At long last, here we go with the final ten!
10) LOS CAMPESINOS! Romance Is Boring
Adulthood is here for LC!, wherein they continue the transition away from their twee beginnings, finding a happy medium between that and their noisier inclinations.
Saying goodbye to old members and ringing in the new, it's a microcosm of all our lives...
9) TEENAGE FANCLUB Shadows
Ornette Coleman once told us that "Beauty Is A Rare Thing", a phrase that occurs to me every time I hear this record.
It's a luminescent, jangly wonder-song for song as strong as most any record this year, and somehow overlooked in most places.
Along with the Superchunk record, it was hailed (ironically) as a return to form, but it was the listener that went away, not the band...
8) NO AGE Everything In Between
One of the leading prongs of a music scene from Los Angeles, the likes of which hasn't been seen since the heyday of X, Los Lobos, and The Blasters in the 80's, No Age moves forward and stakes its claim to forward motion with "Everything In Between".
Adding a new member could upset a delicate balance, but the band just keeps growing, adding new shades of sound, while sacrificing none of their grinding power.
Bonus points for the sterling vinyl edition, which comes with a 12X12 attached photo book...Years best vinyl packaging, hands down.
7) SUFJAN STEVENS The Age Of Adz
The floodgates opened in 2010 for Sufan, starting with the "All Delighted Peoples" EP, which I was only just coming to grips with, when, behold-up shows this behemoth on the doorstep.
Seeing his show really helped crystallize the record, and bring new appreciation to parts that could have been overwhelmed by the whole.
Best example being "Futile Devices", the opening track that seems almost a red herring as to what is to come...
Delicate & spare, it's Sufjan haiku and in very short time, lays out the adventure that is the rest of the record.
As for the 25 minute closer "Impossible Soul"...good luck with that!
6) ARCADE FIRE The Suburbs
It's so easy for a buzz band to quickly get swallowed and disappear in the whirlpool of the internet, which makes the splash Arcade Fire made this year all the more impressive.
Sprawling & impassioned, they deliver the goods with some of their greatest songs to date...the title track, "We Used To Wait", and both "Sprawls" move mountains.
Side note: make sure you hunt down the video experience that is "We Used To Wait"...
5) TITUS ANDRONICUS The Monitor
Titus Andronicus takes a template of rock influences that could sideways in a hurry in the wrong hands, and thoroughly makes it their own in this ambitious Civil War cum New Jersey economic downfall parable.
It swings from the beginning to the 14 minute marathon closer, "The Battle of Hampton Roads"
4) JANELLE MONAE The Archandroid
Kanye West most assuredly won the battle of the 'column inches' this year, but for my money, years down the road, this would be the album we're reminiscing about...
Ambitious to a fault, and self assured swing through a variety of styles, this will stand as her 'Dirty Mind'...The moment when everything came together into one irresistable package.
3) SPOON Transference
According to Spoon themselves, this self produced followup to 'Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga' represents "us at our Spooniest".
And as cryptic as it may sound, that is precisely what's going on here. Screwed down tighter, then knocked sideways-this is the band at their brutal best...Even throwing in a ballad.
Any album released in January that i'm still playing at the end of the year...let that say it all.
2) BEACH HOUSE Teen Dream
I scoffed when people were touting this as the album of the year in early January, mostly on principle, and overcame that to actually get the record and digest it.
And digest it. However misguided 'they' were in form, 'they' hit the mark on content. This album never went away from my brain.
Innocuous on the first few listens, but absolutely riveting the more you peel back the layers-the very definition of a 'grower'...Beach House has truly come into their own with "Teen Dream".
1) BESNARD LAKES The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night
Deep, haunting, and sonically beguiling collection from the Montreal collective that consolidated the finest points of 'The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse', and weaved an album long tapestry of blissful, sometimes discordant rock.
One of the best examples of this top ten's recurring theme: the importance of the album. These tracks shine when they come up in a random mix, but their power is truly unleashed when you go back to front...Simply a stunning piece of work.
2011 preview: Already looking forward to new PJ Harvey, Decemberists, Okkervil River, and Anna Calvi...Merry Christmas everyone!