It’s that time of the year, the annual review of 2010’s best albums is here.
My criteria for picking the best albums of the year is simple. If I am willing to sacrifice my lunch and purchase a record instead, that automatically qualifies the record for a spot on the best albums of the year list. Let the games begin!
♦ Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: Son of Chico Dusty [Def Jam]
Big Boi has always been one of the most talented lyricists and entertainers in the hip hop industry. For years, he has quietly waded in Andre 3k’s shadow and Sir Lucious Left Foot served as the perfect opportunity for him to emerge victorious, renewed and reinvented. This was definitely one of the stand out albums of the year.
♦ Black Keys – Brothers [Nonesuch]
Brothers was primarily cut in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. That town has a soulful and romanticized past, being the birthplace of many famous blues and r&b records and singles. The aura of Muscle Shoals can be heard all over Brothers and it resonates in the album’s mellow and hypnotic sounds. This album represents a new milestone in the Black Keys career.
♦ Deftones – Diamond Eyes [Reprise]
For a long time, the Deftones have been thrown into the dusty bin of “high school” rock and forgotten about by people with more “mature and seasoned” musical tastes. With the release of their record Diamond Eyes all of that has changed. The band reinvented themselves with this new release and proved they are still a relevant and innovative force to be reckoned with.
♦ Feast of Violet – Botany Charm [Independent]
Feast of Violet is an ambient side project of Allen Taylor (Roman Photos). I randomly stumbled upon his bandcamp site and was blown away by what I heard. It’s a short ep produced by a local musician, however, it contains some of the most lush and ambient sounds I’ve heard on a record. Botany Charm combines warm, dream-like elements with scenes of a cold and stark reality. All of it balances out into a very moving and emotional mix.
♦ Jaga Jazzist – One Armed Bandit [ Ninja Tune]
It is impossible to pin down Jaga Jazzist and that is precisely why One Armed Bandit made the list. Jaga Jazzist tastefully blends together elements of jazz, electronic music, classical and Isaac Hayes chase scene/cinematic funk on One Armed Bandit. The group has never wanked around much. They remain faithful to maintaining the melodic and rhythm integrity of their songs and this album is no exception.
♦ Jamie Lidell – Compass
2010’s favorite blue eyed soul musician never fails to disappoint. Jamie Lidell’s Compass is an amazing record. It moves and grooves in all the right places. It’s polite on one side and then downright rude on another. Overall, Compass is an exhilirating and jaw-dropping experience.
♦ Janelle Monae – The Archandroid [Atlantic]
Janelle Monae has been one of the most eclectic and seductive entertainers to grace the music industry since her debut in 2006. Her album Archandroid was billed as a “cinematic experience.” I whole-heartedly agree with this and feel ArchAndroid is not only one of the best pop albums of 2010, but one of the best records to come out in some time.
♦ Jungol – Over the Sun, Under the Radar [Independent]
Jungol are an Atlanta based prog rock band that has shrewdly worked their way through the city’s lowlife predator den of hyenas, jackals and wolves. I’m including Over the Sun, Under the Radar on this list because it’s spectacular not only as a local release, but it is on par if not better than many of the “mainstream” rock/pop albums I heard this year. Hopefully this band will not remain under the radar for much longer.
♦ Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy [Def Jam]
Read the Rolling Stone review.
♦ Tame Impala – Innerspeaker [Modular]
Tame Impala’s Innerspeaker is a breath of fresh air in an indie music industry being drowned out by chillwave. Tame Impala cleverly hearkened back to the old days of trippy, LSD influenced rock, but didn’t deliberately rip off all the songwriting techniques and sounds of their psych-rock forefathers. All in all, spectacular record.