Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2010: The Best Albums

Let's be clear. If you want a legitimate source whose teeth are cut and whose feet are adult-sized telling you what the best albums of 2010 are, you came to the wrong damn place. Go here instead. Paste is a bunch of smart music people.

If you wanna know what the best albums of a semi-sober, slightly immature 38-year-old nerd might be, then you came to the right place. Ironically, I will not include any songs on this post. But I'll post my Songs of 2010 list either Thursday or next Tuesday, and lots of these albums are included in that mix.

So, without further adieu, here we go...

9. K.T. Tunstall: Tiger Suit
Best I can do is say she's a mix between Kate Bush and Melissa Etheridge. A little bit of roots rock and country, but with all these backing vocal sounds that are straight off "Hounds of Love," which was my personal favorite from Kate's soaring success years of the late '80s.

8. Jenny & Johnny: I'm Having Fun Now
I wasn't that big a fan of Jenny's solo work or her work with the Thompson Twins or whatever. But when she connects with a dude or a group of dudes and gets her Pop on, I'm there in full force. I don't care if she's sleeping with Johnny or just likes the cut of his jib, this is a fun album. And in my totally clueless way, I'm pretty confident that fun albums are probably just as difficult to make as serious ones. If it sounds easy, it probably wasn't.

7. The Rescues: Let Loose the Horses
Not gonna deny it. I feel like I discovered these people. Which is preposterous. But I'm a fan, and I'm biased, and I love these folks. And the silky smooth voice of the all-too-attractive Kyler England could sing me to sleep every night if she would just answer my Skype calls. Think Fleetwood Mac without the group sex melodrama and without the astronomical creative talent of Lindsay Buckingham.

6. Josh Ritter: So Runs the World Away
This guy has always hovered on my cue. A song here, and a song there, and I'm always thinking to myself, "I gotta get one of his albums." So I finally did. And it's really amazing. For me, 2010 was the year when a ton of really great alternative artists came out with a ton of really great stuff. And in most cases, the first album you hear from an artist or band is the one you'll love the most. This was my first full album from Ritter. I love it.

5. Galactic: Ya-Ma-Kay
Bottom of the Glass was born in Nawlins. So were Galactic. Again, this makes me biased, because even though I'd never heard of 'em before, I feel like I gotta root them on. This album is a gumbo of funk and attitude and fun, with an array of singers and mishmash of styles that sometimes hits, sometimes misses, but always entertains.

4. Girl Talk: All Day
I really don't think anyone in the world today could put together two albums that elicit the number of smiles per minute Girl Talk can. I mention more about this album HERE... which is to say I like it a lot.

3. Frightened Rabbit: The Winter of Mixed Drinks
Having discovered 2008's "The Midnight Organ Fight" late in 2009, mere months before the release of "...Mixed Drinks," I can't deny it took a while to love this album as much as I do now. I so completely love "The Modern Leper" that a single song skews my judgment. The truth is, this new album is more ambitious and, well, better, than their previous one. Which is saying one hell of a lot.

2. Sleigh Bells: Treats
Confession: This would be my #1 except I just can't, with good conscience, vote as my Album of the Year a collection of songs for which the lyrics are, at best, meaningless. Not that I've tried to dissect these songs. Maybe this would be a no-brainer #1 if I gave the lyrics a second thought. All I know is, this band took everything I love about The Go! Team and cranked it up to 11. Distortion. Bombast. An absolute absence of fear. A complete commitment to some weird head-bobbing bass boom.

1. The New Pornographers: Together
This was my first album of theirs. That's an important confession. Had I owned Twin Cinema or Mass Romantic first, maybe this would be my third or fourth favorite album of the year. But because it was first, and because it's an absolutely sublime chunk of pop art, I must honor this one in the now. I think it says a lot that PopMatters honors two of these songs in their Top 30 for the year. And, dare I say, several others deserved serious consideration.

The Next Tier, a.k.a., Great Bands Who’ve Done Better But Didn’t Disappoint

1. The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever
2. Gaslight Anthem - American Slang
3. Hanson - Shout it Out
4. The Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
5. Robert Plant - Band of Joy
6. Pete Yorn - Self Titled
7. Bleu - Four
8. The National - High Violet
9. The Heavy - The House That Dirt Built
10. Kings of Leon - Come Around Sundown
11. Stars - The Five Ghosts
12. Vampire Weekend - Contra
13. The Weepies - Be My Thrill
14. Spoon - Transference

The Next Tier, a.k.a. I Didn’t Buy the Whole Album But The Songs I Got Were Pretty Good

1. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor
2. Florence & the Machine - A Lot of Love. A Lot of Blood
3. Weezer - Hurley
4. The Thermals - Personal Life
5. Scissor Sisters - Night Work


Anonymous said...

where are the downloads?

Billy said...

Dear Bob -- er, "Anonymous" -- I decided I only wanted to receive a DMCA violation notice about one post this week rather than two, so I will post my BEST SONGS OF 2010 MIX this Thursday, December 9. I don't expect it will be up long before the lawyer vultures descend to feed on my blog carcass, so come early and come often!

Sara C said...

I had some time this morning, so I took a preview listen to some of these albums, and I'm loving The Rescues - how is it possible that every snippet sounds like it comes from a different band? Definitely a purchase consideration. Thanks.

Sara C said...

Also, just got to the end of the album and heard "You're Not Listening." Wasn't that on your summer mix? I apparently have already loved them but wasn't paying enough attention to really know it!

Bob said...

What's the point of being anonymous if you can tell who I am?

Anonymous said...

That's a good question, Bob, and it's one I can't answer. Because I'm anonymous.

Sara - You are correct, ma'am. "You're Not Listening" is easily my favorite song on the album (and one of my favorites of the year), but plenty of others are impressive "adult alternative" pop gems.

troutking said...

You posted a best of this year list.
Springsteen released an album this year.
It is not on your list.
We can no longer be friends.

Thom Anon said...

That Josh Ritter record is on my top 10, too.

And you should totally DL the rest of the Titus. Those boys peel the paint.


Billy said...

@Thom - Thanks for the comment. I have the first Titus album, and I guess my fear/concern was that the 4 songs I have off the new one, while very good, don't really differentiate themselves enough to me from the first collection. Yet... I still really liked 'em.

(I forsee this being an even bigger problem when Sleigh Bells has a follow-up album, and it was kind of true of The Go! Team's sophomore effort.)

BeckEye said...

Well, our albums list is quite different. Mine will be up on Sunday. The rest of it, anyway. I did the Best of (So Far) back in July.

Spoon and Arcade Fire both totally disappointed me. Arcade Fire, especially. Also, I adore Robert Plant but just can't get into his new stuff. And I wanted to like the Jenny & Johnny album, but aside from a few tracks, it just didn't grab me like I thought it would.

jed said...

the Pete Yorn was a disappointment to me...