These are going to be in no particular order, mostly because I was having a hard time putting them in some kind of order.
A few opening comments: There are two notable releases from this past year missing from this list, by the Black Keys and The National specifically. I have them, I just haven’t listened to them yet. I have a good reason for that.
I have a backlog of new music. I have a playlist called “New” that I fill with music and periodically refill with music as I’m going through albums. The list is currently filled with 8.8 hours of music I’ve yet to hear.
I also have a playlist called “Next.” This consists of new music waiting to move to the “New” list. It currently contained 20.8 hours of music.
When a new album comes out, I don’t always listen to it right away. More often than not, it gets sent to the “Next” list to wait its turn. I try to move new albums to the front of the line, but it doesn’t always happen. How do I decide what gets listened to right away and what doesn’t? I honestly don’t know; it’s kind of a mood thing. It’s also kind of a timing a thing; if I buy a lot of new music at one time, chances are good a new album is going to get lost in the shuffle.
So, now, without further ado…
My Top 10 Albums Released in 2010
Band of Horses — “Infinite Arms”
If you’re a band trying to win me over (as I can only assume most bands are trying to do), a good way to do it is by having a few songs from your new album appear on “Chuck” before said album is released. That’s a good way to get my attention. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this album, and while this is by no stretch of the imagination a wild departure of their normal sound, it still sounds like a step forward, filled with larger, more epic songs, as evident at the very least by their length.
Broken Social Scene — “Forgiveness Rock Record”
I’ve always been kind of “meh” about Broken Social Scene. For every song I really like by them, there are two that are just kind of there. Not unlike Spoon, I just assumed they’d be a band that put together a fantastic “best of” album. That changed with this album, which was far more killer and far less filler.
Dangerbird Amazon Sampler 2010
Okay, sure, this might be cheating, putting a compilation on here, since it has the advantage of being made up of, theoretically, the best examples of each band. Still, I had never really been exposed to Dangerbird Records before I heard this sampler, which is surprising considering a) how great these bands are and b) this label is based right here in Los Angeles. I’ve only broken the surface of their output and I imagine there will be even more new music from them on my playlist this year.
Freelance Whales — “Weathervanes”
And here’s the “Chuck” factor again. On first listen, this didn’t really seem like an album I was going to enjoy. Their singer’s voice is a just a bit too clean for me and there were lots of songs that relied heavily on cutesy keyboard parts. But the more I listened to this, the more I was okay with that. This is their debut and from what I understand their lead singer basically put together the entire thing, so it will be interested to see how they progress from here.
Frightened Rabbit — “Winter of Mixed Drinks”
And speaking of progression, we have the latest offering from Frightened Rabbit, featuring a lead singer who has clearly been beaten up by love. However, this album seems to be less about moping and more about getting over it. “Living In Colour” could be my song of the year.
Medications — “Completely Removed”
Medications are a good example of a band I discovered well after most people. They seem to have moved towards a less straight forward math rock sound to something bordering on the operatic — more than a few times I thought of Queen while listening to this.
Nada Surf — “if i had a hi-fi”
Okay, fine, I’m biased when it comes to Nada Surf, given that I’m a huge fan. But this album of covers was actually better than I expected, which says a lot given how few of these songs I actually knew in advance. No one would ever mistake these covers as being by any band other than Nada Surf, but they still remain true to the originals (after I went and looked them up).
The Sword — “Warp Riders”
This was a big year for me and The Sword. This was another band that I discovered late, so I ended up listening to more than one of their records over the course of this year. Yes, it’s not unreasonable to say this album saw them leaning more into hard rock and less into metal, but it was still heavy and it was still loud and it was still great. They get compared to Black Sabbath a lot, but it’s their similarities to old Metallica that sold me.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World Soundtrack
I really liked this movie. I mean, I really really liked it. It’s probably no surprise then, given how important music was in the movie, that I also really like the soundtrack. I really like that they had the actors sing the songs their characters sang in the movie, although it was a little annoying that the Brie Larson sung version of “Black Sheep” was on the bonus tracks version. From start to finish, this is just a quality mix of songs.
Weezer — “Hurley”
Corporate sponsorship aside, this felt like the truest, most complete Weezeras I discussed here). While still not as great as the pre-hiatus albums or the underrated classic that is “Maladroit,” “Hurley” still stands as near return to form for Weezer. Hopefully, good things keep coming.
There you go, my 10 favorite albums of 2010, in all their glory.