Best Albums of 2010

Here we are again with one of those best of lists that I do, they take ages, very few people read them and still I don’t care, it has become an obsession to try and complete every year I can. Why? No idea. I started this one months ago so it’s probabaly wrong by now.

50 – Interpol – Interpol

I haven’t listened to this album until now so it may move up over time as I did really like their debut ‘Turn On the Bright Lights’ which I discovered via a mix CD that I was sent, it had the track PDA on it. The band took a break for several years but returned recently with anew album so I’ll have to give that a listen as well.

49 – Anaïs Mitchell – Hadestown

I know literally nothing about this artist or album so I had to go and have a look and a listen as it appears in several best of lists for 2010. Hadestown is the fourth album by Vermont-based Anaïs Mitchell. The concept album follows a variation on the Ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, where Orpheus must embark on a quest to rescue his wife Eurydice from the underworld, so that’s me sold on it as I love that sort of thing. Several of the songs feature singers other than Mitchell, including Justin Vernon (better known as lead vocalist and guitarist of Wisconsin-based band Bon Iver), Ani DiFranco, Greg Brown, and Tanya, Petra and Rachel Haden (referred to in the track listing as ‘The Haden Triplets’).

48 – Yeasayer – Odd Blood

This is another album that appeared in a lot of end of year lists and I do remember giving it a listen at the time, I liked it well enough, but I still don’t understand what about it made it be top 10 for some people.

47 – Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest

This was not on my radar at all in 2010 so another first listen for me. I’m a fan of desire trails as a thing, so it’s nice to see a song with that as a title. In June 2010, Deerhunter took a short break from touring to record Halcyon Digest. Initial news of the album became public when music industry firm, Milk Money, posted a message on their Twitter account that the band had been mixing the new record with Ben Allen (who also worked on Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion and Fall Be Kind EP.)

46 – Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM

Full disclosure, I love Charlotte Gainsbroug, so I am somewhat incapapble of not saying nice things, although this album doesn’t deserve bad words being said about it so I feel safe in saying that this is a very good album. she is, of course, the daughter of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg but having appeared in 40 or 50 movies and released several albums I think she is well out from under the shadow of her parents now.

45 – Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here

I know the earlier releases pretty well but didn’t pick up on this when it was released, which is ok as I get to listen to it now and maybe, being a little older, appreciate it more than I would have even only 9 years ago. That I now feel the need to pick up a copy for myself is testament to how good the album is. I was touched by opener ‘On Coming From a Broken Home (pt 1)’ and suprised by ‘Me And The Devil’, and on it went until I reached the end of the album without realising where the time had gone.

44 – Forest Swords – Dagger Paths

Technically an E.P. but I like Forest Swords, and I make the rules, so here it is, alos it was re-released with extra tracks and became an album later, sort of. I first stumbled upon this when making a spotify playlist, just listening to random tracks and adding them if I liked them. I then bought the last album, ‘Compassion’, which you will find in Albums Of The Year 2017 at number 5.

43 – Beach House – Teen Dream

Something that very rarely happes is my good lady wife reccomending a band to me, which she did about 6 weeks ago, and it was Beach House. I’d never heard of them and this irks me somewhat that she had the gall to recommend something to me I didn’t know. Hmph! It was a live performance and despite trying hard, on a point of priciple, not to like it, I did like it, damn.

42 – Midlake – The Courage of Others

I have not given this album the chance it deserves, the reason for this is that I really liked their debut ‘Banman & Silvercork’ so that this isn’t that sort of dissapointed me, which is, of course, ridiculous, but I bought the record, played it once and I don’t think I have played it again. Until today. It’s much better than I remembered.

41 – Gorillaz – The Fall

I got my copy of this on Record Store Day as it had only ever been a limited release. The entire album was recorded on Damon Albarn’s iPad over the course of 32 days during the North American leg of the Escape to Plastic Beach World Tour in October 2010 and mixed in England by Stephen Sedgwick. 

40 – Envy – Recitation

There is something particular about the music of Envy that I would not normally listen to, because I don’t understand it, and that is hardcore shouting which are what I imagine having your vocal chords ripped out by a rabid dog sounds like. In this one instance I don’t mind it at all though. Envy are a Japanese screamo band formed in Tokyo, in 1992 apparently, who would have thought I’d be listening to Screamo, it’s a strange world.

39 – Prins Thomas – Prins Thomas

I don’t know much about Prins Thomas, other than that I bought a triple album of his really cheaply and liked it, so that’s why he is here. I gave this a listen, I also like this, so there we are.

38 – The Fall – Your Future Our Clutter

I found a copy of this in a used record store and, typically of The Fall, it’s all rather inconsistent, but in a good way. It is their 27th studio album, of which I only have 4, and was considered by many critics to be one of the best albums of the year, although who really cares what critics think?

37 – Yann Tiersen – Dust Lane

Tiersen is known principally as the multi-instrumentalist composer of the charming soundtracks to the movies Amélie, The Dreamlife of Angels, Good Bye Lenin! et al, though he has released a quintet of solo albums which have gone somewhat under the radar (his last outing, 2005’s Les Retrouvailles, featured vocal cameos from Cocteau Twin Elizabeth Fraser and Jane Birkin, among others).

