2010 Albums Of The Year (50-26)

My best-of post in 2009 stated that the year was a bit of a disappointment and that 2010 looked to be much better. Although I've heard folks say they thought 2010 was a bad year for music, I stand by my prediction. 2010 ended up being a really fantastic year as far as great albums go and was an especially great year for live music in KC & Lawrence.

Let's jump into it with 50-26:

50. Band Of Horses - Infinite Arms

The fact that this is my least favorite Band Of Horses album and it's only number 50 on my list indicates what a big fan I am of this band. Infinite Arms is really good, just not great. I missed their show at the Uptown this fall but saw them open for Pearl Jam. They are starting to make it big and definitely deserve every bit of fame they get. Much more so than a band like Kings of Leon.

49. Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday

Truth be told, I expected to hate this album. It's probably not an album I'd pick up in the first place. That was until I heard Nicki blow Jay-Z and Kanye West away on the Kanye track 'Monster'. That one verse alone prompted me to check out the album and I'm glad I did. It's a bit more R&B than hip-hop, but it's still an entertaining listen all the way through.

48. Holy Fuck - Latin

The Canadian duo Holy Fuck have been a favorite of mine since I heard LP in 2007. I've seen them a few times live since and they are a great live band. They aren't able to convey most of the energy in their live shows onto an album, but I'll listen to them keep trying. Not a knock on their albums because they're great, Holy Fuck is just better in a live setting. They are one of those electronic groups that you might think was a rock band until you saw them live.

47. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach

You'd think with a rotating cast of band members and guests artists it would be tough to keep things consistent over a three album period. Not only consistent in quality but consistent in tone as well, but Gorillaz have been able to do just that. With Plastic Beach, the collective have solidified themselves as being a band I'll continuously buy whatever music they want to sell me.

46. Blonde Redhead - Penny Sparkle

This is another one on the list that, although it was good enough to make the cut in the first place, feels a bit disappointing with how low it is. Blonde Redhead's last two albums are near perfect, intoxicating pop albums, this one is good...but isn't as great as the band is capable of. Sounds like they are veering dangerously towards adult alternative.

45. The Roots - How I Got Over

When compiling this list I noticed I had more hip-hop and R&B albums included than previous years. I hope that trend continues because seeing The Roots at only 45 reinforces what a good year in music this was. The Roots are now elder statesmen in the hip-hop industry and this is their best album since Things Fall Apart.

44. Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Hawk

To be honest, I could pretty much listen to Mark Lanegan sing anything...and I know I'm not the only one. I'll gladly find and consume almost any project he lends his voice to and this is one of the better ones. His third album with Isobel Campbell is the best one they've put out, and the first two are solid as well. It was hard to pick out a single track from this album so I suggest just picking the whole album up.

43. Antony & The Johnsons - Swanlights

Antony & The Johnsons are continuing quite a streak of releasing great album after great album. He still hasn't topped I Am A Bird Now, but I'm not sure if he ever will. Although some of the tracks are a bit more playful and upbeat than the past records, I'm still a sucker for the sad, depressing stuff, it's what Antony does best. Antony also has the distinct honor of being at the top of the list of artists I want to see live but haven't had a chance to see yet.

42. The War On Drugs - Future Weather

As if the the solo output of Kurt Vile wasn't great enough, we get to hear his genius with The War On Drugs as well. I haven't written about him enough but Kurt Vile is quickly become a favorite of mine and I highly recommend picking up all of his solo albums as well as this newest The War On Drugs album, you can thank me later.

41. Strand Of Oaks - Pope Killdragon

The first Strand Of Oaks album made my top 10 albums of 2009 and although Pope Killdragon isn't as good as Leave Ruin, it shows promise that this band could be around for a while. Taking the hushed vibe of the debut and mixing them with almost a prog sound works well for the band and proves they aren't a one note group.

40. Best Coast - Crazy For You

Best Coast is one of those bands that gets endlessly hyped by Pitchfork and hipsters everywhere before they even released a full album. Those are usually bands I end up hating before hearing a song on principle alone (dumb, I know). Best Coast proved my preconceived notions were wrong with a really solid debut full length album. Stoner surfer rock at it's finest.

39. Abe Vigoda - Crush

I almost never heard the second Abe Vigoda album Crush...mostly because I didn't really like their first album. I'm glad I gave this one a chance because I would have missed out on a great electro-indie pop album that falls along side stuff like Cut Copy and Junior Boys.

38. Phosphorescent - Here's To Taking It Easy

Phosphorescent have always had a country sound to their music and the country influenced continued onto an album full of Willie Nelson covers. On Here's To Taking It Easy, the band goes full-on Willie again with their own tunes. The band hasn't ever sounded this upbeat, especially on highlights like 'It's Hard To Be Humble (When You're From Alabama)'.

37. Blitzen Trapper - Destroyers Of The Void

When I first heard 2007's Wild Mountain Nation (the band's third album) I knew I'd found a band after my own heart. They've calmed down quite a bit since and have almost become the more natural successor to Wilco (sorry Fleet Foxes). The band's fifth album, Destroyers Of The Void, may not be as good as their last album, but it's still great.

36. Plants and Animals - La La Land

Although the great Canadian invasion of indie rock has seemed to slow, there are still a ton of great bands that came up in the past few years. Montreal's Plants and Animals are a band that's hard to categorize. They'd clearly be labeled as indie rock but their songs take a bit from every part of that spectrum. The band is also towards the top of the list of bands that need to come through KC or Lawrence for the first time.

