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Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Top 50 Albums of 2010, 50-41

       Like everyone else under the sun, I understand that lists of the top anything are always arbitrary. All kinds of variables get in the way of making a good one: the passage of time, the influence of hype, and individual likes and dislikes. However, none of that even begins to dampen my enthusiasm for compiling a top anything at the end of each calendar year. It gives me a chance to look back at all the great stuff that has just come to pass, and allows anyone with a working computer to have their say. As with any ranking, to say that these are the absolute best 50 albums of the year would be absurd. Believe it or not, I have yet to hear every album released during 2010, and though I most certainly put some thought into the quality of each work, the top albums are more simply defined as the ones that hit me the hardest, and on the most personal level. Everyone has their favorites; these are just mine. And here they are:

50. Latin---Holy Fuck
Jazzy, funky, instrumental jam band with enough energy to keep listeners dancing from front to back.

49. Living With Yourself---Mark McGuire

        Audible nostalgia most often in the form of simple, earnest guitar strumming, and samples that could make even the most jaded look back on ‘the good old days.’

48. The Orchard---Ra Ra Riot
Ra Ra Riot will never (ever-ever) escape the shadow of the similar sounding but decidedly more accomplished Vampire Weekend, but that doesn’t mean that The Orchard isn’t fun, pretty, and mannered in just the right way. Sing-a-longs and hum-a-longs abound.

47. Odd Blood---Yeasayer
I don’t see their transition from psychedelic oddity to 80’s rehash band as going as smoothly as many do, but Yeasayer’s charm and ear for pulsating rhythm are undeniable, as are their soaring singles.

46. Cosmogramma---Flying Lotus
Kinda strange to have it this low while still including it, I know, and while FL’s trippy beats might not have the same hold on me as on some, there’s no denying the Cosmogramma’s blissful mania, all set to an elating and grueling pace.

45. Subiza---Delorean
Lush to a fault, it doesn’t exactly make the best soundtrack to a rainy day, but the sunny synths of Subiza are catchy, and infecting. Try listening without ever smiling, just try.

44. Halcyon Digest---Deerhunter
The other major attention getter that I liked but don’t love, Halcyon Digest has a warm current of yesteryear sound that runs through eleven tracks. Not future-looking enough to crack the top of my list, but still a glowing and blissful look to the past.

43. All Delighted People EP---Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan, I refuse to refer to your surprise 65-minute offering as an EP. Something of a peace offering  to the fans whom he knew he would burn with his new electronic interests, ADP is eight tracks that range from spare and sparse to grand and bloated, all while remaining beautiful and honest. Classic Sufjan in the face of his impending transition.

42. Shame, Shame---Dr. Dog
        Even as their recording style moves closer and closer to modern day standards, Dr. Dog maintains their old-timey style, alternating between good-old-days pop rock and heartfelt ballads that sound dug up from days long gone.

41. Eyelid Movies---Phantogram
        Sexy pop for the night time in the vain of the XX, only less dramatic and less spare. Male-Female alternating vocalists, though it's when Sarah Bathel takes the mic, such as on the albums first two and best tracks, when the thing really takes off.

Hype Starts Here's Top 50 Albums of 2010:

Hype Starts Here's Top 100 Songs of 2010:

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