There was a lot of music that came of 2010 that I really enjoyed. I think my grand total for albums was around 25, which is considerably more than I usually end up with. I’m not sure if I’m becoming more open towards new music, or if I’m just running out of older music to listen to. But either way, there were so many albums I liked this year that I actually felt compelled to do some honorable mentions for once.
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffitti – Before Today
Spoon – Transference
Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
|10. The Tallest Man On Earth – The Wild Hunt
I had hard time keeping more sonically impressive albums like the latest from Deerhunter and Kanye off my list. But for my number 10, I decided to go for something much less ambitous, but equally arresting. It’s not often that I go for folksy acoustic singer-songwriter music, but something about The Wild Hunt really jumped out at me in a way that an album like this rarely does. I think Kristian Matsson’s voice is what really did it for me, which seemed to be the tipping point for most people in regards to his music.
|9. Sufjan Stevens – The Age Of Adz
Probably among the most brash albums of the year, all coming from a musician usually known for his shy and reserved persona. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have given this album a second listen if it wasn’t for the fact that it was coming from the man responsible for Michigan and Illinois, but it’s definitely an album that rewarded me for my patience. There’s plenty of Stevens’ warmth and tenderness beneath all the electronic fuzz that encompasses the album, and it all culminates in a stellar 25-minute rave-up jam that seems only fitting for an album of such ambitious personal reflection.
|8. Beach House – Teen Dream
I think in my original review of Teen Dream I said that this isn’t the type of thing of thing that I usually listen to, but now that seems like a load of shit. Sure it’s lush and atmospheric, but more than anything else the songs are superbly crafted and full of impenetrable beauty. It’s an album that was easy for me to get lost in, and that’s not something I usually aim for in a piece of music. So big ups to Beach House.
|7. Vampire Weekend – Contra
Easily the most controversial album among Da Morgue writers, but one that easily had me on the pro-Contra side of the equation. More or less, Vampire Weekend have made exactly what a follow-up to a great debut should sound like. They build on all the plucky joy that was there in the first album, all while bringing out more of the diverse influences that seemed to be bubbling just beneath the surface.
|6. Best Coast – Crazy For You
For me this album is pretty much the definition of ear candy, and yet I couldn’t help myself from falling for it on a deeper level. Musically and lyrically, everything on Crazy For You sounds like the most naively simplistic love songs, but I think it’s in that simplicity that the album’s appeal lies. Sometimes you need music like this to remind you that modern music doesn’t have to be cluttered with cutting edge self-consciousness, as there’s always plenty to be found in the simple pleasures of some lovely pop songs.
|5. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Arcade Fire have often struck as a band whose grandeur has always been their most apparent quality. But the “sprawl”-ing nature of The Suburbs shows that there’s many sides to the band, and pretty much all of them are pretty damn impressive. I don’t think I ever envisioned Arcade Fire as a band that I’d be continuing to be invested in as the years go by, but here I am talking about their third fantastic album in a row. Here’s hoping to many more.
I feel like the time of year may have inflated the position of this album, as Lisbon has been the perfect “winter album” for me so far. But either way, this is an album that has turned me into a Walkmen fan, and has reminded me again that an unpolished, minimalist approach to rock n’ roll isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Also, I have a hard time not loving an album that has something as morose and beautiful as “Stranded” as well as something as rip-roaringly awesome as “Angela Surf City”.
|3. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
LCD Soundsystem, I hardly knew yee. Just as I’m starting to get in to this band, James Murphy decides this’ll be his last album under the LCD moniker. I’d probably be unhappy with this if it wasn’t for the fact that this album might be about as high a note as one could hope to go out on. It’s a great culmination of the charmingly immature dance jams that marked the earlier LCD records, along with the more introspective tendencies that have marked Murphy’s more recent songs. Having your cake and eating it too, now that’s a way to go out.
|2. The National – High Violet
It’s easy to harp on a band that puts out three albums in a row that essentially have the same sonic approach to them. It’s much harder to harp on a band that puts out a trilogy of albums that are as hauntingly beautiful, intricately executed, and weirdly relatable as Alligator, Boxer, and High Violet. However, this doesn’t feel like a band merely rehashing their signature sound, but getting a better feel for it, and finding all sorts of different textures and nuances that can be applied to it. Whether they decide to stay the course with this sound or tear it down, I’m certain whatever they do next will be something to look forward to.
|1. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
It’s not often that a band you’ve never heard of comes out of no where and knocks you on your ass. It’s even less often that it’s done with a garage/punk album filled with anthems about the New Jersey suburbs crossed with the Civil War, but that’s what The Monitor did for me. I wouldn’t say it’s a perfect album by any measure. Much like the war it was inspired by, it’s an epic, meandering, and bloody mess, but it’s a beautiful mess that had me truly engaged in it every time I listened to it. 2010 was a year in which a lot of my favorite albums tended to be generally larger in scope, but really nothing matched the ragged majesty or firey intensity of The Monitor.