1. Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me (Drag City)
Genre: Baroque Pop, Avant-garde, Indie Folk.
About: A tripartite of beautifully conceived harp-lead songs with elements of blues. Lyrically and musically sophisticated, like the earlier Ys, yet somehow simultaneously both more relatable and more mature.
2. Foetus - Hide (Ectopic Ents)
Genre: Neo-Symphonic, Avant-psychedelic, Industrial.
About: J.G. Thirwell's latest offering is characteristically difficult to pin down. Featuring Wagnerian overtures, and a trained opera singer it is music of grandeur. Thirwell continues to challenge musical paradigms.
3. Beach House - Teen Dream (Sub Pop)
Genre: Dream Pop, Ambient.
About: If you are already familiar with Beach House, expect more of the same with this release (but in a good way). My earlier comments on this album: "It builds on the same core elements that made Devotion great whilst trading somnolence for a renewed energy. Teen Dream is aptly named. The album has a dreamy quality, like all of Beach House's music, it seems to somehow wash over you. This is an album that almost languidly sets itself apart from the mass of predictable synth-pop that seems to largely constitute indie rock at the moment.
4. Tonetta – 777 (Black Tent Press)
Genre: Lo-Fi, Art Rock
About: One of the few good things ever to come from YouTube. While initially appreciated 'ironically' by those that hear it, the musicality and lyricism of Tonetta's 777 demand that it be treated more seriously. Tonetta does not shy away from subversive themes, and while the album sounds rather homogeneous at first, it is redeemed by tracks such as 'John and Yoko', '$VIRAL$" and "Drugs Drugs Drugs". Unlike anything else you will hear this year.
5. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today (4AD)
Genre: New Wave, Experimental, Chillwave.
About: The First Ariel Pink album produced in a studio. "Before Today' sheds the Low Fi skin of earlier releases whilst retaining Ariel Pink's historically informed pop art sound. Educated listeners will no doubt draw numerous comparisons to earlier bands; other critics have cited Hall & Oates, Michael Jackson, Roxy Music and Queen among others. The beauty of these allusions is that they are subtle enough to leave the listener with a sense of nostalgia that can't quite be pinned down.
6. Kanye West –My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Roc-A-Fella)
Genre: Hip Hop, Post-Hip Hop, Pop.
About: The most anticipated and most hyped release of 2010. Maybe not quite the 10.0/10 that pitchfork deemed it, but West's latest release challenges and successfully redefines what pop music (and hip hop) can be. Featuring songs that run for 6+ minutes, a stellar guest list that brings together Indie veterans (Bon Iver) and mainstream pop icons (Rihanna et al), and samples from King Crimson, Aphex Twin, and Gil Scott-Heron. The album is a pop masterpiece but cannot compete lyrically with the wordplay of other hip hop releases from 2010 (such as Das Racist).
7. The Dream – Love King (Radio Killa)
Genre: R&B, Pop.
About: I downloaded this album with trepidation. R&B has not been a genre I have ever really appreciated, and my only prior knowledge of The-Dream was that he penned obnoxious club hits for Beyonce and Rihanna. From the moment I put this album on I was astonished. The-Dream's talent for crafting catchy, melodic pop is in full effect here; the production is perfect, and the attention to detail provides a nice relief from the low fi, distortion driven, rock that pervades the indie scene. The enthusiasm of this album is infectious.
8. Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record (Arts & Crafts)
Genre: Indie, Baroque Rock.
About: BSS simply does here what is has always done: catchy, intelligent indie rock. There isn't much that needs to be said, simply another great album from a consistent veteran of the indie scene.
9. Das Racist – Sit Down, Man/ Das Racist – Shut Up, Dude (Self Released)
Genre: Alt Hip Hop.
About: Shut Up, Dude established Das Racist as a bit of a comedy act. Sit Down, Man brokered their legitimacy. Easily the most lyrically inventive hip hop duo currently making music. And the sampling is pretty good too. More knock out rhymes than a Big L record. Thematically, the record is largely removed from the usual hip hop mainstays, in fact Das Racist don't really have that much to say - but they say it brilliantly. Free to download, amazingly: one of the year's best releases and I didn't have to pay for it (legally!).
10. Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here (XL)
Genre: Spoken Word Soul, Blues, Electronica, Folk, Trip Hop.
About: Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy ends with an early Gil Scott Sample. Gil Scott's 'I'm New Here' begins with a spoken word introduction that takes place over a loop of Kanye West's 'Flashing Lights.' The album is thoroughly introspective; a divergence from the politically infused work for which Gil Scott-Heron is best known. For an artist that has been on such a long hiatus, I'm New Here is remarkably modern; Gil Scott's raspy baritone dropping in and out over stuttering industrial beats. 'I'm New Here' is ironically titled; the album's narrative speaker seems wearied by past injustices and personal indiscretions.
11. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor (XL)
Genre: Indie, Punk, Lo Fi.
12. Girls – Broken Dreams Club (True Panther)
Genre: Lo Fi, Indie Pop.
13. Foxy Shazam – Foxy Shazam (Sire)
Genre: Alt Rock, Soul.
14. Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty (Purple Ribbon/Def Jam)
Genre: Hip Hop
15. John Zorn – The Nobel Prizewinner – Filmworks XXIV (Self Released)
Genre: Free Jazz, Soundtrack, Avant-garde.
16. Kayo Dot – Coyote (Hydra Head)
Genre: Avant-garde Rock, Chamber Music.
17. Earl Sweatshirt – EARL (via OFWGKTA)
Genre: Hip Hop.
18. Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky (Young God)
Genre: Experimental, Art Rock, Post Rock, Minimal, Ambient.
19. Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM (Because Music/Elektra)
20. The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Who Killed Sgt. Pepper? (A Records)
Genre: Shoegaze, Experimental, Psychedelic, Alternative.
21. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz
22. Robyn – Body Talk
23. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
24. Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid
25. Deerhunter –Halcyon Digest
26. Accept – Blood of the Nations
27. Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma
28. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
29. Mass of the Fermenting Dregs – Zero, Comma, Irotoridori no Sekai
30. How to Dress Well – Love Remains
31. Los Campesinos! – Romance is Boring
32. Supersilent – 10
33. The Black Keys – Brothers
34. Sleigh Bells – Treats
35. Girl Talk – All Day
36. Grinderman – Grinderman 2
37. Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be
38. Curren$y – Pilot Talk
39. The National – High Violet
40. The Fall – Your Future Our Clutter
41. The Ruby Suns – Fight Softly
42. Jonsi – Go
43. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
44. Wavves – King of the Beach
45. The Tallest Man on Earth – The Wild Hunt
46. Surfer Blood – Astrocoast
47. Emeralds – Does it Look Like I’m Here?
48. Hot Chip – One Life Stand
49. Kvelertak – Kvelertak
50. Devo –Something for Everybody
This list was created based on my personal play-counts, adjusted for release dates, as well as debate on a number of forums, importantly 4chan's /mu/. Please feel free to comment.
Coming Soon: Top 100 songs of 2010.