The Top 20 Albums of 2010, and a whole lot more

This was a tough year to try and rank the albums.  The rough rankings I kept all year switched around so often that I felt like I was trying to  write daily NHL power rankings.  I admit that I'm not happy about this list because a week or two into 2011 I'd probably make major changes to the bottom thirteen or fourteen albums.  But, I have to stick with what I'm feeling.  To start here is a incredibly long list of albums that I wanted to be in the Top 20 but got crowded out:
Honorable Mentions: The Dopamines – Expect the Worst, Defiance, Ohio – Midwestern Minutes, Creepshow – They All Fall Down, Mayflower – Second Best Sunsets, Green Room Rockers – ST, Bedouin Soundclash – Light The Horizon, Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Records, Vampire Weekend – Contra, Atlantic/Pacific – Meet Your New Love, Blacklist Royals – Semper Liberi, The Measure [sa] – Notes, Metroplex – Decade Diary
Alright then.  I always miss a few albums or never get around to some albums that I know would've shaken up this list.  Here's a quick list of bands that put out new music that I still look forward to getting my hands on:
The New Pornographers, Arcade Fire, Make Do and Mend, Riot Before
 Next, we have some EPs that I listened to that make me excited for the future
1. Amping Copper – Demo 
2. Dead to Me – Wait For It 
3. Let Me Run – Broken Strings 
4. The Postelles – White Night  
5. Sundials – First Six Songs
Finally, before we hit the big list I can announce my Favorite Album of 2009 That I Didn't Hear Until 2010!

Metric - Fantasies
Seriously.... wow....  When I picked up Old World Underground, Where Are You Now I knew that Metric was a band with tremendous talent.  I soon lost track of the band, but rediscovered them thanks to Scott Pilgrim writer/artist Brian Lee O'Malley and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World writer/director Edgar Wright.  Their inclusion of the Metric song "Black Sheep" lead me back to the band and the wondrous music.  Fantasies captures my ear and imagination from start to finish and swear that Emily Haines's voice was created just for me, its perfect in every way.

and then it was time...

Link's Top 20 Albums of 2010!

20. Beach House – Teen Dream 
If you described a band as ambient or atmospheric and I will gladly cover my ears and hum the theme from power rangers. Yet I love this album. Listening to this inspires quite cuddling or soft kissing with your significant, or maybe a really friendly hooker with some time to spare. The whole thing is inspired and beautiful and the perfect thing for rainy days. One oddly appealing element is the androgynous vocals.

19. The Wonder Years – The Upsides 

This is a pure Pop-Punk beauty. There is no hardcore, ska, twee, or anything else to break the classic pop and punk mixture. Its really a treat to sink into this album and laugh and nod along to each of the tracks. One thing that I appreciate is that songs about broken hearts and such don't find much of a home on this album. Sometimes I really want to listening to stereotypical pop-punk vocals without the stereotypical lyrics.

18. Iron Chic – Not Like This 
Not a ton to say here besides this is pretty straight forward melodic punk (aka orgcore), but it just sounds so damn good.  The nice thing about having a style dominating a genre is that a few bands resonant with the "rules" and create an amazing piece of art.

15. Bad Religion – Dissent of Man
I've never been a huge Bad Religion fan, but I picked up The Dissent of Man because I think I've always wanted to be a fan of the band. I have to say that no matter the song length, album length, or song structure, every track on here is engaging in one form or another.

16. Look Mexico – To Bed To Battle 
Since putting this album on the short list for this list I've had an asterisk next to the album to try and remind myself that I need to write a little blurb.  Well, here I am making the actual list and I still haven't written anything.  So... This is just a really beautiful album and is always a joy to listen to.  The melodies also have a tendency to get stuck in your head when you least except them and will stick with you until the next time you can immerse yourself in the album.

15. Gogol Bordello – Trans-Continental Hustle 
I've always enjoyed Gogol Bordello in doses. I could listen to a bit of an album here and there, but I would quickly tire of the gimmick. On their newest album I feel like Hütz and his band have reined in and focused their sound into a complete, cohesive experience. For the first time I really feel like the album flows from song to song and doesn't lose itself in the wild-eyed cacophony that dominated Gogol's previous full-lengths 

14. The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang 

American Slang holds more moderate tempo than the previous releases and focuses more on Brian Fallon's personal struggles and feelings about himself and his life rather on looking back over fields of golden wheat, classic cars, and all the other jokes people make about the band. I found the entire album immediately gratifying and I seem to pick out a new set of favorite tracks every time I listen. I do favor track seven Boxer since its got some nice clean and simple riffs and some fun vocal melodies. My favorite thing about the album are the few times when Brian Fallon really lets his voice loose. Sure he doesn't have a huge range, but he's got this great howl, especially on Diamond Church Street Choir, that makes my skin tingle every time I heard it.

13. Off With Their Heads – In Desolation 

I had listened to OWTH albums in the past with a passing interest but not much more. With this new release I've found myself plowing back into their catalogue and eating up everything that I can find. The lyrics are often just flat-out cynical and depressing, but the band's energy elevates them into the realm of fun. This is definitely an album that's worth blasting at high volume. Also, I love Ryan Young's vocals, they are just great.

12. Fake Problems – Real Ghosts Caught On Tape

Honestly… this album is good. I like the songs. I like the lyrics. I like the overall theme. I don't like that the album lacks the signature energy that was born on the bands first two albums and then came into its own and defined Fake Problems's more recent It's Great To Be Alive. I've come to appreciate that album since I overcame the shock of the softer, indie-pop sound.  In fact, after placing this album in my regular rotation I've fallen in love with the thing.  The band continues to improve lyrically and musically, although I still miss the intensity of the previous release.

