Category Archives: 2010

2010

Top Albums of 2010: 31-40

40.  SUFJAN STEVENS- AGE OF ADZ

Buy The Age of Adz – Sufjan Stevens

Buy The Age of AdzAmazon

The boy genius takes a left turn with “Age of Adz” by making it a mostly electronica album. Though Sufjan being Sufjan, there is still plenty of orchestration and elaborate composition. His albums usually take many listens before revealing themselves, I still find “Age of Adz” spottier than “Michigan” and certainly the amazing “Illinoise!”, but 25+ minute closing track “Impossible Soul” and a few other standouts on the album like “Too Much” and the title cut gets the album on this list alone. The amazing closer us a suite with 5 or 6 different parts that is the most elaborate piece of music I have ever heard from Stevens, and his career is filled with musical ambition. It’s one of the top musical moments of the year.

Buy Impossible Soul – The Age of Adz Buy Impossible SoulAmazon

Buy Age of Adz – The Age of Adz Buy Age of AdzAmazon


39. ERYKAH BADU- THE NEW AMERYKAH PART 2: THE RETURN OF THE ANKH

Buy New Amerykah, Pt. 2: Return of the Ankh – Erykah Badu

Buy New Amerykah Part Two: Return Of The Ankh

Badu’s part II of the “New Amerykah” is a throwback to her neo-Soul and breakout late nineties debut album “Baduism”. The vibe is much less foreboding than part 1 which I heard as a nod to very early Funkadelic and the most stoned-out aspects of Sly & the Family Stone. That said, Badu still plays it loose- some of the songs start and then stop before a melody or chorus really takes shape, but when she does focus she offers up some of her very best songs like “Window Seat”, “Umm Hmmm” and the Biggie Smalls sampling “Turn Away (Get Munny)”. If there were a few more of those nuggets the album could have been in my top ten like Part 1.

Buy Window Seat – New Amerykah, Pt. 2: Return of the Ankh Buy Window SeatAmazon

Buy Umm Hmm – New Amerykah, Pt. 2: Return of the Ankh Buy Umm HmmAmazon



38.  SHARON JONES & THE DAP KINGS- I LEARNED THE HARD WAY

Buy I Learned the Hard Way (Bonus Version) – Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

Buy I Learned the Hard Way (Amazon MP3 Exclusive Version) Amazon

If you yearn for the style of soul music made by Stax Volt, Rick Hall’s Hall of Fame studio in Muscle Shoals and the rougher edges of Motown then this album is made for you. Sharon and the Dap Kings are not just a throwback to the sixties but seriously sound like sixties music. And these songs are almost all originals. The Dap Kings are one of the funkiest bands going today- there were the backing band on Amy Winehouse’s breakthrough “Back to Black”, and Jones has the vocal pipes to match. Though they have made good albums in the past, “I Learned the Hard Way” is their best so far- more well written songs to match the great musical performances.

Buy I Learned the Hard Way – I Learned the Hard Way – Single Buy I Learned the Hard Way Amazoin

Buy Better Things – I Learned the Hard Way (Bonus Version) Buy Better ThingsAmazon



37.  CHARLOTTES GAINSBOURG- IRM

Buy IRM (Version deluxe) – Charlotte Gainsbourg

Buy IRM Amazon

“IRM” is the second solo album by Gainsbourg, who is also an actress and the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg the singer/songwriter/pervert who is perhaps France’s best known musical artist of the last half centure. On “IRM” Gainsbourg collaborates with the workaholic Beck and is a concept album about the recovery period that Charlotte experienced during her bout with near death due to a 2007 water skiing accident. The collaboration is a good one as Charlotte takes many more musical chances than on her relatively straight forward singer-songwriter style debut “5:55”. She experiments with blues, French and American pop, noisier indie-rock, folk, techno & drum & bass. Beck is co-vocalist on the successful “Heaven Can Wait”. A really good album by an intriguing artist.

Buy IRM – IRM Buy IRMAmazon

Buy Le chat du Café des Artistes – IRM Buy Le Chat du Café des ArtistesAmazon



36.  LOS CAMPESINOS!- ROMANCE IS BORING

Buy Romance Is Boring (Bonus Track Version) – Los Campesinos!

