2010 Albums Of The Year, and another 25 Dissapointments


9. Jan. 2011, 5:38

2010 was a year of many amazing things (our 4th child, the Olympics), but music was not really one of them. There were plenty of good albums, but nothing great that completely blew me away, and the fact I went to only a handful of concerts is a testament to this. However, 2011 is shaping up to be one of the biggest years in music ever with a ton of incredible artists due to unleash new materials. Here’s a look back at the best of the past 12 months, plus the always controversial albums that I had high hopes for but really sucked. Also check out the accompanying post on my site that has some other interesting stats about the top artists of 2010: http://bit.ly/eN0wqj.

26. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
This is a decent album, in fact it is their best to date. There's no doubt they're talented but I'm still waiting for the epiphany that many others seem to have had around this band. Being Canadian, I'm sure happy that so many others have had a divine conversion though.
Stand Out Track: Ready to Start

25.Mumiy Troll - Comrade Ambassador
Technically released in late 2009, but it took a while to reach our shores from their native Russia. A great blend of punk and British alternative, I like to imagine that Alex Ovechkin would groove to this to get pumped up for games.
Stand Out Track: Queen of Rock

24.Sleigh Bells - Treats
Pure party music with the most fuzzed out guitars and hokey drum beats you’ve ever heard. Very reminiscent of The Ting Tings – pure guilty pleasure of fun and bliss.
Stand Out Track: Infinity Guitars

23.Manic Street Preachers - Postcards from a Young Man
The good news: certainly an improvement over last year’s difficult “Journal For Plague Lovers”. The bad news: still not equal to their career best of “Send Away The Tigers” back in 2007. Perhaps the next album they’ll get back on track to find the sweet spot epic and soaring rock songs that Coldplay, Snow Patrol and others have since perfected.
Stand Out Track: The Descent (Pages 1 & 2) and if you can find it, Red Rubber which is actually a bonus track on the Import version

22.Freebass - It's A Beautiful Life and Two Worlds Collide
Such an amazing idea on paper – 3 of the most important and influential bassists of the past 20+ years (Any Rourke of the Smiths, Mani from Stone Roses/Primal Scream and the greatest of them all – Peter Hook of New Order). They technically released two albums in 2010, both of which were a bit underwhelming and then they promptly broke up. Ah, the prototypical “super group” – doesn’t exceed the sum of its parts and self destructs from the overwhelming star power. With this much talent perhaps my expectations were too high because this is actually pretty good, and the closest anything will come to sounding like New Order (until The Whip release their second album in a couple of months!)
Stand Out Track: Plan B

21.SPC ECO - 3-D
The new band from Dean Garcia (guitarist from Curve) pronounced “Space Echo” with another haunting female vocalist who is actually his daughter. She’s no Toni Halliday, but until Curve reunites (wishful thinking), we’ll have to make do with this.
Stand Out Track: See You Soon

20.Band of Skulls - Baby Darling Doll Face Honey
Fantastic alternating male/female vocalists with a White Stripes kind of catchy funk. An excellent debut, hopefully lots more great things to come.
Stand Out Track: Patterns

19.Tweak Bird - Tweak Bird
Another great debut album, this fits right in between Wolfmother and Queens of Stone Age, but perhaps even better and with a female vocalist. Monstrous riffs that sounds like they were written for Rock Band (hint hint, someone get on this!)
Stand Out Track: Tunneling Through

18.Black Mountain - Wilderness Heart
I had to put this next, in keeping with the 70’s rock with female vocals...seems to be a theme for me this year or something. Definitely shares DNA with Tweak Bird, but even more psychedelic. Plus they’re Canadian which is always a bonus.
Stand Out Track: Wilderness Heart

17.Holy Fuck - Latin
Aside from their slightly ridiculous name, another great Canadian artist. These guys are unique in that all their tracks are instrumental. Most of the songs sound like the cool tunes you hear in movie trailers or TV shows and wonder “who the heck is that?” I only discovered these guys this year and also consumed their previous 2 albums which are just as good.
Stand Out Track: Latin America

