December 17, 2010

The Top Ten Albums of 2010

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for all week long! Here is the list of what I personally feel are the Top Ten Albums of the year that was 2010. I’ve listed them in alphabetical order (according to an artist’s last name, where applicable). Whenever possible, I’ve linked to a review that’s been written on this website, so feel free to revisit the recent past to refresh your memories. Also, I’ve taken a bit of time to talk about each record a little bit here, so as to provide proper context to the amazing records on this list, especially when compared to their siblings on yesterday’s Honorable Mentions list.

The Top Ten Albums of 2010

Everyone Everywhere – Everyone Everywhere
This record heads up a passel of projects that are bringing ’90s emo/indie firmly into this decade, and what sets this one atop them all is its ability to balance pop zip with heartfelt intensity (while never seeming like a trite anachronism).

Harlem – Hippies
It’s a fantastic collection of dirty, lo-fi garage-pop zingers that are destined to smash you in the ears. To paraphrase my own review, if Ron Howard ever made an R-rated redux of Happy Days, this album would represent the preferred music of The Fonz.

Lindstrøm and Christabelle – Real Life Is No Cool
Sexy beats, sultry rhythms, and lush vocals resurrect ABBA with a vengeance, but not before rejecting the kitsch of ’70s and embracing post-modern techno aesthetics. So delicious.

Motion Turns It On – Kaleidoscopic Equinox
Prog, prog, and more prog, with heaps of rock power and jazz subtlety. You’re not going to see this record on many end-of-year lists, and that’s a damn shame, because the world needs more fuzzed-out dark psych like this stuff.

Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
On this two-hour long, triple-vinyl magnum opus (that transcends even the majesty of Ys), Newsom leaves behind the quirky, ethereal vocals and fairy-tale lyrics over her earlier work and strides confidently into the present, embracing her inner Joni Mitchell in the process. Check out tracks like “’81,” “Good Intentions Paving Company,” “You And Me, Bess,” “Esme,” and “Kingfisher” if you require any further convincing.

Pantha Du Prince – Black Noise
What we have here is a German take on sleek, sultry, minimalist house music that tips its hat to dub, grime, and glitch. If I had to pick a “favorite” record of the year, it would be this one, because it’s is a beautiful combination of brooding, insular, and strong. These tones best come to the fore when I put on my vinyl copy of the album and can crank it up so that the music can wash over me.

The Roots – How I Got Over
I this it’s the best record from this esteemed, socially conscious hip-hop band since “Phrenology.” As much as I love the new records from Kanye, Rick Ross, Big Boi, and Bun B, this is my favorite hip-hop record this year. The best tracks by far are “Dear God 2.0,” “Radio Daze,” the title track, “Right On,” and “The Fire.”

Weekend – Sports
This is one of the more pointed, pure takes on post-punk we’ve heard in years, and it doesn’t hurt that there’s plenty of no wave and shoegaze as well. These ten songs are propelled by tough, angry textures that are confident in their emotions, yet they’re still searching for the answers that just might not be there.

Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
At this point, we’ve all heard this record, read upteen reviews of how unbelievably brilliant it is, and formed very specific opinions about it (many that might still be unfortunately colored by West’s antics with Taylor Swift at the 2010 MTV VMA’s). Personally, I think this is Ye’s best work ever, as you can plainly hear on outstanding jams like “Power,” “Monster,” “So Appalled,” “Devil In A New Dress,” and “Runaway.”

The Wonder Years – The Upsides
Premium, neo-classic pop-punk, complete with heartfelt, snarky lyrics about love, scene politics, and growing up. It’s like Blink-182 never sold out and starting shilling its sound at Hot Topic.

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