Buy Romance Is BoringAmazon

Los Campesinos! Are a young, Welsh, 7 piece band whose two 2008 albums put them on the indie map. Their first album, “Hold On Now, Youngster” made my top ten of that year- it was the most exuberant, spastic, hilarious indie punk I had heard in some time and I loved it. The follow-up was also very good, though it explored darker themes and was more musically ambitious than the first, though not as much of a thrill. Their third album “Romance is Boring” splits the difference between the two. The hooks are still there and it’s more amped up than the second album but it’s more cohesive and less off the rails than the debut. It has less amount of great songs than “Youngster”, but enough for me to say that this album has been a bit slept on this year. More people should be talking about Los Campesinos!

Buy Straight In At 101 – Romance Is Boring Buy Straight In At 101Amazon

Buy Romance Is Boring – Romance Is Boring Buy Romance Is BoringAmazon



35.  THE NATIONAL- HIGH VIOLET

Buy High Violet (Expanded Edition) – The National

Buy High Violet Amazon

I have a feeling I will get more complaints about my placing of this album than anything else on this list. Like it’s predecessor “Boxer”, “High Violet” is an album made by adults for adults concerning adult issues. It’s a mellow album that doesn’t often rock, and therefore will likely prove to be a grower. Their albums seem to really only settle in after many listens. Despite this early standout songs for me are “Bloodbuzz Ohio” and “Afraid of Everyone”. This has been on dozens of year end top ten lists and I’ve even seen it as #1 a few times. I dig this band and will happily eat crow if “High Violet” ends up becoming a classic. As it stands with me now, it’s another very good album by the National.

Buy Bloodbuzz Ohio – High Violet Buy Bloodbuzz OhioAmazon

Buy Afraid of Everyone – High Violet Buy Afraid Of EveryoneAmazon



34.  YEASAYER- ODD BLOOD

Buy Odd Blood – Yeasayer

Buy Odd BloodAmazon

Brooklyn’s Yeasayer vastly changes its sound for its second full length, moving away from the acoustic music and high harmonies of their debut and toward a more eclectic, electronic and dance oriented follow-up. They mix pop, rock, folk & dub and take inspiration from both middle eastern and Afro pop. At times the album can be a mess and there is more than one misstep but four or five of the songs on the album are so good that it more than makes up for the misses

Buy Ambling Alp – Odd Blood Buy Ambling AlpAmazon

Buy O.N.E. – Odd Blood Buy O.N.E. Amazon



33.  THE BLACK KEYS- BROTHERS

Buy Brothers (Deluxe Version) – The Black Keys

Buy Brothers (Amazon MP3 Exclusive Version) [+digital booklet]Amazon

Many already think I underrated this album and it sure has received a ton of love this year. “Brothers” is a commercial breakthrough for a band that has released a slew of albums since the early oughts. Although I think it’s on the upper end of their albums, I don’t think it’s their best or wildly different than most of their other albums. But there is something to be said for a band delivering blues rock this consistently good over a ten year period. And “Brothers” does contains some of the Keys’ best songs like the successful single “Tighten Up” (hilarious video too) and the “True Blood” inspired (?) “Howlin’ for You”. If the album would have been edited down another 15 or 20 minutes it would surely rank higher on this list, but even as it currently stands it’s a very good listen.

Buy Tighten Up – Brothers (Deluxe Version) Buy Tighten UpAmazon

Buy Howlin’ for You – Brothers (Deluxe Version) Buy Howlin’ For YouAmazon


32.  WAVVES- KING OF THE BEACH

Buy King of the Beach – Wavves

Buy King Of The Beach Amazon

After receiving a pile of backlash in the wake of an overhyped, overrated debut album and an on-stage meltdown in Europe, Nathan Williams grabbed the sadly deceased Jay Reatard’s backing band and crafts a second album very worthy of all of his initial praise. “King of the Beach” amps up the production value hugely from the lo-fi debut and the songs are much more fully fleshed out. Though the album does fizzle a bit towards the end, the first five songs are all standouts. A great companion album to fellow slacker punk and his good friend Best Coast.

Buy Post Acid – King of the Beach Buy Post Acid Amazon

Buy King of the Beach – King of the Beach Buy King Of The BeachAmazon



31.  HOT CHIP- ONE LIFE STAND

Buy One Life Stand – Hot Chip

Buy One Life StandAmazon

Hot Chip is a London based techno-indie rock band that resembles a cohort of computer geeks. “One Life Stand” is their fourth full-length album and a mellower, more adult affair than their previous albums. They are more consistently good here, but complaints that “One Life Stand” lacks the big singles like “Over and Over” or “Ready for the Floor” are unfounded as the title track, “Take It In” and “I Feel Better” more than make their mark in catchiness even if they aren’t quite as danceable. This mature step for the band makes them poised for more greatness over the long haul.