16.Spoon - Transference
Spoon is a band I took for granted for a long time, but their last few releases have just been stronger and stronger, I think this is their best yet. I’ve always thought they were better than The Strokes (who they are often compared with), they’ve just got more depth and intelligence to their songs.
Stand Out Track: Got Nuffin

15.Schwab - The SchwaB Family System
These guys have the whole Beastie Boys/Pop Will Eat Itself rock funk mix figured out perfectly. This was released a few years back, but like most other people I only learned of it now from the ridiculously infectious “Mole Man” from the Ford Fiesta commercial. The rest of the album is just as good, looking forward to more from these guys.
Stand Out Track: Little Beats

14.Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
Oh Gorillaz, you should make every best of list just for the pure creativity that goes into creating and maintaining a virtual, animated band. This album doesn’t quite live up to their debut back in 2001 but I do think it is superior to 2005’s “Demon Days”. Lots of toe tapping tracks with great guest vocalists, the whole thing just exudes so much cool out of every pore.
Stand Out Track: Stylo, in part due to the amazing video, but the iTunes Session version is even better than the album version

13.Assassins - You Will Changed Us
OK, so this was released all the way back in 2006, but where the heck has this been for the past 4 years!?!?! Definitely shares some of the musical styling of Curve, and when New Order picks your band to open for them that grants you instant legend status in my eyes. I have no idea what has become of this band, but I’m hopeful that we might hear more from them in the future.
Stand Out Track: Situation

12.!!! - Strange Weather, Isn't It?
Another unusual band name who's pronunciation is debated among fans. I’ve said in the past that these guys remind me of LCD Soundsystem with an occasional dash of Nine Inch Nails – sick funky beats with some grinding dark guitars and synth. What a winning combination, their new album definitely doesn’t disappoint.
Stand Out Track: The Hammer

11.Subkicks - Threes Fives and Sevens
Another pre-2010 release that I’m counting in because it’s so damn good that I have to include it. Only seconds into the opening track you can hear the best of British alternative influences, even a Jesus Jones-ish dance angle to things. Then they shift to more Oasis style with the track “Searchlights”, all in all a fantastic album with an impressive range of sounds.
Stand Out Track: forminas star

10.The Golden Filter - Voluspa
Pretty dance-y, they take the Ladytron vibe and add in more of a disco groove, with a healthy dose of 80’s Casio keyboards. Almost every track on this album got a 4 star rating or better, which is a pretty impressive achievement.
Stand Out Track: Look Me In The Eye

9.Exit Calm - Exit Calm
I keep saying that this album sounds like the best U2 release of the last decade. It’s what I always hoped the boys from Ireland could return to – epic sweeping songs with moody yet catchy guitar riffs. The Verve is another obvious comparison, but U2 should be ecstatic if their next release could match half the heights of this debut album.
Stand Out Track: Hearts & Minds

8.The Lions - New Rise Of The Footsoldier
Another fantastic Canadian band, and the best artist from our great country at this moment. The fact that they’ve mostly transplanted from the UK explains the obvious Brit-pop influences they proudly wear, this should satisfy any Oasis fan’s longing for a return to the glory days of mid to late 90’s. There’s also a healthy Stone Roses vibe, I’m still not convinced John Squire didn’t write and perform “The Jam”.
Stand Out Track: Roam

7.Sweethead - Sweethead
I obviously have a really big thing for female vocalists this year. This album just oozes sexy, swaggering rock & roll. Musically there is lineage all the way back to female rock pioneers like Joan Jett or Debbie Harry, and also strongly parallels another amazing recent band – The Duke Spirit, but with a little more vitriol, closer to L-7.
Stand Out Track: Running Out

6.UNKLE - Where Did the Night Fall
I knew it wouldn’t be possible to exceed (or even equal) their 2007/2008 releases of War Stories & End Titles. As with every UNKLE release, this album has a good mix of guest vocalists but the sound moved into some more ambient, mood music and less of the in your face crashing guitar riffs which is why I don’t like it as much...but still better than just about everything else out there. I just hope Josh Homme of Queens returns in the future, he should just become a permanent member.
Stand Out Track: Caged Bird

