Thursday, April 29, 2010

Best albums of 2010, so far (another take)

On the heels of Ron Bronson's post about the best songs of the year so far, Andrew Careaga shares his picks for top albums of the year to date.

Drive-by Truckers - The Big To Do
Lord help me, but I do love me some good southern rock, especially the way this six-piece group delivers it: a blazing three-guitar assault a la Lynyrd Skynyrd and song-stories that evoke the styles of the holy trinity of southern short fiction: Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty and Barry Hannah. Whether they're singing about dead papas, deadbeat husbands or dead-end jobs, the Truckers strike a chord, dead on.

Drive-by Truckers - Birthday Boy

Yeasayer - Odd Blood
Yeasayer's previous effort, All Hour Cymbals, was an uneven disappointment. Not so with this release. The tunes move fluidly from track to track.

Yeasayer - O.N.E.

Spoon - Transference
I've been a Spoon fanboy from the get-go, but even I had a time warming up to this album. It took several listens to grow on me. But with each new listen, I appreciate this album more. It's nothing fancy. In fact, it's downright amateurish in places. A few tracks sounds like jam session recordings. But Spoon is the master of the awkward tempo transition and chord shift, and their atonal authenticity is part of this album's allure. That, and the solid rhythm section, jangly guitars, occasional lo-fi production, a bangin' piano, a couple of Neil Young references, and lead singer Britt Daniels' gruff and painfully earnest (or earnestly painful) vocals.

Spoon - Trouble Comes Running

Broken Bells - Broken Bells
A creative collaboration between the Shins' James Mercer and the man with the golden touch, Danger Mouse. The Broken Bells project turned out better than I thought it would. It is certainly better than any Shins output in some time, and Mr. Mouse adds just enough to not distract from Mercer's mellifluous vocal style.

Broken Bells - The High Road

Vampire Weekend - Contra
Break out your torches and pitchforks, haters. ;)

I know this band's self-titled debut was the most overhyped (and loathed) albums of the previous decade, but this one delivers some solid tunes. Yes, there's some blatant ripping off from Paul Simon's Rhythm of the Saints going on throughout the album. But what else would you expect from a band of bloodsuckers? At least they know what's worth paying homage to. The best part about this album in my opinion is that, with few exceptions, Vampire Weekend mostly dropped the chamber music that permeated the first album in favor of more driving reggae and percussion. We'll see how it holds up against the competition in the coming months, but for now Contra stays in my top five. How's that for being contra-ry?

Vampire Weekend - Cousins


  1. I feel like I'm the only person whose world wasn't rocked by Broken Bells. It's very same-y to me. I agree re: Yeasayer, though, and while the new VW hasn't been in my stereo for a couple of months, it got a lot of listens when it first came out and I quite enjoyed it. We'll see how much staying power it has as 2010 progresses :-)

  2. Same with me on Broken Bells. I do think Danger Mouse is a genius, but that album didn't really set me on fire. I just can't abide Vampire Weekend, but I do love Drive-By Truckers latest and I haven't really spent enough time with Spoon's to really say what I think, though the little I heard didn't do much for me.

    I'll need to check out Yeasayer tho, haven't heard any of that.

    Good stuff as always!