My Favourite Albums of 2010 (A month late – sheeeeeeit!)

Janelle Monae - an artist who topped many critics' lists this year. How'd she do on mine? See below.

If you were following this site over the holidays (No? You mean, you had better things to do than analyzing the video for “The Suburbs”?), you’ll recall that my fellow music critics and I were yammering on about our favourite songs of 2010 over at prairie dog.

But after Boxing Day, I took off for warmer climes with my mom and sister and neglected to post my Best Albums of 2010 list. I know, I know – you’ve been waiting on pins and needles for this countdown to drop. Well my friends, the long wait is over:

10.) The Roots, How I Got Over

9.) Tame Impala, Innerspeaker

8.) The National, High Violet

7.) Arcade Fire, The Suburbs

6.) Yeasayer, Odd Blood

5.) Caribou, Swim

4.) Erykah Badu, New Amerykah Pt. 2

3.) Cee Lo Green, The Lady Killer

2.) Robyn, Body Talk

1.) Beach House, Teen Dream

Stray Observations:

Surveying the list as a whole, I’m struck by how good a year it was for R&B. Typically, the genre tends to produce great singles rather than great albums. (I’m talking about the last decade or so – not the glory days of Songs in the Key of Life or What’s Going On.) 2010 was the exception to the rule, producing several smart, well-conceived R&B records that nod at the classics, without resorting to karaoke.

As for other genres… the indie world spawned some really brilliant, unorthodox music this year, from the twitchy funk of Yeasayer to the dreamy Beach House. Not complaints there.

However, if you were in the mood to seriously rock out, you were shit out of luck in 2010. Not a lot to get excited about from my vantage point. Sure, there were moody, intense guitars… but not a lot of full-on riffs to go around. Know what I mean? Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough. If I missed something, please tell me!

In terms of hip-hop, I differed from a lot of critics on the subject of the new Kanye record. I dunno… I’m just bored with the guy.

Almost, But Not Quite:

Janelle Monae, The ArchAndroid: Don’t get me wrong – there are some killer tracks on here. And I think Ms. Monae’s crazy talented; so much so, I felt compelled to wax on about her tune “Tightrope” in a post earlier last summer. But as whole, this record was too scattered for my liking. I applaud the ambition of hopscotching through different genres; it’s a very 21st century way of approaching music, in theory. However in practice, it’s a big jarring to go from Off the Wall-style jams to thrashy punk beats. If she has a bit of rock ‘n roll in her, I’d like to hear an entire album in that vein. Ditto for the 80’s electro funk sound she’s been dabbling in.

Other Runners-Up:

Vancouver's own Black Mountain


Black Mountain, Wilderness Heart

Gorillaz, Plastic Beach

Kylesa, Spiral Shadow

The Black Keys, Brothers

Warpaint, The Fool

I’d rather stick a steak knife in my eye than listen to:

Katy Perry, Teenage Dream

Black Eyed Peas, The Beginning

Bruce Springsteen, The Promise

Ke$ha, Animal


2 thoughts on “My Favourite Albums of 2010 (A month late – sheeeeeeit!)

  1. What, no love for Kanye? Actually, I listened to a couple of tracks from Fantasy, and I still don’t get what the fuss is all about.

    Hey, just out of curiosity, did you have any discoveries/revelations in 2010 of pre-2010 artists?

  2. My sister turned me on to an awesome metal band from Savannah, Georgia called Baroness. Their 2009 album (Blue Record) escaped my attention that year, but it became a constant on my iPod last year. Oh.. and Tyson and I played the heck out of the Neon Indian album, Psychic Chasms, which also came out in ’09.

    At any given time, I’m always listening to a few classic albums or trying to learn more about a particular genre. In 2010, I was reading up on Afrobeat (mostly inspired by an issue of Wax Poetics) so I put Fela Kuti’s records, Gentleman and Zombie into my rotation. Siouxsie & The Banshees was another group that I took a closer look at. I knew a lot of their hits, but not the deep cuts as they say. When you look at their body of work, it’s pretty impressive. They really haven’t gotten their due!

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