Class of 2010: The Overachievers

Out of the countless releases of 2010, ILSUDH2 got through around 600 of them.  Here are the Top 25.  The 25 albums that defined 2010 for ILSUDH2.  This list includes rock, hip-hop, electronic and country music; there will be a separate post for metal.  Like any list, these won’t be everyone’s favorite, there will be gaping holes and many will disagree, but from a personal perspective, these are the albums that stood out from the masses.

#25. Avi Buffalo – Avi Buffalo

‘You are tiny and your lips are like little pieces of bacon’

#24. Sleigh Bells – Treats

‘you’re just a weatherman, we make the wind blow’

#23. Salem – King Night

‘Now I’m pullin’ a sheet over my face before I die’

#22. Local Natives – Gorilla Manor

‘Memory tells me that these times are worth working for’

#21. Roadside Graves – You Won’t Be Happy With Me

‘if we didn’t have to worry about money we’d be alright’

#20. Eminem – Recovery

‘Let me formally reintroduce myself to you for those of you who don’t know’

#19. The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever

‘But it’s a long haul to the corner store from the center of the universe
when you can’t get your car off the curb’

#18. Drive-By Truckers – The Big To-Do

‘Guess it will be through with me before I’m through with it’

#17. Roky Erickson w/Okkervil River – True Love Casts Out All Evil

‘electricity hammered me through my head ’til nothing at all was backward instead’

#16. Javi Garcia & The Cold Cold Ground – A Southern Horror

‘I dragged his body through the mud, I watched the Comal County River mix with his blood’

#15. Beach House – Teen Dream

‘The heart is a stone and this is a stone that we throw’

#14. Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record

‘I get world sick every time I take a stand’

#13. Zola Jesus – Stridulum II

‘grown pieces of slandered youth’

#12. Yeasayer – Odd Blood

‘It’s getting hard to keep pretending I’m worth your time’

#11. The Black Keys – Brothers

‘Oh my next girl will be nothing like, my ex girl’

#10. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest

It’s funny how things go from year to year.  The albums you are really looking forward to sometimes disappoint, and sometimes you are surprised by artists you didn’t really like.  A couple years ago I would have never expected a Deerhunter album to make my list, but Bradford Cox has earned his place on ILSUDH2 and much more important lists this year.  I predict this album will stand the test of time better than most in 2010.

#9.  Future Islands – In Evening Air

One of the only new bands to break the Top 10 this year, Future Islands first got my attention as the opening act for Dan Deacon at the Bluebird last year and have continued to hold it with In Evening Air this year.

#8. Frightened Rabbit – The Winter Of Mixed Drinks

So many bands out there are letting their Scottish flag fly; instead of masking their accents in the vocal, they make that accent a prominent aspect of their music.  Out of all these bands, Frightened Rabbit still does it best.  Their third album lives up to the promise of their debut and might even be better than 2008‘s excellent The Midnight Organ Fight.

#7. Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses – Junky Star

Ryan Bingham’s Roadhouse Sun was one of the best country albums of last year, but is was overlooked by many.  This year he wrote the music for, as well as played a part in, the Oscar-winning film, Crazy Heart, toured with Willie Nelson and released his third album, Junky Star.  Somehow he is still under the radar for many, which is a shame, because he is one of the best artists out there making country music and Junky Star is one of the best albums of the year.

#6. Jamey Johnson – The Guitar Song

Jamey Johnson first caught my attention with High Cost of Living from 2008’s The Lonesome Song.  He represented everything that country should have been and was not.  He was the antithesis of pop country, yet he became popular.  To me he represented hope for the genre.  This year’s double-album, The Guitar Song, continued that hope.  An amazing collection of songs that would have scored an even higher spot on the list if it was edited down to a single album.  But recently I learned something heartbreaking, Jamey Johnson co-wrote Honky Tonk Badonkadonk, a song that defines everything wrong with country.  Some has shunned Jamey for this fact and as much as it might knock him off that pure country pedestal I’ve put him on, I don’t think it takes away from the amazing material he has recorded himself.

#5. Active Child – Curtis Lane

This is only an EP, but I have probably listened to these 6 songs more than anything else thing year.  In a year filled with 80’s nostalgia, Pat Grossi manages to not only sound like the decade of my lost innocence, he brings me back to the arcade, the halls of Jr. High and that spot behind the movie theater.  Looking forward to a full length in 2011.

#4. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz

Sure to make many lists this year, the ‘best of’ lists and the ‘most disappointing’ lists, Sufjan Stevens pulled the biggest 180 this year with his experimental The Age of Adz.  Those that were hoping for a folk album about Nebraska or a tour through the Pacific Northwest feel cheated with this new album, while those who realize that the artistic process can take you down different roads than originally planned will appreciate the depth and chaos of this album.  I am huge fan of Illinois, but I doubt I would listen to 50 of those albums.  The Age of Adz was a great surprise this year and deserves a place at the top of 2010.

#3. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor

A garage, punk album about The Civil War one of the best albums of 2010?  Yes.  Yes, it is.

#2. The National – High Violet

How do you follow-up two of the best albums of the past decade and not disappoint?  You just come back and do it again with High Violet.  The best rock album of the year had some big shoes to fill and while it is lacking in spastic, energetic tracks like Abel and Mr. November, this band has transcended the indie label without watering down their style one bit.  Another great release from one of the best bands  in the business.

#1. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Originality in mainstream hip-hop has been almost nonexistent for so many years that many hip-hop artists have pronounced the genre dead.  But self-deprecating, egomaniac Kanye West has gone and revived hip-hop, if you can even call it that anymore, with an album as schizophrenic as the man himself.  MBDTF will go down as one of those game changing albums.  This is a record of a man battling with himself and a world who doesn’t understand him…apologizing for mistakes while lashing out at his accusers, sometimes within the same verse.  Kanye‘s got some shit to deal with, and he prefers to work it out in public.  And as long as this shit manifests itself in albums like this, I hope he never becomes a balanced individual.

The next 25: (in alphabetical order)
Angus & Julia Stone – Down The Way
Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Avi Buffalo – Avi Buffalo
B.o.B – B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray
Best Coast – Crazy For You
Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart
Broken Bells – Broken Bells
Delorean – Subiza
Dessa – Badly Broken Code
The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang
Gayngs – Relayted
Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here
How To Dress Well – Love Remains
Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid
Jonsi – Go
Lissie – Catching A Tiger
Mimicking Birds – Mimicking Birds
Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
Nathaneil Rateliff – In Memory Of Loss
The Radio Dept. – Clinging To A Scheme
Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs – God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise
Robyn – Body Talk
Vampire Weekend – Contra
Wise Blood – ‘+’
Wolf Parade – Expo 86