5.Deathelectric - In The Evening Sun
Wowzers. Take the goth of Depeche Mode, the industrial grind of Primal Scream’s XTRMNTR and the smooth vocals of INXS and you’ve got one hell of a winning mix. Again, every track except one was 4 stars plus, I cannot believe these guys are so unknown. What an amazing debut, if this band doesn’t catch on there’s something wrong with the world.
Stand Out Track: Can’t go wrong with almost any track, tough to pick just one...let’s say Holy Water

4.The Black Keys - Brothers
I’ve really taken this band for granted over the years and under-appreciated some of their previous releases. Their latest album resonated with me so much it made me go back and upgrade my ratings on some of their previous works as well, which is quite an accomplishment. I think this album more than the others took their typical southern, garage blues rock style and added a little bit more funk and grit which is what appealed to me so much.
Stand Out Track: Everlasting Light

3.The Lysergic Suite - Ghosts On Crusade
What an amazing, unexpected surprise right at the end of the year. Only a 4 track EP, so strong that it made my Top 3 for the year. These guys share a home town with Kasabian, and in fact got some of the band to help out on the title track, which became really the first and only track of the year that I just had to continually listen to on repeat for days on end after first hearing it. Suffice it to say, I’m pretty jazzed for the full album release, scheduled for 2011.
Stand Out Track: Ghosts On Crusade

2.The Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards
I’ve been a White Stripes, Racontours and Dead Weather fan over the years but out of Jack White’s vast and impressive body of work, this has to be the best thing yet. In addition to the typical toe tapping insanity they have added the most over the top insane Hammond organ I’ve ever heard. I didn’t think you could rock an organ so intensely, please get these songs out for Rock Band 3 so I can master the keytar.
Stand Out Track: Hustle and Cuss

1.Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Beat the Devil's Tattoo
There’s no doubt this is one of my all time favourite bands. However, their 5th album is also probably one of their weaker ones (Howl being the other one). There are definitely some amazing songs on here, but overall it’s just not as strong an album and seems to have some filler. My favourite is Shadow’s Keeper, but the title track is so good that my 4 and 7 year old love it and ask for it all the time, which makes their father very proud. As I said off the top, 2010 seemed to be a bit of a weak year for music and this album is #1 more by default than by the fact it’s an incredible album.
Stand Out Track: Shadow's Keeper

Honourable Mention:
Tears Run Rings - En Plats I Solen

Kent - Distance

School of Seven Bells - Disconnect From Desire

Tame Impala - Innerspeaker

OK Go - Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky

Whirl - Distressor

Scissor Sisters - Night Work

Snake Rattle Rattle Snake - Snake Rattle Rattle Snake

The Black Angels - Phosphene Dream

Brian Jonestown Massacre - Who Killed Sgt. Pepper?

Disappointments of the Year:
OK, now for the part where things get a little dicey. Sure, it’s easy to get up on your soapbox and shout praises for your favourite albums of the year, but it takes some real nerve (or stupidity) to poo poo on releases that others might think were superb. So here’s the looooong list of albums I had high expectations for and left me disappointed in 2010. I even tried to list them in order of increasing disappointment. Bring on the criticisms!

25.LCD Soundsystem – this one is tough because it’s not a bad album at all...I just loved the previous ones so much more. It seems to be lacking that one killer catchy track that is a signature of James Murphy. I expected more.

24.Massive Attack – We waited 7 years for this? 2003’s “100th Window” had some pretty amazing tracks, nothing here comes even close to “Prayer For England” from that album. Although full marks for the interesting guest performers, Tricky's latest solo is actually better, but not by much

23.Tricky – which brings us to this album. I had kind of given up on Tricky, but had heard this effort would be a “return to a more classic sound”...I guess I was expecting a time machine back to the 90’s trip hop glory days

22.Interpol - Strong, just not stellar. I really like these guys and with some of the lineup changes perhaps they just need to find their way again.

