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Geekscape’s Top 10 Albums Of 2010

Monday 27th December 2010 by GeekscapeStaff

<p style=”text-align: Justify;”>Jonathan here to introduce Geekscape’s picks for best albums of 2010, compliments of our music editor Noel Nocciolo and everyone’s favorite opinionated music fan Matt Kelly. 2010 was a thin music year for me and I would only be repeating these guy’s sentiments that Steel Train knocked it out of the park with their self titled release. You should all remember them from our interview this year and feverishly seek them out. They were the soundtrack to our post Comic-Con drive home (along with my last year’s #1: The Leftovers). In case you missed the interview, here it is again:</p>
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<p style=”text-align: Justify;”>And now, for the expert’s picks!</p>
<h2 style=”text-align: Justify;”>Noel Nocciolo – Geekscape Music Editor</h2>
<p style=”text-align: Justify;”>Let&rsquo;s put it out there, right now, straight up:&nbsp; I did not include Kanye West on this; my Top 10 Albums Of 2010 list.&nbsp; If you think that is unfair, you are probably right; I&rsquo;m sure it tops every other top 10 of the year you&rsquo;ll read.&nbsp; Put simply, he is without a doubt, one of the best producers in music; fact not opinion.&nbsp; BUT!&nbsp; I can&rsquo;t wait to never listen to his solo albums.&nbsp; If you find my actions narrow, I&rsquo;ll agree.&nbsp; I have my reasons, of course, but that&rsquo;s for another day.<br /><br />(Because this is a nerd list…and we love that it is&hellip;I did include his DJ, so there you go.)<br /><br />Every time I start dreaming of the old albums made by Tom Waits, Randy Newman, Elvis Costello, The Beatles, Harry Nilsson&hellip;etc&hellip;.someone shocks me back to reality and the reality of now.&nbsp;&nbsp; There were some wonderful albums made this year, by DJs (you can find two on my list for free on this glorious internet of ours!) by electronic bands, by rock bands, by genre-bending women.<br /><br />Let&rsquo;s bring on the good vibes, and here are my picks for the year!!<br />(MY presence is a present, kiss my ass!)</p>
<h2>10)&nbsp; Vampire Weekend, Contra</h2>
<p style=”text-align: center;”><img src=”http://i.imgur.com/hHnPi.jpg” alt=”Vampire Weekend Contra” width=”580″ height=”580″ /></p>
<p><br />I dare your sophomore slump to sound this good.&nbsp; No, it&rsquo;s not perfect (what is?!) but it&rsquo;s pretty darned fun.&nbsp; Rhyming &ldquo;horchata&rdquo; with &ldquo;Masada&rdquo; and &ldquo;Aranciata&rdquo; and &ldquo;balaclava&rdquo; is kind of&hellip;.amazing.&nbsp; The phrase, &ldquo;&hellip;bounced across a Saudi satellite dish and through your brain to California English&hellip;&rdquo; now exists.&nbsp; Much like their debut, I found I liked it all, but liked the first half far more than the second.&nbsp; Maybe the third time will be a charm on that goal.<br /><br /><br /></p>
<h2>9)&nbsp; A-Trak, Dirty South Dance #2</h2>
<p style=”text-align: center;”><img src=”http://imgur.com/VkaLD.jpg” alt=”A-Trak Dirt South Dance” width=”580″ height=”580″ /></p>
<p>Big crush on you, A-Trak, on your fatty mix tapes that get me dancing in my underwear, alone, in my apartment.&nbsp; A-Trak&rsquo;s treasures are available for <a title=”Dirty South Dance Download” href=”http://atrak.bandcamp.com/album/dirty-south-dance-2″>download for free</a> (www.foolsgoldrecs.com, kids!) and are suitable for your next house party.&nbsp; You&rsquo;ll be the coolest nerd in the room when you tell your friends that he&rsquo;s one of the best DJs in the business (just ask Kanye), owns his own company (Fool&rsquo;s Gold Records) and his big brother is half of Chromeo (talented family).</p>
