The TOP TWENTY ALBUMS of 2010
At long last, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the unveiling of the best albums of the year, in order, as selected by the Weekend Review.
Okay, so the Weekend Review is really just me, but it sounds so much more official when I write it like that…
If you read my Best Songs list yesterday, then you also read my reaction to the “anti-top ten list” post made by musician/writer John Roderick earlier this week. If not, suffice it to say that I think the end of year music lists aren’t meant to be accurate gauges of the previous twelve months’ new music releases. If you believe that is even possible, then you must be deluded. A top ten (or twenty, forty, whatever) list is a celebration of individuals listening to and loving and hating and interpreting and discussing and arguing over the meanings of and value of that aforementioned new music.
That being said, my list is pretty much perfect. So, bask in its glory, experience the feeling of being in the shadow of greatness as you peruse, that shadow looming more or less large depending on how high or low you go on the list.
And, for crying out loud, leave comments and links to any music I may have missed this year.
1) All in Good Time – Barenaked Ladies
More than a breakup album, and no, it’s not “a serious BnL album;” it’s BnL as per usual: excellent.
2) Sea of Cowards – The Dead Weather
All the potential expressed in the details of their debut is capitalized on here with this outstanding follow-up, and only a year after Horehound!
3) Bad Books – Bad Books
Two indie artists combine to form an even more obscure band and produce poetry set to folky alternative rock.
4) Heaven is Whenever – The Hold Steady
My first go-round with the Hold Steady left me wondering how I missed this band and their gritty, smart rock and roll before now.
5) Kaleidoscope Heart – Sara Bareilles
Her second album is tantamount to hitting a home run, from a capella opener to piano rock/pop to stripped down acoustic and harmonica work.
6) Broken Bells – Broken Bells
Danger Mouse and James Mercer form one of the most fruitful collaborations of the year, their unique sound accented with echoes ranging from contemporary dance to seventies Beach Boys.
7) Mines – Menomena
I’ve never heard an album quite like this before, a patchwork of sharp lyrics and killer instrumentation that, combined, sound like an alternative rock orchestra.
8) Transference – Spoon
Masters of the understated performance, Spoon both strips down their arrangements and manages to weave complicated, interesting threads throughout the album.
9) Lonely Avenue – Ben Folds and Nick Hornby
A partnership made in alternative rock heaven. (Was I supposed to say more?)
10) Be in Love – Locksley
Sounding like the Beatles circa-Please Please Me if they had hailed from the golden age of garage rock, Locksley is a band to keep your eye on.
11) The Grand Theatre, Volume One – Old 97’s
Only one half of the recordings that were yielded from the Grand Theatre sessions, Volume One is dynamic stuff. (Does make you wonder how much better it could have been if the best of the best had been included in one release. Or how mediocre Volume Two is going to be.)
12) Night Work – Scissor Sisters
If you can get past the buttocks in tights being grabbed on the front cover, you’ll find a smart hybrid of dance music and guitar-driven rock.
13) Volume Two – She & Him
Not quite retro, not quite contemporary, Zooey Deschanel’s voice casts a spell over each track.
14) The Suburbs – Arcade Fire
A great album with an impressive sense of concept, implementation, and packaging, though it lacked the dynamism necessary to draw me back for multiple listens.
15) Page One – Steven Page
A very strong solo debut that ran the genre gamut.
16) Suburba – House of Heroes
A strong album from a band that clearly works song by song, each track working in movements with multiple elements at play.
17) Stone Temple Pilots – Stone Temple Pilots
The Stone Temple Pilots do power pop. (Good stuff!)
18) Something For the Rest of Us – Goo Goo Dolls
Excellent sound and outstanding lyrics, though as a whole it lags a bit, falling into patterns four plus minute song after four plus minute song.
19) Hurley – Weezer
The cover image of Lost actor Jorge Garcia notwithstanding, Hurley finds Weezer sounding relevant and rocking out more than they have in some time.
20) Brothers – The Black Keys
If the album as a whole had been as dynamic as the first five tracks, Brothers would not have been floating on the periphery of this list.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Kanye West
I don’t really have a frame of reference for this one (thus the honorable mention), but West’s multi-layered approach has earned my respect, even if I will probably never feel comfortable singing the lyrics out loud with other people around…