2010 was a difficult year for music, despite there being so much of it to choose from. Some high profile albums made no mark on me, while some that crept in under doorway became obsessions. There were albums from other years that arrived and had the same effect, but for the purposes of this rundown, I have focused solely on releases from the calendar year 2010. So here we go!
10. TIE – How I Got Over – The Roots: It’s become a mantra around here – The Roots can do anything they want. On this album, they prove it once again.
Something for Everybody – Devo: All Devo had to do was sound like themselves without flaccidly mimicking their older material. Amazingly, they pulled it off.
9. We’re Here Because We’re Here – Anathema: It doesn’t matter that they’re light years away from their black metal roots. Anathema’s return brings beauty, guitar firepower, positive energy and an incredible track like “Dreaming Light” to an already transformative discography.
8. Heaven Is Whenever – The Hold Steady: Up until this album, I had no interest in the Hold Steady’s songs of suburban roadhouse debaucheries or Craig Finn‘s voice. Oddly, with hard rock tracks like “The Smidge” and “Soft In The Center” the band found a sweet spot somewhere between Elvis Costello and AC/DC.
7. The Lady Killer – Cee-Lo Green: Forget the profanity-laced hit track if you can, and forget that the first Gnarls Barkley album wasn’t as good as it’s hit track, “Crazy.” On The Lady Killer, Cee-Lo has filled a disc top-to-bottom with modern soul that feels real and sounds great.
6. Burning Like The Midnight Sun – The Choir: This, along with the band’s acoustic reworks album De-Plumed, marked not only a year of high productivity for The Choir, but a high point in their career, period.
5. Bang Goes The Knighthood – The Divine Comedy: Neil Hannon makes orchestral pop out of subjects both ordinary and workmanlike, and winds up doing it with wit and incessant hummability.
4. Intriguer – Crowded House: 2010 may have been a banner year for new albums from old bands, but few had the vitality that Neil Finn and company displayed on this release.
3. High Violet – The National: You’ll hear more from me about this album later in the week. Suffice it to say this is the album where the band arrives as more than an indie buzz band, but as a unique entity.
2. Old Angel – The Lost Dogs: After a long period of melancholy, the Lost Dogs emerge from the woods of personal rebuilding with an album as focused and worthy as anything they have ever done.
And my #1 for 2010 is…
1. Inception Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Hans Zimmer: It says more about the attitude of this soundtrack than any lack of attitude from other, more mainstream releases this year that Hans Zimmer’s score for Christoper Nolan’s Inception has a dark, rock and roll vibe, even though it is an orchestral/electronic hybrid. It doesn’t hurt the cause that Johnny Marr’s guitar weaves through it all, but his contributions are stark and minimalistic and never hog the spotlight.
And my least favorite album, in a veritable sea of least favorites, would have to be…
Cannibal – Kesha: I refuse to do that stupid dollar sign thing with her name, not just because it is idiotic, but any contact with this Kesha person, even only audibly, is like receiving an STD from a mentally handicapped person who has learned about human sexuality solely from idiot songs such as the type Kesha trades in. Eardrum-piercing feedback loops would be more edifying than her music.