My Top 15 Albums of 2010

And now, the albums list. I’ve tried to put across how I feel about each album, but I’m well aware that my descriptive abilities fall short when I’m writing about music. But I feel the songs in the links speak for themselves. Please feel free to comment and let me know if you agree, disagree or want to share something new.

15. Tame Impala – Innerspeaker

Mixture of propulsive bluesy guitar riffs and ethereal FX-heavy oddness. Manages to sound wound-up and off-hand at the time – a bit Animal Collective, a bit Beatles, a bit Stooges. Good stuff all round.

Essential Tracks: It Is Not Meant To Be, Lucidity, Jeremy’s Storm

14. The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang

Big-hearted, hoarse-throated bar-room rock’n’roll anthems about the promise and disappointment of American mythology.

Essential Tracks: American Slang, Bring It On, The Queen Of Lower Chelsea, The Spirit Of Jazz

13. Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record

Swelling, sprawling orchestration combining with a knack for neat and concise songwriting make this album a rare treat that packs epic tracks into small packages.

Essential Tracks: World Sick, Art House Director, Meet Me In The Basement

12. The Roots – How I Got Over

The Roots deliver another essential slice of sharp, socially conscious lyrics over impeccable musicianship. The album as a whole feels like a journey through a long dark night of the soul, from despair through resolution to optimism and determination.

Essential Tracks: Now Or Never, How I Got Over, The Fire

11. The Drive-By Truckers – The Big To-Do

Gritty Southern rock retooled for the 21st Century.

Essential Tracks: Birthday Boy, (It’s Gonna Be) I Told You So, Santa Fe

10. The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever

My FAVOURITE BAND EVER make another great album about, growing up, nostalgia, disappointment, and the power of rock music.
Essential Tracks: The Sweet Part Of The City, Soft In The Centre, The Weekenders, We Can Get Together

9. Fang Island – Fang Island

Masters of upbeat guitar wizardry deliver progginess sans pretentsion.
Essential Tracks: Daisy, Treeton, Welcome Wagon

8. Best Coast – Crazy For You

Inspired, charming mix of 60s surf-rock and Phil Spector production soundtracks the summer.

Essential Tracks: Boyfriend, Happy, When I’m With You

7. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

A sprawling, messy sort-of-concept album about celebrity, self-loathing and the oversharing mania of the internet age. Also, it’s really awesome to listen to.

Essential Tracks: Power, All Of The Lights, Hell Of A Life

6. Big Boi – Sir Luscious Leftfoot

The often-overlooked half of Outkast serves up an excellent melange of bass-heavy rap, funky experimentation and lightning-fast lyrics.

Essential Tracks: Daddy Fat Sax, Follow Us, Shutterbugg, Tangerine

5. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – The Brutalist Bricks

Politically tinged pop-punk for a bruised but hopeful time.

Essential Tracks: Ativan Eyes, Even Heroes Have To Die, Bottled In Cork, Bartolomeo And The Buzzing Of Bees


4. The New Pornographers – Together

More impeccable chamber-pop loveliness from Canada’s greatest supergroup.
Essential Tracks: Moves, Crash Years, Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk

3. Janelle Monae – The Archandroid

Ceaselessly inventive pop-futurism that fuses diverse influences to create something completely new. Check out the review I wrote back in the summer.

Essential Tracks: Faster, Cold War, Tightrope, Wondaland

2. Superchunk – Majesty Shredding

Uplifting, catchy rock anthems set at the point between youthful optimism and adult disillusionment, learning something from both states

Essential Tracks: Digging For Something, Slow Drip, Learned To Surf

1. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

As sprawling as the location it studies, Arcade Fire’s latest tells a bleak story of how the past we create in our shared spaces can disappear in front of our eyes. Its instrumentation and lyrics are cranked up to deliver Springsteen-level epics of youthful alienation, even as they hope for something more.

Essential Tracks: Ready To Start, City With No Children, Suburban War, Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)


Best Of The Rest: 5 albums that didn’t make the cut

Yeasayer – Odd Blood

Villagers – Becoming A Jackal

The Soft Pack – The Soft Pack

Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History

Marnie Stern – Marnie Stern




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