<h2>8)&nbsp; Chromeo, Business Casual</h2>
<p style=”text-align: center;”><img src=”http://i.imgur.com/Y7UIT.jpg” alt=”Chromeo Business Casual” width=”580″ height=”580″ /></p>
<p><br />Oh yes.&nbsp; Oh hells yes.&nbsp; For more information on this music-tech&rsquo;s wet dream, read <a title=”Chromeo Business Casual Review” href=”../../../geekscape-music-review-chromeo-s-business-casual.html”>my feature</a> from earlier in the year.</p>
<h2>7)&nbsp; Hellogoodbye, Would It Kill You?</h2>
<p style=”text-align: center;”><img src=”http://imgur.com/IIaAa.jpg” alt=”Hello Goodbye, Would it Kill You” width=”580″ height=”580″ /></p>
<p>Would it kill you to support independent music with a few bucks invested in a band that is starting over?&nbsp; No?&nbsp; Great.&nbsp; Buy this, please.&nbsp; This is not the Hellogoodbye of the past; it&rsquo;s better.&nbsp; A few more guitars, less synths, well-balanced, sunny Orange County tunes.&nbsp; Mature, well-executed, pop rock made by dudes who grew up and saw how the sausage is made in a changing music industry, and fought to release a full-length on their own terms.&nbsp; (See #4)&nbsp;</p>
<h2>6)&nbsp; Girl Talk, All Day</h2>
<p style=”text-align: center;”><img src=”http://i.imgur.com/2nml0.jpg” alt=”Girl Talk All Day” width=”580″ height=”580″ /></p>
<p>Mashups!&nbsp;&nbsp; He may not be DJ Mr. F (see last year&rsquo;s list!) but he provided a little corner of the interwebs to collapse in the throws of crazy heavy traffic when he dropped the free download of &ldquo;All Day&rdquo; in November.&nbsp; The nerd chills are heavy on the jump; Black Sabbath with Ludacris and is that the door-slamming sounds of AOL instant messenger?&nbsp; Huh.&nbsp; Pop culture is everywhere with Willow Smith hair whipping and learning how to dougie and a little bit of your parents&rsquo; jam with Joe Jackson and The Boss.&nbsp; Big fun. You can download the <a title=”Girl Talk All Day” href=”http://illegal-art.net/allday/”>whole album here </a>for free.</p>
<h2>5)&nbsp; Arcade Fire, The Suburbs</h2>
<p style=”text-align: center;”><img src=”http://i.imgur.com/UJU20.jpg” alt=”Arcade Fire THe Suburbs” width=”580″ height=”580″ /></p>
<p><br />The intense, inner-organ-ripping musical-arrangement-fire found on &ldquo;Neon Bible&rdquo; and &ldquo;Funeral&rdquo; is not on &ldquo;The Suburbs.&rdquo;&nbsp; The music is more subtle than the past, and at first listen, I&rsquo;ll admit, I was a little&hellip;.bored.&nbsp; BUT!&nbsp; In the second listen, I then heard the stories told in the songs, and it made sense that the music be subtle this time around.&nbsp; The lyrics will tear you apart.&nbsp; The music will not.&nbsp; At a risk of listeners combusting, the band picked one kind of stimulation over the other.&nbsp;&nbsp; The album is not a huge step forward, nor a huge step back, but a huge step over to the left of what they&rsquo;ve accomplished to date.&nbsp; Gorgeous and heartbreaking.<br /><br /></p>
<h2>4)&nbsp; Steel Train, self-titled</h2>
<p style=”text-align: center;”><img src=”http://imgur.com/49Pg0.jpg” alt=”Steel Train Self Titled Album” width=”580″ height=”580″ /></p>
<p>Steel Train&rsquo;s self-titled album was a rebirth for a rock band that has tried on many different suits since their 2002 debut EP.&nbsp; This suit fits the best.&nbsp; Before the band&rsquo;s inception, its members, (both separately with long-defunct other groups, and together, but in a different form) played in legion halls and community centers as part of a thriving local scene.&nbsp; In re-visiting this suit, they crafted an album that is thrashing and intense and should be played very, very loud.&nbsp; No longer tied to Drive-Thru Records, they gambled big, started their own label to release their dream projects; an album in compact disc form, digital form, two different vinyl pressings, and a companion album with covers of the songs on the album performed by an impressive cast of women.&nbsp; If there were to be an award for biggest risk taken, most juicy choices made, it would go to a few of New Jersey&rsquo;s favorite sons.&nbsp; Pay respect to artists doing what they love and not pandering to the rules of an industry.</p>
