Top Albums of 2010

For the second year in a row, the 27 members of The Benevolent Meetinghouse of the Friends of Noise Narcs have put together their list of the top albums of 2010. It’s quite a scientific process, and if you like badly done math, you can read about the methodology here.

A few words on the direction 2010 took music as exemplified by a bunch of whiny Pitchfork-reading losers loyal readers and friends. Last year, we emphasized how much Lala changed the way we listened to music with their streaming, any-track-once-for-free model. Well, Apple killed/bought Lala this year. And I think that, at least for some of our contributors, that meant listening to less new music. But for me, my subscription to MOG, with its brilliant audio quality and selection, has meant listening to more new music than ever and letting it seep in over multiple listens. As always, support Noise Narcs and the future of music by signing up for a free MOG trial:

Because we care about musical geography on Noise Narcs, I’ve also created a geographic breakdown of the votes, which you can find here. New York continued its dominance over our musical taste, although Brooklyn slipped some. What should come as no shock given the resurgence of surf rock in 2010 was California’s market share increase. On a side note, I was apparently right to fret on my personal Philadelphia bias on my own list: Philadelphia voters devoted 4% of their votes to Philadelphia bands while the general population only awarded them 1%. I’d like to attribute that to Philadelphians’ greater awareness of their musical scene. New Yorkers, on the other hand, devoted 30% of their votes to New York bands, while the rest of us gave them 26%. All of us, however, can agree with citizens of the District: Washington, DC got zero votes.

We care less about people than we do cities, but Lauren S beat me out for the greatest similarity to the top ten (60% versus 56%). I’m going to speciously claim that her similarity to the top ten was the result of being a follower, while mine was the result of being a tastemaker. Congrats, Lauren!

And before you get to the only part of this you care about, three quick notes. I’ve included a new feature this year: a very statistically-sound “suggested albums” section for each voter. You can see individual voters’ pages here, as well as a page for each of the albums here.

And finally: High Violet sucked.

David G

20Dr. Dog: Shame, Shame

Total Votes: 3; Highest Ranking: #5

Choice comment: In a world that overvalues the sleek, the hard, and the knowing, Dr. Dog’s shaggy comforts grow more indispensable with every album. I’d steal a bike from the Second Mile, too, if that’s what it took to keep listening.Matt K

19Yeasayer: Odd Blood

Total Votes: 3; Highest Ranking: #3

Choice comment: While not always focused, Yeasayer produced a set of joyful, sway-able tracks that seem both timeless and completely out-of-time.Greg W

18The National: High Violet

Total Votes: 4; Highest Ranking: #3

Choice comment: I cannot understand why so many critics liked this better than Boxer.Drew L

17Gorillaz: Plastic Beach

Total Votes: 5; Highest Ranking: #3

Choice comment: Lou Reed, Mos Def, Bobby Womack, and The Lebanese National Orchestra all on one album. Plastic Beach is a real trip that’s complex and innovative but–above all–a lot of fun.Chris T

16Surfer Blood: Astro Coast

Total Votes: 4; Highest Ranking: #5

Choice comment: Comment
I have a hard time believing that Surfer Blood came out with this album in 2010. I feel like I’ve been listening to it for years.
Kandace G

15The Morning Benders: Big Echo

Total Votes: 5; Highest Ranking: #2

Choice comment: Pop dessert from the mid-60s, coated in a warm layer of rich modern production. A marvelously unhurried delight that will glue your eyes shut and keep your throat moist.Matt K

14The Tallest Man on Earth: The Wild Hunt

Total Votes: 5; Highest Ranking: #1

Choice comment: The Tallest Man on Earth is Swedish? His voice has more in common with hopping a boxcar in Minnesota than ABBA, Ace of Base or a finesse hockey forward.Ryan M

13Local Natives: Gorilla Manor

Total Votes: 5; Highest Ranking: #1

Choice comment: Yes, this album can very easily be written off as some white people who love NPR and fancy coffee type music. But, I’m a white guy who loves NPR and fancy coffees.Greg H

12Sufjan Stevens: All Delighted People / The Age of Adz

Total Votes: 6; Highest Ranking: #4

Choice comment: A welcomed change to his sound. Although 25+ minutes of ‘Impossible Soul’ without the diversion of an inflated pig proves a bit much.Ryan M

11Phosphorescent: Here’s to Taking It Easy

Total Votes: 6; Highest Ranking: #3

Choice comment: Wasn’t this the record Jeff Tweedy was supposed to make at some point in his career? Uh, sorry, but this is better than Summerteeth. The southern-accented chords are wonderful, the human ache is real, and the woozy helplessness of the whole will leave you flat on your back.Matt K

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