I used to be a music journalist before I started this blog. I worked for a ton of websites and even ran my own for a few years. I decided to dive back into the genre, since 2010 was a great year for music. I have spent the last few weeks listening to music non-stop and I have been a very tired boy. I have narrowed down the albums that were released in 2010 to a top 50 list with a few honorable mentions listed at the bottom of this post. Here are the bottom half of my Top 50 Albums of 2010, with links to key tracks.
The best way to describe this Brooklyn-based band would be “noise pop.” They formed in 2008 and their debut full-length album, “Treats,” barely missed our Top 25. They are a band on the rise and from what I hear from my friends, put on a crazy live show.
I wasn’t a big fan of Yeasayer until I hear “Odd Blood” for the first time. I have a hard time believe that they produced this album themselves. I’m glad that they translated their success opening up for MGMT in 2007 into putting out such a solid album. I almost added “Ambling Alp” as the key track on this album, but “I Remember” is currently stuck in my head, it’s catchy.
I’m glad Deadmau5 decided to focus on music instead of math, because he consistently puts out solid albums. “4×4=12” is the Canadian artist’s third album. Even if it’s not as good as last year’s “For Lack Of A Better Name,” I had to add it high on my list.
Local Natives have been describe as “psycho folk” in album reviews, but I think the critic was just trying to think up a new genre. “Gorilla Manor” is a modern take on traditional folk music, a breath of fresh air for the genre. They spent most of the year opening up for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. It should be time to headline their own tour to support this great album.
2010 was a year Lil’ Wayne would probably like to forget. He spent most of it in prison, but before his sentence he released “Rebirth,” a rap/rock hybrid that came out early this year. Even though he relies heavily on auto-tune, he comes through with an superb album.
I have a hard time trying to describe Hot Chip to people who haven’t heard them. I want to say that they are “soul dance,” but that would be painting them into a corner. This is the band’s 4th album and if you haven’t heard of them, get on iTunes and get out your credit card.
I’m probably going to get hell from my friends for not ranking this album higher. I think “All Day” is one of the most re-listenable albums of the year, but had to consider that he is rearranging great music put out by other artists. I am going to see Girl Talk live in two weeks and I’m sure it will be amazing. Anyone who can put an Ol’ Dirty Bastard rap over a Radiohead track is talented.
Everyone loves his song, “Fuck You,” but you will have to take a listen to his cover of the Band of Horses song, “No One’s Gonna Love You.” I love his work with Danger Mouse in the group Gnarls Barkley and he looks to finally put on a solo album that is getting critical-acclaim and flying off shelves.
Power pop albums aren’t my cup of tea, but Free Energy’s “Stuck On Nothing” stood out from other albums in the genre. LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy produced the band album and he got the best out of the band. “Bang Pop” is their best known track, but there are many others on the album worth a listen.
I love John Legend and he had a hand in making Kanye West’s latest album great. I also love The Roots, who you may see again later on in this list. When you combine the two, you are guaranteed to have something worth listening to.
I thought that Kid Cudi would be a one-hit wonder when “Day N Nite” started to get played on the radio. He changed my mind when I heard his debut album, his second effort is just as good. Kid Cudi is making Ohio proud, even if he has a song on the album solely dedicated to the green herb, “Marijuana.”
I was expecting big things from Kings Of Leon after their last album, “Only By The Night,” was such a smash success. The band didn’t seem comfortable with the instant worldwide success, after releasing other albums that they thought were just as good. “Come Around Sundown” isn’t as radio-friendly, but I’m pretty sure the band is okay with it.
Matt & Kim put on a great live show and their album, “Sidewalks,” is just as entertaining as buying a ticket. They are an energetic two-piece band and if you haven’t heard of them, I’m sure you have heard a track or two at some point. If they are in a town near you, check them out and buy this album.
