Best Albums of 2010
Ok, it’s March and I realize most people do their “best of” lists in say, December of January, but sometimes life happens and you do things on a different schedule. And we all know the expression, “Better late.” I admit, at one point during 2010, I thought, “Yea this is going to be a very solid year for music.” Looking back I’m feeling more of a “Eh, yea that was alright.” Not as many new finds as I’d usually prefer. Also, it appears there are no Brits on my list (some might call that discrimination!). Enjoy, Kelly!
1) Beach House – Teen Dream: One word: Lush. Like lying in a field of flowers on a sunny day with a cool breeze, drinking lemonade and having someone pour honey on you. I think that makes sense. Much better than the first outing. A beautiful record.
2) The National – High Violet: A friend once pointed out that this is the kind of music that likely speaks only to the souls of over-educated middle-class white people. Well, I don’t know whom she’s referring to specifically…at all…but yes, Beringer’s sad, caustic, absurdist lyrics do somehow seem to fill the void created by too many philosophy and theory courses in us, I mean people. This effort is no exception. See: “Don’t be bitter, Anna, I know how you think. You’re waiting for Radio City to sink”
3) Futurebirds – Hampton’s Lullaby: What Kings of Leon would still sound like if they weren’t singing about “their sex being on fire” (VD?) in stadiums across western civilization. A serious country-rock record. Nothing like a couple twangy/country-rock songs about being at an aquarium or ski chalet. Very much à la My Morning Jacket.
4) The Black Keys – Brothers: It’s like they’re not even trying anymore. Is it possible to make a bad record at this point in the game? The song “Brothers” is just as timeless and funky as their usual offerings and the remake of Jerry Butler’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” does it more than justice – it immortalizes.
5) The Walkmen – Lisbon: A different beast than You and Me — more stripped down instrumentally with lighter song content, but yet the undeniable Walkmen wit and sarcasm is present. It feels like a nice bookend on the nostalgia themed last album. It’s like You and Me goes to the beach or say, Lisbon.
6) Justin Townes Earle – Harlem River Blues: Royal country-blues progeny if such a thing exists (see Steve Earle). Imaginative, soulful, and well-written. Just keeps getting better.
7) Local Natives – Gorilla Manor: New band – first album. Indie folk/rock kids from Silver Lake (go figure). At parts uneven, but “Airplanes,” a song about a grandfather, is probably my favorite song of the year. An absolutely precious and wonderful tune.
8 ) Sleigh Bells – Treats: Noise/garage rock. The EP version of “Crown on the Ground” made the Who circa 1970 sound like James Taylor whispering in his sleep – very loud and raunchy. The rest of the album isn’t half-bad. Interesting to see if they have any staying power.
9) Frog Eyes – Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph – The brainchild of avant-garde enfant terrible, Carey Mercer. His sprawling 7-min surrealistic adventures are probably not as accessible as a lot of contemporary indie rock (whatever that means), but once you’re locked in, it’s easy and downright pleasant to get carried away. “A Flower in a Glove” is the best thing since “Bushels.”
10) Hold Steady – Heaven is Whenever: Somehow missed just about everyone else’s year-end lists. Geeky and awkward tunes about growing up and getting old. “Heaven is whenever, we can get together, lock your bedroom door, and listen to your [Hold Steady] records.”
Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Morning Benders – Big Echo
Josh Ritter – So Runs the World Away (See: “Monster Ballads”)
The Tallest Man on Earth – The Wild Hunt
Shearwater – The Golden Archipelago