<h2>3)&nbsp; Janelle Mon&aacute;e, The ArchAndroid</h2>
<p style=”text-align: center;”><img src=”http://i298.photobucket.com/albums/mm276/El-Flippo/Thumbs%202/JanelleMone-TheArchAndroid2010COVERIMAGE.jpg” alt=”Janelle Monae The ArchAndroid” width=”580″ height=”580″ /></p>
<p>It is wildly obvious that Ms. Mon&aacute;e has a theatrical background in listening to her treasure of a record.&nbsp; What a breath of fresh air for whatever &ldquo;genre&rdquo; we&rsquo;re calling this.&nbsp; (How about the genre of &ldquo;good music?&rdquo;)&nbsp; The album is mastered to be played beginning to end, you know, like albums used to be?&nbsp; Back when you had to get off the couch to flip from side A to side B and reposition the needle of the record player?&nbsp; A concept album that doesn&rsquo;t hit you over the head with an agenda, but, instead, makes you think about your place in the real world, or the fantastical artists-only world she has created.&nbsp; A chorus here, a sample there, a touch of intense vocals where needed, a touch of ethereal vocals where needed, Big Boi and of Montreal where needed&hellip;.it&rsquo;s incredibly wonderful and a must-buy for anyone whose brain operates a little left of center.</p>
<h2>2)&nbsp; Mavis Staples, You Are Not Alone</h2>
<p style=”text-align: center;”><img src=”http://i.imgur.com/hx9qp.jpgM” alt=”Mavis Staples” width=”580″ height=”580″ /></p>
<p>It&rsquo;s been a little over thirty-four years since The Staples Singers tore through a version of &ldquo;The Weight&rdquo; with The Band in Scorsese&rsquo; epic performance-documentary, &ldquo;The Last Waltz,&rdquo; but Mavis Staples has lost none of her grit.&nbsp; Her release, &ldquo;You Are Not Alone,&rdquo; produced by Wilco&rsquo;s Jeff Tweedy, brings together two of my favorite Chicagoans and two musicians with something to say.<br /><br />Some songs are gospel standards and others were penned by Allen Toussaint, Randy Newman, and John Fogerty.&nbsp; Two of the most notable tunes, the title track and &ldquo;Only The Lord Knows&rdquo; were written for Staples by Jeff Tweedy.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s not Wilco.&nbsp; It shouldn&rsquo;t be Wilco.&nbsp; Of course, you can hear how it could have BEEN a Wilco tune with a flipped orchestration and production technique.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s all Staples.&nbsp; It is HER album; it just happens to have been recorded at the Wilco recording space, by Wilco&rsquo;s multi-faceted front man.&nbsp; The emotion cuts through the passion of her voice; it&rsquo;s the blues, it&rsquo;s hopeful, political, spiritual good music.&nbsp; Good music will always shine in some way.&nbsp; Fact.<br /><br /></p>
<h2>1)&nbsp; Hot Chip, One Life Stand</h2>
<p style=”text-align: center;”><img src=”http://i.imgur.com/Wi2Rv.jpg” alt=”Hot Chip One Life Stand” width=”580″ height=”580″ /></p>
<p><br /><br />Electronic music for hopeless romantics, eros, agap and philia are well-represented on this album.&nbsp; I&rsquo;ll admit that up until the last year or so, I have never given much thought to electronic music.&nbsp; Not out of disdain, but of out lack of interest.&nbsp; Hot Chip changed all of that, as did their live show (go go GO if you have the chance) and &ldquo;One Life Stand.&rdquo;&nbsp; This is an album that is expressive, beautifully crafted and lyrically intense.&nbsp; Simplistic in theme but executed to make you feel something.&nbsp; The track about brotherhood feels just as genuine as the many tracks about passionate sex and even more passionate, all-consuming love of one&rsquo;s partner, one&rsquo;s one life stand.&nbsp; Gold from beginning to end.</p>
