December 9, 2010

The Best Albums of 2010 :: 15-1

PhotobucketRobyn - Body Talk
The culmination of the Body Talk series, this is mainstream pop music that anyone can get behind: smart lyrics, vibrant production, fast tempos and the charismatic personality of Robyn, who lends an intimate touch and relatability to each song.
Sample: "Call Your Girlfriend"

PhotobucketJustin Townes Earle - Harlem River Blues
Drenched in the blues, country, gospel and bluegrass, this son and namesake of legendary figures Steve Earle and Townes Van Zandt records his move from the South to New York City with a slew of whip-smart songs about Brooklyn, the MTA and a baptism/suicide in the Harlem River.
Sample: "Harlem River Blues"

PhotobucketDr. Dog - Shame, Shame
One of the more consistent roots-inclined rock bands of the past decade, Dr. Dog seem to grow only stronger with each release, especially here on Shame, Shame—their first recording experience outside of their own home studio.
Sample: "Stranger" 

PhotobucketThe National - High Violet
Intensely belabored over and carefully constructed, always strained and always subtle, this densely packed record takes time and repeated listens to unravel—but when it finally does it's nothing short of masterful.
Sample: "Bloodbuzz Ohio"

PhotobucketKisses - The Heart of The Nightlife
The constant smack of the drum machine, the rhythmic dance of clean-toned guitars, and the friendly melodic pull of brightly lit synthesizers give this disco record a simultaneously intimate and expansive tone that makes it ripe for the dance-floor or a pair of headphones.
Sample: "People Can Do The Most Amazing Things"

PhotobucketFree Energy - Stuck On Nothing
The formula is simple for Free Energy: it's big guitar riffs and wild arena-rock solos, anthemic sing-along choruses, and pounding bass and drums with the occasional cowbell, all executed with a rare post-ironic sincerity—this one's for the kids.
Sample: "Dream City"

PhotobucketMenomena - Mines
Portland's Menomena are a relentlessly dynamic rock band that—thanks in part to their three-headed songwriting attack—have delivered another wildly inventive and creative monster of craft and tone with Mines.
Sample: "Taos"

PhotobucketSpoon - Transference
Perhaps even more meticulously crafted than The National's High Violet, this is Spoon's gift for the true album connoisseur—a wily collection of nuanced rock songs that thrive in their angular construction and mercurial nature, revealing a deeper interconnectedness with each repeated listen.

PhotobucketBeach House - Teen Dream
A lullaby to end all lullabies, Teen Dream is this Baltimore duo's masterpiece—a perfectly executed album filled with all that is hushed, ethereal and fleetingly beautiful.
Sample: "Norway"

PhotobucketTame Impala - Innerspeaker
Like the sparse landscape of the band's own Perth, Innerspeaker is infused with the natural patterns and geometry of the world: rolling hills, stretches of dessert, and washes of coastline all colored with the psychedelic Crayon of Dark Side of the Moon-era guitar work and hammering drums.
Sample: "Alter Ego"

PhotobucketJosh Ritter - So Runs The World Away
The scale of Josh Ritter's sixth album spans from extreme distances of time to the small and richly complex details of everyday life—a densely packed portrait of the world drawn with strokes of dissonant guitars, seas of percussion and soaring choruses.
Sample: "Change of Time"

PhotobucketJoanna Newsom - Have One On Me
A triple album with no filler, no forgettable moment, and not a single cliche or contrived lyric—this is simply a once-in-a-generation songsmith stretching her legs, and they're quite long.

PhotobucketPhosphorescent - Here's To Taking It Easy
After dipping his toe in the country water with last year's Willie Nelson covers album, Matthew Houck has refined and sharpened his musical vision to create an album that is part rowdy last-call cheer and part half-drunk heartbreak—a true classic destined for the country music cannon.
Sample: "It's Hard To Be Humble (When You're From Alabama)"

PhotobucketThe Walkmen - Lisbon
Recorded live with hardly a speck of distortion, the Walkmen's Lisbon is an old fashioned record in that you can clearly hear every instrument and their woven conversations with one another—it's a wide open and beautiful sound with not a single effect or computer trick to hide behind.
Sample: "Stranded"

PhotobucketALBUM OF THE YEAR: 
Blake Mills - Break Mirrors
An exceptionally talented session and touring guitarist quietly released his debut record this year with little press or fanfare—and it's nothing short of brilliant. From the opening raise of the glass "Cheers" to the hammering build of "Winter Song" and the irresistible two-chord jammer "Hey Lover," this an album destined for your desert island collection. In short, buy this fucking record. Then tell your friends to buy it too.
Sample: "Hey Lover"

Blake Mills


  1. kudos for giving the walkmen the recognition they deserve. they'll be ranking high for me as well i'm sure. it seems like many others have widely disregarded this record, but it's their loss.

  2. Seriously, I can't believe Lisbon is being overlooked. Perhaps people aren't taking the proper time to get into it. It's definitely a complete album rather than a vehicle for any particular single.

  3. loooove the Joanna Newsom.

    The National? their appeal is a complete mystery to me. that man's voice makes me want to shove an ice pick in my ear.

  4. BREAK MIRRORS! hell yes. i love blake mills. i'm glad other people do, too.

  5. I honestly feel that Break Mirrors, if only for its brilliant and hilarious title, deserved a slot in the top 25. That it's super amazing on a musical level (and thus deserving of an even greater honor) clearly wasn't lost on you. I have zero problems with this choice.

  6. Break Mirrors is hands down my favorite album this year! A well put together list. No Local Natives?

  7. Lisbon is too good, i've had "torch song" on repeat for a while. Now i guess i need to sit down with this "blake mills" character...

  8. "dessert island" sounds pretty fucking awesome.

  9. @Colin I'll be firing my team of copy editors first thing Monday morning.

  10. since we were talking about it previously, i thought you might be interested ;-)

  11. Good to see dr. dog on your list, their studio stuff just keeps get better and better.

  12. where can i buy blake mill's album? i want it in cd format, not mp3. i'm old fashioned. i'm also in canada, and i don't want to pay $20 shipping and handling.
    amy.d.simpson at gmail.

  13. CD at or 7" vinyl at