Personal Top 10 Favourites of 2010

By chrisspurr chrisspurr
updated 2 months ago

An ordered list of my favourite albums from 2010, accompanied by an explanation as to why consisting of content from reviews published by various sources.


  1. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

    Release Date: November 22, 2010
    Genre: Rap
    Favourite Track: Runaway

    Coming off a string of much-publicized emotional meltdowns, Kanye is taking a deeper look inside the dark corners of his twisted psyche. In 2009, West was dubbed the world’s biggest douchebag after he spoiled Taylor Swift’s shining moment at the 2009 VMAs. From that moment on, Kanye fled the public light for a while and made his secret hideout in Paris and Hawaii, recruiting top of the line producers like Madlib, RZA, Mike Dean, No I.D., and more to produce the album. With the Taylor Swift incident still fresh in the memory, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy saw Kanye standing up and addressing the haters. Like Kanye's previous album, 808's & Heartbreak, this albums deals with the theme of failed relationships and like all of his albums to date, is very egoistic. However, what differentiates this album from previous Kanye albums, is the self-mocking approach to addressing his notoriously inflated ego. Witty lines that would never have appeared on previous Kanye albums for the first time showed that the man who doesn't smile has a sense of humour and a slither of humility about him. With his music and persona both marked by a flawed honesty, Kanye's man-myth dichotomy is at once modern and truly classic.

  2. MGMT - Congratulations

    Release Date: March 20, 2010
    Genre: Psychedelic Rock
    Favourite Track: Congratulations

    It became pretty obvious over the past couple of years that MGMT loathed the massive amounts of success their debut album had lavished on the band, particularly its singles. Congratulations is almost bullheaded in its resolve to be something Oracular Spectacular was not – namely, lacking any kind of easily identifiable hit single. This album is a direct response to the fame and popularity Oracular Spectacular brought them. VanWyngarden has said the album was written with the weirdness/unnaturalness of their quick success in mind. If you listen to the music carefully and then think about those sentiments, the shift in style makes sense. Not just the mellower, connected, single-free thing: the flourishes are better integrated; the hooks are less obvious; the overall sound is analog vintage, instead of colorfully collegiate. If their success granted them the opportunity to do whatever they wanted, MGMT took advantage of it.

  3. The Sheepdogs - Learn & Burn

    4 For Sale from $5.00

    Release Date: February 23, 2010
    Genre: Americana
    Favourite Track: Please Don't Lead Me On

    There is a reason that The Sheepdogs have been named as the most exciting band to come out of Saskatoon. Their mastery of their southern rock sound is quite apparent. You can almost imagine them playing this rock in some sort of farm, up to their waists in wheat plants. Learn & Burn is the band's third album and it is a great work with plenty of guitar solos, wonderful group vocals, and marijuana innuendo. Although the lyrics are not particularly in depth, you don’t really listen to The Sheepdogs to listen to the lyrics primarily. One listens to The Sheepdogs to get an overall feeling rather than an hour-long story montage; they are at the core of the actual 1970’s. They don’t waste time trying to be anything old and new, there’s no barrier; Learn & Burn maintains a consistent and cohesive Southern-Rock sound while simultaneously touching on other popular genres of the era, and thus The Sheepdogs are able to convey their message without the lyrics themselves.

  4. Vampire Weekend - Contra

    1 For Sale from $60.00

    Release Date: January 11, 2010
    Genre: Indie Rock
    Favourite Track: I Think Ur a Contra

    Returning two years after their first album, Vampire Weekend presents Contra, a similar offering to their titular debut, only with one less song and two extra minutes to dwell in. With their penchant for obscure grammatical references and African pop, Vampire Weekend always offered a little more than your standard indie-rock fare. Ezra Koenig's words fluctuate between understandable and indiscernible, yet his melody lines remain beautiful. When his word are comprehensible, they reflect a maturity and wisdom less present in the lyrics of Contra's self-titled predecessor. Gone on the new record is the Koenig that sleeps on the balcony after class, replaced with an awake, more pointed observer. These songs don't scan as being about privilege or money, ironic given the band's shtick, but about people struggling with their social status, something that everyone – college-educated or not, rich or poor – does at some point. Contra's point is simple: image is important, but don't think yours is better than anyone else's, especially if it's constructed by things you buy.

  5. Ólafur Arnalds - ...And They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness

    Release Date: May 7, 2010
    Genre: Classical
    Favourite Track: Þau Hafa Sloppið Undan Þunga Myrkursins

    According to Arnalds, and as the title and sleeve notes suggest, the theme of the album is cyclical light – darkness fading into light and vice versa, the back and forth, the push and pull of humanity and nature. Inspired by the opening sequence of a Hungarian indie film metaphorically describing a solar eclipse, Arnalds sought to connect this concept to his own and ended up choosing the album title and track list from a key piece of dialogue from the film’s introduction. These nine tracks deal with the positive, but not in a way that is showered with optimism, more of the kind that grows from less certain, melancholic times. The oozing, gradual release of this not so literal dark cloud, enhances its effect. If it's not the changes of pace which draws you into the heart then it's the intensity. The form of Arnalds' work is nothing if not reflective and, as this navel gazing is a practice commonly engaged in, it's easily to relate to.

