My Top 10 Albums Of 2010

January 18, 2011 Best Of, Music Reviews

Disclosure: There are some albums of 2010 I haven’t listened to yet that are arguably among the year’s best. Notably: Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, Janelle Monae’s The ArchAndroid, and The National’s High Violet. However, this year like every year I listened to upwards of 60 albums. My listening habits admittedly reside in the mainstream, but throughout the year I will be working my way through the experts’ top 50 and will release my adjusted top 20 albums at the end of the year. See my adjusted top 20 of 2009 here.

Without further drag, my favorite albums of 2010…

10. Ne-Yo – Libra Scale

A short little LP, at ten tracks this one is neat and tidy. Yet in succinct fashion Ne-Yo creates a space fully inhabited by the characters of the short films he’s releasing in conjunction with Libra Scale. It’s the mood of this R&B story that wins me over.

9. Kings Of Leon – Come Around Sundown

It didn’t take me long to like this one. The melodies are memorable and the dynamics powerful. Kings Of Leon have this ability to make simple lines feel rich with meaning. Maybe it’s just that Caleb’s gritty vocals sound so affected.

8. The-Dream – Love King

What more is there to say about Terius “The-Dream” Nash? In the production world he’s not just the Love King, he’s King Midas. This guy is money and on his third album his suite-like writing style — indebted more to classical and prog rock than R&B — is in full effect. Radio Killa!

7. Frightened Rabbit – The Winter Of Mixed Drinks

I’d never heard of these Scottish lads until this year and I’m sure glad I did (thanks @Meeeshell_Kim). The Winter Of Mixed Drinks is warm and thick, and in the midst of some heavy subject matter still leaves me feeling hopeful at the bottom of the glass.

6. Local Natives – Gorilla Manor

Great debut from a Silver Lake indie rock band with a great band name. Layers. That’s what comes to mind when thinking about this album. The more I listen to it the better it gets. I expect this band will continue to impress for years to come.

5. Sara Bareilles – Kaleidoscope Heart

What can I say. I’m a sucker for good pop. Especially when the singer’s got pipes like this one. I’ve seen her live a couple times now and she’s just as advertised. She puts emotion in a lyric better than anyone in the biz. Exhibit A: Her cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire.” And “Basket Case.” And “Hold My Heart.”

4. My Chemical Romance – Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys

This one comes as a bit of a surprise. I really didn’t like their last album and the one before that was mostly good for its radio singles. But with their fourth LP they managed something rather epic. Taking cues from Green Day’s recent successes, My Chemical Romance created a concept tour-de-force. There isn’t a bad track on this album and each song brings a unique catchy stamp.

3. Sleigh Bells – Treats

Wow. What out there is quite like this? Original. Daring. Exciting. Do yourself a favor and give this a chance. Admittedly it takes a little adjusting to “get” the style but once you do, you’ll be in Noise-Pop heaven.

2. Jónsi – Go

The lead singer of Sigur Rós adds a little Pop sensibility to his game and wins my award for most inspirational release. Even when you can’t understand this guy through his heavy accent you know he must be saying some positive stuff. How could he not with such transcendent tunes as his foundation? In an era where hope and change are diluted buzz words, Jónsi brings the real thing.

1. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

No, I didn’t just pick this one because it’s the consensus #1 album of the year. It’s really damn good. I don’t endorse Kanye as a role model or even as a balanced human being — would sociopathy explain his behavior? — but his hip-hop is unparalleled. This is an urban masterpiece. It’s gritty, dark, and powerful. So many good beats and so many good flows, it’s impossible to deny this album its due.

Honorable Mentions:

Coheed And Cambria – Year Of The Black Rainbow, Delta Spirit – History From Below, Jimmy Eat World – Invented, Taylor Swift – Speak Now, Pete Stewart – Under North Sky