1. Kisses – Heart of the Nightlife [amazon]
The best album of the year has to be a go-to album; one you can put on when you’ve exhausted everything else. Heart of the Nightlife kept me company through plenty of basic routines: house cleaning, walks, car rides, social gatherings. It’s an album that will fit comfortably in just about any environment, although it shines brightest in a tropical setting. The simple and catchy melodies of Kisses’ debut work will live beyond 2010.
2. Pendulum – Immersion [beatport]
Pendulum’s Immersion is as cheesy as its album art but it’s a perfectly polished butt-rock roller coaster that I couldn’t stop listening to once I picked it up midway through 2010. I relied on it’s high paced energy to keep me awake through a long cross country drive over the summer. I guess it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure album as it doesn’t match up with a lot of the indie house stuff that I usually post, but its a great album, and one I’ll probably come back to a lot in the future.
3. Everything Everything – Man Alive [itunes UK]
I was attracted to EE because they were unlike anything I’d heard before. Their lead singer has an intriguing and comically bizarre spitfire falsetto style. Their guitar work is a unique blend of math rock and classical. I think they could’ve been bigger in the states if they released their material worldwide, but like many UK artists before them, their management made it almost impossible to access their work outside of England.
4. Surfer Blood – Astro Cast [amazon]
If you haven’t noticed by now, I love all things beachy and surfy, so big surprise I fell in love with Astro Cast. Surfer Blood are a bunch of kids about my age who live in florida. They actually don’t surf, which is a little upsetting, but they can make a damn good album. Just buzzy enough to satisfy the lo-fi junkies and just hi-fi enough to enjoy every guitar tone and harmonic chord. It’s easily hummable joyful summer stuff.
5. Sleigh Bells – Treats [amazon]
The only good thing M.I.A did in 2010 was sign Sleigh Bells. Treats is like an indie version of jock jams, listening to it is like chewing on an adrenaline gland. Alexis Krauss, female vocalist was originally a vocal instructor. Her sweet vocals on top of Miller’s killer guitar riffs make for a kick ass musical marriage.
6. Deadmau5 – 4×4=12 [beatport]
Everyone has a strong opinion about the mau5. I personally love him, or his music at least. I’ve heard mixed things about Zimmerman himself, but his music and his shows are really fun to be a part of. A live deadmau5 environment is like jumping into a high school pep rally. The album is mostly solid. There aren’t any bad tracks, only bad lyrics. I’m not sure how Zimmerman decided to approach songwriting for 4×4 but the songs with lyrics sound like some sort of retarded stream of consciousness, “stick hot needles in my eyes, go ahead and tap dat ass” -__-.
7. Darwin Deez – Darwin Deez [artist site]
Darwin Deez is an excellent song writer. For his debut, he mainly uses melancholy lyrics infused with a drum machine and a mix of dry and wet guitar sounds. It’s very much a look into his personal life, but works wonderfully for anyone with similar troubles. If you just got out of a relationship and need something to commiserate to, this is your album. It’s not all sad though, “Radar Detector” is one of 2010′s best and happiest love songs.
8. Bombay Bicycle Club – Flaws [amazon]
Amidst a lot of heavy bass-driven house music, it’s important to keep a couple indie remedies in your back pocket to cool down with. I was a big fan of their previous album, I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose. Flaws is a similar progression, although it’s even more stripped down. Some of the best songs on the album are just guitar and vocals.
9. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – The Social Network Soundtrack [amazon]
Look at Trent Reznor all growns up and making beautiful analog sountracks. The music to the Social Network is essential to the tone of the movie. Dark, minimal undertones voice the inner tension of a quiet Zuckerberg. The soundtrack gets better after you see the movie. There were lots of nights where I’d walk around campus with Social Network in my headphones, pretending I was some misunderstood genius.
10. Bag Raiders – Bag Raiders [itunes AU]
Dance albums were rare in 2010 and of the few released, only half were fully great records. “Shooting Stars” and “Way Back Home” were the fist promotional singles. Unlike some albums where the leaked singles are the best parts, Bag Raiders had plenty of album-only gems like “Sunlight,” “Not Over,” and “Snake Charmer.”