My top ten albums of 2010 … and then some. (In no particular order)
Head and the Heart – Head and the Heart
It’s hard to believe that this album came from a band that most people hadn’t heard of just six months ago. The force known as The Head and the Heart stole/broke hearts with their self-titled debut. Each song takes on a different persona, yet the album as a whole flows with an ease that even most veteran musicians would envy. The band tops it all of with three-part harmonies and melodies that urge listeners to clap their hands.
Nice, Nice, Very Nice – Dan Mangan
This album is one of the best I’ve heard in years. The LP is chock-full of raw emotion put to beautiful melodies and one of my top played albums of the year (even though it was only released in September).
Measures – Walking Sleep
Based out of L.A., you may not have heard of Walking Sleep, which is a shame. With a new moniker (formerly The Flying Tourbillon Orchestra), Measures is the first full length release from the band. Hunter Curra has a knack for matching the kind of dark lyrics you’d find in many Northwest albums with SoCal upbeat power-pop tracks and beautiful he/she harmonies. If that’s not convincing enough, Walking Sleep has shared bills with Henry Clay People, Local Natives, Castledoor (R.I.P.!), and the Coral Sea.
Saint Bartlett – Damien Jurado
To this day, it surprises me that I still find people in Seattle who don’t know who Damien Jurado is. It’s especially hard to believe considering he released one of the most striking albums of the year with Saint Bartlett. Marked with the same loneliness and haunting tones Jurado is so well known for, the album shows some of his most dynamic and strongest work to date.
Gorilla Manor – Local Natives
Local Natives brought something distinct and brilliant to the table this year with their debut, Gorilla Manor. The vocally-driven album is impossible to place into just one genre, creating a beautifully layered album laden with harmonies sure to make you weak in the knees.
Where the Messengers Meet – Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band.
Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band’s sophomore release is a passionate and sophisticated step up from their self-titled debut. Where the Messengers Meet is full of vivid imagery, seamless transitions and a depth that draws its listeners in and makes it hard to let go of this album without at least one more listen.
Sigh No More – Mumford and Sons.
Sigh No More is a force to be reckoned with. Marcus Mumford explores every part of the human psyche with his painstakingly honest lyrics about live, love and every feeling in-between set to some of the most intense and driven melodies you’ll hear anywhere.
Brothers – The Black Keys
Not only did they put on one of my favorite shows of the year, but the Black Keys did me over with their newest album, Brothers, as well. “Disappointment” has never been a word that I’ve used when describing anything by this Akron, Ohio duo. With a bigger sound than their previous recordings (thanks to the addition of a bass guitar and keyboards), Brothers was meant to impress and impress, it did.
All the Delighted People EP – Sufjan Stevens.
This EP is a little bit of everything, without seeming scattered. It’s the classic Sufjan we’ve come to know, a bit more developed from Illinoise, but without abandoning the classic instrumental staples we’ve come to expect from him.
Magnetic North – Aqualung.
Like Damien Jurado, it still astounds me that people don’t know who Matt Hales is. Granted, he hails from Britain (no pun intended), but anyone who can write a symphony at the age of 17 has me enamored. After nearly retiring from the music scene, Magnetic North brings us a more upbeat side of the often melancholy singer-songwriter, proving that it’s not over for Hales just yet.
Enchanted Chapel – The Young Evils
Becoming a Jackal – Villagers
The Suburb?s? – Arcade Fire
The Ladykiller – Cee-Lo Green
Libraries – The Love Language
Big Echo – Morning Benders