1. Foals - Total Life Forever
Ok. I know I said no particular order, but for me this album was the top album of 2010. Foals accomplished everything that a band should on their sophomore effort. They completely evolved musically, lyrically, and especially vocally when it comes to frontman Yannis. Where Yannis is known for his abstract lyrics on Antidotes on Total Life Forever he delved deeper. Jack Bevan is a beast of a drummer, and Edwin is the maestro holding things together in the background. The way that he transforms the last forty seconds of 2 Trees is brilliant. As for Walter... he killed me with those bass lines. Yannis may be the frontman, but Jimmy is the captain. Together they have crafted a magnificent album that is one I would take to the grave. Seeing them live this past October was definitely one of my top concert experiences. They go hard!
Best Bits: Blue Blood, After Glow, 2 Trees
2. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles II
The enigma that is Crystal Castles has fascinated me from the first time I heard Courtship Dating. Alice Glass is a pale waif of a girl and seems so fragile yet the screams and sounds that she erupts are frightening and astounding at the same time. She is wild, bruised, dirty, and carefree. I think it's those things that fascinate me about her, so much so that I almost got a tattoo that said "What Would Alice Glass Do?" (I'm still thinking about it). Then there is Ethan who always lingers in the back, but makes his presence known with the massive beats he produces. There is no doubt about it that he is sonically gifted. Their offspring is a sound that is one of a kind and they have proved that once again on their second album. The standout track is definitely "Baptism". Listening to this is like partying on the eve of Armageddon. Yes... it's that heavy and hedonistic. To have experienced this one live (on my birthday nonetheless) was awesome. I was a changed person walking out of that rave.
Best Bits: Baptism, Empathy, Pap Smear
3. Best Coast - Crazy For You
I'm thinking of so many surf/beach/ Californina terms and puns I could used to describe the sounds that Bethany and Bobb have created on this debut album, but I'm not because tons of music journalists and critics have already done that. There is no doubt that the sounds evoke summer and sunny days, but listening to it now in the cold of winter sounds right. The harmonizing moments on the songs seem to pay tribute to the girl groups of the 60 's with the oohs and aahhs. However, its Cosentino's lyrics which are straight forward, simple, and brutally honest that make her standout and add to her like-ability. Crazy For You has been played on repeat on many occasions, non sunny days included.
Best Bits: Boyfriend, Our Deal, Happy
Local Natives - Gorilla Manor
Wide Eyes was the first time I heard Local Natives and next thing I knew I was swept up by the brilliance that is Local Natives. How would I describe them? Heavenly, crisp and controlled vocals. Top notch musicianship and arrangement. Just perfect in every way that it makes me wonder what the next album will sound like if it is this good already? When it comes to independent music and the cities that are known for producing the band du jour, Los Angeles is not the first thing to pop into my head. Local Natives was a refreshing addition to my Library and I'm in love.
Best Bits: Wide Eyes, Camera Talk, Sun Hands
5. Two Door Cinema Club - Tourist History
Finally, to wrap up the 2010 edition Top Picks is this lovely trio from Northern Ireland. For the longest time I kept thinking they were from Canada. They give off electro-pop tendencies without leaning to far in that direction. They have a very fast way of delivering calculated yet groovy beats. Yes. I used the word groovy, but there was no other word that seemed to sum up the feeling of listening to TDCC. You just want to groove/dance/bounce/bop to this music. Hell, if you aren't, you're at least tapping your foot or bobbing your head to it. It's just good 'ole five star party/ have a good time music. That's what I love about them because there is nothing else I need to say about them... other than they also put on a good live show and are into the concert as much as the fans are. Two Door, you boys did well!
Best Bits: Undercover Martyn, What You Know, Something Good Can Work
So, that is it for the Top 5, but to keep the tradition going, I have to give my honorable mentions for my favorite singles of 2010. Here they are:
James Blake: Limit to Your Love (Feist Cover) - Blake is a young and talented UK producer that I've only just heard recently. The original is already amazing especially listening to Feist's throaty vocals, but Blake pulled back the skin and exposed the soul of this song. Pure genius!
Glasser: Home - I don't know too much about Glasser, but I know there is some kind of mesmerizing, tribal, stripped down, organic sound to this song. The words repeat in this song and there are so few with the chorus being sung in such a haunting way. I don't know what it is, but I truly love this song.
Mumford and Sons: Little Lion Man - Bravo, men. Bravo! Not only have you created a song that people want to sing so that they can scream "I really fucked it up this time, didn't I my dear?" but, they created music steeped in folk tendencies in such a current way that is opening people up to brilliant direction that music (created by true artists) is going.
Kele: Tenderoni - Oh me oh my. Kele what have you done to me? When I first heard this I thought "WHOA!" I couldn't believe my fucking ears. It was that serious. Because who knew brewing under the "post-punk" of Bloc Party was this? I mean I kinda had a feeling that he was heading in this direction. Just listen to Silent Alarm and then Intimacy. A bit of difference there. Tenderoni is the first introduction into a side of Kele never seen before and I'm liking it.
Flying Lotus: Zodiac Shit - This is the next level dude whose tracks were first heard late at night on Adult Swim. There is no doubting his genius and he could even be held in the same regard as the late and forever great, J Dilla.
Warpaint Undertow - I've become so intrigued by Warpaint since I first heard this single on XMU. Another top notch band to come out of L.A.
Gil Scott Heron: NY is Killing Me (Jamie XX Remix) - For me this is my favorite remix of the year. By the way kudos go out to The XX because they are one of the best new bands. However, it wasn't until I heard this song and other tracks from Jamie that I could understand how The XX won the Mercury Prize. I definitely get it now. Jamie is supposed to be releasing a solo album. I can't wait for it.
Hot Chip: One Life Stand - The title of this song is witty. The lyrics are really meaningful and sweet. The sound is so damn funky and infectious that I can't help, but go into a heavy head nod. I even get my shoulders into it.
Kanye West: Lost in the World (ft. Bon Iver's Justin Vernon) - That Taylor Swift stuff aside, which was blown way out of proportion, Kanye never went anywhere and he never lost anything. The guy has always been a visionary and this is just more proof. We're watching the evolution and growth of an artist just as we witnessed those growing pains (aka media mishaps).
Gorillaz: Empire Ants (ft. Little Dragon)- This whole album has a special place in my heart. Damon Albarn is a sexy music god that walks among us. His mind is far reaching and he can do anything he wants. From Blur to The Good The Bad and The Queen he's got it. From full orchestras to operas about monkeys he can do no wrong. Seeing Gorrilaz in October was a spiritual experience and I felt like I went to church and got my spirit lifted.
Well, that's all folks. Of course there are still some really great albums that I loved this year that weren't up here. These were my ultimate favorites and their are too many others for me to list here, but that's not my job. I'll let Pitchfork take care putting that list together.