Welcome to the PopBunker.net 2010 Albums of the Year post! This year’s countdown is broken into three sections: The first, just below, are honorable mentions or albums that deserve some consideration but have not been given proper listening time; the second section is albums 30 to 11. This is a ranked list kicked off by a short playlist sampler from Grooveshark; the final section is the top ten. The top ten starts with an 11 song sampler – one from each album at the top of the list.
Now that you know what we’re doing, it’s time to read what matters… The Top Albums of 2010! Enjoy…
- Beach House–Teen Dream – What happens when talented artists are infatuated with The Beach Boys Pet Sounds era.
- Big Boi–Sir Lucious Left Foot… The Son of Chico Dusty
- Black Mountain — Wilderness Heart – A little bit of a disappointing follow-up to In the Future (2008).
- Caribou — Swim – A sound simplified from 2007’s Andorra and not for the better. Still a good album from one of the best Electronic Pop soundscape artists out there.
- Charlotte Gainsbourg — Irm – Not often mentioned in the pantheon of singer/actresses, Gainsbourg’s Beck produced albums is a rich and layered treat.
- Everest — On Approach – Grooveshark pushed this band on me until I bought the album. I may have gotten around to it anyway and would have been less disappointed.
- Grace Potter & The Nocturnals — Grace Potter & the Nocturnals – Simple straight forward rock and roll with a powerful lead singer. Easily more listenable than Train and Kings of Leon.
- Jack Johnson — To The Sea – As enjoyable as JJ is, he seems to release the same album every couple of years.
- Kisses — Heart of the Nightlife
- Liminanas — The Liminanas
- Magic Kids — Memphis – This one is a big grower. Given a few weeks, it may have moved into the Top 30.
- Morning Benders — Big Echo – Ditto the above.
- Mountain Man — Made The Harbor – This female trio’s vocals are tight and catchy… and at times a little too much.
- Radio Dept — Clinging To A Scheme
- Reporter — Time Incredible
- St. Lola in the Fields — High Atop the Houses and the Towns - I got this free from Amazon just as I was making this list. It is already in the mentionable category and could well be a Top 10 entry with more listens. Less dreamy than Bat For Lashes, but the comparison can still work.
- Tame Impala — Innerspeaker
- The Hundred in The Hands — The Hundred in The Hands
- The Secret History — The World That Never Was – Glam girlie rock done very well. Another late entry list climber, this group formed from the remnants of indie darling My Favorite is a charming and erudite swerve off the path.
- Twin Shadow — Forget
#30 to 11
Press play on the sampler playlist below
30. Cee Lo Green–The Lady Killer – Sonically Green is a natural evolution from roots R&B and Soul, but lyrically and production wise, Cee Lo Green is all 21st Century styling and profiling. Fun, funky, and decidedly adult, The Lady Killer is a crowd pleasing good time.
29. Micah P Hinson–… And The Pioneer Saboteurs – Earnest Post-Rock crooner Michah P. Hinson rolls out albums pretty quickly. Though none have quite captured the heart-searing impact of his first album, …And the Gospel of Progress, each of them brings more gold to be mined from the impressive catalog of deceptively complex song structures and themes.
28. Mumford & Sons– Sigh No More – Roots Americana inspired in part by 20th Century American classic literature and filtered through the drunken underbelly traditions of the UK folk scene. Heady stuff and a catchy album that at times really snaps.
27. The Dead Weather–Sea of Cowards – This album feels like a B-Side album compliment to their excellent Horehound debut. Jack White (The White Stripes) and Alison Mosshart (The Kills) continue to delivery blues-tinged rock that may give the listener an idea of what Led Zeppelin would have sounded like with Grace Slick as the vocalist. A good album, just not as good as the previous.
26. Robert Plant–Band Of Joy – Sometimes albums by venerable rock superstars which feature the artist covering songs that inspired them can be a mixed bag. Not the case with Robert Plant’s Band of Joy. This album is a joy to the ear as Plant digs deep for rock, blues, and folk treasures that started him on the path to become one of rock’s great superstars.
25. Robyn–Body Talk Pt. 2 – Simple rhythmic Dance Pop done about as well as it is can be done. There is not a song on Body Talk Pt.2 that does not have a fun hook with a clever beat and delivery. The layers of sound and production to compliment the vocal delivery standout.
24. Keb Darge, Paul Weller–Lost and Found: Real R&B and Soul – This is the only compilation album on the list and it makes it because it is just That.Damn.Good. Brits Keb Darge and Paul Weller dig deep deep deep into the annals of R&B and Soul to find gem after gem of mostly forgotten masterpieces which quite often has never even seen a CD release of any kind before. An impressive and instantly listenable collection with a smooth flow to the track list that only increases your enjoyment.
