Best Albums of 2010: According to Me.

December 12, 2010 § 3 Comments

First of all, apparently I didn’t do one of these lists in 2009.

Second of all, 2010 was not very rich in new music, or time to listen to new music, as far as my life was concerned. Looking back through my purchases and downloads, there wasn’t a lot of action. I keep hearing that the new Kanye West album is amazing or something … but I haven’t heard it yet.


So, with that BIG GIANT GRAIN OF SALT caveat, here’s what I did listen to, and what I did love this year — of a very tiny subset of all the great music that was released.

5. Brandon Flowers – Flamingo
A word of advice: Skip right past the first song, “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas.” I get that this is a concept album but I don’t think anyone needs or wants to get slammed over the head with the announcement, Brandon. Once you’re in the mix of it, though, songs like ‘Only the Young,’ ‘Crossfire,’ and ‘Jilted Lovers & Broken Hearts’ are downright charming — even ‘The Clock Was Tickin’ is pretty in its own way once you get past the hokey storytelling of it. Also, apparently when he’s not singing with The Killers, Brandon gives up on the guyliner and, well, he’s hot.
Best Song: Swallow It

4. Ray Lamontagne & The Pariah Dogs – God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise
This is an album you have to absorb, all it once, preferably on repeat and during a time of your life where you’re honestly just not sure you’re going to make it until morning, or the end of the workday, for that matter. For me, this album was the aural version of a Snuggie — I wore it endlessly, all summer long, and it kept me cool and sane when everything was heated and crazy around me.
Best Song: New York City’s Killing Me

3. Broken Bells – Broken Bells
Scott gets full credit for introducing me to this one; it popped up with a “You must listen” during one of the many snowstorms we had last winter. (In fact, he just looked over at me and said this would be No. 1 on his best-of-the-year list.) A project between James Mercer of the Shins and Danger Mouse, it’s creative, melodic, and endlessly listenable. A highlight of the year, for me, was getting to watch them tape this performance at Spinner’s studios in New York … and then nodding hello to James Mercer afterward. (If you need further convincing of how great this album is, Christina Hendricks is such a big fan, she appeared in the video for ‘The Ghost Inside.’ So much sexy.)
Best Song: The Ghost Inside (which, according to iTunes, I played 44 times)

2. The New Pornographers – Together
I hate to be predictable, but … you had to have seen this album’s appearance coming. (But it *is* a bit of a surprise that they’re only No. 2. Right?!) There’s no other band right now making music that’s more beautiful, more poetic, or more fun than this group, as far as I’m concerned. These songs were truly the soundtrack to our year — particularly ‘Up in the Dark,’ which will always remind me of the eight weeks we lived in a hotel after The Great Fire of 2010.
Best Song: A Bite Out of My Bed (71 plays …) or Valkyrie In the Roller Disco (57 plays …)

1. The Black Keys – Brothers
I’ve talked a lot about how great this album is already — and I can’t imagine that anyone hasn’t heard it at this point, or would actively disagree. It starts off amazing, with ‘Everlasting Light’ — which includes my favorite lyric of the year in ‘Love is the coal that makes this train roll’ — and never flags from there. There are no songs here that aren’t great, from ‘Next Girl’ to ‘Howlin’ for You’ to ‘I’m Not the One.’ It is undeniably excellent.
Best Song: Everlasting Light (71 plays …, which doesn’t include the time my pilates instructor included it in her class mix CD, upon which I said, “I fucking LOVE this song” very, very loudly.)

Honorable Mentions
There were a lot of really great one-off songs this year amid some lackluster overall albums. Including, in no particular order:

    –Karen Elson – The Truth Is in the Dirt
    –Cold War Kids – Audience
    –Spoon – Who Makes Your Money
    –Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson – Relator
    –Sharon Jones – Better Things
    –The Thermals – I’m Gonna Change Your Life
    –Chromeo – Grow Up
    –V.V. Brown – Shark in the Water

Your turn: What did I miss? What should I download, stat?

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§ 3 Responses to Best Albums of 2010: According to Me.

  • […] (best EPs/singles) The Ruckus (songs) Said the Gramophone (best songs) Sardless (best albums) Shampoo Solo (best albums) Side One Track One (top Austin albums) Swampland (top songs) There Goes the Fear (top […]

  • Rob says:

    Have you heard the record from Mumford & Sons? Might be a bit too banjo-y for some people, but it’s worth a listen. I think it’s going to be my winter go-to music the way Brothers was in the fall. I think you liked Bon Iver last year; you get a lot of the same power from M&S. In particular try tracks 3 and 7.

    BTW, you have an iPad right? Have you downloaded Aweditorium? You really need to, it’s great. I had heard some chatter about M&S on Tumblr and Twitter, but finally heard some tracks on Aweditorium and immediately ordered the CD.

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