36 – The Dead Weather – Sea of Cowards

Not my faviourite Jack White project to be honest but there is still plenty here to enjoy. Interestingly, to me at least, The album was streamed on the band’s website, via continuous vinyl playback, for a period of 24 hours from April 30 to May 1.

35 – Hammock – Chasing After Shadows… Living with the Ghosts

Hammock are an American two-member ambient/post-rock band from Nashville, Tennessee who create atmospheric music by combining orchestral arrangements with electronic beats, piano and droning guitar. I bought an album of theirs, Oblivion Hymns, back in 2013 and loved it. I don’t have a copy of this one but having listened to it again I feel it should be in my wantlist.

34 – Ólöf Arnalds – Innundir Skinni

Innundir skinni is Icelandic musician Ólöf Arnalds second album. The album was produced by Sigur Rós band member Kjartan Sveinsson, who also worked with Arnalds on her debut album. Skúli Sverrisson, Davið Þór Jónsson, Björk and Shahzad Ismaily all contributed to the album.

33 – Stereolab – Not Music

This is the tenth studio album by Stereolab, released on 16 November 2010 by Duophonic Records. It is a collection of unreleased material recorded at the same time as their previous album Chemical Chords (2008). I’ve only ever heard Stereolab track here and there, on compilations or occasionally the radio, but I’ve always liked what I’ve heard and keep meaning to explore them further.

32 – Suuns – Zeroes QC

As a fan of Suuns I’m disappointed I don’t have this album as yet, but it is on the WANT list. The band are Canadian, from Montreal to be specific and have an interesting sound, it is sort of indie rock informed by Krautrock and shoegaze with a pinch of oddness added in for flavour.

31 – Bonobo – Black Sands

When I first started buying vinyl records again after a long hiatus, this was one of the first 10 or so I bought. This is the fourth studio album, released on 29 March 2010. The cover features a photograph taken of Derwentwater, in northern England. The tower in the background is located in Castlerigg (Fun Fact: Coordinates: 54°35′29.95″N 3°7′3.43″W). As of January 20th 2017 it has sold 72,756 copies in UK, to be honest I thought it would be more.

30 – Ólafur Arnalds – …And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness

You may know Ólafur Arnalds as the guy who did the music for the TV series Broadchurch, and some other TV and film scores, but he also releases music that isn’t tied in to anything else, most recently the excellent Re:member, a copy of which I bought on RSD. He was touring with Sigur Ros around this time which might be where I made the connection.

29 – Efterklang – Magic Chairs

I saw a documentary on Efterklang several years ago where they were collecting field recordings for their next album and it was fascinating, I’ve been listening to them ever since. Efterklang are Danish and have 5 or 6 albums behind them now, all of which are worth a listen.

28 – Tame Impala – Innerspeaker

I’ve honestly not been able to understand what all the fuss is around Tame Impala so I have given them a better listen, this album I like, but I know there were plenty of year end charts where this figured much higher.

27 – Belle & Sebastian – Write About Love

I love a bit of Belle & Sebastian but have to admit that this particular album completely passed me by, so I’m not very familiar with it having listened to it for the first time in the last few weeks. This will probably move up eventually as I get to know it better.

26 – Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – Kollaps Tradixionales

Ten years prior, Thee Silver Mt. Zion appeared as one of many satellite projects orbiting around Godspeed You! Black Emperor, alongside fellow offshoot acts like Fly Pan Am and 1-Speed Bike. By 2010 they had become Constellation Records’ flagship act. I think it is fair to say that they are often not an easy listen, the first track of this album is over 16 minutes long for example, which is a lot to ask if it is your first listen, and they can be quite different album to album, but I like them.

25 – Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)

It is only recently that I’ve really started listening to Erykah Badu, having tried before but not really connected with the music. I’m not sure why but I put Baduizm, her debut, in the car CD player a few weeks ago and really liked it, since then I’ve listened to several others and am left wondering why I didn’t listen to any of it before. I think her music may be an acquired taste, one which I guess I have now acquired.

24 – Grimes – Geidi Primes

The first time I heard Grimes was the track ‘Genesis’ from her third album, which I really liked, this is her 2nd album and I like it too. Claire Elise Boucher (born March 17th, 1988), better known by her stage persona and character Grimes, is a Canadian singer, songwriter, musician, producer, artist and music video director.

23 – Massive Attack – Heligoland

I am very conflicted about this album, some days I love it and some days I find parts of it disappointing, so it is probably down to my mood on the day, although I think it better than 100th Window most days. It may be that I judge their output based on Mezzanine, which is an almost perfect album.

22 – Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky

I first stumbled across Swans in 2014 when I saw what I thought was a cool triple album titled ‘To Be Kind’ which I bought unheard and was really pleased with it, so I picked this up 6 years or so after it was released and it was a little different to what I’d already heard, but it was very interesting, not least because Devandra Banhart makes an appearance, you can hear that track below.

21 – The Black Keys – Brother

This one is pretty well known I should think and I did once have a CD copy but it disappeared somewhere a few years ago. They are an American rock band formed in Akron, Ohio, in 2001. The group consists of Dan Auerbach (guitar, vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums). It’s a good album.