Buy One Life Stand – One Life Stand Buy One Life Stand Amazon

Buy I Feel Better – One Life Stand Buy I Feel BetterAmazon

Top 50 Albums of 2010: 21-30

30.  SPOON- TRANFERENCE

Buy Transference – Spoon

Buy TransferenceAmazon

Austin, Texas based Spoon has become so consistently good at what they do, so reliable, that they are easy to take for granted. I have all of their full length albums since 1998’s “Series of Sneaks” and they don’t have a single misstep in the bunch. “Transference” is not my favorite albums of theirs but I do feel it has been underrated this year. Production on the album is drier and more stripped down than on previous efforts and songs take awhile longer to sink in- the album is not as poppy on the surface but the hooks are there and tracks like “Got Nuffin’”, “Mystery Zone”, “Trouble Comes Running” and “Written in Reverse” should all deserve a place in their future, inevitably awesome greatest hits collection.

Buy Got Nuffin – Transference Buy Got NuffinAmazon

Buy Trouble Comes Running – Transference Buy Trouble Comes RunningAmazon


29. CARIBOU- SWIM

Buy Swim (Bonus Track Version) – Carib

Buy SwimAmazon

This is electronic veteran composer/producer Dan Snaith’s, poppiest, sunniest, most club-oriented and most song driven album release to date. It captures the zeitgeist of the beach music trend without sacrificing any of his musical integrity, blending bands like Delorean, Neon Indian & Washed Out with more IDM inspired artists like Four Tet.

Buy Odessa – Swim (Bonus Track Version) Buy OdessaAmazon

Buy Kaili – Swim (Bonus Track Version) Buy KailiAmazon


28. THE-DREAM- LOVE KING

Buy Love King (Deluxe Edition) – The-Dream

Buy Love King [Explicit]Amazon

Outside of Beyonce, super-producer The-Dream is the greatest force in modern R&B and “Love King” is my hands down favorite for R&B album of the year (if that’s saying much). Dream has produced such mega-hits as “Umbrella” and “Single Ladies” in the past five years and “Love King” is his third straight successful stab at a solo career. The album is chock-filled with everyone one of his studio tricks along with his R Kelly inspired over-the-top lover man metaphors that can also be described as a modern update on 80’s Prince.

Buy Love King – Love King (Deluxe Edition) Buy Love King [Explicit]Amazon

Buy Yamaha – Love King (Deluxe Edition) Buy Yamaha [Explicit]Amazon



27. THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH- WILD HUNT

Buy The Wild Hunt (Bonus Track Version) – The Tallest Man On Earth

Buy The Wild Hunt [+Digital Booklet]Amazon

As stripped down as the first Iron & Wine album, “Wild Hunt” is just one guy and his acoustic guitar.

The Tallest Man is the nasally voiced Kristian Mattson from Swden.  Despite his minimalist approach, the music never feels, erm, small.  He is a hell of a guitarist and his intricate playing compensates for the lack of other instrumentation in the music.  His voice can be a turn off to some but like fellow nasal-voiced troubadours before him like Colin Meloy (of Decemberists), Jenn Mangum (of Neutral Milk Hotel) and the one and only Bob Dylan, dismissing him on his vocals alone will leave you missing out on some great stuff.

 

Buy King of Spain – The Wild Hunt (Bonus Track Version) Buy King Of SpainAmazon

Buy A Lion’s Heart – The Wild Hunt (Bonus Track Version) Buy A Lion’s Heart mce_href=



26.  Crystal Castles (II) – Crystal Castles

Buy Crystal Castles (II) – Crystal Castles

Buy Crystal Castles (II)Amazon

This second straight self-titled full length by the enigmatic Crystal Castles can be best classified as goth-techno, or industrial-goth, or goth-synth-punk- o.k. it’s tough to come up with only one phrase but the group combines the icy, synth beats of modern groups like the Knife with shrieking punk-rock style vocals and a decidedly witchy vibe. Despite the above description, the follow-up is surprisingly accessible and more cohesive than their also very good debut album. And II doesn’t even have their best song- a remix of the album track “Not in Love” featuring Robert Smith of the Cure.

Buy Celestica – Crystal Castles (II) Buy CelesticaAmazon

Buy Baptism – Crystal Castles (II) Buy BaptismAmazon



25. THE DRUMS- THE DRUMS
Buy The Drums – The Drums

Buy The Drums Amazon

Like a cross between the Cure, New Order & Vampire Weekend- the Drums are a throwback to 80’s synth-pop without being a carbon copy. Their sound also gives a nod to classic late fifties-early sixties pop. The upbeat & catchy melodies belie the often extremely melancholy of the lyrics. These guys could easily carry the ‘wuss’ tag but for anyone who is unafraid of a little Pet Shop Boys, Cure or Erasure this one’s for you.

