Best Music of 2010

I’ve never compiled a “best of” list, but in the back of my mind I’ve always had the yearning to. (And I’ve finally recovered from the school quarter, work, and the holidays, so now’s the best time to sit down and do it, eh?)

Below you’ll find a list of “regular” music (indie, blues, techno, pop, etc) that I have listened to the most and rated the highest over this wonderful year 2010. And below that list you’ll see my top metal picks for the year. Yes, you’ll notice my disgruntled attitude here and there regarding metal output; in the humble opinion of this listener, 2010 offered little in terms of innovation or originality on the metal front.
There is no rhyme or reason to the listed priority.


Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More

This debut has good folk songwriting, a good sound, and wonderful lyrical content. I listen to at least one song of this album once a week.

The Black Keys – Brothers

Their style keeps changing, which I find refreshing in a sea of retreads and maudlin creativity. This is one of my faves for the year.

The National – High Violet

These dudes just keep getting better and better. This album is perfect for a cold rainy night when you find that you just don’t have the answers. It’s moody, reflective and poetic. One of my faves for the year.

The Tallest Man on Earth – Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird [ep]

Sure, Kristian Matsson’s other full length release of the year, The Wild Hunt, was good, but his EP has something magical in it. He gives more musical range, and embeds more emotional punch in this one.

Spoon – Transference

As with most of my experiences with Spoon releases, this one took me a while to fully wrap my brain around, but once I did, this album stuck with me.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Beat the Devil’s Tattoo

BRMC begs you to pay attention (or not) to get something out of their music, at least that was the case I had experienced with their past releases, but not so on Beat the Devil’s Tattoo. It rocks.

Menomena – Mines

I enjoyed 2007’s Friend or Foe, but something about Mines blew me away: it’s honesty, moodiness and beautiful arrangements.

And So I Watch You From Afar – Letters [ep]

Their full length debut was a shit show of awesomeness, and on Letters, the band points to greater things to come without providing a stop gap. This is truly blisteringly tip-of-the-spear post-rock music.

The Main Street Gospel – Love Will Have Her Revenge

When asked the question of how they got their name, the band replied that “main street” connotes an egalitarian, cross populace image for listeners; everyone gets a mental picture when they hear the word main street. However, they never fully explained what the gospel part means. I don’t know that I can summon a concrete meaning either.

The Bright Light Social Hour – S/T

I discovered this group by accident, and don’t really remember the circumstances, but they are a gem. Fun, happy, boisterous, party music is what they make and embody. This album is great from front to back.

Ray LaMontagne – God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise

I’m a sucker, I know, but hey, it’s good.


Toundra – Toundra [II]

Here’s another spectacular post-rock offering. I’d never heard of this group, but their lack of notoriety does not belie musical inabilities: they have the compositional skills of Pink Floyd and balls out rocking abilities of Isis, all without vocals.

Vampire Weekend – Contra

It’s candy, saccharine sweet, but it does beg multiple listens.

Beach House – Teen Dream

I just discovered this group, and when I first listened to their music, I didn’t know what to make of the soft, understated songs, but upon further, closer listens, I realized the group intertwines odd melodies and lyrics to haunting effect. One of my favorites for the year.

Chief – Modern Rituals

These guys strum an understated, fad-free type of California rock. I came back to this album over and over again.

Gayngs – Relayted

Just amazing, amazing.

J. Tillman – Singing Ax

Again, Mr. Tillman crafts a subdued record rife with imagery, both religious and mythic. One might quickly skip over this “dull” album, but with some listening, it rewards.

Tame Impala – Innerspeaker

Reminiscent of 60’s psychedelic rock, Tame Impala explore a genre without aping it.

Caribou – Swim

I guess they call it psych pop or something. I don’t know, but this album is chill and dance-able.

Grails – Black Tar Prophecies

Yes, I want a new drug, as they say. Here’s Grails doing what they do best.

Holy Fuck – Latin

Another psych pop album I played excessively this year, but I’m not quite sure why.

Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown

I don’t care what the naysayers are pouting about. This album is good.

Nedry – Condors

I have seen some interesting resurgent attempts at trip-hop , or psych-hop, or whatever you want to call it. Here’s a more than enjoyable example.