23. MGMT — Congratulations – Still mixing Electronica, Dream Pop, Pop, and Indie Rock, MGMT tightens up its song structure and betters its impressive debut, Oracular Spectacular (2008), with the nearly perfect Congratulations.
22. Gorillaz — Plastic Beach – With guest vocals from the likes of Snoop Dogg, Lou Reed, Mick Jones, and Paul Simon, the virtual band Gorillaz, fronted by Blur’s Damon Albarn, continue the thematic concept album and somehow hold it all together despite the obvious sameness to previous efforts. Plastic Beach is fun, catchy, beat driven, and a good time for listening, even if it seems like we have heard it all before.
21. Flying Lotus — Cosmogramma – Flying Lotus (former Adult Swim composer Steve Ellison) throws everything and the kitchen into his massive Cosmic Opera Cosogramma. Organic wind, string, and percussion are mixed effortlessly into an electronic battlefield that turns into a production force. Spacey, trippy, and cohesive, this is the perfect album to put on when you feel like sitting down and listening to something that will take you away.
20. Band Of Horses — Infinite Arms – Where “Indie” is a sound and not a genre. Still, BoH manages to incorporate sweet harmony, simple melodies, and plaintive lyrics into a great sounding album that works both in the background and as a stimulus for when you are in the mood to listen.
19. B.o.B — B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray – Fun and groovy mixes, sampling, and crack-addictive beats highlight this cornucopia of modern Hip-Hop, Funk, and R&B.
18. Liars — Sisterworld – No genre can hold Liars down. Post Rock is a broad genre but probably the only place Sisterworld can fit. Elements of Avant-Garde, Noise Rock, Post Rock Crooner, Electronica and more fill this delightful, scary, and introspective collection to the brim with amazing.
17. Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse — Dark Night of the Soul – A dark and trippy journey into the musical minds of instrument driven ambient soundscapes with lyrics by David Lynch. The music cannot be classified as anything other than excellent.
16. Kanye West — My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Much buzz surrounding Kanye’s massive work has Album of the Year status attached to it. To me West still makes albums where half the tracks are a mess while the other half are Hop-Hop genius. Fantasy is like that too where a good half of the tracks are throw-aways in my opinion while the other half are stellar exercises. Half of a good album can’t get you in my Top 15. Maybe I’m an asshole.
15b. Field Music — Field Music (Measure) – Spry lyrics and simple melodies interweave into a complex musical interplay in Field Music’s third album. Field Music (Measure) is easily accessible while holding itself apart with some Art Rock and Post Rock flourishes to help it sound fresh and familiar all at once.
15a. The Black Keys — Brothers – Funky and dirty psychedelic blues-rock, that is one of many ways to describe The Black Keys excellent album Brothers. Booty shakin’ rock that thumps in the heart and comes out the feet. That might be another. Whatever way you describe it, it is another The Black Keys album that you should not miss.
14.Grinderman — Grinderman 2 – I don’t think anybody in any genre puts out more consistent quality than Nick Cave. Under the recording name of Grinderman, Cave goes back to his more experimental roots while embracing hard driving guitars, rock grooves, and blues elements. The result is simply the best Rock Album of the Year and therefore has the highest rank of any Rock album on this list. At times humorous, sometimes blasphemous, and often genius, Grinderman 2 is a furious good time. Once again I have to mention that Grinderman 2 is better by 100 Hiroshima bombs than anything produced by the mainstream Rock standard bearers like Train and Kings of Leon. Nick Cave would feast on their adolescent song writing blood.
13.Glasser — Ring – Some people complain that ethereal songstress Glasser sounds like Bjork or Bat for Lashes. Though possessing a heavier beat, those people are probably right. That’s a bad thing?
12. The Knife — Tomorrow, In A Year – If you take the cold, disco inspired dance beats from the Euro-Dance elements of The Knife and combine that with… Opera? That’s right, this is an experimental avant-garde electronic opera album. Sometimes it nears unlistenable, but other times you are so caught up in the ballsy majesty that a sense of euphoria knocks around in your head.
11.Deerhunter — Halcyon Digest – The experimental band takes a chill pill and focuses on the softer, dreamier side of its music in this masterpiece of an album created out of textures, distortion, and deliberately delivered lyrics. Enchanting; May induce a hypnotic state.