Speaking of energetic live shows, Gogol Bordello might take the trophy in that contest. I saw them a few years ago at a Warped Tour in Chicago and they rocked the tired, sun-poisoned crowd. “Trans-continental Hustle” is in the same ilk as their previous efforts, but under Rick Rubin’s production (or lack thereof), they have released their best album to date.
The Tallest Man On Earth (aka Kristian Matsson) is a Swedish folk musician you may not have heard a lot about. He has released other full-length albums and EPs over the last few years, but “The Wild Hunt” is his strongest. It’s produced to sound like you are listening to it on low-fi vinyl. The production enhances the experience of listening to it and will remind you of early Bob Dylan.
I had an ex-girlfriend who loved Broken Social Scene a few years ago and for some reason it completely turned me off on the band. I really can’t explain why, but I decided to give them another shot with “Forgiveness: Rock Record.” I’m glad that I reintroduced myself to the band with this album. I’m glad that I didn’t let a past failed relationship keep me from listening to this album, I feel like I just had a break-through.
I have been a fan of The Walkmen and every other album in their discography would probably land in the Top 20 albums released in those years. “Lisbon” is a good album, but it didn’t hit on all the buttons their past albums did. It still lands at #42, it’s respectable, but go check out the rest of their discography before you listen to it and get back to me.
I told you that The Roots might appear again on this list. It was a great year for the guy from Philly. They are getting mainstream popularity by being the house band on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and releasing great albums. This album is full of guest-stars and smart lyrics on every track. Also, I would follow ?uestlove on Twitter if you want to know more about the band, he’s entertaining.
Clash magazine described Seabear as “Sufjan Stevens meets an unplugged Arcade Fire.” If that doesn’t spark your interest, you aren’t a music fan. The indie-folk band from Iceland haven’t made a huge splash here in the U.S., but another album as good as “We Built A Fire,” and they could become a household name.
After releasing an EP in 2008, Washington’s full-length debut was buzz-worthy. Megan Washington, the band’s lead singer, has a voice and style that screams a pop success. They may have not received the popularity yet, but “I Believe You Liar” is a very good album to build a career on.
Are you in the mood for Australian indie folk music? I don’t think I have ever said that to myself, but after listening to this album, it’s now plausible. I’m glad that I stumbled upon this album in late November. It has been a staple on my iTunes for the last month.
Rogue Wave is one of the longest-tenured bands on his list and they still have the magic touch. “Solitary Gun” is one of my favorite tracks on the year. The rest of the album is good, but the album makes this list based mostly on just a few tracks. I would wish for a more consistent effort, but I”ll take it. It’s still worth a few spins, just not the strongest album they have released.
I will admit this from the start, Four Tet may not be for everybody, but “There Is Love In You” perked up my ears. If you like artists like Bonobo and Aphex Twin, you could be in for a treat. I wanted to add it to this list because it doesn’t sound like a lot of the stuff out there and needs to be recognized. Check out a few tracks online and decide yourself.
Yet, another debut album from a young band cracks my Top 50. I must be in love with band on Sub Pop Records or formerly on the label. There have been quite a few that made it on here this year. Some critics have compared them to The Shins, which is an adequate, yet lofty, comparison.
Big Boi is further separating himself from Andree 3000 with this album. I love Outkast, but if he keeps making good solo music, I can survive. I only ask them he releases on album with Sleepy Brown on a track, hearing him on a Big Boi track is starting to become predictable.
Once again, this band isn’t for everybody, but still should get a mention as a “close by no cigar” album to miss the list.
This album would have made the list, but I had a hard time putting an album with only six songs on the list.
Just too many good albums and only 50 spots on the list.
I’m going to piss off a lot of ladies by not adding this on my list. I may have just missed a golden opportunity to earn some more female readers.
A weird, unique band that I had to mention. If you can watch that video without being freaked out a bit, you should probably quit the internet and see a shrink.
An all-time favorite band with a solid album. It’s not their best, but worth a listen.
Think early Travis & Blur albums…a decent brit-pop album.