10. Phosphorescent - Here's To Taking It Easy -Alabama-born, New York City based Matthew Houck is Phosphorescent, and this is his fifth album. His take on Americana has a classic rock twist to it, sometimes reminiscent of The Eagles, The Band and Neil Young.
9. The Black Keys - Brothers - It took me a good while to warm up to this one, and I'm glad I did. Recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Brothers takes the blues, pulls in indie rock, and up bubbles a swampy stew that harkens to old blues sounds but remains planted in the here and now. A great step in their career, but more importantly, a solid album.
8. Eli "Paperboy" Reed - Come And Get It- Reed is back with more of his retro soul, but this time I detect more of an early 70's type of soul than the more mid 60's Otis Redding style of his past work. Great songs that sound like lost classics.
7. Band of Horses - Infinite Arms- Some songs sound like you've always known them, even if it's the first time you've heard them. That's what this album sounded like to me. Some country rock, folk rock, classic rock, college rock and plain old rock- some of The Band here, Beach Boys there, maybe a little R.E.M. A really nice effort.
6. The Soft Pack - The Soft Pack - The Soft Pack's debut is a very pleasant surprise. The remind me of "college rock" bands from the mid to late 80's. There's garage, surf, punk and rock elements are pushing against and working with each other to create ramshackle indie rock with killer hooks.
5. Club 8 - The People's Record - This is Club 8's eight record; they've been around 15 years. This is the very first I've heard of them, and I guess this album sounds a lot different than their previous records. This Swedish pop duo had dabbled in different styles before but recently immersed themselves in West African guitar pop. They embrace the sound fully, and the mix seems quite natural. Sweet female vocals, sunny melodies,chiming guitars.
4. The National- High Violet - Another perrenial Timmy Award favorite, I thought about trying to write this without describing The National's music as "literate" or "cinematic." So much for that. Let me just say if you like your music smart and sometimes moody and you don't know The National, check this out, and start with "Bloodbuzz Ohio."
3. Robyn - Body Talk - I have developed a soft spot for dancable, female vocal pop- Katy Perry, some Kylie Minogue, even the occasional Kelly Clarkson or Ke$ha song. It goes against a lot of what I admire in music, except for being catchy, melodic and fun. Enter Robyn, a bouncy Swedish singer who had some pop hits in the 90's, opened for The Backstreet Boys, had record company issues and became an ambassabor for UNICEF. More record company troubles followed, she bought her contract out, started her own label and came back with and album which was synth-driven dance pop with danceable beats. This year, she released three Body Talk EPs, with the best songs compiled on her Body Talk album. It's really good, ultra catchy stuff with a few key cameos (Snoop Dogg?!) and hummable hooks. Highly recommended for anyone who's caught themselves singing along with any of the women mentioned in the first sentence of this review.
"Cry When You Get Older" from the 2010 Pitchfork Music Festival. She was the highlight of the festival for me, she bounced around non-stop for over 30 minutes, Thgis is the best song from the EPs that din't make the album.
and a proper video, this was the "hit" from the album.
2. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening - This is the second straight year that #1 and #2 on the list were switching back and forth for a while. LCD Soundsystem had my favorite album in 2007- that one is better than this, the follow up. But that was a really, REALLY good alum, where this is a really good album. Keyboards dominate throughout, and it times it's like playing "Spot the Synth"- is that one the same as that Talking Head record? What 80's track sounded like that keyboard riff? A great modern rock record- allegedly it's their last, but I'm sure we'll hear more from leader James Murphy.
1. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - Kanye West does pretty much everything he can to get people not to like him. His public persona is so over the top, he ego knows now bounds and he generally is hard to like. But...then he releases an album that makes everyone sit up and take notice. I think one of the best things you can say about an artist is that no one else sounds like him. You can certainly say that about Kanye- that he does so and still sells ridiculous amounts of albums is no small feat. His knack for incorporating great samples is unparalelled, making his tracks sound like no other. He's not the most gifted rapper in the world, but his rhymes are solid and easy to follow. To even call this rap album is oversimplifying things- it covers so much musical ground it steps out from that genre in the way few other albums have. If you can somehow avoid what he does as a person, you'll be pleasantly surprised to see what he can do as a performer.