<h2>Matt “Saint Mort” Kelly’s Music Picks for 2010</h2>
<p><br /><strong>10. B.O.B.</strong>: The Adventures of Bobby Ray &ndash; I didn&rsquo;t expect to love this album as much as I did, but B.O.B.&rsquo;s debut album is a love letter to the hip-hop industry and call to return to the days of old. The entire album is best summed up in the hit single Airplanes when he raps &ldquo;back when I was rappin&rsquo; for the hell of it/now a days we rappin&rsquo; to stay relevant&rdquo;. With rappers like Drake and Kanye West and now B.O.B. I think it&rsquo;s possible.<br /><br /><strong>9. The Whomping Willows: Wizard Party Forever</strong> &ndash; Wizard Rock Group &ldquo;The Whomping Willows&rdquo; album is both the best and worst wizard rock CD of all time. It&rsquo;s the best because of it&rsquo;s production values, it&rsquo;s lyrics and the fact that Whompy (aka Matt Maggiacomo) as released an album that sounds more like Weezer than Weezer&rsquo;s last four albums. It&rsquo;s the worst wizard rock album because it&rsquo;s just barely wizard rock; Harry Potter gets some mentions but he&rsquo;s not a focal point of the album; it&rsquo;s the most mainstream sounding record in the genre and while some people might have a problem with it, I think it&rsquo;s a plus. Maggiacomo has written a personal album about love, self-doubt and in the closing track &ldquo;When the Lights Go Out&rdquo; the importance of friendship and unity and quickly turns into a love letter to his fans and fellow wizard rock artists.<br /><br /><strong>8. Ben Folds: Lonely Avenue</strong> &ndash; Ben Folds is one of my all-time favorite musicians and Nick Hornby is one of my all time favorite authors. The collaboration of the two should be a match made in heaven, it&rsquo;s darn close. It&rsquo;s not the best album by Ben Folds, and it&rsquo;s not the best writing by Nick Hornby&hellip; but it&rsquo;s also neither one of their worst. Closing track &ldquo;Belinda&rdquo; is one of the saddest and yet most beautiful songs I&rsquo;ve ever heard. It&rsquo;s the tale of a one-hit wonder who still sings the song about an ex-lover.<br /><strong><br />7. Mumford &amp; Sons: Sigh No More</strong> &ndash; This album was a 2009 release for the UK but this here is AMERICA and as AMERICANS we didn&rsquo;t get the album until this year. Mumford and Sons is a folk-rock quartet that penned &ldquo;Little Lion Man&rdquo; one of the five best singles of the year.&nbsp; The album will have you tapping you foot and singing along instantly. <br /><br /><strong>6. Girl Talk: All Day</strong> &ndash; DJ Gregg Gillis (aka Girl Talk) is the master of sampling muxtapes. Each album takes roughly two years to construct. 2008&rsquo;s Feed Your Animals was one of my favorite albums of that year and 2010&rsquo;s All Day is no different. The blending of songs both old and new is outrageous and mind-blowing. Never did I think that Rihanna and Rage against the Machine or Ludacris and Black Sabbath would mix together so well.<br /><br /><strong>5. Hellogoodbye: Would it Kill You?