The ubiquitous year-end list... the inevitable bane of music writers
and journalists everywhere. Everyone loves to disagree and discuss
throughout the coming year. So, here are our lists. We'd love to
know what you think.
1. Jay Farrar & Benjamin Gibbard - One Fast Move Or
Jay writes great songs, even when the words belong to someone else.
Ben sounds better than ever before. A clear winner for the year.
2. Nathaniel Rateliff - In Memory Of Loss
This collection of tender songs is as meaningful and powerful the
hundredth time as it is the first. A first rate debut major label
album from a real great songwriter.
3. Josh Ritter - So Runs The World Away
This is a bit more melancholy and relaxed than his alst couple records,
but filled with perfect songs and perfect stories.
4. BRMC - Beat The Devil's Tattoo
This band just won't stop putting out some of the greatest, stompiest,
loudest, distortion-heavy beauty the world has ever known. RIP Michael
5. Teenage Fanclub - Shadows
The Fanclub still rocks harder than your band. This latest installment
came out fairly quietly, but is filled with pristine rock gems
possibly the best record of theirs since Bandwagonesque.
6. The Charlatans - Who We Touch
The Madchester wonderboys are still going strong, cranking out the
best British music one could hope for.
7. Barton Carroll - Together You And I
Barton continues to write great songs and make them sound weirder
and weirder. Lots of ground covered on this release, all of it amazing.
8. Echo And The Bunnymen - The Fountain
Liverpool's second favorite sons continue to make relevant and amazing
9. Natalie Merchant - Leave Your Sleep
So beautiful. Merchant returns from a too long hiatus with some wonderfully
huge, orchestrated lullabies. Lots of musical styles with tons of
wonderful guests. Amazing.
10. Venice Is Sinking - Sand & Lines
Throwing aside their indie nonsense for some fine, down-home acoustic
sounds, Venice Is Sinking have made their best record ever
with a meager amount of gear and time. Glorious!
10. Cee-Lo Green - The Lady Killer
The best R'n'B record since Amy Winehouse. So perfectly produced
and full of pop gems.
1. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
2. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
3. Nathaniel Rateliff - In Memory Of Loss
4. Neil Young - Le Noise
5. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
6. Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame
7. Phil Selway - Familial
8. Beach House - Teen Dream
9. Charlotte Gainsbourg - IRM
10. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Beat The Devil's Tattoo
1. Overcasters - The Whole Sea Is Raging
For the first time in years it seems Denver bands have made music
better than international music. And this album is the best of the
lot. Amazing sounds and great songs make for a perfect record. And
the unique colored vinyl is super cool.
2. Nathaniel Rateliff - In Memory Of Loss
Nathaniel has done a lot of time in some good Denver bands, but his
major label debut is stunning. The best songs ever to be found here
in this cowtown. A must hear record for everyone.
3. Barton Carroll - Together You And I
While not as easy to listen to and as easily accessible, Carroll's
latest is mesmerizing and filled with great songs. The man remains
one of America's finest modern lyricists.
4. Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More
Not wanting to love this record, I could not help but be entranced
by it. These British blokes have made a record that competes with
Nathaniel Rateliff for greatness in the totally unobtrusive, easy
way. These songs are among the finest I've heard in over a decade,
all presented with beautiful vocal harmonies and an earthiness that
is refreshing to hear.
5. The Charlatans - Who We Touch
Manchester's finest break their 11th studio record with the infernal
Youth sitting in the producer's chair. The result? An edgier,
grittier album than they've ever turned out before, full of the same
sorts of amazing songs that we've come to expect
the only thing
missing is the Reggae.
6. Marty Stuart - Ghost Train: The Studio B Sessions
Stuart's records are always top notch, and Ghost Train is no exception.
The songs are solid and the playing is, of course, exemplary. This
is the best country record of the year by far.
7. Bill Kirchen - Word To The Wise
A close runner up for country record of the year, Kirchen twangs like
no other. This collection of songs I excellent, with lots of guest
appearances by amazing artists.
8. The Choir - Burning Like The Midnight Sun
Reducing the noisiness of the early 2000s, Hindalong and crew
have made possibly their most mature and developed record of their
long career. The songs are amazing, the textures strong and beautiful,
the sound perfect.
9. Hypernova - Through The Chaos
Channeling Joy Division is never a bad thing, and these Iranians prove
that it can be done with an energy and panache that is astounding.
