Monday, December 13, 2010

The 2010 Ultimate Music Megapost: Top 15 Albums of the Year

A new feature this year! Click this link below to listen a pre-built playlist featuring a song from every album, in order, in the top 15! Think of it as your mix for the day, or maybe even longer. :-)

15) Miniature Tigers – “F O R T R E S S”

This is a very new addition to the collection, so only time will tell how much I come to like this album. But the verdict now? Better with every listen. They’re like a fun diet-psychedelic garage band. There’s something undeniably fun about these guys (see “Japanese Woman Living in My Closet”), yet they aren’t without musicianship or lyrical abilities (see “Goldskull”). Check back with me in a couple months to find out whether I regret putting them only at #15. Best track: “Goldskull”

14) Jimmy Eat World – “Invented”

You’d be right if you reminded me that I called this album Jimmy Eat World’s weakest of the last decade, but I also hold Jimmy Eat World in such regard that a weak Jimmy Eat World album is not really weak at all. They still tap emotion about as good as any band out there and they display this in full force on songs like “Coffee and Cigarettes”, “Heart is Hard to Find”, and “Littlething”. Best track: “Littlething”

13) Caribou – “Swim”

The term “electro experimentation” must just sound awful to most people, and Caribou certainly are an acquired taste. But Caribou aren’t without their pop sensibilities, which is what makes them good. Caribou prove on this album that when they are their best they might just make some of the best music in the world right now. Best track: “Jamelia”

12) The Arcade Fire – “The Suburbs”

The Arcade Fire may be the best reviewed band of the last six years, but I still never thought they’d get a Grammy nod in the overall best album category rather than the alternative sub category that my bands usually populate. So I guess I’m forced to give the Grammy’s props? The album nominated is the introspective concept album “The Suburbs”, which quite possibly has no bad tracks. New fans may find the style slightly more digestible, and old fans will find it to have all the flair that makes Arcade Fire so great. Best track: “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”

11) Mimicking Birds – “Mimicking Birds”

Mimicking Birds make the kind of music that can draw you in, chill you out, and yet never bore you. The album is decidedly soft and low key, featuring hushed vocals in the mold of Iron & Wine, but don’t mistake soft for being without lush details. And that’s why the album is fantastic: what on first listen seems like an acoustic softy better left as background music turns out to be one of the deeper and most gratifying listens of 2010. Best track: “The Loop”

10) LCD Soundsystem – “This is Happening”

On their third album, LCD Soundsystem provide their best overall effort yet. While they still provide typical fare of two or three epic songs surrounded by long, meandering dance songs that are better live than in your car, they do it better here than ever. Best track: “I Can Change”

9) Interpol – “Interpol”

Welcome back, Interpol! Second album “Antics” was an all time fave, but their third album was the kind of dud that’s make you wonder if you’ve lost the band forever. After this stellar return to form, I’m happy to say this is not so. Best track: “Memory Serves”

8) Broken Bells – “Broken Bells”

One part Shins, one part Gnarls Barkley. Two parts awesome. The collaboration from an indie superstar in The Shins’ James Mercer and Dangermouse, producer-extraordinaire, was every bit as weird, cool, and listenable as you could hope. Best Track: “The High Road”

7) Band of Horses – “Infinite Arms”

There’s no track as good as “Funeral” from their debut album or “Detlef Schrempf” from their sophomore effort, but their third release shows that Band of Horses may be incapable of writing a bad song. Best track: “Factory”

6) Local Natives – “Gorilla Manor”

One of the newcomers of the year, says I. Hard to believe this is their first cd. They are polished, interested, peppy, and full on enjoyable. Somewhere in here you can hear just a hint of Beach Boys with just a touch of Northwest indie flair. Best track: “World News”

5) The Hold Steady – “Heaven is Whenever”

Music’s best storytellers hit back with yet another exceptional album, back to front. Craig Finn, my music hero, moves away from the talking and more towards the singing, meaning there’s no better chance for the casual fan to try this band than with this album. Best track: “The Sweet Part of the City”

4) Freelance Whales – “Weathervanes”

I continue to steal the phrase “your little sister’s Arcade Fire” when I describe this band. The album is a full on experimental and randomly-instrumented as it is poppy and refreshing. Good enough for the critics and the people who hate critics simultaneously. Best track: “Generator ^ Second Floor”

3) Spoon – “Transference”

Following up my #1 best album of the decade ain’t easy, but Spoon do plenty well with their newest album. And what’s better is that the album grows on you. It’s another gem from the band that toes that line between indie and pop so spectacularly. Best track: “Who Makes Your Money?”

2) Yeasayer – “Odd Blood”

Coming into the year I’d never even heard of Yeasayer. As 2010 comes near its end, I’ve listened to this one on repeat and done the same to their first album. Somehow they make music that’s alternatingly weird, melodic, Middle Eastern, and poppy. As the year went on and on, this was the album that stuck in my cd player the second most. Best track: “Strange Reunions”

1) The National – “High Violet”

Back in May I bought this album as a throw-in with releases by some of my favorite bands. I never would have guessed it would be my favorite album of the year. But it’s just an out and out masterpiece from start to finish, as rich with feeling and sincerity as it is with melody. This album is a keeper. Best track: “Conversation 16”


Just Missed:

Deerhunter – “Halycon Digest”

Avi Buffalo – “Avi Buffalo”

Sufjan Stevens – “All Delighted People EP”


  1. I have to say that I'm glad you have adopted the Grooveshark playlist. I approve. (and while I WANTED the playlist, I was already thinking of making it, & the thought alone made me tired... it made me TIRED I tell you!)

  2. You are certainly the reason the playlist exists!

  3. The National is amazing, as is one of the best songs of the year: "Conversation 16".

    keep up the good work.


  4. Played a show with Mimicking Birds over a year ago, and it was really amazing, thanks for highlighting them!

  5. Good choices, I missed that EP by Sufjan Stevens.
    Some of my favourite acoustic albums of 2010 are by Donovan Woods, Sam Amidon, and Nathaniel Rateliff. I shared my best-loved tracks from those albums in my top 100 songs of 2010