When I started reflecting about the past ten years, I realized that I have developed my taste in music and even my own identity during that time. Ten years ago, I was only 15 years old and just started looking for my own taste without the influence of any other people. Regarding music, I discovered indie bands like Death Cab For Cutie (thank you ‘The O.C’). Then I discovered the German music magazine Intro (their shutting down last year struck me deeply) and the world wide web. Platforms like Last FM contributed to my musical awakening in the end.
Of course, I also started writing for this beautiful music magazine called NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION back in 2012 and still love doing it. The last ten years have been a special meaning to me. I did not only experience a lot but I also grew up to become an adult (more or less). I finished school, went out into the world, had great – and some bad – times, finished studies and quit others just to go back to the beginning and start over again. Over the course of time, music has always been my steady companion. It guided me through every stage of my life, regardless of whether it were happy or sad times. Sounds pretty kitschy, but when you are lost in the world and don’t know where you belong, there is always music supporting you and giving you strength to continue.
It was pretty hard for me two pick only ten records from the past decade. There is so much great music out there that shaped my identity and made me celebrate life with all its ups and downs. When reflecting on my younger self, I realised that I only chose records from 2010 until 2015. At the beginning of the decade most music was new to me and I didn’t question it as much as I do now. Now I have listened to more music and my demands got higher. It’s harder for me to indulge in head-over-heels fandom now, than it was in the first five years of this decade. But it’s alright. We all get older and start realizing not everything that glitters is gold.
The Acid – ‘Liminal’ (2014)
Ever since mastermind Ry X started releasing music, I have been a big fan of his work. The Australian songwriter’s solo stuff is great, but I decided to go for one of his side projects. Unfortunately, The Acid he has only released one record so far. For this collaboration Ry teamed up with British DJ and dance producer Adam Freeland and music technology professor Steve Nalepa. To me, the record Liminal is the perfect mixture of melancholic songwriting, tender techno beats and well-balanced electronic accents. The Acid’s whole concept lives from Ry’s sense for art. He combines elements from various genres with a thought-out media concept, uniting beautiful videos and unique cover art. As The Acid’s Liminal is one of my favourite records of all time, I’m really hoping that the trio will team up again to release another album together.
Daughter – ‘Not To Disappear’ (2015)
Daughter means pure melancholy with a hint of depression to me. I always listen to their music when I’m feeling blue. That’s no contradiction, I mostly listen to sad music when I am in a down-phase in my life because it seems relatable. When the album was released in 2015, I was doing an internship in Berlin for a few months. It was winter and the city was grey, cold, and full of dirty brown snow. If that was not enough reason to feel depressed, during that time I lived in a tiny room in a shared flat with people who didn’t care about me. I didn’t feel at home. Almost every morning when I took the tube to work, I listened to Not To Disappear. I fell into deep melancholia and became isolated from the world around me. The music somehow made me sadder and lifted me up at the same time. It showed me that other people experience the same emotions as I do and I felt less alone with my feelings. Later on, I had the amazing opportunity to interview guitarist Igor Haefeli when the band came to Berlin. It proved to me that the band is still down to earth disregarding their international success. Daughter want to help people to put their feelings into words and to be more honest to themselves and each other.
Efterklang – ‘Piramida’ (2012)
I’m very happy about the fact that Efterklang decided to put their other projects to the side and reunite to release new music this year. They have already released two new songs in their native language Danish. But actually, I don’t think their comeback album can keep up with their brilliant record Piramida from 2012. The album got me from the first minute on. It is the perfect combination of field recordings and melancholic indie music. Just in case you didn’t know: the three band members went to the island Spitzbergen, which is quite close to the North Pole. Over there they visited the ghost town Pyramiden and captured the field recordings that shape Piramida’s unique sound. Efterklang also filmed a great documentary about their stay on the island. When it came out, I was doing an Au-Pair year in London. So I went to a little cinema underneath a clothing store, which felt more like a living room than a cinema. There were couches, armchairs and blankets all over the place. Now, after having watched the documentary, every time I listen to the album I see the beautiful images of the island in my head.
Sigur Rós – ‘Kveikur’ (2013)
Sigur Rós’ music always meant a lot to me. I discovered them about ten years ago, when I was in the middle of the puberty. Although l couldn’t understand their lyrics (like most people in the world) I was instantly touched by their sound. It is pretty hard to put their music into words, it simply creates a beautiful feeling of warmth. In 2007 the Icelandic band released the movie Heima, which made me cry the first time I watched it. The combination of Sigur Rós’ music, Icelandic landscapes and people enjoying their music touched me deeply. The movie was the reason I traveled to Iceland a few years afterwards. Kveikur, the bands 7th and last album so far,was released in 2013 during my already mentioned Au-Pair stay in London. I went to a record store to buy the album on the day it came out (on CD!) and I listened to it for weeks. The LP is a bit ‘harder’ and more post-rock than other works but I really enjoyed it. I always dreamed of seeing them live but when I actually did in 2017 I have to admit, I was disappointed. The location was bad and I was not in the right mood. It was too big for their intimate music. I hope to get the change to see them in a smaller venue one day.
