It should go without saying that when Duran Duran releases a new album, it's the highlight of the year for me in terms of music. Their new release, "All You Need Is Now," is no exception. I love it even more than I expected to -- it's an instant classic.
The non-Duran music-release high points of 2010 for me are the dreamy-yet-dirty brilliance of "Transit Transit" by Autolux, and "Dark Night of the Soul," an experimental modern blues-rock album by Dangermouse & Sparklehorse (featuring numerous excellent guest musicians, including David Lynch and Nina Persson).
Other notable music releases include the self-titled debut by Chicanery (which I've already written about here), "Metallic Spheres" by The Orb featuring David Gilmour, "Record Collection" by Mark Ronson & The Business Int'l, and self-titled albums by Stone Temple Pilots and Interpol.
In terms of concerts, the unquestionable highlight of the year was seeing Roger Waters perform Pink Floyd's "The Wall" at the Staples Center. Other great shows I saw were unsung rock geniuses Codeseven (opening for Circa Survive), Autolux, Imogen Heap, Spleen United and Thom Yorke (with Autolux as an opener, no less).
I haven't had a whole lot of interest in new movies lately and didn't see many this year. I also missed one or two that I did want to see (notably "Black Swan"). The two worth mentioning that I did catch are "The Social Network," which deserves every accolade it has received and more, and "Inception," which despite its flaws is still an ambitious and fun ride.
The two novels published in 2010 that I'd been highly anticipating -- Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom" and Bret Easton Ellis' "Imperial Bedrooms" -- both turned out to be incredibly enjoyable reads. "Imperial Bedrooms" has its flaws but still has a strong impact, and "Freedom" proves that the big social novel is far from dead.
The true literary highlight of my year, though, was meeting Bret Easton Ellis (my favorite writer) after attending a panel where he was interviewed at the L.A. Times Festival of Books.