50. Sonny and the Sunsets – Tomorrow is Alright
2010 was a good year for straight forward beach rock that drifted with carefree lyrics and concepts. Tomorrow is Alright took the genre into a more humorous and psychedelic direction and the results were quite rewarding. Just try listening to Planet of Women and not smiling, it’s not possible.
[mp3] Sonny and the Sunsets – Too Young to Burn from Tomorrow is Alright (2010)
49. Best Coast – Crazy For You
I don’t think I saw Best Coast’s popularity coming. I mean it makes sense now considering how catchy this record is and how simple the execution was. After listening to Crazy for You, even if you don’t agree with the buzz over Best Coast, you’ll understand why it’s become genre-defining and why it will be referenced as influence for years to come.
[mp3] Best Coast – When I’m With You from Crazy For You (2010)
48. Four Tet – There is Love in You
Certainly an evolution for this prolific electronic artist, There is Love in You is a well thought-out and jazz fused record that provided soundtrack to my summer nights. Definitely his most accessible (which isn’t saying much), the album proves Four Tet’s ability to evolve without drifting too far away from the source.
[mp3] Four Tet – Sing from There is Love in You (2010)
47. Il Gato – All These Slippery Things
That magic is abundantly evident on All These Slippery Things,Il Gato’s explosive debut. Its 13 songs are delivered in a style that defies pigeonholing but might be described as a rootsy amalgam of folk, country, bluegrass, rock and pop – even a dab of punk-style dynamics here and there. The naked honesty of their songs and admirable instrumentation is enough to say that this may be one of the more important Bay Area bands right now.
[mp3] Il Gato – Burning Red (The Fa Fa Fa Song) from All these Slippery Things (2010)
46. Portugal. The Man – American Ghetto
What can be said about Portugal. The Man that hasn’t already been said? The band has been able to dish out a legit and rocking record every year like some sort of super song machine that never stops. Taking the same approach as they did with last year’s The Satanic Satanist, heavy drums, lofty guitars, and psychedelic pop atmospherics, American Ghetto is another worthy addition to the PTM catalog.
[mp3] Portugal. The Man – The Dead Dog from American Ghetto (2010)
45. The Radio Dept – Clinging to a Scheme
4 years of waiting for Radio Dept to reappear and we get the throwback 70s love-pop of Clinging to a Scheme. Anyone that is a fan of the band was rewarded with a fresh and brilliant look into an act that has already stapled themselves as one of most important artists in Swedish pop music.
[mp3] Radio Dept – Heaven’s On Fire from Clinging to a Scheme (2010)
44. School of Seven Bells – Disconnect from Desire
The spiritual prowess of Disconnect from Desire is near impossible to ignore. Sprinkled with 80s-style estrogen fueled harmonies and Chemical Brothers crossed with Stereolab instrumentation, School of Seven Bells has made a silver bullet of a record that strikes the listener with the same passion fans are already used to.
[mp3] School of Seven Bells – I L U from Disconnect from Desire (2010)
43. Far – At Night We Live
While not the band I remember when I was in high school, this is still Far at their most genuine. At Night We Live is a no gimmicks, no postmodern guilt-trip bullshit, just a straight up rock powertrip, Far’s 10 year return compromises nothing but still has mass appeal. The rock royalty have returned to claim their throne. Do not miss out on this.
[mp3] Far – At Night We Live from At Night We Live (2010)
42. The Album Leaf – A Chorus of Storytellers
Usually Ryan Hadlock runs his ship called Album Leaf solo. However, with A Chorus of Storytellers, Hodlock compromises and let’s his entire band join in and create an intensely layered and dense record. Still a noticeable Album Leaf record, it has that beautiful simplicity that we love so much with it’s fair share of tear-jerking arrangements.
[mp3] The Album Leaf – Falling From The Sun from A Chorus of Storytellers (2010)
41. Deftones – Diamond Eyes
Deftones return to provide a shredding contemporary score for righteous three-finger devil salutes. The band recorded the album after their best friend and bassist Chi Cheng sustained a debilitating brain injury from a car accident in November of 2008. On Diamond Eyes, core members minus Chi balance pure guitar-induced carnage with more complex, though no less aggressive, modern metal that whips by so fast it creates its own breeze.
[mp3] Deftones – Rocket Skates from Diamond Eyes (2010)
40. S. Carey – All We Grow
This nine-song collection drifts down the path forged by the influx of lonely and isolated singer-songwriters of last year. S. Carey’s snow-blanketed harmonies live across the seasons. As much as Move is about regret, Mothers is about the warmth that gets you through it. Both expansive and intimate, these songs explore the darker and lighter natures of human emotion and what they signify, and offer a glimpse into the natural energy and refined craftsmanship that characterize S. Carey’s music.
[mp3] S. Carey – In The Dirt from All We Grow (2010)
39. Sun Kil Moon – Admiral Fell Promises
“No this is not my guitar, I’m bringing it to a friend.” As the cover of the album suggests, Admiral Fell Promises is intimate and as intrinsic as a Sun Kil Moon album comes. Even more so since this is Mark’s first SKM record with only that acoustic guitar. It’s obvious Spanish influence and familiar emotional transparency is as powerful as ever and is easy to fall deeply in love with.
[mp3] Sun Kil Moon – Ålesund from Admiral Fell Promises (2010)
38. Midlake – Courage of Others
While some believed that Midlake’s return was a dull follow-up to the masterful The Trials of Van Occupanther, I saw Courage of Others as worthy comeback for a band knows deep wooded harmonies so well. Dark rooted folk music with much 70s influence never sounded so atramentous and somber yet epically executed.