Sumner Brothers – S/T

Discovered these guys by accident, but I’m glad I did. They play a folksy, country type of music, but don’t let these genres fool you. They are all heart. I believe every song.

Black Diamond Heavies – Alive as Fuck: Masonic Lodge, Covington, KY

The Black Diamond Heavies are probably one of those bands that once seen live, can never fully be appreciated on disc. Here’s an attempt.

Paul Cary – Ghost of a Man

Paul Cary plays old school blues rock with an acoustic guitar, and he does it quite well.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and the Cairo Gang – The Wonder Show of the World

I just don’t know how this guy can be so prolific and maintain such a high value in his work.

DeadHorse – We Can Create Our Own World

Post-rock can be an (over) over done thing, and although these guys use all the normal conventions, they craft a new an interesting album. I enjoyed it on repeated listens.

The Radio Dept. – Clinging to a Scheme

Delicate, melodic, and gentle at times, but this album still simmers under it all.

Trentemøller – Into the Great Wide Yonder

This is a different album altogether than Last Resort, but it’s amazingly good nonetheless.

The Walkmen – Lisbon

A return to form; I enjoyed.

Wolf People – Steeple

If someone just handed you this LP and asked what year you thought it was recorded, you’d probably say 1967, but you’d be wrong.

The Sleep Design – All That is Not Music is Silence

Very slow and mellow at times. I liked the reverb.

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

I never thought that I would really get into this band. I had listened to them a number of times in the past, but nothing really stuck with me. I got The Suburbs on a whim, listened to “We Used to Wait,” and was blow away, not just by the music, but by those words.

Broken Bells – S/T

I don’t know. It just sounds good in my ear holes.

Johnny Cash – American VI: Ain’t No Grave

It’s just great.

Pet Slimmers of the Year – …And the Sky Fell [ep]

It’s short, sweet and surly. These guys know how to play a metal version of post-rock quite well.

LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening

It’s all about those drunk girls.

The Redneck Manifesto – Friendship

Here’s some math/post-rock that doesn’t get overly noodley. In fact, it’s a pleasure to hear.


And now for my favorite genre.

Agalloch – Marrow of the Spirit

Yep, they finally came out with another LP, and although it goes more in the direction of the Swedish black metal tradition, it does not disappoint.

Harvey Milk – A Small Turn of Human Kindness

A friend of mine walked in while I was listening to this album, and he asked, “what the hell are you listening to?” Yes, Harvey Milk are not your most accessible band. Most people in the metal “world” don’t even accept them as one of their own kin, but who cares. The band has released tongue-in-cheek records in the past, but this one is something different.

High on Fire – Snakes for the Divine

If High on Fire put out an album a year until the day I died I would be a happy man. I don’t think that will happen, but everything they’ve put out thus far has more than satisfied me.

The Wounded Kings – The Shadow Over Atlantis

This is slow, slow heavy doom. These guys listened to Black Sabbath’s eponymous song for what sounds like twenty years straight, then decided to make their own music. You can easily tell that the song Black Sabbath is burnished into their musical psyches.

Age of Taurus – In the Days of the Taurean Empire… [ep]

Here’s one that snuck up on me. I randomly found it, didn’t have much in the way of expectations, but I realized quickly that these doomsters know what they are doing. They’ve got a great guitar tone, an accomplished eye for good metal songs, and vocals that sound like Albert Witchfinder from Reverend Bizarre.

Ghost – Opus Eponymous

Amazingly gruesome. I have to see these guys when they play in the US.

Melvins – The Bride Screamed Murder

Yeah, it’s good, especially live.

Grand Magus – Hammer of the North

The sound changes slightly with each new record, but I think that’s a good thing. They get it right on their newest.

Early Man – Death Potion

They just get better and better.

Thou – Summit

I hadn’t heard of this band before reading a review somewhere, and true, they deliver an abrasive form of sludge, but they do so with a purpose. They relay a dystopic vision of the earth, one not so far from what we live in now. This album sends chills up my spine.

This entry was posted in Black Metal, Blues, Death Metal, Doom Metal, Indie, Techno.

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