MOG Music Network


Best Albums of 2010 - Top 31 Albums - MGMT, Beach House, Deerhunter...

Best Albums of 2010 -- Any Colour You Like

Also, scroll down to the bottom to check out some of the exciting releases set to come out in 2011.

1. MGMT - Congratulations -
This is the kind of departure album the big record label didn’t want MGMT to make on the heels of the breakout {proper} debut Oracular Spectacular. Congratulations is a dramatic left turn for the band, conceptually abundant, sprawling with far-out sounds and disorienting kaleidoscopic perplexity, the record, like the brainy and impish band members themselves, is a nine-song mindwarp that you sort of have to be wading through your mid-twenties yourself to fully appreciate. No album has aurally captured the delirium-inducing Odyssey Years  quite like this oneCommenting on the pressures of success and worldwide notoriety after the world went haywire over "Kids", "Time To Pretend" and "Electric Feel", the group warily displays such anxieties in their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band-esque music video for “Flash Delirium” (remember back to the drugged-up dinner scene where the band is coaxed into signing a record contract) and lyrically throughout the album. For making the album you wanted to make, I say Congratulations. Finally, here's an annotated dissection of the Modern Epic that is "Siberian Breaks".

Also, Congratulations gets the nod for album cover of the year, my favorite since Tha Carter III.

2. Beach House - Teen Dream -
For those with the guilty pleasure of enjoying Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You”, hearing Teen Dream for the first time, a gripping 10-song encapsulation of that dream-pop sound championed by Hope Sandoval, had nothing short of a hypnotic effect. Plus, “Take Care” might be the most comforting album closer/fade out ever made. Here's the ACYL review from way back in January:

Take comfort in Beach House this winter. The band’s third (and my first) LP is a nocturnal 10-song set that just happened to come out in the dead heart of winter, arriving as a welcome beacon. Teen Dream is one of those rare records you can put on and immediately elevate your spirits. Filled with unending charm, the contagious listenability of songs like “Walk in the Park” and “Used to Be” is seemingly eternal (at this point at least).

Beach House’s sound falls at a cross-section somewhere between the dream-pop of artists like Hope Sandoval, M83 and Chairlift, while managing to resurrect the sounds of Stevie Nicks’ early days in Fleetwood Mac. Victoria Legrand’s organic and glowing vocals shimmer amongst an ethereal bed of fluttery guitars and atmospheric keyboard drones giving the album a simple, yet powerful and soothing sound. Plaintive, melancholic and cathartic all at once, the wanderlust-inducing Teen Dream provides an aural wonderland for the everyman or woman getting cabin fever in his cubicle or carrel this winter. Finally, the fading and repetitive outro of “Take Care” leaves listeners with the hopeful promise:

I’ll take care of you
Take care of you
That’s true

Dream on.

3. Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest – Over the past couple years, Bradford Cox has landed on a short list of modern artists who can’t really do much wrong. Before Halcyon Digest I was somewhat lukewarm about Deerhunter, and viewed them as a band largely still looking to find their sound. However, I've been a huge fan of Bradford’s solo act Atlas Sound ever since hearing last year's Logos, and then hearing it again, and again, and again. This album enshrouds some great pop songs like the single “Revival” in Cox’s trademark bedroom haziness, but with a broader, poppier appeal. I recently read someone describe them as an 'ambient punk' band, sounds just about right.

4. Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame – After Shame, Shame, one thing is now clear: Dr. Dog just doesn’t know how to make bad albums. On the heels of Fate (ACYL’s #1 album of 2008), the Philly classically-trained rockers (the classics of the Woodstock generation) have once again pumped out an amiable, feel good rock record tailormade for summer time.  Shame, Shame is yet another unabashedly revisionist, soundchecking (think of it as a musical version of namedropping) spin on the sounds of a better time for music. Unapologetically, Dr. Dog has built quite a career as this era's best 60's -worshipping band, while tweaking the trusty formula ever so slightly with each effort and thereby keep the close attention of fans and critics alike. The train rolls on and perhaps we'll get another record from these guys in 2011?

