Music of 2010

My annual (note: not actually annual) non-definitive list of albums I liked from the last year.

  • Amanda Palmer, Amanda Palmer Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukelele. This shouldn’t work as anything but a stunt, but it actually does.
  • Arcade Fire, The Suburbs. The album I’d hoped Neon Bible would be.
  • The Books, The Way Out. This group may be the canonical example of how I love things that almost nobody else I know would like, but those people are missing out.
  • Caravan Palace, Dragons. French electro-jazz that sounds like Benoît Charest crossed with Daft Punk.
  • Cee-Lo Green, The Lady Killer. “Fuck You” got all the attention, but the rest of the album is just as good. Gnarls Barkley is great, but I really prefer his solo work (see also …Is the Soul Machine).
  • Childish Gambino, I am Just a Rapper, I am Just a Rapper 2, Culdesac. The rap alias of actor Donald Glover, and legitimately great work.
  • Das Racist, Sit Down, Man. It’s a shame that most people will only ever know them for the novelty/parody “Combination Pizza Hut & Taco Bell”. Those people are missing out on some of the cleverest rap around. Not recommended for people who take music too seriously, or those who insist that music not be taken seriously.
  • Girl Talk, All Day. He’s getting better; this album sounds more like a composition than his previous effort’s (brilliant) stunt.
  • Janelle Monáe, The ArchAndroid. Like a lot of people, I found out about her thanks to her brilliant Letterman performance. James Brown meets Sun Ra meets Prince meets Philip Dick.
  • Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More. Describing this as folk-rock feels like it would give the wrong impression. Go listen to “The Cave”.
  • Run On Sentence, You The Darkness & Me. An old friend of mine from college; I had no idea he would turn out to be an amazingly talented musician. There are too many bands that deserve so much more success and recognition than they’ve had, and this is one of them.
  • Sage Francis, Li(f)e. The whole album is solid, but please please please take a listen to the stunning Yann-Tiersen-backed “The Best of Times”.
  • Sufjan Stevens, The Age of Adz. Well, that got weird quick, didn’t it? Needs an editor badly, but mostly quite good.
  • The Weakerthans, Live at the Burton Cummings Theatre. Possibly my favorite band, in their hometown, doing a perfect set.