Chris T: Top Albums of 2010

Bethlehem, PA

Top ten lists are usually subjective affairs, and with some albums it’s like you’re comparing apples and oranges. However, speaking entirely objectively, the following 10 albums are the best of 2010:

top ten albums

10Gorillaz: Plastic Beach

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.

Standout Track(s): Some Kind of Nature

09Arcade Fire: The Suburbs

Upon first hearing the muted guitar verses of “Modern Man,” I thought, What is this? The Cars? Is this “Jesse’s Girl?” Then I realized how much I like the Cars and wish that I had Jesse’s girl.

Standout Track(s): Rococo

08Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest

In spite of/because of the massively positive critical reception this album got, I stupidly resisted giving it the attention it deserved. I just couldn’t make it through the reversed percussion of “Earthquake.” Now I love it more and more on each listen.

Standout Track(s): Basement Scene

07Sam Amidon: I See the Sign

Like All is Well, I See the Sign was produced with the help of experimental Icelandic musician, Valgeir Sigurðsson, who subtly augments Amidon’s tradfolk lyrics and instrumentation with interesting horn, percussion, electronic noise and drone. The results are mournful, ethereal hymns to hardship and suffering.

Standout Track(s): I See the Sign

06The Black Angels: Phosphene Dream

The most rock album on my list may not be as dark and scary as previous Black Angels offerings, but “disturbed” is still a good word for it. The song form is simple and effective: sinister verses, a bridge to another dimension, then a freakout finale.

Standout Track(s): True Believers

05Midlake: The Courage of Others

I listened to this album a lot this year. The five former jazz students from the University of North Texas that form Midlake have already gone through several musical phases: from Herbie Hancock-inspired fusion to something like a less rocking, less experimental version of the Flaming Lips, to finally what they are on this album. It’s undoubtedly my favorite incarnation, a sort of 1970s-sounding folk-psych that reminds me of The Byrds but way better.

Standout Track(s): Acts of Man

04Black Keys: Brothers

There’s nothing epic about Brothers, just a lot of heartbreaking, pitch-perfect rhythm and blues that couldn’t be catchier. …also an apparent breakthrough in the Black Keys’ mainstream popularity. Even the kid on Two and a Half Men played it at his party on a recent episode.

Standout Track(s): I’m Not the One

03Jack Rose: Luck in the Valley

This posthumous release is a masterpiece of the American Primitive genre inaugurated by John Fahey in the 1960s. The energy and joy recorded on this album fittingly contrast the tragedy of his death at the far too young age of 38. An essential listen for all fans of guitar and American folk.

Standout Track(s): Moon in the Gutter

02The Mynabirds: What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood

Another less-than-epic album in my top five. I guess I think of the Mynabirds’ soulful debut as a companion to the Black Keys’ Brothers. Catchy, expert songwriting that tugs at the heartstrings and never grows trite or tiresome. An album to return to again and again.

Standout Track(s): Numbers Don’t Lie

01Tame Impala: Innerspeaker

There’s a party in my head, and no one is invited. A remarkable debut that, in spite of critical acclaim, remains underrated in my view. Mike Mineo, of the blog Obscure Sound, says that the essence of psychedelic rock is the dialectic of invigoration and calm, and man! does Innerspeaker speak to that. Every element coheres to produce an album that’s alternately stimulant and sedative but always interesting.

Standout Track(s): Solitude is Bliss

honorable mentions

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Warpaint’s The Fool, and Beyond Berkeley Guitar, a new compilation of American Primitive guitar songs featuring various artists.

similarity to overall top ten: 18.5%, 4 matches

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