The Top 40 Songs of 2010: 30-21

(All week we’re counting down the top songs of 2010.  For previous entries on the list, click here or simply scroll down.  We hope you enjoy the music.)

30. The Soft Pack – “Answer To Yourself”

The Soft Pack could have a tight, lo-fi rock song on their hands that represents an excellent effort to channel The Strokes, or they could be an overachieving bar band with good luck.  The guitar riffs and tight drums drive the anti-poetic lyrics (variations on “do stuff and don’t rely on anyone but you”) with an occasional loose multi-vocal chorus.   No matter the band’s long-term prospects, “Answer to Yourself” is simple, catchy and fun.  -PJB

29. Shabazz Palaces – “32 leaves dipped in blackness making clouds forming altered carbon”

The last time any of us heard from Ishmael Butler, a.k.a Butterfly, was in 1993, when he was teaching us how to be cool like dat.  Times have changed since the Clinton era, and the music of Butler’s new project Shabazz Palaces reflects these changes.  Abandoning the smooth, jazz-inflected tenor of his earlier work, Butler (who now appears publicly as “Palaceer Lazaro”) now raps frazzled and frenetic over the claustrophobic, post-apocalyptic beats that have become de rigueur in the current west-coast hip-hop scene.  After releasing two EPs this year, the group has signed with Sub Pop, and a full-length record is reportedly in the works.  Let’s hope the new material achieves the paranoid brilliance of the song below.  -LVL

28. Active Child – “I’m In Your Church At Night”

Former choirboy Pat Grossi, a.k.a. Active Child, makes ambient electro-pop infused with ethereal ache and somber spirituality.  “I’m in Your Church at Night,'” the first song on his debt Curtis Lane EP, is a hymn for the digital age. -KM

27. Clem Snide – “Wal-Mart Parking Lot”

Once again, front man Eef Barzelay manages to compress heartbreak, Americana and rebirth into a 3 minute blast. Although the song opens this year’s Meat of Life, it works best as an ending to their Christmas Eve Daytrotter session.  -PL

26. Chromeo – “Night By Night”

Chromeo packs a lot into less than four minutes.  “Night by Night” opens with the electronic pulsing of “Eye of the Tiger,” preparing you for the fight to come.  Although our hero is “not romantic,” he isn’t ready to give up and will happily takes things “night by night” (as long as the conversation “is not about us”).   To prolong the distraction, Chromeo offers samba beats and falsetto verses alternated with Daft Punk robot vocals in this bouncing dance tune.  -PJB

25. B.o.B. – “Nothin’ On You”

Now, it may be a little hard to believe that girls all over the world have nothing on you.  But Bruno Mars is just so damn convincing.  -PL


24. James Blake – “CMYK”

Perhaps the best of an army of young producers in the process of re-inventing the R&B of the 1990s, James Blake is forcing those of us who dismissed the music at the time to reconsider.  Sampling both Aaliyah and Kelis, the title track from one of his two excellent 2010 EPs is both infectiously danceable and strangely haunting.  We fully expect Blake’s eponymous debut full-length to end up on our best-of list for 2011.  -LVL

23. The Hundred In The Hands – “Pigeons”

The Hundred in the Hands is a ferocious girl-boy duo that channels the sounds of the 1980s, with Four on the Floor drumbeats, synth sounds, electronic hand claps, and mildly distorted guitar tones To our ears, “Pigeons” sounds like a remake of The Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This.”  -KM

22. The Tallest Man On Earth – “King Of Spain”

Before this song, I wasn’t sure there was such a thing as triumphant sarcasm. Then I realized it is my life.  -PL


21. Wolf Parade – “Yulia”

Wolf Parade have become this generation’s Dinosaur Jr. or Yo La Tengo: a reliably excellent, well-regarded indie rock band whose albums arrive to little fanfare and muted acclaim.  Their third LP, 2010’s Expo 86, received shrug & yawn from most critics, but it has become one of the records I return to most frequently.  In addition to being the album’s standout track, “Yulia” is also the subject of a bad-ass video with astronaut girls.  For that, you’ll have to wait for out best videos countdown this Friday; in the meantime, enjoy the tune.  -LVL

Be sure to check in throughout the week for the rest of our Top 40 of 2010 Countdown.

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