Buy Let’s Go Surfing – The Drums Buy Let’s Go SurfingAmazon

Buy Best Friend – The Drums Buy Best FriendAmazon



24. LOCAL NATIVES- GORILLA MANOR
Buy Gorilla Manor – Local Natives

Buy Gorilla ManorAmazon

Local Natives have a similar sound & vibe to bands like Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear & Blitzen Trapper. Mellow music- much of it acoustic, with sweet, high harmonies but despite their similarities to these bands they are able to carve out their own niche as well. They are less rustic than Blitzen Trapper, less difficult than Grizzly Bear and more rockin’ than Fleet Foxes; also funky enough to pull off an awesome cover of the Talking Heads in “Warning Sign”. “Gorilla Manor” is a deep album and shows off the Natives’ impressive song-writing abilities. Local Natives are a band that may very well be destined for greater things.

Buy Airplanes – Gorilla Manor Buy AirplanesAmazon

Buy Warning Sign – Gorilla Manor Buy Warning SignAmazon




23. FREE ENERGY- STUCK ON NOTHING
Buy Stuck On Nothing – Free Energy

Buy Stuck On NothingAmazon


A fun joyride through seventies power-pop and arena rock played by kids generations removed from it. But it’s not just a vibe, the ten songs on the album, are concise, hook-filled and well-written. Free Energy has more in common with Thin Lizzy and T. Rex than modern rock bands like the Strokes or the Black Keys (themselves throwbacks) and most of these songs sound like they could come right off of the “Dazed and Confused” soundtrack. This is a pretty high ranking for a pretty obscure band that isn’t brining much new to the table but the album is a total blast from beginning to end.

Buy Dream City – Stuck On Nothing Buy Dream City

Buy Bang Pop – Stuck On Nothing Buy Bang PopAmazon



22. GONJASUFI- A SUFI AND A KILLER
Buy A Sufi and a Killer (Bonus Track Version) – Gonjasufi

Buy A Sufi And A Killer Amazon

Works as a companion album to L.A. wonderkind producer Flying Lotus’s “Cosmogramma”. Lotus is one of the main producers on “A Sufi and a Killer”- while is album is almost entirely instrumental, “Killer” contains Gonjasufi’s cracked-out vocals throughout, sounding like an 80 year old very hip ancient who has smoked a million cigarettes. More rooted in hip hop and sixties psychedelia than the space rock/techno of the brilliant “Cosmogramma” but both albums sound like they are by artists traveling on a different plane than the rest of us. Definitely a unique listen!

Buy Duet – A Sufi and a Killer (Bonus Track Version) Buy DuetAmazon

Buy Sheep – A Sufi and a Killer (Bonus Track Version) Buy SheepAmazon



21. CURREN$Y- PILOT TALK
Buy Pilot Talk – Curren$y

Buy Pilot Talk [Explicit]Amazon

Louisiana born Curren$y started his career with Master P’s No Limit roster, a commercially successful but artistically limited bunch. He then moved to Lil Wayne’s Cash Money roster and plied his trade as a guest rapper on Wayne’s albums, as well as all over the rap underground. “Pilot Talk” is his full length debut and it’s a great one. Remarkably consistent, intelligent stoner-rap (yes I just said that!) and still very underground. Hopefully Curren$y will become more of a household name in the coming years. Anyone who digs Native Tongues’ style early 90’s rap ala De La & Tribe should give this a listen pronto.

Buy Roasted – Pilot Talk Buy Roasted [Explicit]Amazon

Buy The Day – Pilot Talk Buy The Day [Explicit]Amazon






Top 50 Albums of 2010: Albums 11-20

20.  DRAKE- THANK ME LATER

Buy Thank Me Later – Drake

Buy Thank Me Later [Explicit]Amazon

Drake is a middle class, Canadian rapper whose entertainment career began on the set of teen soap “Degrassi High” and he likely wouldn’t have existed in the rap music world before Kanye. As horrible a term as it is, Drake is emo-rap- his lyrics are laden with his feelings and even his braggadocio is tempered with mixed feelings about being a celebrity. Dude wishes he was in college hanging with his friends and is laments his profile lifestyle. His voice sounds like his mentor Lil Wayne minus the genius flow and he sings almost as much as he raps. That said “Thank Me Later” was the breakout rap album and Drake, along with Nicki Minaj, the breakout rap star of 2010. And there’s a reason for it. The album is fascinating and filled with unique yet radio ready songs. The best guest stars in the biz show up as well- Minaj, Kanye, T.I., Jay-Z, Wayne, Alicia Keys and Jeezy to name a few.

