We normally post our favorite albums of the year in early December, but we’ve held out til now. It’s crazy how some sites’ “best of” lists start to pop up in mid-November. It seems a bit premature, but the majority of noteworthy albums are usually released prior to November (sorry Kanye – 11/22).
While we worked on our site this month, we’ve taken the opportunity to check out other blogs and publications’ “best of” lists for 2010. While compiling our list, we cheated twice: We revisited the Broken Bells album based on Patterson Hood’s list; it is truly a phenomenal album that would not have cracked our Top 20 if Patterson hadn’t put it back on our radar. For our “Artists Pick Best Albums of 2010″ feature, we noticed a ton of the bands chose Demon’s Claw’s Defrosting Of as a favorite album. We were already familiar with the album, and we ended up listening to it non-stop for a week. It is worth the hype and I strongly recommend checking it out – if kick-ass garage-rock is your thing.
2010 was, however, a disappointing year for the full-length album. The reality is that people no longer download full digital albums and that CDs, of course, are dead. This is not a shocking revelation, but the interesting trend now is that indie bands are releasing free EPs on Bandcamp. Some of the best music that we’ve heard this year came from Bandcamp artists. These musicians are truly working the DIY model; they just want their music to be heard. Music blogs and Tumblrs are making this happen for them.
I don’t miss the days when CDs were my primary source for music consumption. Still, when I used to buy that lovely CD for $17.99, I normally took the time to listen to the whole album, and eventually most songs clicked. These days, the majority of people, including myself, download tracks à la carte . Why buy a track that doesn’t personally move you within the first few seconds you listen to it? It’s sad, but true.
You will not find Arcade Fire, Janelle Monae, Beach House, Caribou, Sleigh Bells, LCD Soundsystem, Big Boi, or Cee Lo on our list this year. Big Boi put out a great album, but it made me miss Outkast, especially Andre 3000, who I think is far more talented than Big Boi. Same goes for Cee Lo: killer album and the single of the year “Fuck You”, but it made me miss Gnarls Barkley’s debut album. I understand the appeal of Beach House and Caribou; it’s just not my cup of tea this year.
I loathe Kanye West. Not for his endless publicity stunts, like the ones with Taylor Swift, Matt Lauer, and George W. Bush (although he may have had a point there). The problem with Kanye is that he’s a spoiled brat. He is the epitome of a sellout and basically an all-around asshole. That being said, he put out a damn fine album. Still, I have about 100 other albums that I’d rather listen to than his.
Don’t get me started on Sleigh Bells. I consider their “music” headache-inducing noise. Many people that I respect think the record is a masterpiece, but… that just makes me not trust those people.
2010 was the year of Bradford Cox. In my opinion Halcyon Digest is in a class of its own. It’s a beautiful album and one of Deerhunter’s best. Bradford “gets it.” In November, Cox unleashed four volumes of new Atlas Sound material on his blog, for free. That generated massive media attention and some unwanted attention from Sony Records. There are 20+ quality tracks on the Databank sessions.
I cannot say enough good things about Paul Cary: He’s a white boy who plays nasty blues. I love the entire album. Sharon Jones: we are blessed to be able to witness a soul goddess in her prime. Calibro 35 is beyond sick. Spend some time with the album. They blow my mind.
I would love to hear your feedback on our selections.
Disclaimer: Goes without saying, but I do not recommend blindly downloading any of the albums on the list.
4. BROKEN BELLS – S/T (BUY)
5. SHARON JONES & THE DAP KINGS – I LEARNED THE HARD WAY (BUY)
7. THE BLACK KEYS – BROTHERS (BUY)
21. CLIVE TANAKA Y SU ORQUESTA – JET SET SIEMPRE NO. 1 (CASSETTE)
Clive Tanaka y su orquesta – International Heartbreaker
22. ALOE BLACC – GOOD THINGS (BUY)
Aloe Blacc – Hey Brother
Lee Fields – Truth, Deception, & Lies (Aloe Blacc Remix)
26. LAURA MARLING – I SPEAK BECAUSE I CAN (BUY)