</strong> &ndash; Hellogoodbye&rsquo;s self-titled EP was my favorite record during my freshmen year of college. It was dancey, upbeat, catchy and had some fun tongue-in-cheek lyrics. For Two years I waited for their full-length and when it finally came out it was one of the biggest letdowns of my life. Save two or three songs, most of the record was forgettable and uninteresting. So when I heard that Hellogoodbye had a new album coming out this year I could careless, until I started hearing songs from it. This was not the Hellogoodbye that I loved in 2004 and hated in 2006; this was an actual band. They were tight, Forrest&rsquo;s vocals weren&rsquo;t auto tuned (or if they were not noticeably) and most importantly, it was a relaxing and fun throwback to the 60&rsquo;s sounds of artists like The Band and The Beatles. Here&rsquo;s to hoping they continue in this direction for a long time. <br /><br /><strong>4. Devo: Something for Everybody</strong> &ndash; After almost two decades, Devo is back and better than ever. Devo was always the band for Geeky kids playing Dungeons and Dragons in their basement. They were quirky, socially awkward and pissed off about it. Devo&rsquo;s new album continues right were they left off; Heavy Synth driven pissed-off Angst filled anthems. If you&rsquo;re a Devo fan and you didn&rsquo;t buy this album yet get the fuck out there and make an important change in your life.<br /><strong><br />3. mc chris: goes to hell</strong> &ndash; I&rsquo;ve written at length about my love of this album in my blog. But to sum it up; Fuck Kanye West, Drake and Emiem&hellip; mc chris made the best hip-hop CD of 2010. Rapping about topics such as Star Wars Bounty Hunters and their cars (IG-88&rsquo;s &rsquo;57 Chevy, Dengar&rsquo;s Dump truck, Bossk on a Segway), Harry Potter (Neville) and fucking (Awesome Fucker, Japanese Maid) but the standout track is his James Bond inspired (006). mc&rsquo;s style of rapping is unique, quick-witted and hilarious out of all his records, this is his masterpiece.<br /><br /><strong>2. Linkin Park: A Thousand Suns</strong> &ndash; I&rsquo;d never call myself a Linkin Park fan, but I&rsquo;ve always enjoyed them. If nothing else I always have to give them props for never releasing the same album twice (except for when they did a track by track remix of their 2nd album; that was literally releasing an album twice). I had first heard about A Thousand Suns when they were on The Nerdist Podcast and singer Mike Shinoda said that a lot of long-time fans are probably going to dislike the album. He was right, but for me, this is the best effort the group has done. Very few guitars, lots of sampling and synth and ending on the lyric &ldquo;When Life Leaves Us Blind/Love keeps us Kind&rdquo;<br /><br /><strong>1. Steel Train</strong> &ndash; When Steel Train got signed to Drive-Thru records, my friends and I couldn&rsquo;t understand why. They weren&rsquo;t the right sound for Drive-Thru; though I did enjoy their music. But I never really followed them or paid them much attention until Geekscape started raving about them. Even then I didn&rsquo;t listen to them, they were just on my radar; but then I went to San Diego Comic Con Trip&hellip; and Steel Train was the music for the ride home. After that I burnt a copy from Jonathan&hellip; then I went out and bought a copy, then a bought my FRIEND a copy. It was catchy, bizarre and most importantly a unique game changer for both the band and folk-indie rock. <br /><br /><br />WORST ALBUM OF THE YEAR:<br /><strong>Punk Goes Pop Volume 3</strong> &ndash; I loved the original punk goes pop album; since fearless has been getting increasingly worse. This may be the lowest it&rsquo;s ever gonna get. Songs are quite literally UNBEARABLE. Most of the songs are songs I&rsquo;ve never even cared about. The album only positive aspect is it makes you appreciate the shitty original versions. Most of these bands are really punk bands (more screamo or hardcore) and most of these songs aren&rsquo;t Pop songs (it&rsquo;s mostly rap covers) so the title is really misleading as well.<br /><br /></p>