Here is what you have all been waiting for. The top 15 albums of 2010. Broken down into 3 parts. (15 thru 11) – (10 thru 6) -(5 to 1)
Today we present our final batch.. So enjoy numbers 5 through 1..
It’s been a great year for music, See you again in January!
5) The Black Keys – Brothers
Retreating from the hazy Danger Mouse-fueled pot dream of Attack & Release, the Black Keys headed down to the legendary Muscle Shoals, recording their third album on their own and dubbing it Brothers. The studio, not to mention the artwork patterned after such disregarded Chess psychedelic-era relics as This Is Howlin’ Wolf’s New Album, are good indications that the tough blues band of the Black Keys earliest records is back, but the group hasn’t forgotten what they’ve learned in their inwardly psychedelic mid-period.Brothers still can get mighty trippy — the swirling chintzy organ that circles “The Only One,” the Baroque harpsichord flair of “Too Afraid to Love You” — but the album is built with blood and dirt, so its wilder moments remain gritty without being earthbound. Sonically, that scuffed-up spaciness — the open air created by the fuzz guitars and phasing, analog keyboards, and cavernous drums — is considerably appealing, but the Black Keys ace in the hole remains the exceptional songwriting Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are so good at as they twist a Gary Glitter stomp into swamp fuzz blues, steal a title from Archie Bell & the Drells but never reference that classic Tighten Up groove, or approximate a slow ‘60s soul crawl on “Unknown Brother” and follow it up with a version of Jerry Butler’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and it’s nearly impossible to tell which is the cover. And that’s the great thing about the Black Keys in general and Brothers in particular: the past and present intermingle so thoroughly that they blur, yet there’s no affect, just three hundred pounds of joy.
4) LCD SOUNDSYSTEM- This Is Happening
Following up Sound of Silver was never going to be easy for LCD Soundsystem. There was so much positive reaction from music fans, the press, from everywhere, really, that almost any move James Murphy made was bound to be seen as inferior, or at the very least, flawed in some way. To his credit, he doesn’t try to do anything dramatically different on This Is Happening. There are no attempts to hit the top of the charts (a point made crystal clear in the song “You Wanted a Hit”); conversely, there are no attempts to dirty up the sound or make it more challenging. There are no radically new elements added to the LCD sound, nothing subtracted either. Murphy is definitely a savvy enough musician to know when things have gotten stale and need to be changed up; he at some point must have decided (correctly) that the time for a reboot hadn’t arrived yet for LCD. Another record of long, dancefloor friendly disco-fied jams mixed with punchy rockers and paced with a couple introspective midtempo ballads is still perfectly acceptable, especially when it’s as tightly arranged, energetically played, and thoughtfully constructed as Happening is. Murphy’s highly skilled production is all over the record, from the squelchy layers of synths, the dry punch of the drums, and the tricks and surprises that bring the songs to life, to the way he makes it sound like a live band when it’s just him (though there are the occasional people helping out, most notably Nancy Whang on backing vocals). And while there isn’t a song as staggeringly emotional as Silver’s “All My Friends,” or as simply and heartfelt as its N.Y.C. tribute “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down,” Murphy continues to expand as a songwriter and lyricist. He’s still the master of deadly zingers (“Eat it Michael Musto/You’re no Bruce Vilanch”) and hilarious streams of lyrical gems (all of “Drunk Girls”), but songs like the nakedly emotional “I Can Change” (which includes the sweetly romantic plea for someone to “bore me and hold me and cling to my arm”) and the insistently melancholy “Somebody’s Calling Me” show continued growth and impressive range. Of course, if you aren’t all that interested in lyrics, artistic growth, and feelings, you can just crank up songs like “One Touch,” “Pow Wow,” or “Home” real loud and dance. At heart,Murphy remains a dance music producer and these tracks reveal him at the top of his game.This Is Happening doesn’t quite reach the monumental heights of Sound of Silver, but it serves as an almost-there companion and further proof that LCD Soundsystem is one of the most exciting and interesting bands around in the 2000s.
3) SPOON- Transference
You can’t help but grin at this self-produced seventh offering from the indie stalwarts, who came awfully close to hitting the mainstream with their 2007 album, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, and have now retreated to a perfect distillation of the Spoon sound: steady staccato rhythms, occasional guitar bursts, and the wry vocals of frontman Britt Daniel. It may pretty much lack any semblance of conventional verse-chorus-verse structure, but for those who find the metronomic abstractions of this band soothing,Transference is exactly what you crave, unadorned.
2) SLEIGH BELLS- Treats
It’s worth noting that Derek Miller, the multi-instrumentalist who is one-half of Sleigh Bells, cut his chops in the seminal Florida hardcore act Poison the Well. Worth noting for those already attuned to the considerable hype surrounding Treats, because that band’s 2003 release, You Before You, is one of the heaviest and downright strangest records ever to come out on a major label, and it would right a sad oversight if Miller’s recent critical currency found it a new audience. But his hardcore roots should be plastered across the cover of Treats for the sake of all newcomers too, who might believe critics when they bill Sleigh Bells as an electro-pop/dance act. Not that those labels are wrong, but buyer beware: Passion Pit this is not.