  6. The Tallest Man On Earth - Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird

    13 For Sale from $4.43

    Release Date: September 6, 2010
    Genre: Folk
    Favourite Track: Little River

    The Tallest Man on Earth writes modest, deeply inspired folk songs with penetrating melodies and a howl that harks back to Bob Dylan while simultaneously carving out its own distinct gravelly sweetness. Neither a sequel nor a satellite to last year's The Wild Hunt, Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird is a statement in its own right. While limited in scope and tone, the short release allows Matsson to explore one particular mood: a primary color in his palette, a bluesy melancholy that defines and permeates every song here. There is distinct pastoral element at work in the Tallest Man on Earth’s songs. He invokes the elements and the myriad forces nature: rivers, islands, rocks, clouds, birds, meadows, etc., and it lends a weight to the music. Matsson can bottle lonesome with best – the evocative mix of his guitarwork, words, and melodies will send a chill through you, but this chill is always followed by a comforting warmth.

  7. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

    Release Date: May 17, 2010
    Genre: Electronic/Indie Rock
    Favourite Track: I Can Change

    This is Happening employs several of the same compositional techniques that contributed to Sound of Silver’s prominent placement on most published best of decade lists, but the lyrics, which admittedly still retain an air of self-consciousness, are less irreverent this time around. LCD Soundsystem songs are fun, but they also make you question why they are fun – it’s meta-party music, or at least it was, as the band continues to evolve from album to album. Where the self-titled record introduced us to dance beats that weren’t the most danceable and Sound of Silver upped the bet to include two profoundly affecting numbers, This is Happening continues that growth to present the harder truths in life. This is Happening touches on things we don’t like to admit to ourselves, much less to the listening public. Murphy is still a sarcastic brat, but this is a more emotionally mature and personal album than most of us thought him capable of. Never one to cast a stone, he’ll gladly admit he does many of the same things he critiques on the album; all he asks is for spades to be called spades. Don’t pretend it’s not happening when it’s as plain as day that it is.

  8. She & Him - Volume Two

    Release Date: March 17, 2010
    Genre: Americana
    Favourite Track: In the Sun

    This spirit of carefree abandon set to 1950's diner milkshake romance is what lies at the heart of Volume Two, the second album from this side project. For the uneducated, Zooey Deschanel is an actress, who has been in such films as Elf and Gigantic, while M. Ward is a solo star and member of Saddle Creek supergroup Monsters of Folk. Initially thought of as a vanity project for the pair, interest has risen progressively as Deschanel’s supporting actress roles have becomes leads. Volume Two picks up almost exactly where Volume One left off, with Deschanel still playing a smart, sensitive young woman often on the unrequited end of love but never letting romantic disappointment get her down. What makes the album so distinctive isn't just the sound of her voice, the quality of her songwriting, or even the resourcefulness of Ward's arrangements, but their joint insistence that these old sounds have as much to say nowadays as they ever did. In that regard, She & Him has given Deschanel her best role yet, one that shows off her charm and intelligence to best effect – one that she is essentially writing for herself.

  9. Das Racist - Shut Up, Dude

    Release Date: March, 2010
    Genre: Rap
    Favourite Track: Rainbow in the Dark

    Das Racist was formed in 2008 by Wesleyan graduates Himanshu Suri and Victor Vazquez because of their shared proclivity to view sensitive racial issues with a satirical eye. After Suri’s old high school friend Ashok Kondabolu joined the group, Das Racist recorded what would become their signature song. Not wanting to be defined by a novelty hit, Das Racist released the song as part of their debut mixtape Shut Up, Dude. Beginnings are privileged, and Das Racist started Shut Up, Dude with a clear cry: this is music by and about the brown and overall minority experience in America. As they explained it, their absurdist joking around, while not unrelated to marijuana, was a serious strategy that enabled them to address racial stereotypes without acting like blowhards. The subject matter is at once a serious issue presented in a joking manner through clever rhymes over top of clever production.

  10. Listener - Wooden Heart

    Release Date: July 6, 2010
    Genre: Spoken Word/Post-Hardcore
    Favourite Track: Wooden Heart

    Deepspace 5 is comprised of seven emcees, one of which is a poet named Dan Smith who has performed under the moniker Listener. While he's released several albums with Deepspace 5 and Labklik, on his own he's released a few albums' worth of his heartfelt poetry, some set to music and some a capella. After the release of his 2005 album Ozark Empire, Listener became more than just a solo artist with the inclusion of Kristen Smith on bass guitar and Chris Nelson on drums and guitar. Listener’s music is particularly captivating: his voice has a heaviness that is neither screaming nor singing and is thought to be unique by most who hear it and the band’s music is built around the words as a compliment to their delivery. For those already fans of Listener, about half of the track list of Wooden Heart will be recognizable. Six of them are from a previous Listener album, however rerecorded with the new backing band. The album meditates on Smith’s childhood, his fears, and love, delivered with a blunt honestly and trembling voice that gives us a look at the vulnerable man behind the words.