Buy Over – Thank Me Later Buy Over [Explicit]Amazon

Buy Up All Night – Thank Me Later Buy Up All Night [Explicit]Amazon



19.  TITUS ANDRONICUS- THE MONITOR

Buy The Monitor – Titus Andronicus

Buy The MonitorAmazon

Out of every great album I bought this year, “The Monitor” took the longest to sink in for me even though I was already a fan of the band after their debut. The album is over 60 minutes with only 10 songs, half of which are over 7 minutes and is loosely based around a civil war concept- the album can be a bit impenetrable at first. But those who stick with it are rewarded with an album that sounds like it has nothing to lose. Its sound is indebted to both early 80’s Hardcore & Springsteen, as well as the Pogues. Singer Patrick Stickles can sound like Conor Oberst, but without the precocity. Titus is a bunch of hairy, young, drunk, smart & heartbroken misfits and I can’t wait to see what they do next. Also one of the only modern albums I can think of which actually sounds even better while reading the lyric sheet.

Buy A More Perfect Union – The Monitor Buy A More Perfect UnionAmazon

Buy The Battle of Hampton Roads – The Monitor Buy The Battle Of Hampton RoadsAmazon




18.  GORILLAZ- PLASTIC BEACH

Buy Plastic Beach – Gorillaz

Buy Plastic Beach Amazon

Despite the lack of a huge single along the lines of “Clint Eastwood” or “Feel Good Inc.”, Gorillaz mastermind and former Blur frontman Damon Albarn delivers the fake cartoon band’s best album by far with “Plastic Beach”, their third full-length release. Snoop Dogg, Lou Reed, Mos Def, Bobby Womack, De La Soul and Kano on guest star on the album heavy with good and great songs and music steeped in funk, rap, krautrock and dubstep.

Buy On Melancholy Hill – Plastic Beach Buy On Melancholy HillAmazon

Buy Stylo (feat. Mos Def & Bobby Womack) – Plastic Beach Buy Stylo (Album Version) (feat. Mos Def and Bobby Womack)



17.  BEST COAST- CRAZY FOR YOU

Buy Crazy for You – Best Coast

Buy Crazy For YouAmazon

California based Bethany Consentino sings simple, stoned out odes to romance, love gone bad, boredom & weed in a style indebted to 60’s surf rock and girl groups in a lo-fi haze. Though often filled with reverb, Consentino’s vocals are distinctive and amazing and the songs are accessible and filled with melody. The female, less-aggressive counterpart to Wavves. Perfect for the beach or for your bedroom.

Buy When I’m With You – Crazy for You Buy When I’m With YouAmazon

Buy Boyfriend – Crazy for You Buy BoyfriendAmazon



16.  BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE- FORGIVENESS ROCK RECORD

Buy Forgiveness Rock Record – Broken Social Scene

Buy Forgiveness Rock RecordAmazon

Broken Social Scene’s “Forgiveness Rock Record” is another beautiful, sprawling, eclectic album from the Canadian art collective. It flew a bit under the radar this year but I find it better than their (still very good) second self-titled album and in time it may sit right alongside their de-facto debut “You Forgot It in People”. Leslie Feist and Amy Millan of Stars gest star and the record is produced by John McEntire of Tortoise. “World Sick”, “Texico Bitches” and “Water in Hell” predicted the Gulf Oil spill like “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” seemed to predict 9/11- eerie!

Buy Texico Bitches – Forgiveness Rock Record Buy Texico BitchesAmazon

Buy World Sick – Forgiveness Rock Record Buy World SickAmazon




15.  TWIN SHADOW- FORGET

Buy Forget – Twin Shadow

Buy ForgetAmazon

Twin Shadow is the alias of George Lewis Jr., a 20-something Brooklyn-ite of Dominican descent who grew up in Florida. “Forget” is his debut album and it is quite a winner- my 2010 version of The xx in that they came out of nowhere and hit me so quickly. Though Twin Shadow is quite indebted both to 80’s New Wave (especially the Talking Heads and The Smiths) as well as techno, their sound fits right in the modern musical landscape alongside groups like Neon Indian & the aforementioned xx. Album is produced by Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear. It’s filled with great tracks and will likely grow in stature the more I hear it.

