Monday, June 21, 2010

The best albums of the first half of 2010

2010 has been one of the best years of music that we've had in a while. More and more indie bands have been crashing the top 10 with albums and as in recent years, we've seen more reunions that we'd probably care to see. I have chosen 10 albums from the first half of the year that have been spectacular. Keep in mind, albums by The Roots and Chemical Brothers come out tomorrow, and later this year, we expect material from Arcade Fire, Clinic, and possibly Radiohead.
10. She and Him- Volume Two
Actresses shouldn't be able to write decent music, much less a good album, but what we have here is everyone's favorite Plain Jane, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, teaming up to deliver their second album of A.M. Radio gold! It's cute, it's adorable, and it's some of the catchiest music released this year. Ward doesn't try to overcompensate and Zooey's voice works wonders for one of the best surprises of the year.
Song to check out: Don't Look Back

9. Band of Horses- Infinite Arms
Ben Bridwell is the only remaining member left of the original lineup, but that's okay. Band of Horses is to Bridwell what Queens of the Stone Age is to Josh Homme. That being said, the band is back with songs that are appropriate for the summertime and are full of southern rock riffage and Bridwell's sweet voice which miay be the best in rock and roll. While most have viewed it as a step back, it seems as if this is the most complete BoH record yet, and a great sign of things to come.
Song to check out: Factory

8. MGMT- Congratulations
MGMT pick up where they left of on the second half of their debut, instead of crafting danceable hits for your party mixes, they've transcended into freaky psych pop and have made one of the best Flaming Lips albums ever. There's no singles here, and they run long, but each listen is rewarding, and anyone who doubted MGMT could not craft an album better than their first, can now be counted out. Congratulations trumps the debut in every way possible.
Song to check out: Brian Eno

7. Titus Andronicus- The Monitor
Some New Jersey punks decided to make an album loosely based off of the Civil War, they ended up creating a second album that ranks up there with their splendid first album. The Monitor is full of passionate songs played loud and fast with bagpipes and yelling, whiskey soaked and ready to fight, these songs pack a punch that'll leave your ears ringing for hours after it's ended. It's fun, it's loud, and it's everyting rock and roll should be.
Song to check out: A More Perfect Union

6. Vampire Weekend- Contra
Songs about having rich people fun, hanging around the eastern sea board and just being happy and fortunate. The guys from Vampire Weekend aren't modest about their surroundings, but they write great, upbeat songs and have fun doing it. Contra isn't as good as their debut, but that would've been a stretch, instead they got creative and craft and experimented a little, and still wound up making one of the year's best albums. This is afro-pop at its finest.
Song to check out: Cousins

5. Owen Pallett- Heartland
Somewhere out there, Brian Wilson is wishing he wrote this album. Mr. Pallett writes a hard to follow story, but with his arrangements and Christopher Cross like voice, he crafted an amazing album that with each listen, gets better, and easier to follow.
Song to check out: Lewis Takes Action

4. The Black Keys- Brothers
After their two weakest efforts, The Black Keys have returned with one of their best efforts yet, combining the early lo-fi charms of their earlier works, and the quality production of Attack and Release, Brothers has the best of both worlds in a greatly sequenced album that runs quicker than its 55 minute length. Brothers is the sound of the band taking what made them great in the first place and showing everyone, they can still bring the rock, high production or not.
Song to check out: Howlin' For You

3. LCD Soundsystem- This Is Happening
What may be the last release from James Murphy's outfit, is also the finest. This Is Happening has more songs with Murphy reflecting on his age and partying and the world surrounding him, but it is accompanied by his best beats yet. More introspection than previous albums, but it's not a bad thing, if this is truly the last we hear of LCD Soundsystem, you better believe that they went out on top.
Song to check out: I Can Change

2. Spoon- Transference
Britt Daniel has rallied the troops together for the seventh and possibly best effort yet from Austin natives Spoon. The tracks are lo-fi and sound as if they were only done on one take, and Daniel's voice sounds as rough as ever, but the genius of Spoon has always been that with any style thrown at them, they seem to perfect it and with that, they've become one of the most well respected bands in the land. Transference is reason why.
Song to check out: Written In Reverse

1. The National- High Violet
As if there was any question! The National have had two of the most acclaimed albums of the past decade and the most highly anticipated album of the year, it's safe to say they delivered. High Violet doesn't have anthems like Abel or Mr. November, instead, it just has songs that speak to the mind of the middle aged man like nobody around. Matt Berninger is one of the best lyricists around and he proves it here as he also sings with one of the most powerful and distinctive voices around. The National have slowly become the best band around, and with High Violet, a trilogy masterpiece is now born.
Song to check out: Afraid of Everyone


  1. Very nice. Looking forward to more from this weird hipster :)

  2. It has been a great year for music. Maybe you should have made it an even dozen because "Plastic Beach" by Gorillaz and the debut of "Broken Bells" are two more outstanding albums of 2010.

    I look forward to your reviews for the rest of the year. Perhaps a look at the new Ozomatli album "Fire Away." And how about "Plethora" by Pinata Protest?

  3. I easily could've made a list of 15, but it's hard to rank them, ranking these 4-10 was tough as is.