To celebrate the half-way point of 2010, this week Paste staffers are counting down their favorite albums of the year (so far). Check out all of our lists here, and share your own favorites in the comments.
Brace yourself, High Fidelity lover: I hate making lists. I’m absolutely terrible at the whole “categorizing” thing. Especially with music, a subjective pleasure that (by definition) resists being quantified and ranked. So I have no doubt, gentle reader, that you will take issue—and possibly umbrage—with one or more of my selections / omissions on this list of my favorite albums of 2010 thus far. But remember: the magical thing about opinions is that everyone gets to have one, and they’re all different! Maybe we should take this opportunity to come together and appreciate just how certifiably badass the first six months of 2010 have been for new music, irrespective of your pet genres and bands.
Or you could just tell me that I suck.
10. Frightened Rabbit – The Winter of Mixed Drinks
Leave it to this rabble of Scotsmen to release a better straight-ahead indie rock album than any other band in the New World so far this year. This album also may or may not have soundtracked my own winter of mixed drinks while I was stranded in the snow-blanketed climes of northern Virginia. Just saying.
9. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – The Brutalist Bricks
You might think that after nearly two decades of crafting some of the D.C. scene’s most piercing, incisive, and all-around addictive pop-punk, Ted Leo’s enthusiasm would be slightly dampened by now. And you’d be proved wrong by The Brutalist Bricks, another solid helping of protest anthems and riot-rockers.
8. Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)
For her followup to Part One (4th World War), Badu mostly ditched the strident political overtones in favor of a collection of eminently groovy neo-soul love songs. And this excellent album deserved an equally-excellent publicity stunt, like getting naked outside of a certain Dallas book depository (as a Matt & Kim shout-out, no less!).
7. Ty Segall – Melted
It’s hard not to throw around phrases like “heir apparent to Jay Reatard” when discussing this brash, San Francisco-bred garage rocker. And if Jay were still alive, I’m pretty sure he’d be nodding (or moshing) in approval of Segall’s skuzzy, fuzzed-out guitar work.
6. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
Hats off to James Murphy, New York’s Once and Future King of the self-aware-dance-pop scene. This may or may not be his farewell kiss to the North American Scum who crowned him their liege-lord—if so, I’m hard-pressed to imagine a better sendoff than this impeccably-produced collection of dance party jams.
5. Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be
The Dum Dum Girls won’t win any points for originality; they’re heavily indebted to 80s U.K. girl-group twee. But a light dusting of fuzzy garage-pop guitar textures—combined with frontwoman Dee Dee’s enchanting-and-eerie vocals—makes the short but sweet I Will Be one of my most listened-to albums of 2010.
4. Sleigh Bells – Treats
Sleigh Bells’ electro-rock debut has been called various things (hipster Jock Jams among them), but there’s no denying Treats’ raw, speakers-blown-out appeal. And there’s no other band out there right now making music so fun, and so life-affirming.
3. Suckers – Wild Smile
The dark horse entry on my list this year; in the space of less than a month, Suckers’ reverb-rock masterpiece went from virtual unknown (a nondescript CD sitting on my desk) to blowing up my headphones, car stereo, and anywhere else my friends tolerate my being DJ. I defy you to listen to “It Gets Your Body Movin’” and not do just that.
2. Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid
Hip-hop, soul, R&B and dance-pop—ATLien Janelle Monáe’s dumbfoundingly good sci-fi concept album flirts with all these genres and more. Pure joy for your headphones.
1. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
There’s no real way to describe this album without using the word “epic.” Not epic in the swaggering, arena-rock way, mind you. No, The Monitor is an epic meditation on modern America, wasted youth and the feeling of creeping apocalypse that informs our daily lives, told through a loose narrative set partly during the Civil War. This is end-of-days stuff—an album rife with punk snarl, riotous guitars and devastating lyrics. It’s a fury that demands to be heard, and deserves to be.