overture from Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet) sound fresh. Photos

TUNNG Nov. 17 at Schubas. The spirited, sing-along and dance-around-like-a-fool side of Tunng was on full display when the group came to Chicago for the first time in three years. Given Tunng’s reputation as something of a folk-rock group, who would’ve expected Mike Lindsay to don a pair of goofy glasses that would’ve been appropriate for Bootsy Collins? … This was quite a joyful musical affair. Read More + Photos

RUNNERS-UP
SYL JOHNSON Nov. 27 at the Old Town School of Folk Music.
PHOSPHORESCENT Aug. 5 at the Empty Bottle
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM July 17 at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park
LIGHTNING BOLT July 18 at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park
JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE Sept. 18 at Lincoln Hall
SUPERCHUNK June 20 at the Taste of Randolph Street
FANFARLO April 7 at Lincoln Hall
THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH May 28 at Lincoln Hall
THEE SILVER MT. ZION MEMORIAL ORCHESTRA May 27 at Schubas
CARIBOU July 12 at Millennium Park
IGGY & THE STOOGES Aug. 29 at the Riviera Theatre
CONDO FUCKS and ELEVENTH DREAM DAY May 16 at the Hideout
JENS LEKMAN Jan. 3 at the Viaduct Theater
ANDREW BIRD Dec. 16 at the 4th Presbyterian Church
THE FLAT FIVE Dec. 10 at the Hideout
GUIDED BY VOICES Oct. 13 at the Riviera
THEE OH SEES Sept. 16 at Lincoln Hall

Best Records of 2010

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myspace / artist website

From the opening notes to the very end, High Violet continually strikes that tricky balance that the National is known for — somehow sounding dazed and tense at the same time. The National has made some great records before, particularly 2007’s Boxer, but this one feels like an almost perfect distillation of its tightly wound, tamped-down anthems. Unsettling phobias run through the lyrics about ghosts, zombies, circus geeks and swarms of bees, but the majestic music feels more like a tonic to scare off the fear.

KELLEY STOLTZ: TO DREAMERS (Sub Pop)
myspace /artist website / free mp3 of “I Don’t Get That”

San Francisco singer-songwriter and all-round musical genius Kelley Stoltz has made a string of top-notch records that hearken back to the golden era of the ’60s, playing most of the instruments himself. His latest record continues in that vein, but it leans more toward the Kinks and the Troggs, with the rawer sounds of ’60s garage rock. The compositions are still beautiful, with smart chord changes and guitar and bass lines that accomplish so much in a few simple turns, but it’s all a bit rougher around the edges. There’s one cover, a catchy take on an obscure 1965 British single, “Baby I’ve Got News For You,” by Big Boy Pete — and it’s a terrific match with Stoltz’s originals.

Click here to see Crawdaddy’s video of Stoltz playing an acoustic version of the same song.

BONNIE “PRINCE” BILLY & THE CAIRO GANG: THE WONDER SHOW OF THE WORLD (Drag City)
label website / myspace / artist website

Will Oldham, who most often calls himself Bonnie “Prince” Billy these days, is one highly prolific singer-songwriter, with a complex, hard-to-track discography. He’s been on something of a roll with his last several recordings, and the latest is one of his best yet, a collaboration with the Cairo Gang, otherwise known as Emmett Kelly, a talented Chicago musician with a sensitive approach to playing the guitar. When the two of them play live together (something that really ought to be seen), you can feel how they’re feeding off one another. And that comes through on this strong set of 10 mostly acoustic songs. In a review earlier this year for Signal to Noise magazine, I wrote: Oldham has never sung better, gently catching all the subtle nuances of his melodies. His lyrics read like poetry on the page, but somehow even his archaic turns of phrase feel natural when he sings them. … Oldham dares to let his mind take him to places other songwriters avoid. On the last track, the elegiac “Kids,” he sings from the perspective of an aging man who’s afraid of moving, fearful of losing his ability to sing. If anything, Oldham sounds more fearless than ever. The two Bonnie “Prince” Billy shows I saw Chicago this fall were great, featuring Kelly and a full band. But this earlier, apparently unamplified duo concert by Oldhan and Kelly — captured on amateur video at Monster Island Basement in Brooklyn — looks even more amazing. The clip below begins in the middle of one song, “With Cornstalks or Among Them,” and continues with the song, “The Sounds Are Always Begging.”

