Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My 10 fave albums of 2010

1. Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More

After taking the UK by a storm, Mumford & Sons hit the North American talk-show circuit with one blistering performance after another, until USA Today - powerless to resist - named it on its "five buzz bands to see live" list.

One of the few bands to cut through the clutter and crowds at Lollapalooza with - of all things - melancholy Celtic rock. Lovely, thrilling, goosebump-inducing stuff:

2. Robyn - Body Talk Part I, II, and Body Talk

Forget Gaga and Katy, the true "Dancehall Queen" is Sweden's Robyn - with a three-album set of instant dance-floor classics. Double entendres and drummers, a duet with Snoop, top-notch boasting ("Even the Vatican knows not to  f**k with me!") and a convincing argument that Fembots have feelings too. Knocks me over, I'm in love!

3. OMD - History of Modern

Dismiss them as 80s has-beens at your peril.

Like Madness's late-career creative resurgence last year, OMD returned with one of the best synth-pop albums of their 25-year career. The sound is still pure 80s, but the duo proves that great songwriting is never out of style.

4. The Drums

I arrived at this party late, but I'm glad that I arrived at all: fun, breezy pop that knows from whence it came (errr...the 80s or the 60s or someplace between. The 70s?).

5. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

It's nice to see that the desire to escape the soulless sprawl is alive in the songs of its new champion: Arcade Fire. At the time, I called this album "an awesome soundtrack to the long, hot dog days of summer," but it sounds pretty great in winter too.

6. The Divine Comedy - Bang Goes the Knighthood

God, I love sarcastic jokes delivered with an English accent, which is why I love this album - one great hook after another amidst shout-outs to Margaret Thatcher, the Pixies, Francis Bacon, and the Lost Art of Conversation:

7. The Kissaway Trail - Sleep Mountain

Too often dismissed as the Danish Arcade Fire - even if that's what they are - this band knocked my socks off at Lollapalooza and then did it again when I brought home their (autographed!) CD. No, you can't autograph iTunes downloads. I've tried.

A great band, shot badly by me on my Flipcam:

8. The Heavy - The House That Dirt Built

A barnburning blend of blues, R&B, and rock that's so irresistible, even grumpy David Letterman demanded - and got - an encore. 

How you like them now?

9. The National - High Violet

Not even close to being the "difficult listen" I was expecting (thank you imposing album art and beard), but the sound of a band striving for - and reaching - something very special: a critic's band for everyone.

10. Graham Parker - Imaginary Television

Punk folkster/folk punker Graham Parker is always the bridesmaid and never the bride (that would be Elvis Costello), but he's riding a wave of resurgence on the back of three, incredible folk-, jazz-, pop-, and country-influenced albums.

His latest, Imaginary Television, is high concept: TV themes for shows that don't exist. Tantalizing to psychoanalyze:


  1. Oh Mumford & Sons are my favorite band for 2 straight years. I found them on balcony TV and have not stopped listening to them since.

    Thanks for the laughs in 2010, I look forward to 2011.

  2. Solid list, overall, and thank you for reminding me that The Drums album was released THIS year, and not last. But seriously, can someone please explain to me all the ballyhooing for Mumford & Sons? I don't get it.

    See you next semester!

  3. Graham Parker is the reason I never bother with the local girls. Wasn't aware he had a new one out this year, will check out.

  4. I'm a little disappointed. We have had some nice music converations, but I can't get down with any of these albums. I'm sure the new Gwar, or Sick of it All don't reach too many people, but the two new albums from these bands that have been around for 25 years each are as good as the tunes that have kept them around that long. I give a big up to any band that can match their top albums 25 years later.
    But I'm stuck in 1996 don't wory about me.


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