Buy Slow – Forget Buy SlowAmazon

Buy When We’re Dancing – Forget Buy When We’re DancingAmazon



14.  NO AGE- EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN

Buy Everything In Between – No Age

Buy Everything In BetweenAmazon

The young, vegan, L.A. duo is back. Now a trio, No Age slightly ups the production quality, does away with the no wave instrumental fuzz, and delivers a follow-up to their debut “Nouns” that is different but at least equal in quality to its predecessor. For any of you peeps raised on hardcore or the heavier side of indie-rock and lament that nobody is delivering that style music anymore this is for you. “Fever Dreaming” is the punk song of the year.

Buy Fever Dreaming – Everything In Between Buy Fever DreamingAmazon

Buy Valley Hump Crash – Everything In Between Buy Valley Hump CrashAmazon



13.  ARIEL PINK’S HAUNTED GRAFFITI- BEFORE TODAY

Buy Before Today – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

Buy Before TodayAmazon

Ariel Pink is often referred to as the godfather of Chill Wave- a catch-all genre of psychedelic pop filtering 70’s light rock, 80’s synth-pop and 90’s shoegaze through samplers and heavily distorted vocals. Some of Pink’s modern day disciples include like Neon Indian, Washed Out, Memory Tapes, Here We Go Magic & Toro Y Moi- basically talented dudes who create music on laptops in their bedrooms and distribute it through either indie labels or the web only. Pink has been recording since in early Oughts mostly in relative obscurity. “Before Today” is his first album recorded with any budget and the songs are trumped up immensely compared with his older stuff. Includes bugged out psychedelia, punk rock & the instant classic single “Round and Round”

Buy Round and Round – Before Today Buy Round And RoundAmazon

Buy Little Wig – Before Today Buy Little Wig Amazon



12.  JANELLE MONAE- ARCHANDROID

Buy The ArchAndroid – Janelle Monáe

Buy The ArchAndroid Amazon

Janelle Monae is a major talent who switches genres faster than Lady Gaga switches outfits- classical, jazz, rap, soul, club music, new wave & torch song crooning and she somehow makes it all flow together. She was given a career boost years ago by her association with Outkast and “Archandroid” is her long awaited full-length debut after an EP several years ago. She is provocative, conceptual & theatrical full of ambition. Though her theatrics slow the album down a bit at the end, she also lets forth some stone cold classic singles in “Tightrope” (with Big Boi from Outkast) and “Cold War”. The nearest touchstone I can think of is “Sign o’ the Times” era Prince.

Buy Tightrope (feat. Big Boi) – The ArchAndroid Buy Tightrope [Feat. Big Boi] (Album Version)Amazonp>

Buy Cold War – The ArchAndroid Buy Cold WarAmazon




11.  VAMPIRE WEEKEND- CONTRA

Buy Contra (Bonus Track Version) – Vampire Weekend

Buy ContraAmazon

VW’s second album great album in a row is almost as good as their near-perfect debut. The band embraces the “collegiate” label put on them by their detractors- the name the first song on the album “Horchata” and put a pictures of an 80’s blonde with a popped-collar Polo shirt who could be right out of the movie “Valley Girl”- they are practically bating the haters. Though musically the album can still be labeled Afro-pop meets indie-rock, they are musically more ambitious than on the debut. “Contra” is loaded with could-be singles including “Cousins”, “Give Up the Gun”, and the now ubiquitous “Holiday” (due to its incessant usage on Christmas commercials). Vampire Weekend is a unique band these days- both smart & catchy, unique and fun.

Buy Holiday – Contra (Bonus Track Version) Buy HolidayAmazon

Buy Cousins – Contra (Bonus Track Version) Buy CousinsAmazon

Top 50 Albums of 2010: Albums 1-10

10.  BEACH HOUSE- TEEN DREAM

Buy Teen Dream – Beach House

Buy Teen DreamAmazon

Third and best album by dream pop duo from Baltimore. It’s the most flat out beautiful album of the year. Songwriting and production is trumped up and more focused than on their previous efforts. Sounds like an abandoned beach house in the fourth week of autumn.

Buy Norway – Teen Dream Buy NorwayAmazon

Buy Walk In the Park – Teen Dream Buy Walk In The ParkAmazon


9.  SLEIGH BELLS- TREATS

Buy Treats – Sleigh Bells

Buy TreatsAmazon

Buzz band of 2009 CMJ becomes one of the best two new bands of the year and is the hands down winner for most original sound. Sweet female pop vocals underneath a cacophony of loud metal guitars minus the guitar solos. Distorted to the point that you think your speakers must be blown. Something different to piss the parents off, even if you are parents. And then “Rill Rill” standing out like a rose among thorns sung sweetly underneath a brilliant Funkadelic sample.

