Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Best of 2010: 50-26

In the first of two installments of our best-of series, we give you the bottom half of our collective top 50, with sporadic comments from various contributors, followed by our initials, when we remembered to include them.

50. Best Coast - Crazy for You

Ethereal, retro-inspired surf pop. Perfect background music for these long, cold, wistful winter days. - MD

49. The Black Crowes - Croweology

A great mix of Black Crowes tunes, old and renewed. - AC

I really enjoyed this. They didn’t do much with some of the songs, but some of the updates, like “Soul Singing” and even “She Talks To Angels,” are excellent. - CD

48. Tokyo Police Club - Champ

Sometimes indie groups lose their direction by their 3rd album, but Tokyo Police Club keeps growing with this one, following up A Lesson in Crime and Elephant Shell. Must Listen: "Breakneck Speed." - MP

47. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - The Social Network Soundtrack

Fits with the film so well, but even without it, would still be a joy to listen to. If you have any interest at all in how this soundtrack came about, inside the studio and out, you must watch this 45-minute panel discussion. - SB

46. Laura Veirs - July Flame

45. Mavis Staples - You Are Not Alone

Wilco front man Jeff Tweedy produced this album for the woman who once formed one-third of the 1970s R&B band the Staples Singers. Now in her 70s, Mavis can still belt out great blues-inspired tunes that will make you want to get saved again and again. - AC

Overall the album was a little too gospel-y for me to make it into my top 25, but the collaboration with Tweedy does produce some stellar tracks. Best track: the cover of CCR’s “Wrote a Song for Everyone.” Better: this acoustic version (where Tweedy actually smiles).

44. John Legend and the Roots - Wake Up!

John Legend and the Roots artfully recast a handful of ‘70s-era soul tunes from the likes of Marvin Gaye and Harold Melvin. This album’s gem is the live-recording cover of Bill Withers’ anti-war anthem “I Can’t Write Left-Handed.” - AC

43. Of Montreal - False Priest

After the letdown that was Skeletal Lamping, I was afraid this band of freaks had lost their groove. With False Priest, they re-discovered the danceable beats and quirky lyrics that make them so much fun. - AC

42. Sade - Soldier of Love

Sade has remained relevant since 1984 (!) with soulful songs and sex appeal, and the latest disc works that formula well. The occasional new trick or two is OK, but it's rich texture of Sade's voice that always brings us back. - TN

I’d forgotten just how silky smooth this songstress’s voice is. Soldier of Love was a great reminder. - AC

41. Brandon Flowers - Flamingo

The rest of The Killers wanted to take time off, but their talented frontman decided to put out a solo album that offered a frank look at his hometown, including the masterfully written "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas." While not as good as the full band's output, Flowers' vocals + sharp lyrics = jackpot. - TN

Yeah, this is a Killers album. Maybe not a great Killers album, but it’s the same stuff. - CD

40. The Black Keys - Brothers

Pass me the whiskey. The Black Keys strip down their bluesy rock to the bone and create the best rock album of the year. - AC

I got this too late to put on my list, and I started to feel like I missed the boat a little bit... but it sorta falls flat after the first five songs or so. - CD

39. The Roots - How I Got Over

Must Listen: "Radio Daze." - MP

38. Carolina Chocolate Drops - Genuine Negro Jig

I love their modern take on old-time music. A standout is the cover of "Hit 'Em Up Style," a pop hit from the early 2000s, that sounds worlds better with a little fiddle and banjo in the mix. - JS

Great old-timey tunes presented with minimal production. As it should be. - AC

37. Stars - The Five Ghosts

Like most Stars efforts, this album combines brilliant flashes like the male-female storytelling of "Dead Hearts" with pedestrian filler, but enough haunting moments make it worth remembering.

I first heard this album performed live in its entirety at a concert, so I may be biased, but this is a strong addition to the Stars discography. “We Don’t Want Your Body” is a fun, dance-y track, and I find that there is a lot on this record to groove to. At the same time, appropriate to the title, there are some more grief-stricken moments, as well. That range, of course, is par for the course with Stars. - GC

36. Avi Buffalo - Avi Buffalo

35. Jonsi - Go

I’m not a big fan of Sigur Ros, so I was prepared to be let down by this debut from their front man, Jonsi. But freed from the dark, post-goth tones of his band, Jonsi releases an upbeat, poppy collection of tunes. - AC

I’ve never listened to Sigur Ros, so I had no expectations for this one. Other than that, what Andy said. This is just a fun album. - MD

34. Robert Plant - Band of Joy

The former Led Zeppelin front man surprised many a few years ago by teaming up wit bluegrass songbird Alison Krauss. This album, a collection of rootsy covers and traditional Americana, is an even more pleasant surprise. - AC

Similar to what Mellencamp did with “No Better Than This,” Plant has found a sound that is age appropriate and allows his voice to shine in its current state. - JS

Really? Boring as hell. I feel like this disc would be so much better with... say, either Alison Krauss or Jimmy Page. - CD

Really? Hell is boring? AC/DC lied to me. P.S. - This was the second-best album of the year, in my book. - AC

33. Beach House - Teen Dream

32. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

The closest I’ll ever get to a rave is this album. - AC

Party in a box. - GC

31. The Tallest Man on Earth - Wild Hunt

The Swedish Bob Dylan? - MD

30. Alejandro Escovedo - Streets Songs of Love

An underrated troubador, Alejandro Escovedo’s 2010 has some great tracks. A great comeback after his previous album, which was a bit of a letdown for even the most die-hard fan. - AC

This is a terrific album by the nearly 60 year-old Escovedo. The guitars rock, and the lyrics of songs like “Down in the Bowery” (written for his teenage son) resonate: “I hope you live long enough/to forget half the stuff they’ve taught you./And when it’s all said and done/I hope you’ve got your own set of rules to hang onto.”

29. Hot Chip - One Night Stand

This is more than a dance record. It has elegance and flair that carries well off the dance floor. Musically, it is a striking accomplishment.. - GC

28. Tame Impala - Inner Speaker

27. The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang

New Jersey’s heirs apparent to the blue-collar rock of Springsteen, the fellow New Jerseyans who make up The Gaslight Anthem are not afraid right into those big shoes and make some big music. - AC

I kept coming back to this one again and again. A solid rock album that is indeed reminiscent of some guy named Bruce. - MD

26. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles

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