Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Heaven is whenever we can get together, sit down on your floor and listen to your records. Heaven is whenever we can get together, lock your bedroom door and listen to your records." ~the hold steady

2010 is just about over, which means it's time for my Favorite .... of 2010 lists. Today it's my favorite albums of 2010. Please note that this is NOT a "Best Of" list. I think it's impossible for anyone to decide what's "best." These are just my favorites. This year was nearly impossible. Usually I have a hard time coming up with 10 stellar albums, but this year I had way too many favorites from which to choose. Many of my favorite artists released new albums this year, and I was introduced to some new great bands. I have more to say about the ones I love most, and of course I have positive things to say about them all (which makes me afraid of sounding redundant by the end). This is a countdown leading up to my absolute favorite. Anyway, without further ado, here we go (click on the album artwork for a link to the album on amazon):

Claire's Favorite Albums of 2010

Honorable Mentions: Deerhunter (Halcyon Digest), Broken Social Scene (Forgiveness Rock Record), She & Him (Volume 2), LCD Soundsystem (This Is Happening), The Black Keys (Brothers)

10. Beach House - Teen Dream

You'll see this one on a LOT of "Year's Best" lists. It's great songwriting.

Song sample: Silver Soul

9. MGMT - Congratulations

They're just so much fun. I don't mind the lack of singles, and I think this album is even better than Oracular Spectacular. I can't wait to see what they come up with next.

Song sample: Congratulations

8. Broken Bells - Broken Bells

These two musicians (Danger Mouse and The Shins' James Mercer) are incredibly talented, so hearing them together is really special. I hope they continue to collaborate.

Song sample: The High Road

7. Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks

Not as good as Midnight Organ Fight in my mind (not as unified or emotional), but it's still absolutely beautiful. Go listen to it; it'll have you hooked immediately.

Song sample: The Loneliness and the Scream

6. Bruce Springsteen - The Promise

Oh, Bruce. You're constantly making me so, so proud to be from New Jersey. Seriously. What a gorgeous album.

Song sample: The Promise

5. - Band of Horses - Infinite Arms

I love their album Cease to Begin so much that I figured it would be nearly impossible for them to top it in my mind. I'm still deciding which album of theirs I like best now (Cease to Begin might still have the edge), but this one certainly is wonderful and magical.

Song sample: Blue Beard

4. The Hold Steady - Heaven Is Whenever

What a rich celebration of rock. I'm echoing what I said about Band of Horses; I wasn't sure how this record could possibly top their previous record (Stay Positive). Again, I'm not sure that it does, but it comes pretty darn close. I love how the album celebrates music (the chorus of "We Can Get Together," in which Craig sings, "Heaven is whenever we can get together, sit down on your floor and listen to your records" is just perfect). There's quite a bit of variety. "Hurricane J" is one of my favorite songs and it's the band's classic guitar rock, but there are also some gorgeous, softer songs like "The Sweet Part of the City" and "Soft in the Center." Check out the whole album and see how fabulous it is.

Song sample: The Sweet Part of the City

3. - The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang

This album is another fabulous example of range. It's got a classic rock feel, but it's infused with punk and soul and pop and I can't stop listening to it. It's one of the few albums that I always listen to straight through without skipping a single song. I love all of it. It starts with a bang with "American Slang," "Stay Lucky," and "Bring It On" and doesn't really slow down until the end. It makes me want to dance around. Seriously, it's so, so good.

Song sample: The Diamond Church Street Choir

2. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

This doesn't top Funeral, but it's definitely better than Neon Bible. What is there to say about it? What positive adjectives are left? Can I say it's majestic? It's complicated and emotional and a solid album. These songs are even better live.

Song sample: Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

1. The National - High Violet

Was there ever any doubt in your mind that The National would have my favorite album of the year once again? I can't get enough of The National. I've seen them live nine times and I'm in love. Do I love this album more than Boxer? I don't know. I can't choose. It's like choosing a favorite child (I imagine). I do know that this album is absolutely brilliant. Matt's baritone somehow manages to reach deep inside me and wring my heart. Seriously, how does he do that? Thisis another album that I can listen to straight through without skipping any songs. I could start naming the ones I love and why, but I'd end up listing every song. I think the lyrics are revelatory. The melancholy of the music simultaneously haunts and comforts me. Folks, it doesn't get any better than this.

Song sample: Lemonworld

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