Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Best Albums of 2010

Last year I literally waited until December 31st to post my top 5 albums, but I have to say this year was less gut-wrenching. As I reflect on the year, I'm amazed that my scope is just getting bigger and bigger without losing my pop sensibility. When I started this blog, I just wanted to turn people on to good music, no matter the artist or genre. If this list doesn't prove that, nothing will...

#5. Kings Of Leon - Come Around Sundown
The Followill clan had a pretty tough act to follow with the massive success of Only By The Night. However, instead of pleasing the older fans and returning to their rock roots or making another top 40 album for the new fans and cash; they did neither. Maybe they have enough money, or don't really feel the need to prove their success, but these guys made a great album seem effortless. There are no anthems, no dirty late night rockers, just a seamless album that show yet another side of this talented band. When everyone was going for lo-fi this year, this was an album that was meant to be heard, clearly and confidently.

#4. A-Trak - Dirty South Dance 2
A few years ago Billboard named Diplo's Never Scared mix as one of their top ten albums of the year. At the time it was a bold move, especially since Diplo was fairly unknown. But it taught me something. The value of production, mixing and accessibility. DJ are the new (or maybe they always have been) litmus test. If they can get an entire room moving and dancing with a wide array of obscure tracks and remixes, who's to say that isn't a talent worth recognizing. A-Trak gave this away for free and it has not faded or stopped banging since this summer. Blending hip hop vocals and electronic beats isn't anything new. But to hear the mix, the energy and the skills; he simply made a classic.

#3. Junip - Fields
The Swedish trio have been all over my blog this year, so I hope you took notice. I gave you a track from the Black Refuge Ep and reviewed their Chicago show as well. I was glad to see them showing up on a few best of lists, because it sadly went under the radar this year. I joked that it took them 10 years to make a proper debut album, but I'd wait another decade for something this good. You know you have a great album when every time you listen to it, you finish with a new favorite song. Is it the keys in "Rope & Summit", the lyrics of "In Every Direction" or that damn bottle in "Howl"? It's pretty much everything.

#2. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
I recently read an article where James Murphy said "When people call us 'electronic', it makes me want to pull my eyeballs out... Disco is dance music, and disco was played by bands". This entire year when people asked me to describe LCD, I was at a lost for words, often comparing them to the Talking Heads. But, I knew it. They were making disco, and I was too afraid to even utter the words out of my mouth. Honestly, who listens to disco? Even better, who admits to making disco music? This talented band does and if you aren't embarrassed to be dancing and bobbing your head, please pick this up.

#1. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
This album is without a doubt, a game changer. I simply refuse to hate on this guy. There is a reason he's getting 5 star reviews and on most, if not all best of lists. We always knew he was a great producer, and most of his albums leaned heavy on beats. But, this time around Kanye pushed aside his ego and brought honesty and emotion to a hip hop album like no one has ever done before. You want a hit? Blast "All of the Lights". You want soul? Try "Devil in a New Dress". A hip hop summit? Throw on "Monster. A classic? Toast them assholes on "Runaway". How about a laugh? "Who the fuck got your pussy all reupholstered?". Kanye West is a bad dude.

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