10. Dave Rawlings Machine - A Friend Of A Friend
If you know who David Rawlings is, then this album is no surprise
featuring the fantastic vocals of long-time collaborator Gillian
Welch and more, this record is understated and wonderful.
11. Ray LaMontagne - God Willin' & The Creek Don't
Ray LaMontagne makes records that fast become classics, and this one
is no different. Only this time, he takes a very much country bent
on things, filling the songs up with beautiful steel guitar and a
bit of twang.
12. Jay Farrar & Benjamin Gibbard - One Fast Move Or
Amazing that this record, based loosely on the writings of Jack
Kerouac, turned out to be so amazing. Gibbard's vocals play perfect
counterpoint to Farrar's gritty, earthy songs in the most wonderful
1. Free Energy - Stuck On Nothing
Fun. Fun. Fun. The ultimate summer album which continues to please
well after the first snows fall. Killer indie-rock hooks with a healthy
nod to '70s classic rock.
2. Sleigh Bells Treats
Like a crowbar wrapped in cotton candy. Screaming guitar riffs and
industrial drum beats go with sweet and sassy cheerleader chants like
chocolate goes with peanut-butter.
3. Neil Young - Le Noise
After the recent loss of two long-time friends and collaborators,
Neil records the perfect response a haunting and cathartic,
one-man, one-guitar solo effort.
4. Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More
A tender, poignant and timeless folk rock album. If youre not
already in love with this record, you must have spent 2010 on another
5. Dungen - Skit i Allt
1970s lounge schmaltz? Screaming acid-rock/psychedelic instrumentals?
What is this band of Swedes all about? Damned if I know. Not a lick
of English spoken here. Who cares, when it sounds this good?
6. Yeasayer - Odd Blood
A brilliant follow-up to 2007s All Hour Cymbals. The
extended time between releases paid off. No sophomore slump here.
7. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - I Learned The Hard
For me, the classic funk/soul revival starts with Sharon Jones and
company. A contemporary crew, belting out tunes that would have felt
right at home 40 years ago, without a hint of irony.
8. Broken Bells Broken Bells
A collaboration that shouldnt have worked; D.J./Producer extraordinaire,
Dangermouse partners with twee, indie-rocker James Mercer.
What should have been a complete disaster is, in fact, a gorgeous
electronic pop record.
9. Black Keys Brothers
Blues. Soul. Garage. Take the best of each, toss in the blender, out
pops Brothers. A slow-burning record that rewards repeat listeners.
10. Kid Cudi - Man On The Moon Part II: The Legend Of Mr.
The fact that this album made my Top 10 list says more about Kids
debut, Man On The Moon Part I, than it does about Part II.
This sophomore release cant hold a candle to Part I but
still rightfully earns a place in 2010s Top 10.
1. Midas Fall - Eleven, Return And Revert
Based in Edinburgh, this modern rock outfit has a strong prog rock
flare with melodic rock shavings
2. Andrei Lanes - Verity
Based in New York City, Lanes welds ambient tones into cerebrally
entrancing panoramas continually shifting shapes and velocity.
3. Shelly Bhushan - Make Believe
Based in New York City, Bhushan proves she is a versatile singer-songwriter
able to adapt to any melodically toned music.
4. Claude Marc Bourget - Musiques de Ballet
Based in Montreal, Canada, Bourget takes classical piano to new peaks
driven by emotively charged motifs.
5. Animal Sound - The Unknown
Based in Arkansas, Animal Sound is the one-man band of singer-songwriter-guitarist
Jonivan Jones who blends vestiges of country, folk, and psychedelic
rock into meaningful melodies.
6. Robert Branch - Courage To Be
Based in Minneapolis, guitarist Robert Branch bares his chops on these
tracks embracing jazz contoured by traits of rock and avant pop.
7. Jacqui Sutton - Billie & Dolly
Born in Orlando, singer-songwriter Jacqui Sutton immerses herself
into these standards which revamp fan favorites made popular by two
classic artists, Billy Holiday and Dolly Parton.
8. Lullwater - Forest For The Trees
Based in Georgia, punk rockers Lullwater create an exciting mixture
of soaring guitar shreds and beefy tremors.
9. Daniel Lucca - Pressing Forward
Based in the Bay Area of California, piccolo bassist Daniel Lucca
bridges smooth jazz rhythms with Latin accents and bucolic riffage.
10. The Forecast - The Forecast
Based in Peoria, the power rock quartet of The Forecast solidify their
place as modern punk motivators.
