If I’m being perfectly honest, 2010 has been a somewhat interesting year. First of all, I’ve not listened to anywhere near as much new music as I normally would have done, mostly due to a fear of illegal downloads and repercussions that would render me bankrupt. Therefore, what I have managed to get my hands on has been limited in a way, relying on things available in my own country and iTunes than exploring more further afield. Secondly, I’ve probably been to more shows in this year than any other in my life, utilising my university’s proximity to Birmingham to its full, as well as somehow finding a punk scene in Leamington Spa that by rights probably shouldn’t exist and is in fact waning, with the lack of available venues. Thirdly, I’ve played a lot of video games. But that’s not exactly anything new. I’ve also read a lot of books, thanks to my university course and a rediscovered love of reading again, found an obsession in certain comic book series, watched a lot of films and generally spent my money on a plethora of things I shouldn’t have.
So instead of the traditional best albums of the year, because not only am I lacking in new music but my memory of what actually came out this year is also lacking, I’m going forth with a ‘Ripper’s Recommendations’ for 2010, making use of all those different avenues I’ve ended up going down this year. So there’s a mixed bag of everything!
Best album of 2010: Fake Problems – Real Ghosts Caught On Tape
I reviewed this earlier in the year, when I managed to get my grubby little mitts on a copy. It was the first album of the year I gave five high-fives to, and while it wasn’t the only release to get one (Frank Turner’s latest EP was the other), it was certainly the most deserving. It may not have been like earlier Fake Problems, which was also stellar, but it was a certain step in a new but founded direction, and it was glorious. From the seductive ‘5678’ to the deceptively dark ‘Songs For Teenagers’, right back to the wonderfully jangly ‘Grand Finale’, it’s not to be missed. Despite coming out in the autumn, it’s a summer album and I know that it’ll be my soundtrack of choice for my trip to Florida this Christmas. If you actually like music, then you should like this. Plus, if you play Audiosurf, actually try doing ‘5678’ on that. You won’t know what you’re letting yourself in for.
An honourable mention goes to the aforementioned Frank Turner EP, Rock And Roll. You know what you’re getting with Frankie T, and it’s pure genius every time. My Chemical Romance’s latest effort, Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys was also a surprising standout for this year. Generally, with My Chemical Romance, I’m a bit sceptical, but I thoroughly enjoyed the new album and to be honest, it set me back on the path to actually listening to them again.
Best live show of 2010: AFI/Kill Hannah
I just couldn’t choose. I have seen so many outstanding artists perform this year, but in the end, it came down to two. I saw AFI for the third time in April and was blown away yet again. There are many reasons why AFI are my favourite band and their live performances are just one of those. Admittedly, Crash Love was not the album I expected. It was good, but it wasn’t great. It wasn’t classic AFI, it was new AFI and I loved it like I would any other album they did. However, it was clearly written with a live presence in mind as they made those songs sound phenomenal. The basic formula is always there – they play the new songs, they play about three old songs, Davey wears pretty clothes and does his makeup just so. But the way they play, the stage dives, the god walks, the guitars flung five feet in the air… it’s a visual treat, as much as an aural one. And it’s impossible to not get swept up in the atmosphere.
Kill Hannah were also amazing this year. I’m unsure of whether the fact that I’d been waiting for years to see them, always having been unavailable when they toured over here, came into it, but I’ve not seen anything as fluid, as involving or as impressive all year. Not to mention, they played American Jet Set, which they haven’t played in years, and was one of the very first songs I ever learned to play. It was incredible to hear all the classics, as well as a bunch of new material from Wake Up The Sleepers. Mat Devine is the very frontman I imagined him to be – charismatic, enticing and a bloody good singer. If you get the opportunity to see Kill Hannah, do so.
Honourable mentions go to Against Me!, who are always fun, RVIVR who were excellent in that front room in Leamington and Blink 182 for fulfilling my childhood dreams.
Best video game of 2010: Fallout New Vegas
Fallout New Vegas was, in short, a masterpiece. I’m not entirely sure if it was better than its predecessor, but it certainly equalled it. Set in a post-apocalyptic Mojave, Fallout New Vegas had bigger guns, better mods and more intricate and hilarious quests. There was a whole bunch of lovable characters, such as the intriguing Yes Man, Rex the cyberdog and Lily, the Nightkin farmer. What I really loved about this game was the fact that it was so involving. It was as a good RPG should be; you feel as if you’re actually a part of the universe. I couldn’t put it down and am in fact still playing, trying to do as many side quests and find as many hidden areas as I can. New Vegas is brilliant.
Honourable mentions to Bioshock 2 for continuing what is an excellent series, Final Fantasy XIII for consuming so much of my life and being a worthy addition to the Final Fantasy series and Pokemon Soul Silver for reinventing what was one of my favourite childhood games without ruining it.
Best book of 2010: Tell-All by Chuck Palahniuk
I’d been waiting a while for this one. The last Palahniuk book I’d read was Pygmy and I somehow missed Snuff, but Tell-All was a return to a more classic Palahniuk. Pygmy, written in its strange dialectical style, didn’t quite seem like Palahniuk, even though it was clearly his brand of shock and awe. Tell-All, in contrast, was Palahniuk doing what he does best – bringing the reader along on a journey with a completely unforeseen twist. Tell-All was fantastic. From the point of view of ‘Hazie’ Coogan, the housemaid and companion of washed up actress Katherine Kenton, a tale of murder and intrigue is played out as Kenton’s new beau, Webster Carlton Westward III writes a tell-all memoir where Kenton is killed at the end… It was certainly original and it was great to see Palahniuk return to something a bit more down to earth, after the bizarre Rant and forays into hardcore porn with Snuff.
Honourable mentions to Anarchy Evolution by Greg Graffin, which is an absolutely compelling read, and China Mieville’s Kraken which is just amazing.
Best movie of 2010: Scott Pilgrim vs The World
I read the first couple of Scott Pilgrim volumes a while before the film came out. I thought that they were great, but didn’t really feel compelled to pick up the rest, not having vast amounts of time on my hand. And I was entirely wrong to, because the movie was just incredible. While there are a fair few differences between the graphic novels and the movie, it’s still as charming and wacky as the books are. Michael Cera is an excellent choice for the eponymous hero and is simply adorable as the hopeless Scott upon his quest to win the heart of Ramona Flowers by defeating her seven evil exes. Truly awesome.
Honourable mentions to Iron Man 2, which wasn’t too bad and Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1, which is one of the best HP films so far.
So, that’s it for my bests from 2010, what were yours? Email us or Facebook us and we’ll put them up on the site!