ARVO PÄRT: SYMPHONY NO. 4 (ECM)
label website / fan website

Arvo Pärt is one of the great living composers, and this year ECM released a recording of the first symphony he’s written in 37 years. The symphony is not really the form of music he’s known for, and this is not a typical symphony. Although Pärt has a full orchestra at his disposal — the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen in 2009 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall — the symphony often sounds more like a piece of chamber music. It opens with serenity and stillness, like glimmers of light blinking in a night sky. But the same formulas that bind together the stars take on another, more menacing aspect as the symphony unravels over the course of three movements, arriving at a strangely tense and unresolved climax — unresolved except for the slight, almost passing resonance of a bell ringing at the very end. Like much of Pärt’s music, it feels mystical and soulful. (Here is a short essay I wrote about Pärt for a feature on classical music’s most inspiring people in the summer 2010 issue of Listen magazine.)

THE 1900s: RETURN OF THE CENTURY (Parasol)
label website / myspace / buy at Bandcamp

The 1900s have been one of Chicago’s best bands over the past few years, and they emerged from some apparent turmoil with a slightly reconfigured lineup on this new record —sounding as strong as ever. The music isn’t quite as lushly orchestrated as it was on their superb 2007 album Cold and Kind, but the melodies are just as inventive, the words are great pop-song poetry, and the vocals by the trio of lead singers have never been so lovely. Another addictive collection of sweet songs with a bittersweet tinge.

PHOSPHORESCENT: HERE’S TO TAKING IT EASY (Dead Oceans)
myspace / label website / free mp3 of “Mermaid Parade”

Phosphorescent — which is essentially one guy, singer Matthew Houck, plus whatever musicians he assembles — has made good records in the past, but he/they seem to have found a new sense of purpose after doing a Willie Nelson tribute record in 2009. The result is the year’s best country record — or should we say alt-country? Country-rock? Forget all those labels. These are just great songs from top to bottom, with arrangements reminiscent of classic, old-time country and western.

THE SADIES: DARKER CIRCLES (Yep Roc)
label website /band website / myspace

No doubt, the Sadies are one of the most talented guitar bands you’ll ever see in concert. Using barely any effects pedals, they’ll show you how guitar, bass and drums are played by people who really, really know how to do it — but they also put that virtuosity to the service of the songs they’re playing, rather than simply showing off. And over their past few records, they’ve also matured into strong songwriters. The Sadies’ previous album, New Seasons, was my favorite of 2007. The new one ranks a notch below that one, but it’s a nearly unassailable bunch of tightly arranged roots-rock tunes, concluding with an incredible overture of sorts — the accurately named track “10 More Songs,” which crams a whole album’s worth of majestic guitar riffs into 4 minutes and 15 seconds.

THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH: THE WILD HUNT (Dead Oceans)
myspace / label website / free mp3 of “King of Spain”

The Tallest Man on Earth — the stage name for Sweden’s Kristian Matsson — is a very traditional, acoustic-guitar-picking folk-rock singer-songwriter. It’s an old genre, but it’s far from exhausted, and Matsson is doing it as well as just about anyone right now. His dexterity on the guitar is impressive, and he’s surprisingly lively in concert, rarely standing still for more than a minute or two. But he’s mostly worth watching because of his gift for memorable melodies and words.

GRINDERMAN: GRINDERMAN 2 (Anti-)
band website / myspace

It was hard not to wonder if the first Grinderman record would turn out to be a one-off stunt by Nick Cave. He recorded under a different name than usual, working with a subset of the musicians who play in his bigger band, the Bad Seeds, and the experience seemed to give him a jolt of electricity. It’s a good thing Cave reassembled Grinderman for a sophomore record, which is just as raging and raw as the first one, running over with black humor in the lyrics and an unstoppable power in the ragged blues-punk guitar riffs. This year, the middle-aged Cave showed the kids how to rock. (Warning: The first of the videos below, “Heathen Child,” is NSFW. It’s also insanely, wonderfully weird.)