11. The Flatliners - Cavalcade 
On the Flatliners's sophomore album my fellow punk snobs and I bemoaned the disappearance on the band's heavy use of ska riffs.  Not long after that we realized that the boys were even better without the bouncing staccato.  On Cavalcade the Flatliners come out stronger than ever and deliver a power house album that not only flirts with greatness, but convinces greatness to have a threesome with stunning.  The only reasons that this album isn't in the Top 10 is because this has been a truly special year for music.

10. None More Black - Icons

This may be the heaviest album that Jason has ever been involved with, even taking Kid Dynamite into account. The whole album sounds like Jason and None More Black, but it sounds like elements from the sort lived Ram and Ox found their way into the NMB's new album. The added intensity only compliments Jason's signature vocals and I love the album more and more with each listen.

9. Ted Leo and the Rx – The Brutalist Bricks

I've held a theory about Ted Leo every since I listened through Shake the Sheets a couple of times; Ted Leo is slowly turning his band into a more rock oriented version of Chisel. Well, with the Brutalist Bricks Ted Leo smashed that idea over my head and hit all of us with a traditional Pharmacists album, but chock full of punk rock goodness. Bands like Rx Bandits and American Steel have long straddled punk and indie rock, but Ted Leo takes those pretentious twits by the throats, twists them together into a guitar grown from your nightmares, and proceeds to melt faces like the Ark of The Covenant.

8. Two Cow Garage – Sweet Saint Me 
Lucero's raucous younger cousin, Two Cow Garage continues to pump out top-notch alt-country punk gold. Its not difficult to say that this album keeps you roped in from start to finish. Two Cow Garage has always presented several down beat, somber, doubtful, remorseful, etc. tracks. This album feels like they've left that all behind and are just going to stomp around and rock out with swagger, piss, and vinegar. One reviewer said that this album felt like the bad was rebooting and couldn't really be easily compared to the band's previous work, and I agree to an degree. I think this is the bands finest albums which means that this release has to rank near the top of my 2010 list. 

7. AM Taxi – We Don’t Stand a Chance 

Do you like rock and roll? Do you like huge hooks that make you want to pump your fists in the air? Well, then dammit you need to listen to this album. Every song has huge guitars, huge choruses, and just a general hugeness. This is a rock album with just enough pop and just enough punk to appeal to a huge audience, and enough "hook-age" to someday get an arena rocking out and moving. Finally, with all the hugeness its amazing to me that each song is distinctive, which keeps the album fresh, so wonderfully fresh.

6. Dessa – A Badly Broken Code 
Another artist that I just wrote about in detail a few weeks ago, and there isn't much to add.  Mixing rapping with singing may not seem all that special, and in most cases it isn't, until the artist doing the mixing is Dessa.  Dessa deserves any and all attention now that she's shown that she may be the best performer to come out of the Doomtree crew.

5. River City Extension – The Unmistakable Man 
In competition with AM Taxi for best debut album is River City Extension. This band can be difficult to describe as times, but is basically an indie pop/rock band that go lost when hiking the southern portion of the Appalachian Trail and then for a minute the entire band got cabin fever and sing a sea shanty. Seriously, one track has the band transitioning from indie-pop to sea shanty, to something along the lines of Modest Mouse and Wolf Parade before dropping back into the pleasant indie-pop. There is a real sense of fun and energy that permeates the album and prevents any ugly pretense growths from latching onto the refreshing sound that they've stuck in plastic for us to consume.

4. Tim Barry – 28th & Stonewall
I am not worthy to talk about Tim Barry. The man is a story teller, a poet, and, trust me on this, an American hero. Yeah, I know I wrote this a few weeks ago, but come on!

3. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor 
Titus Andronicus, eh? This is a hard band and an even harder album about which to write. A concept album in which parallels are drawn between living and growing in New Jersey and the nightmare period in US history known as the Civil War is a tough thing to approach and break down. Somehow TA manages to write a ten track, sixty minute album while keeping the whole thing fresh. The story, lyrics, and music is all pretty stunning in scope and execution. I want to like the vocals more but they're run through some weird filter and at time I have trouble getting past that element. 

2. Fang Island – Fang Island

Oh mah gawh. This may be the single happiest album I've heard. The worse my mood is the more awesome this album gets and more it seems to cheer you up. I almost want terrible shit to happen to me just so that I can put this album on and then jump around like a fool. Instrumental rock isn't typically my thing, but damn! When people try and describe this album they always fall back on simile. Fang Island are like… 
...Everyone in the room high fiving 
...Waking up to the smell of bacon and realizing that your new roommate is a sexy professional baker from Belgium. 
…Angels using their halos as mouth harps while Jesus and his apostles write angry letters to trees telling them how irritatingly wonderful it is to sit beneath their leafy branches on a spring afternoon.

1. The Menzingers – Chamberlain Waits
One of my early picks for Album of the Year, Chamberlain Waits only slightly resembles the Menzingers's previous album. I admittedly love everything about this release. The lyrics, the instrumentation, the sing/scream vocals, and the sing/scream vocals that aren't whinny and about how anonymous and evil women are ruining their lives. In a year in which high quality music has been champagne blasting out the bottle, Chamberlain Waits has remained fresh and enjoyable.

1 comment:

willn's said...

Nice. Is there a reference for this!