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Top 10 Albums of 2010

Music in 2010 brought us…uh yeah.   I’m sure some important stuff happened.  Did Kanye West act like an immature tool again?  Katy Perry liked to show off her massive rack, that was cool I guess.  Most critics were busy praising their little overhyped “indie” bands like Arcade Fire (our music is so quirky and complex it must be good, right?

In spite of all this, I was impressed by how much awesome music was released this past year.  It made my annual top-10 favorites list very hard to pick.  But for those curious and want my opinion, here y’all is:

10.  Court Yard Hounds – Court Yard Hounds

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MFg13eW478

The two Dixie Chicks that aren’t Natalie Maines stick together and record an album under a different name when Maines wasn’t interested in making new music at this point.  And the results are…pretty damn good.  The songs lack Maines’ charismatic voice (some of these would be classic DC songs) but Emily Robison handles the singing duties well enough, even though she sounds almost exactly like Sheryl Crow for some reason.

9.  Lucky Soul – A Coming Of Age

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukq8xcwKUPU

Is it just me or are all these retro bands from England really cool?  It’s probably just me.  This is Lucky Soul’s 2nd album, which expands on their awesome old-school girl-group sound, complete with catchy sing-along melodies and peppy horns.

8.   The New Pornographers – Together

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpZa8Ie1FEU

Another great record from the “indie supergroup,” this band remarkably always finds new ways to make each song sound like the most original piece of music you’ve ever heard.  Not bad for a band that was banned from playing a concert at some college in Grand Rapids just because of their name.

7.  Jenny and Johnny – I’m Having Fun Now

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEmpKHWerWg

“Jenny” is Jenny Lewis, former child actor and Rilo Kiley singer.  “Johhny” is…some jack-wipe she’s dating that’s not me.  Jealousy aside, this is another great album from Lewis as she’s become one of the most consistently great singer/songwriters of our time.  And she was in “The Wizard” with Fred Savage!

6.  Dead Weather – Sea of Cowards

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0YI0UUazkU

Another year, another great set of songs from Jack White.  What can’t this dude do?  I swear, Disney could ask him to provide the soundtrack to their next schmaltzy kids movie and he would turn it into the coolest set of songs this side of Peabo Bryson.  Jack White praise aside, singer Alison Mosshart really shines here.  And most of the songs sound like sleazy Deep Purple songs from the mid-70’s.

5.  Grace Potter & the Nocturnals – Grace Potter & the Nocturnals

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-Ty0PIrbsI

A great example of the “small town band trying to hit it big” story, these guys apparently have made their reputation over the last several years as one of the best live acts around.  Think of the bluesy swagger of the Black Crowes mixed with Bonnie Raitt, but with an even more powerful voice. 

4.  She and Him – Volume 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZ3cTwI9bIw

Another album for the Zooey Deschanel/M. Ward duo.  More retro-old timey fun from these two, as Zooey has a very distinctive voice that you’ll either find adorable or want to stab her in her big crazy eyes.  I’m just impressed that a well-known actress would choose to write and sing this type of music instead of the auto-tune bullcrap.

3.  Best Coast – Crazy For You

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Sj5_WITMpA

An addictively catchy, simple set of songs about love, summer and weed, Bethany Cosentino sings melodic Beach Boys-style pop songs over what sounds like an early 90’s grunge band, complete with haunting reverb.  She used to be a child actor too, although I don’t think she ever was in anything opposite Fred Savage.

2.  The Like – Release Me

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42p2nERiNFk

These guys’ debut record from 2005 was an ok alternative rock album that wasn’t bad but wasn’t great.  Instead of following up with the same formula, they decided to climb on the British-inspired 60’s retro sound like the cool kids over there are doing and they nailed it out the friggin’ park.  This album is so much fun you’ll want to listen to it over and over and sing along in your car until the people in the lane next to you start laughing and throwing garbage at you.

1.  Kate Nash – My Best Friend Is You

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqV-embx_tA

In the tradition of Lily Allen, Ms. Nash is another talented singer/songwriter from the UK that seems to be pissed off a lot.  The difference is Kate plays her own instruments as well.  Her debut album from 2007 showed a glimpse of what she was capable of, and she along with Allen perfected the art of creating cheery, bouncy music together with bitterly angry lyrics.  Her 2nd album finds her expanding her ideas and the results are amazing; from her normal poppy songs to heavier punk tunes to one where she literally breaks down and recites a rambling, pissed off poem about slutty girls.  Not everything she tries works (she needs to work on her “screaming” voice for the heavier songs) but I’m always a fan of a talented musician trying to branch out musically.

So yeah I now realize that my musical tastes have drifted towards cheery pop music written primarily by women in their early 20’s.  I may need to talk to some people.

Honorable mentions:

Juliana Hatfield – Peace and Love

Teenage Fanclub  - Shadows

Stone Temple Pilots – Stone Temple Pilots

Scissor Sisters – Night Work

The Apples in Stereo – Travellers in Space and Time


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