Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Top 15 Albums of 2010

15. Devo - Something For Everybody
One of the best bands of all time release their first album in 20 years (1990s wretched Smooth Noodle Maps) and it just happens to be their best album in almost 30.

14. Surfer Blood - Astrocoast
Surfer Blood from Florida play guitar pop rock with bite. The album Weezer wishes it still was capable of releasing.

13. Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek - Reflection Eternal: Revolutions Per Minute
Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek pick up where their last classic collaboration Train Of Thought left off without missing a step.

12. WAVVES - King Of The Beach

The guy from Wavves gets out of his bedroom, hooks up with Jay Reatard's backing band and releases an album full of catchy garagey rock that gets stuck in my head really easy.

11. Best Coast - Crazy For You

Awesome shimmery hazy California guitar pop with vocals that evoke Liz Phair, Kim Deal & Courtney. When these songs get stuck in my head it's not easy to get them out.

10. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

LCD Soundsystem (supposedly) final album goes out not with a bang but with a long dance party. This Is Happening doesn't come with as many visceral instant gratification moments as Sound Of Silver but is still a worthy epitaph.

9. Girl Talk - All Day

Greg Gillis doesn't mess with his formula on All Day mining classic rock from the 60s, 70s and 80s along with newer rap and alt rock. He hits a happy balance between the pure WTF? moments of his breakthrough Night Ripper and the pure instant gratification sample recognizability of Feed The Animals to make what may well be his masterpiece.

8. The Hold Steady - Heaven Is Whenever

Craig Finn and co. release another solid Hold Steady album. It's a Hold Steady album. They're one of my favorite bands. Amazing lyrics, great bar band riffs, froggy vocals. I'm a fan.

7. Sleigh Bells - Treats

There's still something to be said for sounds unheard. Sleigh Bells' music has it's roots in industrial but don't sound like anything that's ever come before. Loud bombastic tunes, laced with synthesizers and guitars so loud and distorted in the mix you think your speakers might be broken, all with super saccharine pop vocals on top. This stuff probably isn't for everyone but I really dug it.

6. Vampire Weekend - Contra

Vampire Weekend came out of nowhere a couple years ago with a hot demo and an even hotter debut that was pure garage afropop. Lots of comparisons to Talking Heads and Paul Simon's Graceland. Their sophomore album dispels any fears that they're a one trick pony with even more great songs and an expanded production.

5. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

The Arcade Fire release their most sprawling album yet (which is fitting considering it's a concept album about suburbia) but at the same time the arrangements are for the most part toned down and pulled back from their usual epic arrangements. It gets a little rambly at points but the really good parts make it a worthy listening experience.

4. Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest

Bradford Cox and co. delve deeper into the 60s pop fascination that they flirted with on their brilliant Microcastle. Completely original and amazing rock music.

3. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor

New Jersey's Titus Andronicus under the influence of working class heroes Springsteen and Westerberg release an album of anthemic shambling punk influenced rock that also happens to double as a concept album comparing growing up in New Jersey to being in the Civil War ("The Enemy Is Everywhere"). That second part isn't as important as the music. The album is chock full of loud funny and great songs with awesome lyrics and soaring leads and a lot of fury. It's easy to get lost in and merits multiple listens to wrap your head around it.

2. The Roots - How I Got Over

The Roots spent the year leading up to this album as Jimmy Fallon's late night talk show house band (can you say overqualified?). In that year they got to play music together a lot and made A LOT of musical friends. The result was this album. HIGO starts off with a mood of despair but about halfway through, starting at the title track turns the despair and anger of the first half into songs of hope. The music is tight and focused and Black Thought brings some of his best rhymes ever. This is by far the album I listened to the most this year.

1. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Kanye turns all of the drama from the last year (most self inflicted) and turns the concept of a hip hop album on it's head. From top to bottom his verses and his production set out to prove he's the best at what he does. His flow still lacks at times but the production on this album is insane. His everything but the kitchen sink approach to making beats shouldn't work but it does every time. The only feeling you are left with at the end of the album is the desire to put it back on again. It's a wild ride.