Compared to last year, I have had an incredibly difficult time narrowing down 2010 into my 10 favorite albums. With the limitation I have had not include some really great LP’s that I listened to this year. Titus Andronicus, Vampire Weekend, Delorean, Four Tet and many other bands I loved just couldn’t quite crack the top 10. Read after the jump for my list.
10.) Spoon- Transference
Spoon’s 2010 album was the first album I bought and listened to this year, and it has stuck with me all year as one of 2010’s best. This is Spoon’s first self-produced album and the result is the band at their rawest and most honest we have heard them. We get soft ballads in ‘Goodnight Laura’ and punk inspired tracks with ‘Is Love Forever?’ and ‘Written In Reverse’ all creating a diverse and interesting listen. With Transference, Spoon have proved themselves as my favorite pure rock group making music today.
9.) Das Racist- Sit Down, Man
Although I didn’t expect much from the guys who made the hilarious ‘Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell’, Das Racist amazed me with their two mixtapes this year. Although Rainbow In the Dark remains my favorite track of theirs, Sit Down, Man stands as their most consistent and impressive mixtape. Heems and Kool A.D. didn’t want to stay labeled as joke rap, so they spend most of the album laying down sophisticated and great rhymes that always need repeated listens to understand. Even at their most serious, Das Racist are always fun and have proved that they are more than just a pair of smart-ass hipsters.
8.) Deerhunter- Halcyon Digest
Bradford Cox did a lot this year. Yet nothing wowed us more than his work with Deerhunter as he helped create some of the best pure indie-rock tracks of the year. There is no lo-fi or shoegaze to cloak the songwriting in, and most every song is straightforward and immediate. Halcyon Digest arrived just at the right time, acting as a breath of fresh air when too many indie bands are trying to confuse their work with electronics and exotic instrumentation. That is not to say that Deerhunter don’t write complex and rewarding songs, if anything their songs have remained mysterious and inviting even after I have listened to them 10 times. Simply put, with not much more than guitars, drums and bass Deerhunter have made one of the most stunning albums of the year.
7.) Gorillaz- Plastic Beach
I have never been a big fan of Daemon Albarn’s work as cartoon band Gorillaz so I didn’t expect much from this album. Needless to say it quickly surprised me as I was caught into repeated listens. Each listen only makes me like the album more as I uncover more pop gems and details. The album is intentionally over produced, too clean and too mechanical. The hooks and choruses are incredibly catchy and easy leaving songs like ‘On Melancholy Hill’ and ‘Superfast Jellyfish’ as some of my year end favorites. The result is a listen unlike much else out there, and the world of the Plastic Beach ends up feeling as tangible as Albarn had intentioned for it too be.
6.) Tyler, The Creator- Bastard
Tyler and his gang of misfits are getting big, and they are doing it their way. Producing beats entirely on his own, Wolf Haley has created an incredibly dark and interesting world that is impossible not to be sucked in by with his debut Bastard. Listening to this album was incredibly shocking at first, no rappers these days talk about rape and drugs with as much twisted fun as Tyler. I couldn’t help but keep returning to the album though and it has quickly invaded my most played songs on iTunes. Tyler’s verses are immaculate and guest spots from fellow Odd Future members Hodgy Beats and Earl have created some of my favorite musical moments in 2010. No one knows what their next move is going to be as they are rapidly gaining publicity and press, whatever they decide to do I have no doubt it will be unlike most rap groups before them. Free Earl.
5.) Wavves- King of the Beach
Nathan Williams didn’t have a great start to his 2010. Following his huge jump in popularity, Williams was in over his head with touring and publicity. The story has been told enough and no one had faith that he would be anything more than a one time hype-band. Instead of letting himself go down, Williams upped his production and created an incredibly fresh and personal album of surf-punk tracks. Pulling inspirations from Beach Boys, Animal Collective and power-pop Wavve’s third LP not only improved his songwriting but proved all his haters wrong. King of the Beach proves that there is more to Wavves than the no-fi production.
4.) Owen Pallett- Heartland
Heartland was not the easiest listen of the year. On my first run through I couldn’t get into it, Owen’s voice was too quiet and the instrumentation was too dense. I was slowly able to break into the dense masterpiece and it became one of the most rewarding listens I have had this year. Owen’s compositions are unlike anything anyone is doing now as he flawlessly creates dynamic interplay between electronics and orchestra. The story of Lewis, the hyper-violent farmer, may not be the most straightforward or understandable concept but even without the story it is easy to fall in love with the world Owen has meticulously created.
3.) Tallest Man on Earth- The Wild Hunt
Tallest Man on Earth was a late discovery for me, I missed it the first time around and finally listened to it this past fall. Luckily, this music is the perfect companion for a New England autumn and it seemed like everything that Kristian was writing about stemmed from the same frost and red leaves I was living in. Many people may think that acoustic music is dying, as more and more bands embrace the electronic music revolution. The Wild Hunt will not only disprove that theory but leave anyone willing to listen blown away by what sounds and music Kristian is making with just his voice and a guitar. It is stripped down, raw, tough and always beautiful.
2.) LCD Soundsystem- This Is Happening
I have already discussed the importance of This Is Happening to James Murhpy’s career. James Murphy can without question be considered an icon for my generation of music. His songwriting and compositions are always intensely human even when they are over drum-machine and synthesizer. I am simply in awe of the amount of emotion and creativity that Murphy puts into his music. ‘Dance Yrself Clean’, ‘I Can Change’ and ‘All I Want’ are easily my three favorite songs of the year and are set to be remembered among the classics that Murphy grew up listening to. If this truly is Murphy’s last album, then he chose no better way to leave us off.
1.) Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
I realize that after Pitchfork awarded Kanye’s album with a 10/10 it became unoriginal to name it as the best album of 2010. Even if I wanted to, I just can’t deny the majesty of Kanye’s work. This is Kanye at the best and most inspired that we have heard him all his career. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is an instant classic and a masterpiece of our time.