JANELLE MONÁE: THE ARCHANDROID (Bad Boy/Wonderland)
artist website / myspace / video trailer

If only other young pop and R&B divas were as inventive and daring as Janelle Monáe. Her ambitious debut runs a wide gamut, from an orchestral introduction to bouncy dance music and elegant ballads, with a sci-fi theme running through the whole thing. She made her record the way she wanted to, and she had the director’s vision — and the powerful, nimble voice — required to pull it off.

AND THE NEXT 50 … in roughly descending order:
11. Kings Go Forth: The Outsiders Are Back (Luaka Bop)
12. LCD Soundsystem: This Is Happening (DFA/Virgin)
13. The Arcade Fire: The Suburbs (Merge)
14. She & Him: Vol. 2 (Merge)
15. Mavis Staples: You Are Not Alone (Anti-)
16. Nina Nastasia: Outlaster (Fat Cat)
17. Dios: We Are Dios (Buddyhead)
18. Sharon Van Etten: Epic (Ba Da Bing)
19. Tunng: …And Then We Saw Land (Thrill Jockey)
20. Best Coast: Crazy For You (Mexican Summer)
21. Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest (4AD)
22. Caribou: Swim (Merge)
23. Avi Buffalo: Avi Buffalo (Sub Pop)
24. Midlake: Courage of Others (Bella Union)
25. Kronos Quartet with Alim & Fargana Qasimov and Homayun Sakhi: Rainbow: Music of Central Asia Vol. 8 (Smithsonian Folkways)
26. Dr. Dog: Shame, Shame (Anti-)
27. Black Mountain: Wilderness Heart (Jagjaguwar)
28. A Broken Consort: Crow Autumn (Tompkins Square)
29. Laura Marling: I Speak Because I Can (Astralwerks)
30. The Vaselines: Sex With an Ex (Sub Pop)
31. Spoon: Transference (Merge)
32. The Black Angels: Phosphone Dream (Blue Horizon)
33. The Besnard Lakes: The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night (Jagjaguwar)
34. Owen Pallett: Heartland (Domino)
35. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra: Kollaps Tradixionales (Constellation)
36. Woods: At Echo Lake (Woodsist)
37. Cave: Pure Moods (Drag City)
38. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings: I Learned the Hard Way (Daptone)
39. Justin Townes Earle: Harlem River Blues (Bloodshot)
40. The Fall: Your Future Our Clutter (Domino)
41. Laura Veirs: July Flame (Raven Marching Band)
42. White Hills: White Hills (Thrill Jockey)
43. The Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O.: In O to Infinity (Important)
44. Belle & Sebastian: Write About Love (Matador)
45. Charlotte Gainsbourg: IRM (Elektra/Asylum)
46. Clogs: The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton (Brassland)
47. Gil Scott-Heron: I’m New Here (XL)
48. Jónsi: Go (XL)
49. The Love Language: Libraries (Merge)
50. Barn Owl: Ancestral Star (Thrill Jockey)

And then there were, oh, about a hundred more records I heard from 2010 that I liked — if only I had more time to absorb them all.