Buy Rill Rill – Treats Buy Rill RillAmazon

Buy Crown On the Ground – Treats Buy Crown On The GroundAmazon



8.  BIG BOI- SIR LUCIOUS LEFT FOOT: THE SON OF CHICO DUSTY

Buy Sir Lucious Left Foot… The Son of Chico Dusty (Deluxe Edition) – Big Boi

Buy Sir Lucious Left Foot…The Son Of Chico Dusty [Explicit]Amazon

Would have been rap album of the year with no Kanye. Thought to be too uncommercial by his record label, like Clipse in ’06, and the finished product ends up being better than any Outkast release since “Stankonia”. Proves that Big Boi was just as essential to ‘Kast as Andre- check “Ghetto Muzik” from “Speakerboxx” for further proof. One of the best pure rappers in the game today. Funky, funny and never boring. Album would be even better of Andre’s label wouldn’t have blocked the clearance for “Royal Flush”.

Buy Shine Blockas – Sir Lucious Left Foot… The Son of Chico Dusty (Deluxe Edition)

Buy Shine Blockas [Explicit]Amazon

Buy Shutterbugg – Sir Lucious Left Foot… The Son of Chico Dusty (Deluxe Edition)

Buy Shutterbugg [Explicit]Amazon



7.  SURFER BLOOD- ASTRO COAST

Buy Astro Coast – Surfer Blood

Buy Astro CoastAmazon

My other favorite new band of the year- from West Palm Beach, Florida. A great guitar album, filled with great riffs and breezy harmonies. A throwback to surf pop more than aggressive surf rock but the band is unafraid to stretch out and jam. The first album I got in 2010 and likely the one I played the most. The infectious songs stuck to my brain more and more with each listen. Surprisingly little filler for a low profile debut that was kinda slept on.

Buy Anchorage – Astro Coast Buy Anchorage Amazon

Buy Floating Vibes – Astro Coast BuyFloating VibesAmazon




6.  FLYING LOTUS- COSMOGRAMMA

Buy Cosmogramma – Flying Lotus

Buy CosmogrammaAmazon

Instrumental/DJ album of the year and my favorite since ‘96’s “Entroducing” by DJ Shadow. A space opera which takes from hip hop, drum n’ bass, techno, dubstep & free jazz. A total and complete mindfrak. If you’re not normally into DJ/techno/electronica music but like to dabble from time to time to see what all this fuss is about this is the album to get. The “Headhunters” of its time?

Buy Do the Astral Plane – Cosmogramma Buy Do The Astral PlaneAmazon

Buy Mmmhmm (feat. Thundercat) – Cosmogramma Buy MmmHmm ft.ThundercatAmazon




5.  ROBYN- BODY TALK

Buy Body Talk – Robyn

Buy Body Talk [Explicit] [+Digital Booklet]Amazon

The full length “Body Talk” finally releases at the end of Nov after a series of 3 “Body Talk” EP’s. Even though these songs are less than a year old, they already sound like her greatest hits. Robyn, a Swedish former teen pop star, writes and sings all of her tracks that aren’t covers and should be a worldwide star. The album is filled with smart, catchy and dance fueled electro-pop that is better than anything else like it on today’s radio- including Gaga. She is the best pop star of the last five years and it’s time for more of the world to take notice.
*Buyer beware- one of her best songs on the EP’s “Cry When You Get Older” was inexplicably left off of this set. Check out “Body Talk Part 1” for a listen and or buy.

Buy Dancing On My Own (Radio Version) – Body Talk Buy Dancing On My OwnAmazon

Buy Hang With Me – Body Talk Buy Hang With MeAmazon




4.  LCD SOUNDSYSTEM- THIS IS HAPPENING

Buy This Is Happening – LCD Soundsystem

Buy This Is HappeningAmazon

A worthy follow-up to 2007’s world beating “Sound of Silver”, which sounds better to me than when I heard it last May. 8 out of 9 tracks are studs and all are growers. Album may not have a “Someone Great” or an “All My Friends” on it but it may be his most consistently great album yet. Supposedly this is LCD’s last album- hopefully not! Best combination of indie rock and dance music going today. Channels Bowie and Devo.

