Making a list for the best albums of 2010 has been a process. When I first realized the time approached for me to consider this years best music, I wondered if I had heard enough new stuff this year that warranted consideration. I suppose the year had seemed so long that much of what I had heard didn’t occur to me initially, but as I compiled a playlist to draw consideration from, I realized that a top 5 list would not suffice, that certainly 10 artists and groups had submitted worthy material to their catelogue. There are newcomers, comebacks, genre benders and those who cement their greatness. This year was strong, and leaves definite hope for quality to persist and the avid critic and listener of music to be continually satiated.
10. Gorillaz- Plastic Beach
A cartoon band. The singer from Blur took a radical departure with this project and its become the main outlet for his art, and the world is better for it. Every album has been unique and distinctly its own. Let’s hope Damon Albarn keeps running with this one of a kind, what was once a side, now a main project
Must DL: White Flag feat. (yes that’s right) the Lebanese Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music
Bluesy and folk infused rock. This band is fairly new, and I hope to hear more from them in the future. They make their mark with solid musicianship, great songwriting, and one of a kind vocals.
Must DL: Old Man Chicago
I may be biased as this band has Alaskan roots, but these guys are hard workers and equally impressive musicians. Psychedelic rock is their chief ingredient, but with their 5th album in as many years, they’ve mixed layers of MGMT style electronic/dance vibes. It is a welcome novelty for them, and keeps things fresh. They’ve signed a big deal, and I sense that they won’t be lesser knowns for long.
Must DL: The Dead Dog
I wasn’t sold on Drake with his mix tape. I loved the down tempo vibe he embraced with his instrumentals, and always appreciate the more raw and vulnerable lyrical content from the hip hop genre. But I felt his vocal style was rather monotone. While this could still be seen as a gripe I have, the production quality and the guest spots make this a bright spot for the future of the genre.
Must DL: Light Up feat. Jay Z
James Mercer of The Shins and Danger Mouse. That’s just a brilliant collaboration. Indie pop and indie rock sentiments, Danger Mouse quality production, there is just way too much to love on with this album. And the parties involved want in to be addressed as a legitmate band, not simply a side project. This is a good thing. Strings, pianos, guitars, random mariachi style interludes, chalk it up as an orgy of musical brilliance.
Must DL: High Road
Oddly enough, one of the strengths of Marshal Mather’s latest entry is how flawed it is. There are definite stretches to finish a rhyme, something Em has always done. There are some mehhh moments, but their are ridiculous moments of triumph on this album. There was never a moment like that on Relapse. Slim Shady takes a backseat, and Em bares all about his road to sobriety and finding love for the art of hip hop again. He demonstrates how he can halfass and still carry a song past 80% of what the competition comes up with, and then he shows up in full force on tracks like “Not Afraid” and “No Love”, the dude is just in another stratosphere as a lyricist. It’s a triumphant, even if self created and semi self indulgant comeback.
Must DL: “No Love” feat. Lil Wayne
If you’re ready to be challenged, listen to any selection from this Jazz/Thrash/Experimental metal outfit. This latest album being no exception, I dabbled here on and off throughout the year. The sheer audacity of it, I found myself saying “can you really assault the auditory senses that much”. They insist that they can while in the same song shifting into moments of simplistic beauty. Take for example the must DL track: Farewell, Mona Lisa.
Still at it, and still relevant. Not only does this feel like going back to some groovy bluesy Zeppelin sounds, Robert Plant is able to have a contemperary and modern zest throughout. Examples being “Silver Rider” and “Even This Shall Pass Away”. This was an easy choice for one of the years best.
Must DL: Angel Dance
With his first 3 albums, Kanye blended modern hip hop production with his eclectic pallet whilst being a descent MC/lyricist. His vocal style and word play got better with every album. This time, he’s just not messing around. It’s as if the more he publically humiliates himself, the deeper he goes into the rabbit hole of his mind. I find something to admire in the unrepentant arrogance and assholery that Yeezy revels in. This album is in a league of its own, wholly uncompareable to any of its predecessors. I won’t leave it past him to top it, but I also won’t be surprised if when the door shuts on the career of K West that this will be seen as his Magnum Opus.
Must DL: So Appalled feat. a shit ton of people
The greatest part of what many are calling AF’s Ok Computer…it feels like they are just getting started. Let’s just hope they follow the pattern of what followed an Ok Computer, a BloodSugarSexMagik, an Aenima or Marshal Mathers LP. Basically, much more goodness is to come. I new at first listen that this was Arcade Fire’s most complete project. It’s a fully realized concept that covers a variety of moods and tempos. They tone down the apocalyptic doom that was on Neon Bible, but keep the melancholic and at times frantic flavor that makes this band, once indie darlings, now full fledged rock stars,
Must DL: the album…if I have to choose ‘Ready to Start’
Disturbed- Asylum, Nick Minaj- Pink Friday, Kid Cudi- Man on the Moon II, Lil’ Wayne- I’m Not A Human Being,
Kid Rock- Born Free, My Chemcial Romance- Danger Days, The Sword- Warpriders