Top 10 Albums of 2010

Very promising start to the decade: 2010 had a group of solid albums (with the exceptions mentioned later on) and was overall far better than 2009. Lots of first timers this year.

Bit of housekeeping: 2009 only had 9 albums, and I said I'd add a 10th at some point. Well, I got lazy and never got around to adding that last album until now. I'm not going to get into revisionist history and reorder the list to add this album, but if I were to completely redo the list, it definitely wouldn't be 10th. 2009 updated!

10. LCD Soundsystem- This Is Happening: I never know what to say about electronic music, so I'll leave it at that.

Favorite songs: One Touch, I Can Change, Dance Yrself Clean

9. The New Pornographers- Together: I had to listen to this album a lot before deciding that it wasn't Challengers Part II. I'm not really sure where the band is going musically and I feel like they're on the verge of jumping the shark altogether. But this album is pretty solid, with the exception of tracks 4-6. Listen to the album while skipping those songs and tell me it isn't better. Really what I think I want to hear is a Dan Bejar/Neko Case album.

Favorite songs: Daughters of Sorrow, We End Up Together, Up in the Dark

8. Broken Bells- Broken Bells: I was never a fan of The Shins. I thought they were overrated for what they were. So I was surprised by how much I've enjoyed this album. 
Does Danger Mouse make everything better (with the exception of The Black Keys)? Maybe I'll have to go back and listen to The Shins again.

Favorite songs: The High Road, The Mall and Misery, The Ghost Inside

7. David Usher- The Mile End Sessions:  I've always thought that David Usher was at his best doing primarily acoustic stuff. By far his 2 weakest albums are more pop-rock leaning with questionable production choices. The bulk of the songs on The Mile End Sessions come from those albums. Take away the crap production and slow things down and the songs are vastly better. The best songs, "Everyday Things" and "Kill the Lights", both from his last album, are almost unlistenable in their original versions.  The one new song, "Fall to Pieces", is another highlight, and hopefully a glimpse into what his next album will be like.

Favorite songs: Everyday Things, Kill the Lights, Sparkle and Shine

6. Spoon- Transference: I'm surprised by how few lists this album is showing up on. I think that it's not getting the credit it deserves because unlike Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, the band isn't doing as many new things (like using horns). But this album is great from top to bottom, just like the last 4 Spoon albums. They never have or will be the flashiest band out there, but no one does minimalist groove driven indie rock better.

Favorite songs: Nobody Gets Me But You, Trouble Comes Running, Out Go the Lights

5. Janelle Monae- The ArchAndroid: It takes some serious talent and ambition to pull off as many different genres and styles as Janelle Monae does on this album.You listen to this album and you can hear the showmanship that she is bringing to the table. Old school showmanship that involves not oversinging, using real instruments and quality songwriting.

Favorite songs: Locked Inside, Cold War, Tightrope

4. Emm Gryner- Gem and I: I've been waiting for this album for 3 years. In that time it went from being a "normal" Emm Gryner album to a duets album. I was a little reluctant at first because the pre-duet versions I'd heard were so good, but there was no reason to be. The collaborations are all solid and bring a wide variety of voices into the mix.

Favorite songs: Boy With an Affliction, Top Speed, Troublesome

3. The National- High Violet: At a loss for what to say about this album. It seems darker and almost more ominous than Boxer, which may be why I like it more.

Favorite songs: Conversation 16, Afraid of Everyone, Runaway

2. Beach House- Teen Dream: When I first heard Beach House, their music seemed good but the songs were almost indistinguishable from one other. On Teen Dream, they found variety and lightened the mood enough to keep me from falling asleep while listening. It still sounds like Beach House, just a better version of Beach House. "Norway" was easily my favorite song the first half of the year, partly because it reminds me of a kind of awful Fleetwood Mac song that's a guilty pleasure of mine.

Favorite songs: Norway, Silver Soul, Zebra 

1. Robyn- Body Talk: This year, Body Talk was my go-to album when I couldn't decide what to listen to. Full of well-crafted pop/dance songs from top to bottom, it seemed that I had a different song stuck in my head every day. If the general listening public had any sense, this album would be a massive hit. Even the songs from the 2 mini albums that didn't make it to the full length are some of my favorites from this year. The acoustic versions of "Hang With Me" and "Indestructible" prove once again that a well written pop song will still sound great even when it's stripped down.

Favorite songs: Indestructible, U Should Know Better, None of Dem

Dishonorable Mention:

The Black Keys- Brothers: Of course they've become more popular than they've ever been after releasing one of their worst albums. It's all downhill from here.

Vampire Weekend and any company using their music in their commercials: DIE

Looking Forward to in 2011: Adele (loving the first single), John Vanderslice, PJ Harvey, Sondre Lerche