6. ART-ROCK DIVA
A brunette in a blue sequined jumpsuit does a little hip-shake, counts to four, and sings, “Tell me that you love me more.” For those who hadn’t already been dazzled by Feist’s 2004 release, Let It Die, this iPod ad was a perfect introduction to a singer full of happy surprises. On “1234” (the iPod song), acoustic guitar and a lone voice give way to strings, drums, bass, banjo, hand claps, finger snaps, and a chorus of backing vocals, then to horns and piano. What starts as a pop ditty ends as a roadhouse number. And so it goes with the rest of The Reminder, switching freely from lounge jazz to rock to frenetic pop to folk. It’s a hopping good ride.
7. REPLACEMENT FOR THE STROKES AS SIGNATURE NEW YORK BAND
Back in 2001, the Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs thought they’d rule rock radio, only to discover that “cool” doesn’t translate into hits. Today, the local scene is proudly, fruitfully uncool—and uncommercial. This year saw ramshackle, ultra-arty, and altogether terrific albums from Grizzly Bear, Battles, the Fiery Furnaces, and Dirty Projectors. But none was better than Animal Collective’s Strawberry Jam, a joyous assemblage of blurts, bleeps, and unchained melodies.
8. BEST DANCE PARTY
Dance music comes and goes in New York, and this year it came in a big way: Chart-topping European duo Justice played two raucous shows at Terminal 5; Daft Punk deejayed atop a giant, glowing pyramid at KeySpan Park, slaying a crowd of 7,500 (despite the suspicion that the pair was just playing CDs); and Greenpoint’s Studio B—with its Friday-night free-for-all, FUN—is the low-key engine behind it all, showcasing D.J.’s like the Ed Banger Crew, MSTRKRFT, and the Glimmers to packed houses nearly every week.
9.BEST ONE-MAN BAND
Deacon is a one-man postmodern orchestra from Baltimore, and he is the antidote—to bands trapped in the past, to music with no imagination. He samples cartoon characters, he twists and bends all manner of noises and beats, he has a massive good time. You’ll love it, you’ll hate it, you’ll wonder what the hell it was you just heard and have no choice but to play it again.
10. BEST REISSUE
All those big-name reissues bloated with D-side obscurities—what’s the point? You either have those albums already or don’t want them. So go with a reissue from a band that time forgot, like Staten Island’s Dirty Looks. Not to be confused with the cheese-metal band of the same name, the Looks were New York mods from the late seventies who made two albums of punk energy and great paleo-MTV hooks.