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Best Albums of 2010 (so far)

Date July 2, 2010

photo via sunbeam17

Click here to view updated Best Albums of 2010 list

Six months of 2010 have passed which means it’s time for the annual mid-year recap of the best albums of the year so far. It’s already been a very exciting year for music and with scheduled releases from Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Belle & Sebastian, of Montreal in the upcoming months it look just as great. In the past I have done twelve and half albums for these mid-year lists but there’s so many albums I love this year that I’ve bumped it up to an even 15. So here they are, listed in chronological order (no ranking till the year-end list), the best albums released in 2010 so far.

Laura Veirs – July Flame (January 12, Raven Marching Band)
When there’s so many great albums released in a year, sometimes it’s easy to overlook artists like folk singer Laura Veirs who has made the sleeper album of the year with July Flame. Each song is lovingly crafted to perfection, seasoned with wistful strings, piano, acoustic guitar and Laura’s captivating vocals. It’s a extremely rewarding album and one that find myself returning to again and again.

MP3 Summer Is The Champion
MP3 Wide-Eyed Legless

Spoon – Transference (January 19, Merge)
Spoon is one of America’s greatest rock bands, indie or otherwise, and their consistency is one of the main reasons so it’s no surprise that they’ve made a great album, they’ve been doing it every year or two for the last decade. Transference features a more cerebral, experimental Spoon then the impeccable pop songwriting of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga and it allows them to play around with texture and melody a bit more. It results in a slightly less accessible but ultimately incredibly satisfying album.

MP3 The Mystery Zone
MP3 Written In Reverse

Hot Chip – One Life Stand (Februrary 9, Astralwerks)
With One Life Stand, Hot Chip have succeeded in becoming more heartfelt and musically accomplished then ever before without ever losing any of their dance-floor appeal. The focus on more straightforward pop songwriting while still having those huge club-banging climaxes bursting with cascading synths and flurried disco results in the band’s most consistent and overall best album yet.

MP3 Thieves In The Night
MP3 One Life Stand

Local Natives – Gorilla Manor (February 16, Frenchkiss)
This L.A.-based quintet seem destined to be 2010’s Fleet Foxes or Grizzly Bear. They’ve made arguably the best debut of the year filled with dynamic, well-crafted songs that matches intricately-arranged harmonies with a frentic rhythm section and lush instrumention. I assume by the end of the year they’ll also be soundtracking VW commercials.

MP3 Wide Eyes
MP3 Camera Talk

Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me (February 23, Drag City)
Joanna Newsom’s last album took a little while to grow on me but this time I knew what to expect and the Have One On Me blew me away on first listen and has only gotten better over time. The album is overwhelming in it’s scope and ambition and full of beautifully woven and masterfully performed songs like “Good Intentions Paving Company” and “Baby Birch”.

MP3 Good Intentions Paving Company

Shearwater – The Golden Arpichelago (February 23, Matador)
Shearwater continues to make gorgeous baroque-pop that specializes in hauntingly beautiful melodies and meticulous instrumental arrangements, marked by Jonathon Meisburg’s striking, dramatic vocals. Songs like “Black Eyes” and “Castaways” are some of their most magnificent of their career.

MP3 Castaways
MP3 Black Eyes

Owen Pallett – Heartland (March 2, Domino)
Owen Pallett has already created an impressive body of work at his young age whether it’s the lovely albums he created under then name Final Fantasy or the string arrangements he composed for Arcade Fire. This album though is his magnum opus, mixing grandiose, classically-inspired instrumentation and addictive pop melodies to create gems like “Midnight Directives” and “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt”.

MP3 Lewis Takes Of His Shirt

Titus Andronicus – The Monitor (March 9, XL)
After a solid debut titled after a Seinfeld quote, Titus Andronicus have made a hugely ambitious Civil War-themed epic that’s succeeds on nearly every level. The band is generous in its sprawling guitar shredding, passionate angst-ridden vocals, rowdy bar-rock piano and anthemic, sing-a-long choruses. It’s a fully immersive listening experience that leaves a lasting impression taking you through breathtaking highs and crushing lows.

MP3 A More Perfect Union
MP3 A Pot In Which To Piss

Jonsi – Go (April 6, XL)
As the lead singer of Sigur Ros, Jonsi helped produce some of the most beautiful, ethereal music of the past decade, and with his first solo album, Go, he continues to excel. The album is a culmination of all of Jonsi’s pop sensibilities, showcasing the artist at his most exuberant and accessible. His music is flourishing with piccolos, strings, guitar and piano both triumphant and awe-inspiring.