[mp3]Midlake – Rulers, Ruling All Things from Courage of Others (2010)
37. Hammock – Chasing After Shadows…Living With The Ghosts
The soundscapes that traverse through Chasing After Shadows…Living With The Ghosts are not unlike most albums from respectable instrumental duo, Hammock. The snow-capped monstrosity of their analog drones and meticulously layered live instrumentation fill the listener’s head with take them to a place unlike any other. This album is as innocent as it is earth-shattering.
[mp3] Hammock – The Backward Step from Chasing After Shadows…Living With The Ghosts (2010)
36. Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM
As much a Beck record as it is a Charlotte Gainsbourg record, IRM is a near flawless collaboration of two very talented artists. The payoff is a sexy and dusky album that dips into playfulness and confusion through an experience (Charlotte’s head injury in a water skiing accident in 2007) that sets the stage for quite an impressive album.
[mp3] Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM from IRM (2010)
35. Surfer Blood – Astro Coast
I feel like the band has been overexposed about their age and experience and not enough about how Astro Coast’s fuzzy and fun debut is one of the more important post-grunge records of 2010. This is without a doubt a summer record and a driving record, calling for carefree weekends and aimless adventure. A bit more polished than most of the garage rock bands to emerge this year, it’s still a blast to listen to.
[mp3] Surfer Blood – Swim from Astro Coast (2010)
34. Beach House – Teen Dream
Baltimore-based duo Beach House have built sounds that form a lush landscape. Ethereal voices blend into sonically spiritual guitars and a determined rhythm section. Teen Dream has more fully formed songs and vocals, although the duo’s ghostly carol is guided by dreamy melodies and slow-motion rhythms. This band is growing into a staple in modern dreamy music culture and will continue to do so as long as they keep this up.
[mp3] Beach House – Zebra (UK Edit) from Teen Dream (2010)
33. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
Bradford Cox’s love for artful pop music returns with another haunting yet surprisingly upbeat album. Blending serious poetry with lo-fi production and anything from gorgeous acoustic guitar to outrageous bleeps and buzzes, Halcyon Digest is a refreshing pocket of brilliance in an increasingly soulless landscape.
[mp3] Deerhunter – He Would Have Laughed from Halcyon Digest (2010)
32. Sleepy Sun – Fever
Through ragingly explosive highs and purposely mooney lows – more ups than downs, literally and critically –Sleepy Sun surely show off their greatest recording achievement to date here. The band switch between desert folk and cosmic soundscapes with admirable grace, held together by now ex-singer Rachel Fannan’s remarkably full-lunged vocals and Bret Constantino’s post apocalyptic vision of the world. This album is a monster.
[mp3] Sleepy Sun – Open Eyes from Fever (2010)
31. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz
Surprising pretty much everyone who has been a fan of his work, Sufjan creates a disarming and personal record that rivals the epic nature of his previous efforts. Focusing on loss, rebirth, and joy, Age of Adz sounds like a robotic orchestra marching into battle armed with symphonic horns and mechanisms that translate Sufjan’s message with grace and fortitude.
[mp3] Sufjan Stevens – I Walked from Age of Adz (2010)
30. Owen Pallett – Heartland
Whether you’ve chosen to follow the storyline or not, Heartland is unarguable a clever and radiant album who’s plot mirror’s the intricacies of it’s orchestration. The violins sing, shiver, slash and dance through each song; it sounds like a soundtrack, moving along in peculiar jumps and leaps to match it’s pulse pounding events. Treat this record like a chronicle and let it take you away.
[mp3] Owen Pallett – Lewis Takes Off His Shirt from Heartland (2010)
29. The Dead Weather – Sea Of Cowards
For me, Jack White is yet to be apart of project that doesn’t reek of unoriginality. The Dead Weather’s sophomore effort is nothing short of utter bluesy darkness and hellish riffs. White and Mosshart return with the perfect blend of unique voices which create a buckled and one of a kind onslaught of pure rock masculinity and bewitching fierceness. This is not a record for the faint of heart.
[mp3] The Dead Weather – Die by the Drop from Sea Of Cowards (2010)
28. The Black Keys – Brothers
You’ll be pleased to know that the Black Keys you may have loved from the days with Danger Mouse are back. But those of your wishing for Magic Potion can hang it up, this is a band that knows their roots while evolving in style. Actually, if you liked the BlakRoc collaboration with hip-hop producer and Black Keys fan Damon Dash, you’ll enjoy Brothers. The stomp-clap blues beat collides together with head knocking hip hop drums. It’s not as raw as some fans my want but The Black Keys take a genre of music that was once stale and lacked innovation and has revived it with hip flavor and sensual prowess.
The Black Keys – Tighten Up from Brothers (2010)
27. Max Richter – Infra
Never one to lack deep emotional aptitude, Max Richter brought cinematic score and post-modern classical music to a halt with Infra. Inspired by T.S. Elliot’s “The Wasteland”, the album reflects the story with carefully orchestrated piano, strings, and electronic movements. This sets the stage for a near perfect vision and mature composition that fits nicely among his many works. I am amazed every time I play this record and I doubt that will fade any time soon.
[mp3] Max Richter – infra 4 from Infra (2010)
26. Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma
Never has a Flying Lotus record been so heavily influenced by jazz, so much so that he features Ravi Coltrane on tenor sax to the album. Enhancing the mix with fundamentals of rock, soul, funk, ambient, and jazz, the modern fusions fail to go unnoticed, even by the casual listener. While most of the tracks are compiled by layering synth and dense bass, the production quality of the mosaic is unmatched.
[mp3] Flying Lotus – Do The Astral Plane from Cosmogramma (2010)