Buy All I Want – This Is Happening Buy All I WantAmazon

Buy I Can Change – This Is Happening Buy I Can ChangeAmazon




3.  ARCADE FIRE- THE SUBURBS

Buy The Suburbs – Arcade Fire

Buy The SuburbsAmazon

Arcade Fire are now a perfect three with their first three albums, solidifying their status as one of the best bands of this time period. I loved “Neon Bible”, some saw the album as a stumble. Either way “The Suburbs” is a step above it with more standout tracks than either of their previous albums. It’s an album both cynical and nostalgic. Against indebted to early Springsteen for inspiration. The band is so good that they are starting to become a household name, finding their songs on the radio, and selling albums in significant #’s- no small feat for a indie band. Regine Chassagne gets a vocal star turn with “Sprawl II”, a significantly different sounding song than any previous Arcade Fire track.

Buy Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) – The Suburbs

Buy Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)Amazon

Buy Ready to Start – The Suburbs Buy Ready To StartAmazon




2.  DEERHUNTER- HALCYON DIGEST

Buy Halcyon Digest – Deerhunter

Buy Halcyon DigestAmazon

This one creeped up on me like crazy- after the first few listens in no way did I think it would rank this high and probably not even in my top ten. But after five or six listens I discovered that I absolutely loved almost every track, and even the few that I didn’t love I liked. It’s the most song-oriented, the most penetrable and best edited of Deerhunter’s albums. The Atlanta-based group ditched a lot of the white noise common on their past albums and just flat-out delivered more memorable songs- they were always good for two to three standout tracks per album- “Halcyon Digest” has at least nine! Main singer/songwriter and group leader Bradford Cox sings with more strength and clarity. This is not to imply that Deerhunter has become a radio band- they are still very much a part of the underground. But they now seemed poised to become a leader in it.

Buy Helicopter – Halcyon Digest Buy Helicopter Amazon

Buy Desire Lines – Halcyon Digest Buy Desire Lines Amazon






1.  KANYE WEST- MY BEAUTIFUL DARK TWISTED FANTASY

Buy My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Kanye West

Buy My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy [Explicit]Amazon

Most unanimously praised album of the year- and justifiably so if now subject to backlash and overhype. Well here I am to overhype it some more- “Fantasy” is my album of the year and it’s not even close. Every track on it is a 5 star track and though there are certainly highlights- “Runaway” and “Monster” are both top ten songs of the year for sure, but every song can stand on its own. A fascinating album to hear on first listen that also gets better with each listen. The production, rapping and guest stars are all A list. Kanye is the most hard working, surprising, electrifying, thought provoking guy in the business right now. I know it’s early but right now I think this is the best album I’ve heard in ten years- at least since “Stankonia”, maybe since “OK Computer”. Let’s see if time proves me right or wrong.

Buy Runaway – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy Buy Runaway [Explicit]Amazon

Buy Monster – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy Buy Monster [Explicit]Amazon


HONORABLE MENTIONS

Rick Ross- Teflon Don

Buy Teflon Don – Rick Ross

Male Bonding- Nothing Hurts

Buy Nothing Hurts – Male Bonding

Ted Leo & the Pharmacists- The Brutalist Bricks

Buy The Brutalist Bricks – Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

The Drive-By Truckers- The Big To-Do

Buy The Big To-Do – Drive By Truckers

Four Tet- There Is No Love in You

Buy There Is Love In You – Four Tet

How To Dress Well- Love Remains

Buy Love Remains – How to Dress Well

Glasser- Ring

Buy Ring (Bonus Track Edition) – Glasser

Delorean- Subiza

Buy Subiza – Delorean

Broken Bells- Broken Bells

Buy Broken Bells – Broken Bells

CEO- White Magic

Buy White Magic – ceo

2010: 5 Great EP’s

ROBYN- BODY TALK EP PART 1

BuyBody Talk, Pt. 1 – Robyn

Buy Body Talk Pt 1Amazon



THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH- SOMETIMES THE BLUES IS JUST A PASSING BIRD EP BuySometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird – EP – The Tallest Man On Earth

BuySometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird





JAMES BLAKE- CMYK EP

Buy CMYK EP – James Blake

BuyCmyk EpAmazon





SUFJAN STEVENS- ALL DELIGHTED PEOPLE EP

BuyAll Delighted People EP – Sufjan Stevens

BuyAll Delighted PeopleAmazon





THE JOY FORMIDABLE- A BALLOON CALLED MOANING EP

Buy A Balloon Called Moaning – The Joy Formidable

Buy Balloon Called MoaningAmazon