MP3 Go Do
MP3 Boy Likoli

Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History (April 27, Glassnote)
Two Door Cinema Club have been one of my favorite finds so far this year. Their debut album, Tour History, is a glistening collection of addictively catchy dance-rock that makes for a genuinely exhilarating listen from start to finish. The band follows in the footsteps of their label / tour mates Phoenix in mixing crisp, sunny production with irresistible pop hooks like on the enthralling single “Something Good Can Work”.

MP3 Something Good Can Work
MP3 This Is The Life

Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record (May 4, Arts and Crafts)
On Forgiveness Rock Record, Broken Social Scene has trimmed their line-up to seven members which has resulted in more focused and accessible album (with some help from John McEntire’s stellar production). The album still contains all the expansive orchestration, mesmerizing ballads and triumphant hooks that you would expect from the band, plus a few surprises like the delightful mariachi horns on “Art House Director”.

MP3 World Sick
MP3 Art House Director

The New Pornographers – Together (May 4, Matador)
Together is the latest in a long line of enthralling power-pop from this ever-growing collective (Will Sheff, Annie Clark, and Zach Condon all contributed to this album). The band is full of experts at writing lively, infectious pop songs and this album features some of their best work to date ranging from the gorgeous harmonizing of “Crash Years” to the crunchy guitar riffs of the title track.

MP3 Crash Years
MP3 Your Hands (Together)

The National – High Violet (May 11, 4AD)
There’s so many things that make this album exceptional, it’s hard to know where to start. Whether it’s the Matt Beringer’s engaging lyrics, the gorgeous instrument arrangements, the massive, anthemic choruses, those mind-blowing drum fills, or just the fact that this is the third spectacular album in a row from a band that is deservedly becoming recognized as one of the best in the world, there’s honestly not a single thing I don’t love about High Violet.

MP3 Bloodbuzz Ohio
MP3 Afraid of Everyone

LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening (May 18, DFA)
After LCD Soundsystem’s groundbreaking 2007 album, Sound of Silver the expectations for the band’s third and reportedly last album have been stratospheric and with This Is Happening, James Murphy and co. have delivered in a big way. For how great the hard-hitting electro beats and addictive guitar riffs are, the album really comes down Murphy’s uncanny songwriting and introspective lyrics and in those departments he knocks it out of the park over and over.

MP3 Dance Yrself Clean

Wolf Parade – Expo 86 (June 29, Sub Pop)
Expo 86 begins with a relentless guitar riff, piercing synths, and Spencer Krug yelping about hammocks, dream-catchers, and minivans, and the album doesn’t ever let up after that. Both Krug and Boeckner have grown monumentally as artists and the tunes found on this album like “Little Golden Age”, “What Would Your Lover Say”, and “Yulia” stand among the most electrifying and passionate rock anthems these intensely creative songwriters have crafted.

MP3 What Would Your Lover Say
MP3 Yulia

Just Missed:
Janelle Monae
Free Energy
The Hold Steady

Honorable Mentions:

Surfer Blood
Tokyo Police Club
Love Is All
The Tallest Man On Earth

Leave your favorite albums so far this year in the comments. Thanks for reading!

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51 Responses to “Best Albums of 2010 (so far)”

  1. Lee said:

    Great list, Taylor. I would definitely have The ArchAndroid on it, though, not only as an honorable mention! I think I’m going to need more time with Wolf Parade’s newest, haven’t really connected with it yet.

  2. Adam said:

    I’d for sure have The Tallest Man on Earth on the list, perhaps even as #1, but that’s just me. Not a ton to argue about on the list really, though I might be the only person in the world who doesn’t ‘get’ Local Natives.

  3. Taylor said:

    Yeah, I got into Janelle Monae way too late which is the main reason she’s not higher on my list. I’m sure she’ll probably jump up before the end of the year. I’m loving Archandroid.

  4. Matt said:

    I’d have put Los Campesinos!, The Dead Weather, Beach House, and Caribou would all have made my list. The Monitor is amazing, though.

  5. Tappen said:

    Hit it on the nail. Though I would have had Tallest Man on Earth, Sleigh Bells, Los Campesinos, and Gaslight Anthem. Switch ’em for Two Door, Titus, Joanna, and Shearwater and you’ve got my list exactly.

  6. Brian S. said:

    My top one is Murder by Death – Good Morning Magpie with Titus Andronicus, Against Me!, Gaslight Anthem, and Shooter Jennings coming in close behind.

  7. Grif said:

    Nice list! Must have taken a while to decide. I’ll be interested to see where it ends up. See you at pitchfork?

  8. Taylor said:

    I will be there!

  9. Hayden said:

    Gemini by Wild Nothing is pretty sweet. At Echo Lake by Woods also.

  10. Hayden said:

    oh, and Beach Fossils

  11. Brendan said:

    nice Taylor. here’s mine.


  12. Brendan said:

    nice list Taylor. here’s mine.


