Top 10 Albums of 2010

2010 turned out to be an incredibly solid year for music. What the year may have lacked in terms of a blow-you-away album or two (like 2009’s Hospice by The Antlers), it made up for with the depth of quality albums, the likes of which haven’t been seen since 2006. It made it a tough year to sort out which 10 albums reigned supreme (or what order those 10 would rank), but here’s the list…

10. The Game of Monogamy – Tim Kasher

On his first solo effort, Kasher finds the most accessible sound to date while still thoroughly wallowing in his signature level of despair. His musings on matrimony range are all emotionally crushing, but the music backing it ranges from the peppy and clap-happy “I’m Afraid I’m Gonna Die Here” to sparseness of softly plucked guitar on “The Prodigal Husband.” The Game of Monogamy is the feel bad album of the year, but it’s so finely crafted that it entices listeners to come back for more lyrical suffering.

9. Personal Life – The Thermals

Personal Life is downright mushy. Except for the blissfully snotty “I Don’t Believe You,” The Thermals put their rabblerousing ways on this album in favor of pining deeply for love. Thanks in large part to Kathy Foster laying down 2010’s best collection of bass groves, the swooning succeeds. Personal Life is that warm fuzzy feeling you got around your first crush pressed onto an LP.

8. White Crosses – Against Me!

With White Crosses, Against Me! continued the sonic shift from rawer punk to bigger rock without abandoning their scrappy spirit. From the vile filled boot-stomper “White Crosses” to the tender pain of “Ache With Me,” Tom Gabel proved why he’s one of the best songwriters around. Even the song where they break-up with their anarchist punk past, “I Was A Teenage Anarchist,” featured a chorus that ringed with universal anthemic appeal. Against Me! have their eyes to the future and will smash all that stand in their way.

7. My Dinosaur Life – Motion City Soundtrack

My Dinosaur Life lays out the blueprint for aging gracefully in pop punk. The album buzzes with a youthful energy on songs like “Worker Bee” and “Hysteria” without seeming kiddie in the least. Tracks like “@!#?@!” find Motion City Soundtrack’s Justin Pierre doing what he does best – pop culture saturated lyrics back by catchy hooks. My Dinosaur Life proves MCS isn’t anywhere near extinction yet.

6. Where the Messengers Meet – Mt. St. Helen’s Vietnam Band

Where the Messengers Meet is a complete departure from Mt. St. Helen’s Vietnam Band’s terrific self-titled debut album, but the band doesn’t miss a beat despite the stylistic change. The music slowly bubbles up as if from some unknown bayou on the outskirts of Seattle. On tracks like “In A Hole” the cavernous echoes and Benjamin Verdoes understated wail call to mind Thome Yorke, while “Leaving Trails” showcases Marshall Verdoes’ and his bandmates’ terrific knack for distinctive rhythms. In just two years, Mt. St. Helen’s Vietnam Band have already released two albums which place the group at the musical pinnacle of under the radar indie.

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Top 10 of 2009 Revisited

As I like to do, before unveiling the year’s best of lists, I like to look back and redo my previous year’s album list to account for new finds and positional changes based on another years worth of listening. This year there hasn’t been much, mainly I just left David Bazan off last years list. I honestly have no idea why I did that.

The Original Top 10 Albums of 2009

1. Hospice – The Antlers
2. Daisy – Brand New
3. Mt. St. Helen’s Vietnam Band – Mt. St. Helen’s Vietnam Band
4. Actor – St. Vincent
5. Yes! – k-os
6. Never Better – P.O.S.
7. Now We Can See – The Thermals
8. Sainthood – Tegan & Sara
9. Mean Everything To Nothing – Manchester Orchestra
10. Mama, I’m Swollen – Cursive

The Updated Top 10 Albums of 2009

1. Hospice – The Antlers
2. Mt. St. Helen’s Vietnam Band – Mt. St. Helen’s Vietnam Band
3. Daisy – Brand New
4. Actor – St. Vincent
5. Curse Your Branches – David Bazan
6. Sainthood – Tegan & Sara
7. Yes! – k-os
8. Never Better – P.O.S.
9. Now We Can See – The Thermals
10. Mean Everything To Nothing – Manchester Orchestra