Monday, January 3, 2011

Best of 2010: My Top 25 Albums

It's been a few months since I've posted anything on here, but as I've been doing every end of the year for the last 10 years (granted over about 5-6 different blogsites) here's my top 25 favorite albums from 2010:

1. Tame Impala - Innerspeaker
Parts cosmic & psychedelic, superb stoner-esque indie rock from Australia. The vocals, guitar reverb and overall vibe of this record sends my mind to a different plane of consciousness. (Check out: "Alter Ego")

2. Best Coast - Crazy For You
Not a fan of their earlier EPs that mostly lacked percussion & proper production, but this album blew everything else before of out of the water. More stoner rock but on a throwback, lo-fi & surf rock tip. (Check out: "The End")

3. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
This band never puts out a bad record. A few updates to their sound, but the band's latest masterpiece in crafting epic albums. (Check out: "Ready To Start")

4. The Black Keys - Brothers
The albums this blues-rock duo puts out keep getting better and better. Sharp production, great guitar work and melancholy vocals. (Check out: "The Only One")

5. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
A little more softer than previous albums but providing a super-eclectic journey into orchestral, choral, hip-hop, rock, dub & electronic compositions. Awesome arsenal of guest artists to boot. (Check out: "Empire Ants feat. Little Dragon")

6. Vampire Weekend - Contra
Still can't knock on this band. I'm a sucker for afro-pop and indie rock marriages. A close second to their debut. (Check out: "Cousins")

7. Grum - Heartbeats
Highly underrated electronic/dance effort (or too quickly forgotten?). Heavy italo-influence with a retro-future vibe. Equal parts Giorgio Moroder, Mylo, Les Rythmes Digitales, Discovery-era Daft Punk. (Check out: "Can't Shake This Feeling")

8. Owen Pallett - Heartland
I jumped on the Final Fantasy/Owen Pallett bandwagon a little late, but it's obvious Pallett has a great knack for vocal & string arrangements. A very lush & pretty album. (Check out: "Midnight Directives")

9. Here We Go Magic - Pigeons
Much more accessible than the last album in terms of a more recognizably rock record. Lots of lo-fi, psychedelic folk & rock throughout. Dreamy, other-worldly music. (Check out: "Collector")

10. The Soft Pack - The Soft Pack
Catchy garage, punk & rock from San Diego. Great record to sing along too. A nostalgic yet totally fresh sound that makes me feel like a teenager again. (Check out: "C'mon")

11. Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
Melodic surf-rock with a tinge of '90s indie rock vibes, a sound from a band all the way from Florida no less. Why this band is not any bigger is beyond me. (Check out: "Swim")

12. Two Door Cinema Club - Tourist History
One of the best new bands on the scene, doing dance-rock right where others have so often failed at as of late. Youthful, energetic and highly infectious tunes. (Check out: "Undercover Martyn")

13. Toro Y Moi - Causers Of This
A wide melange of eclectic urban & electronic sounds, inspired by the past and future. Dreamy, electronic indie-pop. (Check out: "Talamak")

14. Wavves - King Of The Beach
Another band I jumped on late in the game; with a new rhythm section (ex-Jay Reatard), clean production and a (hopefully sober) frontman brimming with potential, this is one of the best poppy, lo-fi, punk & rock records I've heard all year. (Check out: "Post Acid")

15. Caribou - Swim
Another artist who also could not put out a bad record, this time attempting to create organic dance music. The such unconventional sounds (for dance/electronic music standards) used on this record and its results are phenomenal. (Check out: "Sun")

16. Sleigh Bells - Treats
If a team of only two can make arena-size, noise-rock anthems with swag like this, I'm totally in! Sonic guitar stabs, drums with marching-band intensity, sweet but bratty vocals...this is how pop music should aspire to sound like. (Check out: "Run the Heart")

17. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
Like countless other hip-hop albums in the past decade, this one was on the shelf for a few years. 2007 or 2010, this album would've definitely made my list regardless. Super 808 elements, dirty southern twang & heavy bass corralled by Big Boi's great delivery and off-beat flair. (Check out: "Shutterbugg")

18. Twin Shadow - Forget
Do believe the hype; if I didn't for this artist, I wouldn't have discovered how much I surprisingly enjoyed this album. Musically and vocally channeling '80s (English rock) revivalism. The tempos & moods shift back and forth between tracks, but for a one-man band, mighty fine compositions. (Check out: "Slow")

19. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
Not my favorite James Murphy record, but for his last (and since I'm a huge admirer) this is a pleasant farewell. Much more rock-based this time but with equal intensity and attention to detail that is expected from Mr. Murphy and his endless musical influences. (Check out: "I Can Change")

20. She & Him - Volume Two
One of the few (more classic-sounding) country/rock records I can stand. And I'm also a huge fan of M. Ward in general. With my Zooey Deschanel infatuation, the vocals always grab me by the soft spot in my heart. (Check out: "Thieves")

21. Broken Bells - Broken Bells
With the prospect of a collaboration between The Shins' singer and wonder-producer Danger Mouse, it's a no brainer they would knock it out of the ballpark. More of a low-key album, but each track is well put together and emotional. (Check out: "Mongrel Heart")

22. Hot Chip - One Life Stand
I got a more tongue-in-cheek vibe from the band with this record (though of course this has been part of their agenda from the start). A bit heavier exploration in electronic/house sounds, but you can tell they had fun putting this together. (Check out: "Hand Me Down Your Love")

23. Tobacco - Maniac Meat
I wouldn't even know where to begin with describing this album, but if you're familiar with Black Moth Super Rainbow (this being a side-project), you'll know what to expect. Short but sharp bursts of electronic/noise with punchy beats and funky electro vocals. (Check out: "Fresh Hex feat. Beck")

24. Holly Miranda - The Magician's Private Library
Superb dream pop & indie rock from a very talented songwriter & vocalist that I sadly do not know much about. With production by Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio, this album is a tight, lush package as a soundtrack for your dreams. (Check out: "Waves")

25. Shit Robot - From the Cradle to the Rave
Last but not least, I was drawn to this DFA release because it shows how subversive the artist & label remain in the dance music game (and at the same time not trying to mimic everyone else). A combination of classic techno, house, rave, electro, kraut-rock & synth music with a touch of playful kitsch. (Check out: "I Got A Feeling")

Previous lists:
Best of 2009
Best of 2008

Happy New Year!

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