There are always doubts of being able to fill a Top 10, but after
the research was done for 2010, I would have done better with a Top
20! But alas, only 10 could be featured:
1. Mumford And Sons - Sigh No More
Their album hit in February and within months they were selling out
any venue that had the awesome opportunity to book them. Mumford's
mix of upright bass, foot stomping beats and beautiful harmonies are
what made them THE act to catch in 2010.
2. Broken Bells - Broken Bells
Who knew a song whose first 15 secs consisted of purely tech-notes
would become one of the most spun nationwide. The Bells' music has
a quality about them that pulls from the dance-pop of the '70s and
'80s, but sets it on a journey of old school rock like that of The
3. The National - High Violet
Any album released in 2010 had The National's release to compete with.
It didn't matter if they were similar in sound; they were still the
band everyone was compared to. Like any good album that's not record-label-cookie-cutter,
High Violet took a couple listens to truly fall in love. But with
the brutally honest lyrics, extremely raw guitar riffs and hints of
dance-grooves, The National will have their some competition themselves
- with the next album that is.
4. Future Of Forestry - Travel III
And now for a bit of little label magic: Future Of Forestry doesn't
need a major label to make incredible music and they didn't need one
to make one of my favorite albums of all time. Travel III is
only 6 songs long, but that's enough to blow your face off. "Protection"
is a great example of the rock-perfect guitar chords, the benefits
of a delicate voice in songs other than lullabies and how just the
right amount of synths can make a song freakin' awesome.
5. Lostprophets - The Betrayed
Going on 10 years now, the Welsh band Lostprophets took 3 years to
ponder the meaning life, member shuffle and write The Betrayed.
The result was the darkest, grittiest, most incredible piece of work
the band has put out. Take the mean guitar from a hardcore rock band,
the insane drummer from a classic rock band and have them on stage
with lead singer Ian Watkins' dance-y influence and you have a great
album. "AC Ricochet" is on constant repeat.
6. Vampire Weekend - Contra
One word "Cousins" - a.k.a. the perfect summer song and
the live version was even better! Dance-Rock at it's finest. And once
all the album cover controversy was finally settled, the fans were
able to really enjoy some music that has this crazy ability to cause
all out euphoria and random dancing.
7. Chiodos - Illuminaudio
Change lead singers and you're going to have to basically recalibrate,
but changing in the middle of writing a new album and you're
Luckily for Chiodos this purely meant a new album AND a new step for
the band. The new album? Well it's not as screamo as the All's
Well, but also not was poetically emo as Bone Palace. The
screams are still there, but they're set in what I'd like to call
8. Blonde Redhead - Penny Sparkle
Blonde Redhead's music has changed through time, almost as effortlessly
as river slightly changes its course. The new album is definitely
on the new path, away from their original '90s sound. Penny Sparkle
is sexy and transient. Angelic vocals, a hefty helping of electronic
synths and the backbone percussion has this album in many "digital"
9. Linkin Park - A Thousand Suns
Whatever is new from Linkin Park isn't ever really "new",
just rather the next page in their extremely long history. No main
hitters with this album, but for LP fans it was an excellent way to
continue the feeding of more music. Ok, "The Catalyst" was
pretty cool. It managed to mix the old hip-hop Linkin Park that some
may remember from Reanimation and some new modern rock 30
Seconds To Mars-ness.
10. Frightened Rabbit - Winter Of Mixed Drinks
"Feel good music" is the title I'd give really any album
from Frightened Rabbit. They do all their good the old fashioned way;
a peppy lead guitar, a simplistic rhythm guitar, a grooving bass,
a drummer with a child-like energy and a set of vocals with a hint
of a Scottish twang. Warning: hand clapping may not be avoidable during
1. Josh Ritter - So Runs The World Away
2. The Charlatans - Who We Touch
3. BRMC - Beat The Devil's Tattoo
4. Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More
5. Barton Carroll - Together You And I
6. Tired Pony - The Place We Ran From
7. Peter Gabriel - Scratch My Back
8. Pernice Brothers - Goodbye Killer
9. Royksopp - Senior
10. Nathaniel Rateliff - In Memory Of Loss
This was a strong year for music. A lot of talented artists released
strong albums. Some came back from long absences to put out the best
material of their careers, some just gave us a sign that they were
every bit as talented as they claimed to be. While there were some
missteps, they were outweighed by the great ones. These are the ten
that stood out to me the most this year.
