Album of the year lists are always a bit tricky for me, as I am pretty crap at listening to stuff in the year it comes out. I tend to shy away from stuff that’s being hyped up, then ‘discover it’ on my own terms a few months or years down the line when everyone has moved on. Kind of like the music-nerd equivalent of an urban fox raiding a bin in the dead of night. This year I was a bit more on-point than usual but there was another complication in that 2010 was the best year for music in a long time. Frankly, there was too much stuff for someone as lazy as me to keep up with. To that end I have included a list of honourable mentions for records which I am almost certain I would have loved, but have only heard parts of, or haven’t heard at all yet, and so can’t work out if would be better than the top 10 I have selected. In the case of the Basia Bulat and Roots/John Legend records I gave them a lot of attention and enjoyed them a lot, but not quite as much as the final 10 I picked.
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach – A clear standout for album of the year for me, expansive, daring, stylistically diverse and yet at heart an amazing pop album. Damon Albarn now surely deserves the cliché of national treasure.
Caribou – Swim – I read somewhere about this record that it is both the perfect Saturday night and Sunday morning record. That sums up the thing better than anything else I could say.
Gil Scott Heron – I’m New Here – Astonishing reinvention from Scott Heron, aided by the head of XL records Richard Russell. I gave the record 9/10 in my review for DiS here http://drownedinsound.com/releases/15097/reviews/4139058
Pantha Du Prince – Black Noise – The best electronic record of the year for me, in a year with tons of outstanding examples of that genre. The thing I loved most about Black Noise was that although minimal and cerebral, warmth radiated from every second of it.
Strong Arm Steady – In Search of Stoney Jackson – My favourite hip-hop record of the year, and part of a vintage year of releases for Stonesthrow.
Mount Kimbie – Crooks & Lovers – Brilliant exploration of the further reaches of dubstep, and very user-friendly for those uninitiated in the ways of bass music.
Big Boi – Sir Luscious Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty – This album would almost be worth including in the list for the fact that it contains one of the songs of the year in Shutterbug alone, but the fact that the rest of the album is awesome seals the deal.
Scuba – Triangulation – Really, there isn’t more than a thin and curly hair between this and the other electronic albums in this selection, but purely in terms of the fact that Triangulation has spent slightly less time on rotation in my stereo it has the lowest position of the four.
Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest – Deerhunter’s latest record is a mysterious trawl through the fog of hindsight and loss. Definitely my favourite guitar album of the year.
The Ruby Suns – Fight Softly – This album didn’t get a lot of love across the music press/blogosphere, but I thought it retained all the fun and charm of previous Ruby Suns records while ditching the world music for electronic influences. For more wise words on why this record was great read this
The Phantom Band – Wants
Janell Monae – The ArchAndroid
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
The Acorn – No Ghost
Gangrene – Gutter Water
Basia Bulat – Heart of My Own
The Roots, John Legend – Wake Up