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Here’s my most tragic music story of 2010: My external harddrive, containing a huge chunk of my music collection, died a few weeks ago, or so it seems. So it’s possible I’m omitting a song or two from this list of my favorite local songs of the year. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Here they are, in no particular order:

Felt Letters – “600,000 Bands” (M’lady’s Records): This song might have come out in 2009. The Ian Svenonius-fronted project definitely played it in 2008. But it was one of City Paper‘s first One Track Minds of the year, a maybe-joking-maybe-not death-rattle meditation on indie-rock oversaturation. “600,000 bands, each one makes a sound,” Svenonius growls. “Well everyone wants you to listen to them, but you can’t right now cuz you’re listening to this.”


Screen Vinyl Image – “New Visions” (Fan Death Records): Hopeful-sounding noise, harsh-light ambience in a goth-pop cast. The duo seems to be smoothing out its sound these days, but it’s still the loudest band in the city.


Tabi Bonney – “Nuthin But a Hero” (iHipHop): In the music video, Tabi’s looking dapper and riding a bicycle, but I wouldn’t write this off as the official anthem of D.C.’s dandy scene. It’s a song about seeking stardom and bringing someone you love with you—-which might make for a staid, corny message if not for the song’s string-driven, damn-near-transcendent beat.

Midnight Kids – “Night Walk” (self-released): From the ashes of longtime indie-rock fixtures The Apes came Midnight Kids, whose self-titled EP is all brown acid and black magic.

Hume – “Injera” (Sockets Records): The best song for when you’re hanging out with your favorite shaman. I wrote all about it yesterday.


Painted Face – “Undreamt” (self-released): This song makes me think of The Labyrinth, mostly because it’s an acknowledged tribute to Kate Bush, who, for some reason, makes me think of The Labrynth.


Dave Nada – “Moombahton” (T&A Records): I basically wrote a cover story about this song.


X.O. – “Black Broadway” (Studio 43): X.O.’s One.One.Ten is the best D.C. hip-hop album of 2010, and it’s also the most downcast. With its maximalist, soul-sampling Oddisee beat, “Black Broadway” is the outlier, an aspirational hometown love letter.


True Womanhood – “Dignitas” (Environmental Aesthetics): I should really exclude this song, seeing as I’m friends with these guys. They get a one-time end-of-the-year pass. This dirge totally pulls of its Madchester-style middle section, even though it has no business doing so.


Carolyn Malachi – “Orion” (self-released): Like I wrote recently, I don’t know how this song reached the ears of Grammy voters, but they nailed it when they nominated it for the prize. Also, it’s about an astronaut and a mermaid.


Medications – “Long Day” (Dischord): Medications didn’t record for five years and emerged a remade band. In fact, it emerged a pop band with punk and math-rock tendencies, and a taste for left turns—-like “Long Day,” which teases at aggression before easing into a gentle, Afro-poppish rumination.


The Cheniers – “Here Comes Trouble” (WINDIAN): Because it’s about your friend who was more fun before he went sober.


Imperial China – “Go Where Airplanes Go” (Sockets): Dear bands who love post-hardcore: Follow this song’s example and eschew the guitar.


America Hearts – “Be My Jones” (Yeah Gates!): Because nothing out of D.C. left me with a bigger smile this year.