As we roll to the end of 2010, it’s that time of the year to once again celebrate a fabulous year in music. Without further ado, here are my favorite 14 albums of the year. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!
Tokyo Police Club Champ
MP3 // Breakneck Speed
Circa Survive Blue Sky Noise
MP3 // Get Out
Local Natives Gorilla Manor
MP3 // Who Knows, Who Cares
Small Black New Chain
MP3 // Search Party
Tides Of Man Dreamhouse
A surprisingly composed and coherent release, miles ahead of their debut. With Dreamhouse, Tides of Man are poised to skyrocket to ranks currently held by their most obvious influences, i.e Anthony Green & Coheed and Cambria. It may take a few listens to catch on but when it does it doesn’t disappoint. The musicianship is unlike many other releases you will find on the Rise Records roster, and frontman Tilian Pearson is self-aware just enough to take cues from his influences while maintaining a smart and cocksure ability that is all his own.
MP3 // A Faint Illusion
Bad Books Bad Books
Super groups can be a tricky thing. The clashing of multiple frontmen, and sometimes, multiple ego’s can dumb down the talents of the best if chemistry isn’t right. It’s a good thing Kevin Devine seems to have become such good friends with Manchester Orchestra over the past year. Bad Books is a collection of songs expanding on the best of both worlds from each respective artist. There is nothing forced, just a good all around collection of songs by a good all around collection of dudes.
MP3 // Holding Down The Laughter
Deerhunter Halcyon Digest
On the heels of their breakout achievement, Deerhunter have returned with Microcastle’s proper follow-up, Halcyon Digest. It may very well be Cox and co’s crowning achievement, showcasing the band’s steady yet articulate pace through a myriad of soundscapes. Whether it be the lucid dreaming of “Sailing”, the hazy pop of “Helicopter” or the epic finale of “He Would Have Laughed,” Halcyon Digest holds wonders for every type of listener.
MP3 // Helicopter
Underoath Ø (Disambiguation)
I’ll be completely honest. After a handful of listens through Disambiguation, I was left a bit underwhelmed. Over the next few weeks, however, I found myself drawn back, and as the songs began to take shape, the album came together unlike anything I’d heard before from this band. I had my doubts about Spencer Chamberlains ability to fill the void of drummer/co-vocalist Aaron Gillespie, but the kid shines and decimates any preconceptions made about his abilities. The musicianship is aggressive, heavy, and more orchestral than any of the band’s previous efforts. In the absence of Gillespie and his admitted pop tendencies, the new lineup of guys are free to flourish and the edge of their heavier influences makes this their best release since Define The Great Line.
MP3 // My Deteriorating Incline
Hellogoodbye Would It Kill You?
This one may very well be up for the “Biggest Surprise Of The Year Award”. On their second full-length that took a label change and 4+ years to materialize, Hellogoodbye have made a smart, fun, and undeniably addictive pop record, and are poised to breakout much in the way that fun. took 2009 by storm. It’s an odd record to listen to, considering the bands past which was full of sticky-sweet oversized synth-pop, saccharine enough to make the staunchest dentist’s teeth rot, but Hellogoodbye make their new formula work flawlessly. There is not a second of filler through Would It Kill You’s 36 minute makeup. Instead, the record blooms and shines song after song, and will leave you hitting your replay button time after time.
MP3 // Betrayed By Bones
Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
To think that one would be in the minority, labeled as a “hater” of Kanye West at the end of 2010. It is peculiar, unless you’ve experienced the grandiose orchestral masterpiece that is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Aptly titled, Kanye has returned with a voracious concoction of songs that clock in over at just over an hour but feel like half that when listened through. Whether it’s the perfectly chosen cameos featured on “Monster” (wassup Nicki) or the head bobbing production on “Power,” West has finally backed up his polarizing ego.
MP3 // Monster
Beach House Teen Dream
It’s hard to keep an album off your favorite albums list that you’ve easily listened to more than 80% of anything else in your iTunes library. This album has been coming through my speakers ALL YEAR, and that isn’t an exaggeration. There’s something beautifully simple about these songs. Whether it be the carefree atmosphere created by dusty keys, or the rough croon of Victoria Legrand layered ontop of sprawling guitar, Teen Dream is definitely one of the most complete and lasting records of 2010.
MP3 // Used To Be
PMtoday In Medias Res
In Medias Res is perhaps the most hauntingly and depressingly nihilistic record I’ve ever heard. If there is one thing that grabs and keeps your attention throughout this album, it is frontman Conner Brogan’s lyrics, which are full of upfront, bareboned confessions of the thoughts that have plagued any person with existential questions or beliefs. All of this is backed by a concoction of jagged post-hardcore that is probably better than anything to come out of Rise Records in probably their whole existence. On album standout “Soma Holiday” Brogan laments “There is nothing waiting, just a man pulling strings.” It’s a hair raising experience. It’s moments like these that make it such a beautifully honest album.
MP3 // Soma Holiday
Four Year Strong Enemy Of The World
Enemy Of The World is a perfect display of a band taking what they already know and tinkering the formula to near-perfection. At 11 songs, EOTW is an instantly raucous display of carefree adolescence with the volume cranked up well past 10. Not only that, but it is the most immediate, infectious album I’ve heard this year. Nine months after it’s release, I still listen to it as much as I did the day I got it, and it’s staying power hasn’t reduced one bit. In a time where pop-punk is connected more to anorexic men singing bad faux love songs out of their mom’s basement, Enemy Of The World is the soundtrack to Four Year Strong giving the scene it’s balls back.
MP3 // Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)
Letlive Fake History
In 2002, the modern post-hardcore scene was turned on it’s head when Glassjaw unleashed their masterpiece unto the world with Worship & Tribute. Nearly a decade later, the album is still touted by many purists as the genre’s defining moment. Since it’s release, many bands have tried to recreate the moments captured on W&T, none have come as close as Los Angeles’s Letlive.
Fake History is an immaculate display of what the genre is still capable of when driven by heart, brutal honesty, and outstanding songwriting. Ranging from vicious growls to psychotically insane yelling fits, vocalist Jason Butler commands Fake History from the beginning when he opens “Le Prologue” demanding the listener “Stand Up” with vicious authority.
Meanwhile, the backing music seems to be effortlessly smart, original, and just as ferocious, avoiding fatal mistakes that plague 90% of it’s peer’s releases. I’d be lying if I said I’ve listened to much else since I caught onto this disc. It’s simply the most addictive album I’ve listened to in recent memory. With Fake History, Letlive have proven that no matter where you come from, or how small your voice is, when you put your heart 100% into what you believe, you can change anything. In Letlive’s case, they are changing the landscape of a lost genre, two ears at a time.
MP3 // The Sick Sick 6.8 Billion
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