Favorite photos of 2010 Part 2

LIGHTNING BOLT — JULY 18 AT THE PITCHFORK MUSIC FESTIVAL
SLEIGH BELLS — JULY 18 AT THE PITCHFORK MUSIC FESTIVAL
JOHNNY & THE LIMELITES — JULY 22 AT LAURIE’S PLANET OF SOUND
CAP’N JAZZ — JULY 31 AT WICKER PARK FESTIVAL
MAVIS STAPLES — AUG. 6 AT LOLLAPALOOZA
THE BIG PINK — AUG. 6 AT LOLLAPALOOZA
JIMMY CLIFF — AUG. 6 AT LOLLAPALOOZA
THE BLACK KEYS — AUG. 6 AT LOLLAPALOOZA
LADY GAGA — AUG. 6 AT LOLLAPALOOZA
STARS — AUG. 7 AT LOLLAPALOOZA
METRIC — AUG. 7 AT LOLLAPALOOZA
SOCIAL DISTORTION — AUG. 7 AT LOLLAPALOOZA
EDWARD SHARPE & THE MAGNETIC ZEROS — AUG. 7 AT LOLLAPALOOZA
FRIGHTENED RABBIT — AUG. 8 AT LOLLAPALOOZA
THE ARCADE FIRE — AUG. 8 AT LOLLAPALOOZA
THE ARCADE FIRE — AUG. 8 AT LOLLAPALOOZA
WANDA JACKSON — AUG. 27 AT FITZGERALD’S
IGGY & THE STOOGES — AUG. 29 AT THE RIVIERA
THEE OH SEES — SEPT. 16 AT LINCOLN HALL
JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE — SEPT. 18 AT LINCOLN HALL
BONNIE “PRINCE” BILLY — SEPT. 28 AT RONNY’S
BONNIE “PRINCE” BILLY — SEPT. 29 AT LINCOLN HALL
GUIDED BY VOICES — OCT. 13 AT THE RIVIERA
THE VASELINES — OCT. 28 AT LINCOLN HALL
MONARCH — OCT. 31 AT THE HIDEOUT
MIYA MASAOKA’S “LED KIMONO,” NOV. 20 AT THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART CHCIAGO
GRINDERMAN — NOV. 22 AT THE RIVIERA THEATRE
GRINDERMAN — NOV. 22 AT THE RIVIERA THEATRE
GRACE POTTER & THE NOCTURNALS — DEC. 4 IN THE CHICAGO BLUEGRASS & BLUES FESTIVAL AT THE CONGRESS THEATER
EDWARD SHARPE & THE MAGNETIC ZEROS — DEC. 4 IN THE CHICAGO BLUEGRASS & BLUES FESTIVAL AT THE CONGRESS THEATER
THE FLAT FIVE — DEC. 10 AT THE HIDEOUT

SEE MORE PHOTOS IN PART 1.

Favorite photos of 2010 Part 1

EBONY BONES — FEB. 6 AT GREEN DOLPHIN STREET
ROBBIE FULKS — FEB. 8 AT THE HIDEOUT
TINARIWEN — FEB. 28 AT THE OLD TOWN SCHOOL OF FOLK MUSIC
THE IKE REILLY ASSASSINATION — MARCH 1 AT SCHUBAS
A SUNNY DAY IN GLASGOW — MARCH 3 AT SCHUBAS
MUCCA PAZZA — MARCH 6 AT ST. PAUL’S CULTURAL CENTER
EFTERKLANG — MARCH 8 AT LINCOLN HALL
WOODS — MARCH 15 AT LINCOLN HALL
PERE UBU — MARCH 14 AT LINCOLN HALL
JANELLE MONÁE — MARCH 29 AT SCHUBAS
SERENA-MANEESH — MARCH 31 AT THE BOTTOM LOUNGE
FANFARLO — APRIL 7 AT LINCOLN HALL
WHITE MYSTERY — APRIL 17 AT PERMANENT RECORDS
JÓNSI — APRIL 28 AT THE VIC
DELTA SPIRIT — APRIL 30 AT THE KALYX CENTER, MONTICELLO, ILLINOIS
ELEVENTH DREAM DAY — MAY 2 AT THE HIDEOUT
CONDO FUCKS — MAY 16 AT THE HIDEOUT
MONO — MAY 22 AT THE EMPTY BOTTLE
BESNARD LAKES — MAY 24 AT THE PRITZKER PAVILION
THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH — MAY 28 AT LINCOLN HALL
ANDRE WILLIAMS — MAY 29 AT SCHUBAS
COCOCOMA — JUNE 5 AT DO-DIVISION STREET FEST
WARPAINT — JUNE 6 AT DO-DIVISION STREET FEST
YAKUZA — JUNE 5 AT THE BEAT KITCHEN
YAKUZA — JUNE 5 AT THE BEAT KITCHEN
SHE & HIM — JUNE 7 AT THE PRITZKER PAVILION
MATMOS & SO PERCUSSION — JUNE 12 AT THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART CHICAGO
SUPERCHUNK — JUNE 20 AT THE TASTE OF RANDOLPH STREET
CARIBOU — JULY 12 AT THE PRITZKER PAVILION
ROBYN — JULY 16 AT THE PITCHFORK MUSIC FESTIVAL
TITUS ANDRONICUS — JULY 17 AT THE PITCHFORK MUSIC FESTIVAL
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM — JULY 17 AT THE PITCHFORK MUSIC FESTIVAL

SEE MORE PHOTOS IN PART 2.