35. The Tallest Man On Earth - The Wild Hunt

Sweden's Kristian Matsson is otherwise known as The Tallest Man On Earth and is no stranger to my lists as his first album was in my top 10 of 2008. If you enjoyed the first one, you'll certainly find more to like here. There aren't too many bands I enjoy listening to on a Sunday morning more than The Tallest Man On Earth. I should also note their also responsible for one of the best EP's of the year with Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird.

34. Damien Jurado - Saint Bartlett

Damien Jurado is someone whom I've only gotten into recently. He's got a pretty extensive back catalog as well that I haven't had a chance to dip into quite yet. If their anything like his recent one Saint Bartlett, I'm sure to enjoy them. Jurado's music is also on the mellow side, but still captivating enough to warrant many frequent listens. He get's special recognition for one of the best songs on the album being titled 'Kansas City'.

33. Grinderman - Grinderman 2

I'm a lover of all things Nick Cave and Grinderman is no exception. It seems like Grinderman has become Cave's outlet to be a full on weirdo. Not that Cave was restrained before but this seems a bit more untamed and raw. I'm not sure if I'd play this album around my fiance, but if you're a fan Nick Cave, I highly suggest picking this up.

32. The Sword - Warp Riders

Though they might be a bit cheesy, metal stalwarts The Sword are also a lot of awesome. I like my heavy music with some melody and no screaming vocals and this one passes both tests. I'm sure some hardcore metal guy would kick my ass for thinking this is "metal" but it's heavy enough and the lyrics are as clich├ęd as a lot of the metal I've heard, so it's close enough.

31. Drive-By Truckers - The Big To-Do

The band that got me back into real rock and roll back in college was none other than Drive-By Truckers. Although I didn't love either of the last two albums, the band never puts out a bad album. The Big To-Do is the Truckers back to doing what they do best and that's tell a great story in each song. I just wish they'd bring back the huge rock riffs on a few new songs now and then!

30. Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me

So many double albums could've been considered great rather than just good with the help from a little editing. Even someone I enjoy as much as Joanna Newsom is a bit too much to take for two hours...in fact I'm not sure if I've ever listened to Have One On Me straight through. That being said there are some amazing songs on this album hidden throughout. If this would have been edited down into an hour, it might be a contender for album of the year

29. Junip - Fields

Jose Gonzalez is most famous for his solo career, especially his cover of fellow Swedes The Knife's song 'Heartbeats'. His first band Junip was actually formed back in the late 90's, but didn't release a full length album until Fields. Gonzalez is very much a presence throughout as the singer, but you can tell there are influences other than his own in play here as well. In fact, the album kicks of with one of the best tracks 'In Every Direction' which is way more upbeat than anything from Gonzalez's solo career.

28. Yeasayer - Odd Blood

I feel bad having this album so low on the list considering how much I love the first half. In fact, tracks two through five are all completely brilliant. The thing keeping it so low is that second half just falls off too much. Don't get me wrong, the whole album is worth your time, but this album is extremely top loaded with the best songs.

27. The Morning Benders - Big Echo

This was in my top 10 of the year for a while when it came out in March, but it fell just outside of the top 25 now. The Morning Benders are a very comforting band, they sound like a ton of bands that I'm sure you love and I (once again) don't mean that as a knock at all. The sound on Big Echo was crafted with help from Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor and you can definitely hear the influence. The band also responsible for one of my favorite songs of the year with the album opener 'Excuses'

26. Wild Nothing - Gemini

Since growing up, I've had an affinity for hazy indie pop and new wave. If you've heard Wild Nothing's debut album Gemini then it's no surprise why I love them. The vocals kind of blend into the music and it sounds like it might have been recorded in a basement, but the songs are absolutely killer. This is definitely music that would have sounded perfect during a climatic scene of a John Hughes movie (probably during prom).

25-1 still to come.



Poindexter said...

Matt, digging the list so far bro. I gotta say, I'm glad you're doing this in 2 parts. I definetly agree with your sentiments on Band of Horses. Those cats really do deserve whatever success comes there way. I'm sitting here kicking myself for never getting around to picking up Grinderman 2. Cave is a sick genius. No music collection is fulfilled without the poet from Down Under. The only thing I question is having Yeasayer at 28 out of 50. Ouch. But hey, that's me. Can't wait to see the other half of this thing. I always love going thru one of these and finding a gem I missed out on.

Bang Potential said...

I echo P on Yeasayer but this still needs to go to the great aggregator when 1-25 is ready

Matt said...

If Yeasayer had included 'Tightrope' on the album, it would have been in the top 10....the song is that good.


Anonymous said...

I always look forward to your top 50... Can't wait for part 2. I'm currently grabbing albums I missed out on. Wild Nothing is getting played and enjoyed right now...
The Tallest Man On Earth is great!

Vietnam has no outlet for live music so TJOC is a big part of my sanity.

Thanks Matt


Moe said...

Wow, your top 50 just gave me so many new albums to go check out, and I've really been lacking inspiration in finding new music on my own. Glad I found your blog - great list! I'm most excited about Junip - have listened the heck out of Jose Gonzalez for years but didn't know about this project.

Thanks again.