When it comes to high-decibel dance-rock carnage, no one does it quite like Sleigh Bells. The international underground scene surrounding acts like Crystal Castles and Fuck Buttons has encouraged electronic musicians to seek inspiration in rock music’s more ear-splitting environs, but even so, electro-pop has never sounded this furiously kinetic. The searing finale to “Infinity Guitars,” the ruthless atonal chug of “Crown on the Ground,” and at least a half dozen other moments on Treats could chew straight through Justice’s amp-frying arena rave.
The whole affair is over and done within one visceral half-hour, which means Miller and his conspirator, vocalist Alexis Krauss, don’t have a minute to waste. So they don’t even squander a second. “Tell ‘Em,” is the best album opener I’ve heard all year, with Miller’s heavy metal guitar riffs soaring right over the stop-stuttered bazooka beats and syncopated snaps, while Krauss slant-rhymes “Drink champagne” with “Do your best today,” centered, aloof, and poised amid Miller’s blustering sonic hurricane. As a call to the dance floor, mosh pit, or wherever it is that folks from your scene get down, it’s undeniable. Closing track “Treats” cribs as much from Sabbath as the opener does from Maiden, but there’s a lot more to Miller’s box of tricks than hard rock idolatry. For one thing, he’s as capable behind his laptop as he is with a six-string, as demonstrated by the rumbling electro-clash synths on “Rachel” or the rubbery dub-step beats that push “Run the Heart” along.
Miller might be the group’s genius soundsmith, but Krauss is at least his equal as an entertainer. Her vocals range as freely in their influences as Miller’s riffs and beats, borrowing cadences and sing-songy melodies from the likes of ’80s hip-hop, jump-rope rhymes, and vintage girl-group pop. On “Rill, Rill,” she doesn’t rap, but the airy confidence with which she sings over a sample from Funkadelic’s “Can You Get to That” hearkens back to the old-school rap game, when MCs would rhyme over classic soul and funk samples, emphasizing stylish entertainment over chest-thumping athleticism. Her charming lyrics about schoolgirl anxieties over boyfriends and braces, not to mention her appealing flow on “Kids,” suggest a spiritual sisterhood with the Go! Team’s similarly likeable frontwoman, Ninja.
Still, talking about the album this way, with the individual ideas and performances dissected for close scrutiny, does the album a disservice. Ninety percent of what makes Treats the exhilarating, inexhaustibly repeatable listen that is comes from the dynamic interplay between the component parts. In that respect, Treats recalls one of last year’s much-lauded debuts: the xx’s xx. Like those British upstarts, Miller and Krauss have a knack for making the smallest variations on their sound come across as revelations, a gift for subtle dynamism which gives its most gratifying payout when, already seven thrilling cuts deep, you realize that Sleigh Bells has saved their five best songs for last. “Straight A’s” sounds like the Yeah Yeahs Yeahs covering Lightning Bolt, but “A/B Machines” sounds like absolutely nothing else: It’s a seamless, three-minute mash-up of three decades’ worth of underground music from no wave to grime, but it doesn’t sound like someone’s idea of an art project. It just rocks, making serrated guitar leads and groovy synths sound like the most natural of combinations.
Which is maybe the coolest thing about Treats: Even though it’s as ambitious an exercise in freeform genre-splicing and pure, amp-blowing volume as has been attempted in the past few years, it’s always at least as fun as it is smart, taking the three great pillars of guilty-pleasure music (deafening arena-rock swagger, sugary pop hooks, and delirious dance beats) and rolling them together into a singularly appealing cacophony. Which means it’s no surprise that Treats is a giddy delight on the first listen. And for listeners afraid that music so dependent on its sense of immediacy won’t hold up after a few months of listening, I say go ahead and try ’em: If it’s Sleigh Bells’s hooks versus your ear drums, I have a feeling the latter’s going to give out first.
1) Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
Perennially underrated during OutKast’s heyday, Big Boi has seen his profile dip further in the four years since the duo’s last release. Now safely landed on a new label after an extended stay in industry limbo, the Atlanta rapper is back with a stunningly realized solo debut, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty.
The pressure to swing for surefire pop hits after all those delays must have been immense. Instead, Big Boi summons the restless risk-taking spirit of OutKast’s most essential work, yielding a richer set than his half of their 2003 double album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Ready with a nimble flow no matter the backdrop, he touts his high-flying party life over bombastic opera (”General Patton”), chrome-bright electro (”Shutterbugg”), wiggly funk (”Follow Us”), and anything else that comes his way. Guest verses and hooks from stylistic heirs like Janelle Monáe, T.I., and Gucci Mane enhance the disc’s contemporary cred but never outshine its central star.
OutKast’s Andre 3000, meanwhile, appears only as a producer (the vertebrae-rattling ”You Ain’t No DJ”), reportedly due to further music-biz mishegoss. It’s a regrettable absence. But the fact that this album feels so complete even without any words from his old partner reinforces just what peak form Big Boi is in. A fantastic album and our number 1 album of 2010!