20 Joanna Newsom – Have One on Me

I’ve been listening to Joanna Newsome since The Milk-Eyed Mender was released in 2004. There aren’t many harpists out there who are part of the ‘Indie’ scene, perhaps no others actually. I seem to recall that I was listening to Sufjan Stevens, Devendra Banhart and lots of fragile folk music at the time and Newsom was a good fit.

19 – Eluvium – Similes

Eluvium is actually just one guy, Matthew Cooper. You never know wjhat you are going to get from one album to the next as sometimes the music is absolutely bare bones and others is very complex and orchestral, perhaps this is one of the reasons I like it so much.

18 – Tricky – Mixed Race

As a long time fan of Tricky I could not possibly leave this release out but even if I wasn’t this album has plenty of tracks that are well worth multiple listens. I’ve been listening to his music since he appeared on the first Massive Attack album and there have been some ups and downs but this one is on the upward curve.

17 – Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can

Rightly or wrongly, I always get the sense that Laura Marling is somewhat under appreciated. She is a wonderful songwriter, composer and performer and this album should have, in my opinion, been huge. It did get to #4 in the UK album charts but is only certified silver, which is for sales of sixty thousand or more. Look into her albums, she’s great.

16 – John Grant – Queen of Denmark

This wouldn’t have been in the list at all if I hadn’t seen him live last summer at the Blue Dot festival, he was really very good and when I got home I caught up on all his releases. He’s a funny guy.

15 – Max Richter – Infra

I’m also a big fan of Max Richter and have several of his albums in my collection which range from electronic to full on classical. This one sits in the electronic section for the most part and as I do delight in ambient sounds it fits the bill perfectly for me.

14 – Jónsi – Go

The first solo outing from Sigur Ros singer Jonsi and it’s exactly what one might have hopd for from it, a slightly more pop orientated version of the band with his distinct vocal style and obscure language very much still intact.

13 – Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

Another band where I was late to the party. I picked this album up on CD from a charity shop for 50 pence and it spent several long journeys spinning on repeat in the car as I drove back and forth to work.

12 – Everything Everything – Man Alive

Another charity shop CD, although the band had been recommended to me previously so it was quite a nice surprise to find it for 50p. It has a sort of 70’s Prog feel about it that I like and I went on to get a few more of theirs after this, which are all good.

11 – 65daysofstatic – We Were Exploding Anyway

I am a fan so it is little surprise that this appears here. It’s post rock sort of, maybe math rock at times, so if you like instrumental music then they are well worth giving a listen. It gets pretty heavy at times but there’s a lot of light and shade.

10 – Gorillaz – Plastic Beach

I do love the sound of Gorillaz and yes, this is their second appearance. This is definitely the better of the two albums overall. Damon Albarn went down a path that I would never have expected having seen him fronting Blur right from the start and I like where he’s gone.

9 – Four Tet – There Is Love in You

This is the 5th album from Four Tet, which is one guy, Kieran Hebdan, who produces electronic music and does a lot of remixes for people. I have several albums of his having first become aware of his music from the album ‘Rounds’. Apparently he was in a banfd called Fridge but I don’t think i’ve listened to them.

8 – Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid

Another 50 pence charity shop pick up, what an incredibly talented individual she is. A singer, songwriter, rapper, actress, and producer. This is a beast of an album.

7 – Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz

After the albums Michigan and Illinois, both of which are magnificent, I and most other people were expecting another U.S state themed album, and this wasn’t it. As a result I ignored it for a little while but eventually picked up and am glad I did.

6 – LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening

Another album I pretty much ignored when it was released and another charity shop CD. The earlier ‘The Sound Of Silver’ is probabaly a better album but this one isn’t far off.

5 – The National – High Violet

I think the BBC summed up this album very well: ‘Its charms are subtle, its grip soft and easily shrugged by those who choose to pay it only passing attention. Live with it a while, though, and High Violet rewards patience with songs that colour one’s waking existence, becoming vivid night-time narratives when curtains are drawn.‘ It took me several listens but it was worth it.

4 – Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma

It’s on Warp records, which is usually a good sign, and it has Thom Yorke on it, always a good sign. It is a sort of Electronica album that’s touched with a sense of jazz and it really is a triumph.

3 – Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

The guy is not the most likeable charecter for most, but his musical output is pretty much undeniable, he is very good at what he does.

2 – Robyn – Body Talk

Rated very highly by most critics and completely ignored by me for 10 years, which in some ways is a good thing and I got to it eventually. I would say that under normal circumstances this is not my sort of thing at all, but it is so well writted, produced and generally crafted that it is pop perfection. I can’t help liking it.

1 – M.I.A. – /\/\/\Y/\

In my view M.I.A is a genius, completly unique in what she does in the same way Bjork is. Now I do appreciate that the music might be polarising as it is not catering in a generic way to as wide an audience as possible, but that’s one of the many reasons I like it. Interstingly it received only moderate ratings from critics, averaging out at 68%, some even calling the album a rambling mess, they were all wrong, and that’s that.