From the moment I bought my Farmor's station wagon seven years ago (that's Swedish for "father's mother"), I've collected cassettes. I had no money to install a CD player at the time, so childhood tapes, cheap thrift-store hunts and cassette-friendly bands became an obsession to feed my car's cassette deck. In recent years, the once-thought-dead format has been welcoming to more than just the underground noise musicians who traded tapes over message boards. Black metal bands never quit dubbing, but quite a few tape-only drone and ambient labels have popped up, not only taking advantage of the relatively inexpensive format, but also embracing its naturally decaying sound.
Cassettes are also the only audio format that at least try to force you to listen to an album the whole way through. With MP3s, you can go from Robyn to Slayer in seconds, if you please. CDs can be skipped and so can vinyl, if you can bother to lift the needle. But cassettes are infuriating to fast-forward or rewind, thus forcing an uninterrupted experience — which is the perfect way to listen, in my opinion.
Because I just couldn't stop at 10, here are the 11 best cassettes I heard in 2010. These are often limited-edition releases, so if a cassette is sold out from the label, here are a few mail-order options that regularly stock tapes: Mimaroglu Music Sales, Discriminate Music, Tomentosa Records and Hanson Records. Also, you may want to bookmark Animal Psi, which lists new cassette releases almost daily.