New Years Eve Guide
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Best Albums of 2010

The Music That Rocked Us

Our reviewers share their picks for best releases of 2010: Toro Y Moi, Ariel Pink Haunted Graffiti, the Black Keys, Vampire Weekend, Woods, and more.

David Johnson-Igra

1. Causers Of This — Toro Y Moi
When everyone said glitch pop was a phase of the past, now generally titled chillwave, Toro Y Moi debuted an album that cannot be passed upon. Front to back, flawless.

2. Forgiveness Rock Record — Broken Social Scene
Some of my favorites like “All in All,” “Texico Bitches,” “Sweetist Kill,” “World Sick,” — oh hell, there are just so many good songs on this album that all sound so different.

3. Plastic Beach — Gorillaz
Forget the star packed features list, this album sonically is futuristic, and titillating. The content is eerie, yet so relevant and important.

4. Before Today - Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
Critics can argue all day whether this is his best or most popular album. Regardless, it is indicative of a sonic style Ariel Pink has pioneered, and a strange glimpse into the mind of an equally strange individual.

5. Gorilla Manor — Local Natives
The vocal harmonies, ranging rhythms, and catchy hooks made this album primed to crossover from indie darlings to pop kings. It’s just a matter of time.


Lynne Angel

1. Teen Dream — Beach House
These guys were already great, but this fluid masterpiece pushes them into the realm of golden. This album had been on repeat since its release, and I still adore every track.

2. Fortress — Miniature Tigers
Unrelenting in catchiness and entirely relatable, these guys are great on stage and on record. This album crept in to my collection and held on with a passion.

3. Warp Riders — The Sword
This may just be the feel-good album of the year.

4. Infinite Arms — Band of Horses
It may not have “The Funeral” or “No One’s Gonna Love You,” but it is kind of nice to listen to a more balanced and graceful side of this mega-band without the peaks and valleys the previous albums contained.

5. Big Echo — The Morning Benders
They are not covering any new ground with “Excuses,” but dagnammit, if that song doesn’t get me every single time. Turns out, the rest of the album is pretty great as well. SF representin’ on the national scale!

Honorable mentions: Gorilla Manor, The Local Natives; Twin Hand Movement, The Lower Dens; Fever, Sleepy Sun; My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West; Pink Friday, Nicki Minaj


Jeff Kingsbury

1. Girl Talk — All Day
Greg Gillis keeps it moving, mixing guitar riffs with perfect raps that are almost impossible to dream up. A mashup with U2, Daft Punk, and Twista is only just a bit of a fantastic work that keeps you spellbound.

2. The Black Keys — Brothers
Dan Auerach and Pat Carney bring an old-time howl that is both classic, southern basement, and authentically new to this album. Its distinctive, smoky sound stands out leaving its notes lingering on your clothes and ears.

3. Static of the Gods — Knowledge Machine
The human experience boiled down to eleven tracks born in a farmhouse in Vermont. It’s a masterful job of portrayal of emotions through the splendor of sound.

4. Blip Blip Bleep — Like Track Stars
This Brooklyn group brought pop, dance and electronic together for a richly complex mix of songs representing the future as well as blessing touchstones of the past.

5. The Dead Weather — Sea of Cowards
A wild and unbridled album that this Nashville based super-group courageously released against all sophomore-slump expectations.


Noele Lusano

1. Love is a Stream — Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
Root Strata label boss and one half of local ambient act Tarentel ventures out on his own here to paint a swirling, sparkling epic that would have Tim Hecker quaking in his Canadian boots.

Love King — The-Dream
“If you ever make ya girlfriend mad / Don’t let ya good girl go bad / Drop five stacks on the make up bag / Drop drop five stacks on the make up bag.” Terius Nash, better known as The-Dream, drops stacks and wisdom over the wickedest production.

3. Antony | Fennesz : Returnal — Oneohtrix Point Never
Antony of Antony & The Johnson’s heart-wrenching falsetto features beside Christian Fennesz’s electronic melancholia. The source material: Oneohtrix Point Never’s “Returnal,” a righteous track all by its psychedelic, lovelorn lonesome. Genius.

4. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti — Before Today
This could be the only truly listenable span of music Ariel Pink has released to date. The man has come to his senses, trading in the elementary mumbling of yore for a brand new suit.

5. Joy Orbison — The Shrew Would Have Cushioned the Blow
Dubstep? Garage? R&B? Burroughsian cut-up? Genre hardly matters when the beats are this fresh. Peter O’Grady’s served up a number of quality plates this year, but this one takes the cake.


Michelle Ramin

1. At Echo Lake — Woods
The perfect combination of dreamy low-fi fuzz-pop and catchy sing-song melodies, this album holds up across places and seasons. Don't tell anyone, but I may have listened to this album approximately 87 times this year. It's really that good!

2. Lisbon — The Walkmen
Dynamic, soaring vocals amidst entrancing brass instrumental interludes and driving yet waltz-able drumbeats, it's like being at a symphony but more accessible, just as heartfelt, and equally charming and romantic. It sounds like the best first date you'll ever have.

3. Avi Buffalo — Avi Buffalo
Adolescence never sounded so good — and fun! Lively, adventurous, innocent yet wise beyond their years, Avi Buffalo will make you feel like you're sixteen again in all of the sweetest ways possible.

4. Contra — Vampire Weekend
Everyone said I would fall for these guys one day or another. This year, it finally happened at Sasquatch Music Festival. This album feels like a tropical paradise dance party that never ends. Best. Party. EVER!

5. Hippies — Harlem
Pop at its truest, made in your parents’ garage with the shoddy equipment you got for your 14th birthday. When songwriting is truly great, the rest is just excess frills and folly.

Honorable Mentions
Sleep Forever, Crocodiles; Astro Coast, Surfer Blood; Gorilla Manor, Local Natives; High Violet, The National; Treats, Sleigh Bells.