AD 2010 TOP 10: Contributor Matt Molgaard
Tue, 21 Dec 2010 12:11:21
ARTISTdirect.com Contributor Matt Molgaard's Top Ten Albums of 2010
There's a simple criteria with which I use to base my picks for "best album of the year"; it's got to move me, deeply, consistently, and very, very often. I feel a bit blessed to say that 2010 produced an impressive batch of albums that bore both engaging and memorable qualities. This article however, is about the 10 albums that emerged as true shiners from a sea of viable contenders.
Hang on tight, I may surprise you with a few of these picks.
#10 - Hole — "Nobody's Daughter": Courtney Love may be a train wreck on two wobbly knees, but let it not fool you for a moment: this is a legitimate musician. After embarking on a 12 year hiatus, Love brought her thrash band, Hole, back to life, and back to the studio. The sessions yielded a startlingly vintage sound that leaves one feeling this record a better fit for 1995 than 2010. All the same, it works wonderfully. Love channels Suzi Quatro more than once, and songs like "Nobody's Daughter", "Skinny Little Bitch", "Honey", "Pacific Coast Highway" and "Loser Dust" are nothing short of superb.
#09 - Sade — "Soldier of Love": Sade has been crafting intensely deep tracks longer than half the people reading this have been alive. The fact that she's managed to maintain a current, and more importantly, relevant sound is absolutely amazing. With "Soldier Of Love", Sade proves yet again that her understanding of music, lyricism, cadence and their cohesive mashing is virtually unrivaled. "The Moon And The Sky", "Soldier Of Love", "Baby Father" and "Skin" are just a few of the infectious tunes featured on "Soldier Of Love".
#08 - Sage Francis — "Li(f)e": Sage Francis may well be the most intelligent emcee in the rap game. His often self deprecating lyrics leave him an endearing individual. More importantly, from a technical standpoint, is his seamless ability to tell a tale in song structure, and bridge the gaps between differing genres of music. It's an angle of his overall skill set that's been fine tuned and perfected over years, and now, Sage is finally producing outstanding albums. "Life" features a handful of informative jams and ballads delivered with precision. "Little Houdini", "I Was Zero", "Polterzeitgeist", "Love The Lie" and "The Best Of Times" are all tracks not to be missed.
#07 - She & Him — "Volume Two": I'm certain most know Zooey Deschanel as the gorgeous face that's often spotted on the big screen in films like Yes Man, Elf, 500 Days Of Summer and The Happening; let me tell you, there's a whole different dimension to this woman that no one should miss. Zooey can sing, and I don't mean sing with autotune and 19 different reverb effects, I'm talking beautiful, deep, natural tones. She & Him debuted in 2008 with "Volume One", an excellent record heavily laced by vintage tunes and crisp vocals. This year fans are treated to "Volume Two", and yes, it lives up to, if not surpasses the perfection of it's predecessor. Among the stand out tracks are, "Thieves", "In The Sun", "Don't Look Back" and "Over It Over Again".
#06 - LCD Soundsystem — "This Is Happening": I'll be completely honest, prior to this year, I'd never heard LCD Soundsystem so much as casually mentioned. Well, that's all changed now that I've had the chance to soak up "This Is Happening", an eclectic and upbeat collection of original jams likely to make a square slide into a flexible circle. From contemporary dance beats to unorthodox alternative riffs, this album boasts a hint of everything. A handful of brilliant tunes are anchored by the album's true stars, "Dance Yrself Clean", "All I Want", "I Can Change" and "Home".
#05 - The Roots — "How I Got Over": You'll notice not much hip hop has made my list this year, and well, frankly, that's because the current rap scene is a bit embarrassing (in my humble opinion). The Roots however have not failed to impress with their latest "How I Got Over". Live drums, beautiful acoustic work and remarkable lyrics decorate an album that rarely misses a beat. "Walk Alone", "Dear God 2.0", "Radio Daze", "Now Or Never", "How I Got Over" and "Right On" all scream for heavy radio rotation.
#04 - Jimi Hendrix — "Valleys of Neptune": While the majority of the Valley sessions have leaked throughout the years, none matched the beautiful remastered versions of, yes, the entire Valleys Of Neptune album. What makes this album so remarkable is how contemporary it feels. Make no mistake, this is Jimi in his prime, but it's damn easy to envision the man in the studio today recording this powerful collection of songs. As a long time Hendrix fan, this is a treasure worth seizing with no hesitation. The album is littered with Hendrix's trademark intricate guitar work, and catchy lyrics that embody Hendrix's free love way of life. "Smoke Free", "Valleys Of Neptune", "Bleeding Heart", "Mr. Bad Luck" and "Lullaby For The Summer" are all now a part of the truly complete Jimi Hendrix Experience.
#03 - Brandon Flowers — "Flamingo": Brandon Flowers is without a doubt, better known for his work with The Killers. But I'm here to tell you, this man released an awe inspiring solo album just months ago that‘s worthy of your attention. The record is "Flamingo", and the songs are unmistakably excellent. I don't care if you don't speak a lick of English, this is good music, and you know it the moment you hear it. I could probably write you a novella on how great this album is, but I'll keep it fairly short and tell you that this is a wise investment that you'll thank me for later. Star tracks include, "Hard Enough", "Jilted Lover And Broken Hearts", "Was It Something I Said?", "Magdalena" and "Crossfire".
#02 - Sufjan Stevens — "The Age of Adz": Wow, if you want to talk about an epic album, you want to talk about "The Age Of Adz". A remarkably eclectic mix of tune and varying sounds keep this record entertaining from the jump. What's particularly interesting about the album, is the fact that it almost feels as though it'd be better fit four a score rather than an official album. One way or another, tracks like "Futile Devices", "Too Much", "Age Of Adz", "I Walked", "Get Real Get Right", "I Want To Be Well" and the monumental 25 minute "Impossible Soul" are infectious ballads sure to steal your attention.
#01 - RPA & the United Nations of Sounds — "United Nations of Sound": Richard Ashcroft (remember The Verve?) is one of England's premiere song writers, and lucky for him, he's got a great voice to match. For roughly 20 years Richard has fronted successful bands, and even ventured out on a solo mission. His latest project features some insane production from a handful of legendary hip hop producers. Take it easy, Richard's not rapping. He is however, singing his heart out in a manner we haven't heard since Alone With Everyone, 10 years ago. Prepare yourself for upbeat tempo's, awesome guitar riffs and an Ashcroft that once again sounds very, very hungry. "Born Again", "This Thing Called Life", "Beatitudes", "Good Loving", "She Brings Me The Music" and "Life Can Be So Beautiful" are... well, beautiful!
Stay warm this holiday season wherever you may be- and remember, there's plenty of great music to come in 2011. Merry Rocking Out to all, and to all a good night!
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