21.Airbourne - the blatant AC/DC rip-off continues with a couple of ok, amusing tracks but nothing more.

20.Soundtrack Of Our Lives – this is a great Swedish rock band and their 2008 album was one of my favourites. Hopefully this EP was just a blip before their next great full album

19.Archie Bronson Outfit – I was totally blown away when I discovered these guys a few years ago and was really looking forward to their 3rd album. It seems to be off the rails from the get go and really lack the grit and edge of their first two albums.

18.22-20s – for a band that reformed you’d think they would produce something more meaningful but it seems like they’ve lost a lot of their hard blues sound and gone more adult contemporary.

17.Kula Shaker – ditto for these guys. After reforming from the ashes after 8 years. They’ve moved away from the Indian infused sounds that made them so famous, and unique.

16.Fran Healy – it’s always tough when an artist attempts a solo album, I guess I just wanted a Travis album and I didn’t get it

15.Brandon Flowers – ditto for this, you hope for a Killers album and this one was even worse than Fran Healy’s

14.James – an incredible band but this album lacks any punch or interesting songs – just waaaay to mellow

13.Delphic – again, another overwhelming hype machine that I just didn’t see the fuss about. All the Manchester buzz, perhaps I was expecting something more New Order-ish, which I’ve heard crazy people make comparisons to

12.Autolux – after a tremendous debut back in 2004, it took them 6 years for the follow up – I guess they couldn’t handle the pressure

11.Klaxons – there’s no shortage of hype surrounding this band and I thought their debut had some real great songs. The best thing about their follow up is the hilarious album cover.

10.Blonde Redhead – another example of a long awaited follow up, just a big fat yawn of boredom.

9.INXS – this sounded like a great idea but just didn’t produce anything of interest or note.

8.Keane – I don’t think they’ll ever be able to reproduce the success of their 2004 debut which is a shame. Each album since seems to be going downhill.

7.MGMT – what the heck is this album? I wasn’t totally on the bandwagon with their debut, but certainly interested to see what they did for a follow up. Just a bunch of aimless meandering songs, plus the ugliest album cover in years just to add insult to injury.

6.Weezer – I love Weezer as much as anyone, but I don’t care how talented you are, you just can’t keep cranking out albums every 18 months and expect them to be great. Bonus marks for using the actor Jorge Garcia as the image and name for the Hurley album though.

5.Stone Temple Pilots – surely this had to be an album created just to fulfil some lame contractual obligation, it feels so contrived and flat. STP deserves a better finale to their career

4.Filter – Filter’s latest album also fits into the same category, but I almost don’t count it as a disappointment since they jumped the shark about 3 albums ago I didn’t expect anything from them anyway

3.Hot Hot Heat – I hate to slag a Canadian band, but these guys really seemed to be building up some good momentum after their 2007 album but there doesn’t seem to be any one stand out track on here.

2.Mumford & Sons – I guess I just don’t see what all the hype is about. Way too watered down folk songs for my liking.

1.Charlatans – oh, this one cuts the deepest. One of my ALL TIME favourite bands easily makes their worst record ever. I hated this so much that I even debated seeing them live on a rare Canadian tour stop (the decision was made for me when their drummer had a brain tumour – get well soon!) I know they’re getting on in years but do they have to mellow this much? Sorry guys, it hurts to say it but is it time to pack it in? If you make another album like this I’d say yes.


  • fastlane01

    Disappointing is no mention of The National.

    15. Jan. 2011, 17:44
  • helen151080

    Nice list you have there...but youve just had me searching high and low for 'Brian Jonestown Massacre - Kicks'...haha, I thought id missed out on a new release but you got it mixed up coz you meant 'Who killed St Pepper'!! Keep up the good work anyways x

    16. Jan. 2011, 15:03
  • CoolLikePlastic

    I love you for mentioning Assassins.

    16. Jan. 2012, 6:55
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