December 30, 2010

Top 50 Albums of 2010

Well here you have it. 50-and-a-few of our favorite albums of 2010, with short blurbs for the top 20 (like last year). Enjoy!

The Drums - The Drums

Love Is All - Two Thousand and Ten Injuries

Menomena - Mines

Crocodiles - Sleep Forever

Cloud Nothings - Turning On

Mogwai - Special Moves

Titus Andronicus - The Monitor

Surfer Blood - Astro Coast

Happy Birthday - Happy Birthday

The Chemical Brothers - Further

Phantogram - Eyelid Movies

Future Islands - In Evening Air

Wavves - King of the Beach

Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me

Small Black - New Chain

Tobacco - Maniac Meat

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

She & Him - Volume Two

Foals - Total Life Forever

The Black Keys - Brothers

School of Seven Bells - Disconnect From Desire

Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles

The Radio Dept. - Clinging to a Scheme

Vampire Weekend - Contra

Wolf Parade - Expo 86

Fang Island - Fang Island

Ty Segall - Melted

The Love Language - Libraries

Dum Dum Girls - I Will Be

The Tallest Man on Earth - The Wild Hunt

Las Robertas - Cry Out Loud

It may not be the most original album to be released this year, but there's something about Las Robertas' rough yet very studio sound and the lead singer's endearing vocals that draws me in and keeps me listening.

Belle and Sebastian - Write About Love

Indie twee legends Belle and Sebastian returned from a four year hiatus with Write about Love, an album where they acknowledge their earlier recordings while at the same show continued development as a group. While it's definitely not as good as any of their nineties' masterpieces, Write About Love is still a great album.

Best Coast - Crazy For You

Best Coast create something special in their low-fi two-minute pop bursts. Fuzzy and lovable, every track here is adorably catchy. Not serious in the least, these guys are perfect to kick back and relax to.

Ra Ra Riot - The Orchard

Chamber pop group Ra Ra Riot follow up their excellent debut with The Orchard, a concise album that puts all of their strengths on display: fantastic string arrangements, simple hooks, and great vocals. Faced with the daunting task of not sounding too overblown with their many intricate accompaniments, Ra Ra Riot triumph and make it look so easy.

Women - Public Strain

Some songs might sound like they're being shoved through a woodchipper, but in general, Public Strain is a strong sophmore album. It builds upon the rough sound that their debut didn't follow through with completely, and uses more conventional song structures to even it all out.

Tame Impala - Innerspeaker

After releasing their self-titled EP two years ago, this Australian band got together last June to record their debut album. The result: psychedelic rock at its finest. Intricate, spacey chord progressions and stylishly lazy vocals make Innerspeaker a trippy experience that deserves its spot in the top 20. Listen to this with a good pair of headphones.

Matt & Kim - Sidewalks

Matt & Kim are one of the most upbeat groups in the business, consistently churning out three-minute dance beats. Similar song structure doesn't get old as each tune carries its own distinct melody, an important addition that Matt & Kim have fixed since their often repetitive earlier albums. Immense progress so far shows show only signs more growth and improvement for the Brooklyn duo.

The National - High Violet

Beautiful composition and song-writing continue to help The National live up to their early acclaim. High Violet is an intimate record with layers begging to be explored and listened to again and again.

Wild Nothing - Gemini

A good example of how a dream pop album should sound. Though some of the songs might stay the same and linger a little longer than they need, each song has its own characteristic, and the lulling vocals mix well with the spacey synths. Wild Nothing don't exactly have their own sound, but they're doing a top-notch job with what they have.

Portugal. The Man - American Ghetto

Unfairly criticized for being too refined on their excellent 2009 release The Satanic Satanist, Portugal. The Man silenced the critics with their fantastic new album this year, combining their signature weirdness with their recently-found ear for harmonic perfection.

The Thermals - Personal Life

Ridiculously good when they go for loud and hard yet struggle when they slow down. They're one of our favorites this year for still churning out a great front-to-back album despite working with of one of softest and prissiest producers known to man, Chris Walla.

Broken Bells - Broken Bells

Mercer and Mouse mesh well and sit in a happy medium between both of their really, really excellent sounds.

Yellow Ostrich - The Mistress

A terrific third album from this little-known lo-fi folk rock musician. Captivating harmonies and charming melodies make this album. Even listening to the immensely beautiful harmonies on the track Mary was enough to get me to download the whole album. In short, this guy deserves a lot more recognition.

Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma

I've never heard such an oddly satisfying blend of addictive beats and ramdom-ass noises hurled at my ears like this. Though it's hard to make sense of the majority of these blissfully frenzied tracks, not a beat is missed on Cosmogramma. It has to be on the favorite albums list of any avant-guard/electronic loving music geek.

Julian Lynch - Mare

One of the more sublime, uniquely beautiful records to come out this year. Some of the tracks here give off a strong vibe of psychedelic Indian music, especially Just Enough, Mare, and Travelers. Also, it's nice to hear something outside the two main genres of 2010: retro-electronica, and noise pop.

Local Natives - Gorilla Manor

A beautiful and tasty album, Gorilla Manor is catchy and likable enough to grab you on the first listen and deep enough to keep you hooked through the ninth or tenth.

Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest

Apart from the last track which, though it was dedicated to the late Jay Reatard, doesn't seem completely nessesary to the rest of this incredibly ambitious album, I didn't find a single dull moment on Halcyon Digest. The distortion on tracks like Don't Cry and Revival fits in comfortably with the more quiet, acoustic presence of tracks like Sailing and Basement Scene, and everything in between brings the album together in a way that makes this the most accessible Deerhunter album to date.

The Morning Benders - Big Echo

The Morning Benders were behind some of the best live shows you could have seen this year. They rocked Lollapalooza along with dozens of smaller venues on their Big Echo tour this year. Great ambition and musical growth since Talking Through Tin Cans leaves us in anticipation of what their next LP will bring.

LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

For his third studio album, James Murphy once again shows us an impressive display of catchy melodies and danceable beats. Definitely my favorite electronica album of 2010. Though this is probably Murphy's last album as LCD Soundsystem, I certainly hope it's not his last album as a musician.

Beach House - Teen Dream

An amazing album that earned its way to the top of our 2010 list. Released in January, Teen Dream has had all year to sink in and impress. Excellent instrumentals combined with gorgeous vocals produce our favorite record of 2010.

Close Contenders:
The Phantom Band - The Wants
OK Go - Of the Blue Colour of the Sky
Suckers - Wild Smile
Shugo Tokumaru - Port Entropy
Villagers - Becoming a Jackal
Weekend - Sports
Diamond Rings - Special Affections
Tokyo Police Club - Champ