#10 to 1
Press play on the sampler playlist below
10b. Belle & Sebastian — Write About Love – At this point in the game, B&S are simply pros that know how to turn out great albums with a few new twists or themes thrown in. This time the 60s revisionist sound gets a tad more modern and varied while the wry lyrics and story-songs once again take front and center. Another excellent album from consummate pros.
10a. The Roots — How I Got Over - Mostly down beat, but always professional and at times even refreshing, The Roots nailed down an excellent album with How I Got Over. Possibly a less than pure Hip-Hop effort, the album still contains deep rhythms, easy rhymes, and interesting team-up’s like with the normally tepid John Legend in “Doin’ it Again.”
9b. Besnard Lakes — The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night – Progressive Rock that does not sound tired or trite, Besnard Lakes is able to use a guitar and multi-instrument approach and craft a sound that is not quite here or there. Sometimes dreamy, sometimes meandering, sometimes tight, but always listenable, this is Prog Rock for those normally scared of the tag.
9a. The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs – Continuing to call for the spotlight on the normal life, the anti Warhol, anti Post Rock, and anti abstract musings of Win Butler and Arcade Fire continue to defy modern music logic. Maybe the earliest Modest Mouse was able to surf the tide of everyday suburban life into a kind of middle class Buddhism the way The Arcade Fire has, but not with as much commercial success or universal appeal. The Suburbs is unapologetically whimsical as once again listeners of the eclectic Canadian powerhouse are called on to appreciate that which surrounds them and realize that which we were and that which we are is a part of our passing life.
8. Lcd Soundsystem — This Is Happening – I don’t know if there are enough practitioners to corner the Post Disco Rock genre, but if it is possible, then considered it dominated by LCD Soundsystem. Lo-Fi disco elements flare through the High Def production of zippy numbers and a few ballads to create one of the most enjoyable albums of the year.
7. Sam Amidon — I See the Sign – To my ears, Amidon is the best kept secret in the music industry. An exceptional musician working in the Roots Americana field, Amidon incorporates railroad blues, spirituals, bluegrass, crooner, and country & western with meticulous pop sensibilities and a canny ear for unique and interesting arrangements to deliver original songs, traditional yarns, and the odd cover with mesmerizing results. Sam Amidon sounds like he stepped out of 1920s Appalachia, but possess a deftness with delivery and arrangement that can only be born from a person who has taken ample time to study and tribute the styles from which he is influenced.
6. School of Seven Bells — Disconnect From Desire – Electronic Dream Pop with cosmically perfect vocals delivered by twins Claudia and Alejandra Deheza. A blazing, stasis inducing album that replays effortlessly.
5. PVT — Church With No Magic – In some ways, PVT sounds like the heir apparent to Dead Can Dance. Dark industrial world beats wrap around minor key vocals while some tracks even sample Gregorian Chants and other world influences. The result is a dark fantasy meshing of Dead Can Dance and Gus Gus.
4. Sara Bareilles — Kaleidoscope Heart – Simply put, the best pop album of the year – and maybe of many years. Glorious, soulful, heartbreaking, and heartwarming – a perfect blend to go with the strong passionate vocals and majestically dramatic arrangements.
3. Antony & The Johnsons — Swanlights – I don’t know how anyone could listen to Antony’s voice and not be spellbound with its haunting nature and the artist’s honest emotion. Sparse arrangements give plenty of room for Antony’s voice to make its way into your head where it resides and flails against emotional barriers. An immense work by a brilliant artist.
2. Eminem — Recovery – I have never really been an Eminem fan. This year changed that with this amazing album that shows how one of Rap’s biggest stars can grow-up and mature without selling out or bankrupting his artistic integrity. Recovery is simply Marshall Mathers’ musing about his life and lessons up to this point in his superstardom. Along that path, the fresh mixes and sampling are present as always while Shady releases an album with no filler, tight craftsmanship, and a near profound message from a man who has suddenly grown up (while still gamely laying the gauntlet at the feet at anyone who wants to get offended).
1. Brendan Perry — Ark – I have not been mesmerized by any album as much as I have been mesmerized by Brendan Perry’s Ark. On Ark, Perry muses about the state of our lives as we live them, where we are going, what it could mean, while also spotlighting some of the people we may meet along the way. Perry’s lyrics weave from literal finger-pointing to Zen like quandaries and back again while his deep, space lord voice blends, fades into, and then drowns out the deep ambient world grooves in the music. Ark is haunting, disturbing, deep, hopeful, preachy, brilliant, and the PopBunker.net Best Album of the Year.