5. Black Keys – Brothers – One of the more consistently dependable and hard-working rock bands finally gets the extensive recognition they deserve. A good majority of Brothers was recorded at the world famous Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, home to countless essential rhythm and blues recordings, and those walls undoubtedly helped inspire an instant classic. Brothers is an album with a rare sort of mass appeal, apt to please a music-taste-diverse and/or multi-generational gathering. Pop it in at the next awkward gathering you're hosting and you'll see what I mean. Highly accessible, equally enjoyable, and chock full of catchy singles just waiting to be utilized in your company’s next marketing campaign. Also, perhaps the album's strongest song is actually a cover, as the album's second-to-last song "Never Gonna Give You Up" is a soulful take on Jerry Butler's original R & B song. LINK to review of the Black Keys August show at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium w/ the Morning Benders. Brothers may just be the most timeless album released this year.

6. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach – Never been more than a casual Gorillaz fan until Plastic Beach, but this album is matchless as far as killer guests go, I mean Bobby Womack? Gimme a break. Gorillaz, no longer just a cartoon band.

7. Morning Benders - Big Echo – Who? These guys didn’t come across my radar until Big Echo, an outstanding and nearly flawless album mature beyond the years of the band members. Look no further than “Excuses” and “Mason Jar” for reasons why this one landed so high on this year’s list.

8. Yeasayer - Odd Blood – When I first heard Odd Blood, it was this time last year, as the album leaked out in early-December. I was already ready to crown it as 2010’s best album, giving little chance to any other album that would arrive to my iTunes in the coming year. “Madder Red” still remains one of the strongest songs of the year, and in any other year, an album like Odd Blood would probably be Top 4 or 5. Odd Blood, although not quite on par with All Hour Cymbals in my opinion, is a great stylistic leap forward for the band, adding more muscle to the band’s live show and an indicator that Yeasayer will be a band we’ll be probably be hearing about throughout the rest of the decade. LINK to interview with guitarist Anand Wilder while promoting Odd Blood.

9. The Radio Dept. - Clinging to a Scheme – Out of nowhere these guys have quickly gained international recognition and also have become one of my personal favorite acts. Along with Alberta Cross and Anders Osborne, the Swedes seem to really know what they’re doing these days in the realm of rock-and-roll. Should prove tonic for a land still recovering from the Ace of Base stigma. Those were some pretty hot beats though…

10. Tame Impala - Innerspeaker – Arguably the best throwback album since Wolfmother’s 2007 self-titled debut. The good thing about Innerspeaker as opposed to Wolfmother is the fact that further replication/development of this sound won’t make me want to tear my ears out like Wolfmother’s successive releases have done.

11. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening - Sometime seeing is believing. Murphy’s oftentimes incessant blathering vocal style hadn’t won my over until hearing this album and seeing the band live shortly thereafter. Things really made sense after that, Murphy is a creative, comical and charismatic frontman and the band reminds me of the expanded latter-era Talking Heads. Disco-funk is back? Is this real life? Scary thought, but these guys do it well. One of the most fun albums of the year, here's hoping that LCD's reported "retirement" is just a fig-ment/newton of my imagination.

12. Futurebirds - Hampton's Lullaby

13. Marco Benevento - Between the Needles and Nightfall

14. Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid

15. Bonobo - Black Sands

16. Delta Spirit - History From Below

17. Phosphorescent - Here's To Taking It Easy

18. 7 Walkers - 7 Walkers

19. The National - High Violet

20. Twin Shadow - Forget

21. Broken Bells - Broken Bells

22. Bibi Tanga and the Selenites - Dunya

23. Cee-Lo Green - The Lady Killer

24. The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

25. Elton John and Leon Russell - The Union

26. ceo - White Magic

27. The Budos Band - The Budos Band III

28. The Melvins - The Bride Screamed Murder

29. Wild Nothing – Gemini

30. Toubab Krewe - TK2

31. Dead Confederate - Sugar

ADDENDUM: I forgot to include Preservation Hall Jazz Band's amazing benefit album on the list and Follow The Train's '10 release (which I would put somewhere in the 15-20 range on the list). I listened to both of these for a few weeks while they was streaming on their web sites and totally forgot about them when compiling the list. A Top 5-10 album of the year no matter who you are. Here's a review from earlier this year:

Preservation Hall Jazz Band- An Album to Benefit the Preservation Hall and the Preservation Hall Outreach Program - Don't think of this as just another compilation, rather an outpouring of support and appreciation from some of the more talented lyricists and performers to one of the city's most beloved groups. This is the real deal. Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong [who appears as an apparition on the record] himself would appreciate the authenticity of the 1920s, 30s & 40s Jazz sounds being reinterpreted and largely replicated to a T by such guests as My Morning Jacket's superhero front man Yim Yames, indie rock whistling expert Andrew Bird, the Okie from Muscogee Merle Haggard, and the collection's highlight, a delightfully fractured spin on the public domain Mardi Gras ditty "Tootie Ma Is A Big Fine Thing" by the Tom Waits. Even the "wrong notes" fit here and the whole thing rolls together seamlessly as the backing Preservation Hall Jazz Band keeps this album melodically thematic and protects it from detracting into a heterogenous mess (like most compilations). But, as I said, this ISN'T a compilation. Each artist visited New Orleans over the course of a year to sit in the PHJB. I too recently visited the hallowed hall on Thanksgiving night, I highly recommend it, nothing short of a religious experience.

If last year’s maddening shred festival was Dinosaur Jr.’s epochal Farm, then the front runner for 2010 arrives by way of Louisville, Kentucky’s Follow The Train, and their debut full-length on Removador Recordings. Under the watchful eye of My Morning Jacket’s Yim Yames [Removador’s founder], Mercury was recorded over the past year. Like Jacket’s Z, the album bleeds intensity on nearly every track, making the sonic traveler wonder what was going on in these guys lives to unleash such pent up fury? The jagged and metallic guitar solos come early (especially on the lengthy jam out “Movin”) and often, bringing to mind fellow axe-masters and Kentucky sluggers Wax Fang. Metal intros (“Coffee”), reggae melodies (“219”), cosmic voyaging guitar solos (“Listen”), and shoegazeably jazzy undertones (“Mellwood”) gives this album it’s signature breadth, which certainly can be attributable (at least in part) to Yames’ chameleonic music appreciation. Fans of The Hold Steady, Arcade Fire and Modest Mouse will enjoy the record as it channels such a broad array of modernized rock to encapsulate the listener in a rousing and transcendent ride to the planet closest to the sun. The stoned-out sprawler “Listen” blazes on through it’s first half as frontman Chris Sheridan sings

Don’t drink that, it’s poison
It’s gonna light up your whole world, just before it kills ya
And I know this wanting comes a bit too late
But if I could rewind I’d stop you cold before you make that mistake

before the tune builds towards a monstrous guitar solo of truly majestic and legendary proportions. Mercury is one of the more righteous collections to come out of KY in awhile and, after reading the band’s rough-and-tumble bio, a big win for the underdog. To conclude, it’s just damn fine to see a Kentucky underdog put out such an inspired, “operatic brain cookie”.

Past Lists:

Best of 2009 List
Best of 2008 List

Albums ACYL is excited about in 2011 --
Daft Punk - Tron
My Morning Jacket - N/A
Fleet Foxes - TBA
Santigold - TBA
Radiohead - TBA (knowing Radiohead, the new album could come out in the next week and we wouldn't know about it yet)
Panda Bear - Tomboy
Lil Wayne - (something tells me this'll be Weezy's biggest year since 2008)
M83 - TBA
Dr. Dre - Detox (unless he changes the name to Chinese Democracy II)
Red Hot Chili Peppers (albeit w/o Frusciante)
Gorillaz (multiple albums reportedly in the works)
Atlas Sound - If Bradford Cox maintains the fiendish pace from this past week, fans can expect 208 new Atlas Sound albums in 2010. And Sony will only let you hear 1/4 of those.


Cal said...

Yeasayer: one of the most important bands out there right now. Can't believe how much I loved CYMBALS, how diff ODD BLOOD is, and how much I still love it. Can't WAIT to see what they do next.

LCD: love 'em, especially live, but based solely on the intolerable "Drunk Girls", this album's nowhere on my list. Wish Murphy wasn't calling it quits, though.

Cal said...

Well, I'll give you the MGMT album COVER...
Have you checked out Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti? Based on your dreampop/retro love this year, I must insist you seek out their new album (BEFORE TODAY) if you haven't. Definitely will be in my top ten. Pretty sure.
Also, I advise you to revisit Deerhunter's MICROCASTLE--maybe not quite as focused as the new one, but still an outstanding album.
I'm not in love with the whole Dr. Dog album, but man, that title track takes the words right out of my brain, kills me every time.
Hoping to start posting my list within a week or two. Great stuff Wesley.

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