Lana Del Rey – ‘Ultraviolence’ (2014)
I discovered Lana Del Rey pretty late. I knew she existed and also knew songs like Video Games, which ran up and down the radio. But I never got into it, until a friend showed me her music during our studies. Then I fell in love quickly because I could just feel her vibe. The funny thing is, in 2012 I went to the MELT Festival and watched her perform for a few minutes but left as I did not have her on my radar. Admittedly, her show was not good and it seemed like she couldn’t really sing. Maybe that was the reason why I didn’t pay attention to her until 2014, the year she released her second album Ultraviolence. With the record, Lana Del Rey proved that she is more than a pop star making catchy music. She is an artist who knows how to translate true feelings and emotions into music. Her music evokes a unique, nostalgic and unmistakably Lana Del Rey vibe (and luckily she also practiced singing). Going through a breakup, I listened to Ultraviolence a lot and it helped me feel strong and self-confident again.
Foals – ‘Total Life Forever’ (2010)
I know, Norman already chose another record of this band for his ten favourite albums but, nevertheless, I also have to go with one. Foals are one of the very first indie bands I started listening to when I was about 15 years old. They shaped the development of my musical taste with each of their releases. And admittedly, Spanish Sahara is one of my favourite songs of all time, maybe even the one (it’s pretty hard to say). It’s fascinating how they manage to constantly develop their sound, and throughout all of their records never repeat themselves. I chose Total Life Forever over their newer albums because it is one of their calmer works. Don’t get me wrong, I also like heavier Foals stuff like Inhaler or What Went Down but still, my heart belongs to their quieter pieces. That’s probably because I will always choose indie melancholia over indie rock.
The XX- ‘Coexist’ (2012)
Actually, this is kind of a cheat. I had to choose theXX’s second record, because their first one was already released in the year 2009. Coexist, the band’s second record, is an equally brilliant work of art but came as less of a surprise than the debut. Their self-titled debut brought a new sound to life that didn’t exist in that form before. Minimalistic instrumentation and electronic elements are combined with the two soft and perfectly harmonizing voices of Romy and Oliver forming something organic and entirely new. With Coexist the band developed their sound and made it more balanced and more integrated. To me their music is THE sound of the early 2010’s because they are role-models for many bands which use elements from their music: minimalistic bass lines, restrained electronics with sometimes danceable elements and soft and emotional vocals. If you would like to read more about the XX’s debut go over here, where Norman shares some thoughts on it.
Hundreds – ‘Hundreds’ (2010)
Hundreds are one of the first German indietronica acts I listened to. They introduced me to the German indie label Sinnbus whose releases I am a big fan of. Hundreds are two siblings from Hamburg who manage to create music that doesn’t sound like coming from one country but rather from many different places. Their organic and well-arranged tracks mix genres like synth-pop, indietronica and electro-pop to evolve to something special; the unique ‘Hundreds’ sound. I remember catching one of their first shows shortly after the release of their debut album. There were only around 10 people in the audience (including me) but I was fascinated by their stage presence and the visualisation of their music. Since then, I have seen the band live performing both of their other records and it has always been great.
Sizarr – ‘Psycho Boy Happy’ (2012)
It seems like it’s time for the German bands over here now! I’ve been thinking pretty long about choosing this album, but I think it belongs here. Back in 2012 I listened to this record uncountable times. I really felt what Sizarr meant with their music and could relate to them, as they originally come from a place close to my hometown. When the three guys (who had just turned 18 then, like me) dropped their first song Boarding Time everyone was asking themselves who these mysterious guys from Germany could be. And in the end, it was “only” a student band from a small town in south-west Germany who hit the zeitgeist of their generation pretty well by combining futuristic pop sounds with multi-layered synths, polyrhythmic drums and a very unique voice. Three years later, they released a second record, which is also great and I used the opportunity to have a little chat with one band member.
Bilderbuch – ‘Schick Schock’ (2015)
To also have a band that sings in my native language German, I chose Bilderbuch’s record Schick Schock. There are many other great records that emerged during the 2010s (e.G. albums from Warpaint, Beach House, Rhye, and so on), but I think this one is a record that embodies something new and thrilling that changed the musical landscape in Germany and Austria. Bilderbuch dared to break ranks by being sexy, glamorous and self-confident, as if they were big pop stars and not a small band from Austria. With the intention of not being another normal indie band from around the corner (they already made music together for ten years before releasing Schick Schock) they caught attention from all over the world and played many sold out shows. The four guys found a niche that no one occupied since the death of Austrian singer Falco and the music world loved it, and still does. I don’t think any of their later records can keep up with this one. It’s probably the same with the XX, this record hit so surprisingly that it can’t be topped.
Find more personal stories about our editors’ favourite 2010 records right here.