    * feel free to delete that first comment

  13. Zach said:

    Pretty great list…Local Natives had an amazing debut, so I agree there, but so did Avi Buffalo..it’ll be interesting to see if they’re remembered come December

  14. Chris said:

    Tokyo Police Club’s new album has been in constant rotation on my iTunes, I think you definitely snubbed them on this list.

  15. Taylor said:

    yeah, I’m adding that one to the HM list. I’ve been listening to Champ a lot lately.

  16. David said:

    Definitly a second vote for the new Los Campesinos! album, I thought it was great.

  17. Sam B said:

    I definitely would have put Fang Island and The Roots. Other than that really great list.

  18. TIMMY said:

    Yeasayer should have won

  19. Christian said:

    The new Delta Spirit is incredible. At first I thought it was a simple, solid album, but the more listens proves it’s depth. Similar to Dr. Dog, but way better than anything they’ve put out.

  20. Kurt said:

    Deftones- Diamond Eyes should be on there ion my opinion. It has to be one off the best hard rock/metal albums released in the last 2 years and I have yet to get tired of listening to it after 15+ listens now.

  21. Rob said:

    Althought this is a great list, my favorite blog: http://musicmavens.blogspot.com/ has a great one as well.

  22. Andrew said:

    No Vampire Weekend?

  23. jez said:

    great list but i would have definitely put gayngs,fang island,stornoway and future islands on it!

  24. Conor said:

    Typo in the Two Door Cinema Club song – “Something Good Can Come” should be “Something Good Can Work” :)

  25. Santiago said:

    Where the fuck is Plastic Beach by gorillaz?

  26. Taylor said:

    @Santiago: Plastic Beach is on my Honorable Mention as well as Matt’s “The Rest of the Best Albums of 2010 (So Far)” list.

  27. Me said:

    I’m not anti indie rock, but there are other genres you know. Broaden your horizons a little, it’s a big musical world out there.

  28. Coby said:

    Toro Y Moi?

  29. tiger said:

    The Suburbs should undoubtedly be on here.

  30. Taylor said:

    This list is from six weeks ago otherwise it undoubtedly would be.

  31. Tim said:

    Sleigh Bells- Treats. best thing I have heard all year.

  32. Elinor said:

    The Suburbs – Arcade Fire

  33. f.sparks said:

    Yesssss on Local Natives and Two Door Cinema club. Yeasayer did a beautiful thing this year too. Sleigh Bells nice add.

  34. mitchell said:

    The-Dream – Love King

  35. Trev said:

    Plastic Beach and Treats are both better than everything else you have on this list.

  36. Taylor said:

    Love King, Treats, and Plastic Beach are on Part 2 of this list: The Rest of The Best of 2010 (so far)

  37. Sam said:


  38. wtf said:



    Congratulations is totally amazing, how could you not even mention it? I love every bit of that album.

    Would also appreciate nods at Caribou and Vampire Weekend

  39. Taylor said:

    I’m way more into their music videos then I am their albums.

  40. Kathie said:

    Nice list but I really do not understand that “The tallest man on earth” isn´t on that list. For me together with local natives the best cd´s so far.
    And you forgot to mention the new Interpol album upcoming next week 😉

  41. katy said:

    Dr. Dog’s new album should be on that list! and Sleigh Bells, of course…

  42. DAT A G said:

    The fact that there is no Flying Lotus on the list urges me to disregard your opinion on music as a whole. The list just looks like pitchfork approved indie rock.

  43. Taylor said:

    How can you criticize me for not having Flying Lotus then say my list has too many pitchfork-approved albums? Cosmogramma is one of their highest reviewed albums of the year!

  44. Jay said:

    Linkin Park — A Thousand Suns. It is very beautiful.

  45. emily said:

    Jonsi’s GO was amazing

  46. Alex said:

    the black keys album brothers was an unreal album early this year! should be mentioned…

  47. Joseph said:

    ariel pink’s haunted graffiti – before today; avey tare – down there; small black – new chain; mgmt – congratulations; sufjan stevens – the age of adz; Avi Buffalo; Gonjasufi; Working For A Nuclear Free City; Red Baraat; Twin Shadow; Pill Wonder; Surf City; Beach House; and Agent Ribbons all will be on my list so far. I mostly agree with your list as well.

  48. Thehell said:

    Definitely needs to be updated. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is album of the year (all genres).

  49. Taylor said:

    If anyone is still stumbling upon this six-month old post wondering where are all the albums released after June, click here to view the updated Best Albums of 2010 list

  50. Cory said:

    I would definatly add Los Campesinos and Bright Eyes to the list, but other than that, good job.

  51. shira said:

    I definitely agree that TDCC’s album is one of the best last year. I personally am a HUGE Tokyo Police Club fan, and i really enjoyed Champ, but it may just be me.