1. The Innocence Mission - My Room In The Trees
The one word that could sum up this album is gorgeous. It's a lush,
beautiful folk album from a band who can evoke any emotion they wish
with their poetic lyrics and lead singer Karen Peris' quiet,
Best track: Rain (Setting Out In The Leaf Boat)
2. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
Damon Albarn is a pop genius. His work with Blur was
great and his work with Gorillaz has always been outstanding. This
is the band's best work yet, continuing the story arc that has followed
their career and bringing in some fun guests. It's catchy, it's got
a beat, and you can dance to it. It's a rare album that just never
gets old, no matter how many times you hear it.
Best Track: Superfast Jellyfish
3. Sufjan Stevens - The Age Of Adz
Sufjan returned to his regular music for the first time since
2005's Illinois to deliver a dark, surprising electro-folk
album. It's like a bizarre hybrid of his early career and his more
recent output, leading to something unexpected and interesting. His
lyrics are a bit more cryptic this time around, though they never
sound like he's trying to be someone else, maintaining the honesty
that has made him so endearing.
Best Track: Too Much
4. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Kanye West has always claimed to be great. As much as I've always
enjoyed his music, I'd never really felt like he was anything more
than pretty good. Then he released this album and it was the first
time I had ever felt like he had truly released a great album. It
is dark and moody, unsettling and revealing, funny and tragic, everything
I could have wanted from a Kanye album.
Best Track: Lost In The World
5. Drive-By Truckers - The Big To-Do
Drive-By Truckers have always made big rock albums. This was no
exception. The album is packed full of rock anthems that have characters
in varying degrees of tragedy; from mourning the death of a father
to musing on a strange murder trial to a drunk at the end of his rope.
The band never loses energy or momentum, keeping the listener hooked
from beginning to end.
Best Track: Fourth Night Of My Drinking
6. Sarah Sample - Someday, Someday
The best country-influenced album of the year didn't come from a big
name and probably went unnoticed by a lot of fans. It was a quiet
little album from the sultry voiced Sarah Sample. These tracks are
full of soul and strong lyrics that could stand alongside the greats
of the genre. It's a worthy addition to anybody's music library and
deserves to be given more attention.
Best Track: I'm Ready
7. Ray Lamontagne And The Pariah Dogs - God Willin' And
The Creek Don't Rise
Ray Lamontagne is quickly becoming an artist who can do no wrong.
Every album he has released has been filled with memorable folk songs
and his soulful voice. This is no exception, with songs ranging from
celebratory to scathing; it will delight fans and new listeners alike.
Best Track: Beg, Steal, Or Borrow
8. The New Pornographers - Together
They've made a name for themselves out of just writing catchy
songs. Their lyrics are mostly nonsense strung together to sound cool.
They're also some excellent and underrated pop songwriters. How can
an album from a band that includes A.C. Newman, Dan Bejar,
and Neko Case be anything but great?
Best Track: Crash Years
9. Vampire Weekend - Contra
I wasn't really thrilled with Vampire Weekend's debut. I thought it
didn't quite live up to the hype. The band responded by tightening
their sound and releasing an amazing pop album with solid hooks, clever
lyrics, and an abundance of energy. It's good enough to win over those
who weren't fans already and make anybody eagerly await what the band
Best Track: I Think UR A Contra
10. The Migrant - Travels In Lowland
The Migrant has brought us a unique singer songwriter album. He takes
the normal things you'd expect from the genre and combines them with
a more unique soundscape that sets him apart from artists like Ray
Lamontagne or Sufjan Stevens. This is an album as much
about atmosphere as it is about content and it delivers on both levels.
Best Track: In The Sun
Danny R. Phillips
The Black Angels - Phosphene Dream
Mumford and Sons - Sigh No More
Jimi Hendrix - Valleys of Neptune
Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited (Vinyl Mono Edition...
the tunes jumps jump out of the grooves)
The Whigs - In The Dark
Bad Religion - The Dissent of Man
Weezer - Pinkerton: Deluxe Re-Issue
Jim Lauderdale - Patchwork River
Alkaline Trio - This Addiction
Justin Townes Earle - Harlem River Blues
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - The Brutalist Bricks
Butch Walker and The Black Widows - I Liked You Better
When You Had No Heart
1. Two Door Cinema Club - Tourist History
2. Twin Shadow - Forget
3. Violens - Amoral
4. Rubik - Dada Bandits
4. Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
5. Bonobo - Black Sands
6. Bombay Bicycle Club - Flaws
7. Phantogram - Eyelid Movies
8. Four Tet - There Is Love In You
9. Miami Horror - Illumination
10. The National - High Violet
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