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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.


Embo Blake

1. Jay Farrar & Benjamin Gibbard - One Fast Move Or I'm Gone
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 Been.

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 records.

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… live… 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.


Kris Coe

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


David DeVoe

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 Rise
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 I'm Gone
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 of ways.


George Dow

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 BellsTreats
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 you’re not already in love with this record, you must have spent 2010 on another planet.

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 2007’s All Hour Cymbals. The extended time between releases paid off. No sophomore slump here.

7. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - I Learned The Hard Way
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 BellsBroken Bells
A collaboration that shouldn’t 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 KeysBrothers
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. Rager
The fact that this album made my Top 10 list says more about Kid’s debut, Man On The Moon Part I, than it does about Part II. This sophomore release can’t hold a candle to Part I but still rightfully earns a place in 2010’s Top 10.


Susan Frances

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.


Rachel Fredrickson

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 Black Keys.

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…well... 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 insane-rock.

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" libraries.

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 live set.


L. Keane

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


Brenden Kirch

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, lovely voice.
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 does next.
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


Parker Tichko

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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