Monday, January 3, 2011

Finally posting my "favorite albums of 2010" list. Unlike most, I waited for 2010 to actually, you know, end.

I was going to do a Top 11. Instead, I made a list of the albums that stayed in rotation on some level all year and ended up with 22. No, this isn’t every great album of 2010. It is, however, the ones I liked the most and will likely continue listening to deep into 2011.

When I looked over the list, none of it seemed all that obscure but, really, nobody listens to only obscure albums all the time. They might want you to think they do but trust me, they don’t.

It seemed weird to me that I start and finish this list with a Springsteen reference but it happened naturally. Maybe I should have an actual Bruuuuuuuuuce stage this year. Eh, we’ll see what happens.

2010 was a good year for music. Here’s to 2011.

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

The best album of the year. Above all the music, and if you can’t dig the music you won’t dig the album, it has feeling. I don’t know if every man would be into this if radio were as powerful as it was when Springsteen hit but I do know that The Arcade Fire was speaking to the same everyman in 2010.
Driving punk rock with lyrics about the uncomfortability of life. It doesn’t get better than this.
A lot of people hate Kanye. A lot more people love him. Some can’t decide which. Regardless, this album was brilliant, from the early free versions of tracks that ‘Ye posted on Twitter to the final versions on the album. Nobody takes himself more seriously or more seriously takes a look at himself than this guy.
The two-man blues band from Akron caught fire in 2010. Some of us knew this would happen way back in 2002 when we bought The Big Come Up on vinyl on a whim.
I thought I was sick of Eminem after his mediocre comeback, Relapse. It turns out, that was just the colonic he needed to get to the real comeback. Marshall Mathers put out his best album since The Marshall Mathers LP. Finally.
The first album I loved in 2010, Surfer Blood’s debut stuck around all year. It’s all fuzz and television and strange feelings and makes me want to sit and study it on head phones and blaring out of the stereo and speeding down the side street. I hope their second album doesn’t suck.
Dueling male-female vocals over alternating plugged-in punk and bitter acoustic tunes. I couldn’t resist this album if I was dead.
Hands down, the best band in America. The Roots put out another great album in 2010, despite the fact that it should have come out in 2009. This is where hip hop meets rock and kicks everybody in the face.
This could have come out in the wave of trip-hop that followed the success of Portishead, Tricky and even Morcheeba. A head-nodding trip of an album that stood up all year long.
I was ready for this album after an early year phase of listening to nothing but No Age’s discography - previous full length and all the EPs and 7-inch’s. This had more groove and less noise, which was the obvious product of maturity and growth, and lived up to every promise the L.A. band has so far offered the sonic youth that love them.
The most inescapable album of the year because it sounds like nothing else with its loud guitars and over-modulated, sampled drums. Blow the headphones? Why thank you! This is another band whose second album I hope doesn’t suck.
Sometimes you want to sit around with bong hits and snark, and sometimes you want to get drunk and dance. Jaill is the booze and moves to Surfer Blood’s stoned snark.
I had to offer one sentimental choice here. In the midst of their 30-year celebration, the guys who saved punk in the late 80s have continued to age gracefully. Just don’t call them old.
Tom Gabel has no reason to apologize because his band still kicks ass and his songs are still about whatever he’s thinking.
It’s hard to believe that Ted Leo needed a comeback album. The Brutalist Bricks is bitter, hard and just right for the times. If nothing else, Leo makes me want to work harder to get there.
There’s really nothing remarkable about this album except for the fact that it’s yet another perfect album from Spoon in their seemingly endless streak.
Tricky hasn’t put out a completely bad album. Ever since Pre-Millenium Tension hit huge and he split with his muse, Martina Topley-Bird, Adrian Thaws has tried all sorts of different things, swapping vocalists both famous and not in and out. Martina’s not back, but Thaws has found his mojo again.
UNKLE gets far less press these days. They deserve a lot more. Where Did The Night Fall was only loved by the hardcore and the nostalgic but the package, and I mean everything the music to the actual, physical packaging that held it, was brilliantly put together.
More proof that record labels are way past their usefulness, several companies made it tough for this one to come out, so it hit the net Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-style and the indie underground fell in love. A real release changed nothing.
Nick Cave is a dirty old man. The dirty old man has a great new band, and on their second album, Grinderman made everybody feel dirty. And they liked it.
A beautiful voice singing some sad and often dark songs. “Fuck You” was the single of the year though and this album is worth a lot of listens. Plus, in the absense of a new Gnarls Barkley album, Cee Lo solo is way more than good enough.
These guys still sound like a punk rock Bruce Springsteen, at least partially because lead singer actually sounds like The Boss. Like The Arcade Fire, Gaslight is singing about everyman stuff and every man loves them for it too.

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