Top 10 of 2010
1 Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
This album is the drunk guy that just wants to have a good time. It’s the realization that you’re just one of millions—but there’s power in that. It’s the trials and tribulations of a mid-level New Jersey punk band. The line “you’ll always/be a loser” never sounded so triumphant.
2 Gonjasufi – A Sufi And A Killer
With Gaslamp Killer constructing beats as chilled-out as they are driving, Gonjasufi creates avant-rap if I’ve ever heard it. In its 19 tracks there are very few misses, with the fusion of blues, funk and jazz creating a framework for Gonja’s crackling voice.
3 Women – Public Strain
There’s beauty buried in this record, you just have to mind the rough edges. Intertwining guitar twangs are surrounded by reverb-heavy vocals held together by drums sounding off in the distance. But the feeling evoked is so much more than the sum of its parts.
4 Maps & Atlases – Perch Patchwork
Trading in their math rock roots for a more folk approach, Maps & Atlases show a huge amount of growth on this record. With guitars taking a more textural role, singer Dave Davison more than lives up to the challenge of supporting vocal-driven songs.
5 Menomena – Mines
Mines reaches the highest of highs and the lowest of lows with the help of varied instrumentation and all three members sharing lead vocal duties. You can hear the great songwriting and deep collaboration in this record’s variety and continuity.
6 The Besnard Lakes – Are the Roaring Night
Jace Lasek delivers some vocal trails early on that remind me of Raphaelle from Blue Hawaii, not just in style but in range too. This record is a spacey rocker, but in no way sounds dated. The band delivers a fresh approach to the guitar-driven epic.
7 Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part II: Return of the Ankh
I don’t think there’s a woman in hip-hop who has more vision or soul than Erykah Badu. While not the ear-grabber that Part I was, this record is slow-burning R&B gold. She remains the only Motown artist that lives up to the label’s former quality, and deservedly so.
8 Beneath the Massacre – Marée Noire
With madly technical ability this Montreal four-piece creates a little album with a lot of aggression. Elliot Desgagnés’ brutal vocals are the lead drum commanding guitar, bass, and kit. With all members pushing the envelope with their playing they create a new palette for death metal.
9 oOoOO – oOoOO
The biggest triumph of this whole witch-house thing seems to be its ability to create really heavy electronic music. Vocal lines saturated with effect filters haunt Greenspan’s beats, letting each track seep into the next.
10 Beach House – Teen Dream
The record truly is a dreamscape, sculpted with organ, guitar, and a drum machine. Victoria Legrand’s voice gives this record its character, creating a continuous feed of indie bliss. The Baltimore duo delivers an album full of consistently good dream pop.
This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 17, published January 4, 2011.