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Top records of 2010

January 18, 2011

As a whole 2010 lived up to its expectations.  It seems we are finally entering a new era, a time we stop and think about what we are doing before we do it.  And not settling for less then exceptional.  While the year in music may have not blown us away, it did set a solid foundation and pre-taste of what the new decade has in store.  Without further discourse I give you the year in music.

1.  Mumford and Sons – Sign No More.

If you’ve read my previous years entries you know I pick one favorite new band each year.  This was a very easy choice.  I first heard of these guys when I read the bonnaroo line-up and people started building a buzz.  Having doubts about attending the festival I quickly bought my tickets after the first listen.  This band has everything I look for in music.  Solid instrumentation, thought provoking lyrics and killer British accents (ok I can live without the accents).  But right out of the gate these guys have surpassed any previous debut records I’ve heard since.

2. The Roots – How I Got Over

This record almost made it to number one, but the Roots are one of the best bands in the world so this was probably easier for them to pull off. I love smart hop and this record hits in on all levels. I went from 28 years of listening to sad depressing music to rappers doing the exact opposite. While most of their counterparts eventually lower their standards to fit the mainstream, ?uest Love and his boys have consistently remained true to what hip hop represents.

3. The Black Keys – Brothers

The rust belt duo seemingly came out of nowhere this year to deliver one of the best records we’ve heard in a long time.  However Dan and Patrick have been diligently perfecting their roots rock sound that I believe will define the rock sound of this decade.  Their simplicity seems to be their greatest strength.  Without a 5 piece band to back them up they have to rely on themselves to keep the music moving.  While Dan seems to be a master of effects on top of a skilled guitarist he somehow manages not to get in the way of himself.  This record is a friendlier version of their previous work but at the same time a new plateau to keep building on.  I think History will be kind to them and glad to experience it first hand.

4. The National – High Violet

The most common criticism I hear about bands is that all records sound the same.  The second most common is that bands don’t sound like they used to.  It seems the evolution of most rock bands who build a back catalog is to have a 2-3 records that have a familiar sound but eventually move on.  I think that is what is happening here.  I’m afraid that what makes the National, the National is Matt Beringer’s Baritone voice.  While it distinguishes them from the 1000 other indie rock bands out there, it also appears to be a challenge to keep moving forward.  All this considered this record is no doubt worthy of any fan’s collection, while it may sound like disc 2 to 2007s Boxer it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.

5. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

2010 may be the year for surprises.  This Canadian synthetic orchestra on wheels certainly shocked pop stars and hipsters alike when they took home the coveted Grammy for Album of the Year.  I think they deserved it if only for the fact they it was the only concept album in the category.  And the topic of the album really speaks to every 80s baby to grow up on the outskits of some larger fantasy

6. Josh Ritter – So Runs the World Away

Josh Ritter may be the happiest manic depressed person I’ve ever seen.  If you were to watch his live show on mute you could easily think he’s playing a setlist of cartoon theme songs.  If you then reversed your senses and closed your eyes you could believe the guy on stage is in the wings because he’s afraid of looking the audience in the eye.  This marks Ritter’s third disc in a trilogy

7. Yeasayer – Odd Blood

This is a strange little album.  At first it sounds like a death metal band but then breaks into this really catchy synth driven pop song.  I got this as part of a record exchange and didn’t really hear much from them this year.  They remind me of a slightly more welcoming version of MGMT.  I think this evolution of rock n roll has done a reverse big bang, but bands like this prove that rock has exploded again and going in some crazy new directions.

8.  Fitz and the Tantrums Pickin’ Up the Pieces

One of my favorite new bands in the last 5 years.  These guys are bringing the motown sound back to the 21st century. Instant classic songs that will stick with you as if you’ve been listening to them for 20 years.  These guys are not listening to music execs but building on a solid foundation of quality work that will sound relevant for future decades.

9.  B.O.B – The adventures or Bobby Ray

I love a good hip hop record.  My favorite style is fun music that still tells a positive message.  For too many years I listened to sad depressing singer songwriters moan about heartbreak.  Hip Hop actually pumps you up, and speaks out for social justice or overcoming hurdles in life to rise above the madness.  This record is mostly just fun with many special guests and excellent production.

10. Kings of Leon – Come around Sundown

Well KOL know their audience, and they seem to have a formula for consistent arena rock crescendos.  This is a good record, not ground breaking like previous releases, but not really worse then anything out already either.  I’d like to hear a new spin or a return to less polished and back to the time they dreamed of Victoria Secret models instead of marrying them.

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