Features, Lists

List: Top 100 Albums of 2010 – 10-1

We’ve reached the conclusion of my best albums of 2010 list. Here are the top ten albums of the year 2010.

10.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
I Learned The Hard Way



With their fourth album, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings finally arrived on the world’s stage. Fusing 60s and 70s funk with a contemporary soul sound, the Dap Kings had one of the finest weapons around: the voice of Sharon Jones. Her smooth soulful voice has always sounded fantastic, but here her band really hit their stride.




9.

Villagers
Becoming a Jackal


The breakout Irish star of 2010, Conor J O’Brien showed that there was life after the Immediate, and that he wasn’t just a one-album, one-band wonder. An appearance on Jools Holland catapulted him to stardom, and on this debut record, he followed up the amazing potential he had shown in EPs last year. Hopefully this project can make a second album, because that should send him stratospheric.




8.

Taylor Swift
Speak Now



The third album from former teen hearbreak chronicler Taylor Swift was a continuation of the greatness gone before. Dismissed by many, many cooler people with “taste”, Swift wrote and recorded the best breakup songs of the year. Lyrically astute with a keen ear for a massive pop chorus, Swift shows the pretenders how it’s done. Take note Westlife, Bieber and the rest of you. This is how to make a pop album.




7.

The Tallest Man on Earth
The Wild Hunt



On first listen, the second album from Kristian Matsson didn’t have the same impact as his debut. Probably because we knew what to expect, and this was more of the same. But who says artists need to reinvent themselves every album? These were ten more fantastic songs from the modern-day Dylan (he’s not too fond of the comparison, and it may seem like hyperbole, but these songs are worth of the tribute.) I mean even Pitchfork liked it. That has to be something, right?




6.

Lady Antebellum
Need You Now



I’m a sucker for male-female duets. I’m a sucker for pop country. I’m a sucker for love songs. I’m a sucker for the best pop country album I’ve heard in years, containing a title song that will be ranked as a standard in years to come. Music isn’t always about thinking, and reading into the lyrics or looking for experimentation. Sometimes songs can be just great. They can be entertaining. They can be windows down, singing along at full belt in your car moments. Simply wonderful. The feel-good record of the year.




5.

Jamey Johnson
Guitar Song



At just 35, Jamey Johnson sings and plays like he was raised alongside Alan Jackson, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, and every other country legend. An ambitious double album, Guitar Song is rightfully twenty-five tracks long. How could you cut any of them? His first US Country number one record, it showed that the buying public still have sense to see greatness rather than follow trends and fashion. The only thing negative about this album is that it’ll be impossible to top.




4.

The Cast of Cheers
Chariot



Arriving out of nowhere and with no backstory, the debut album from the Cast of Cheers was an album we went into with no preconceptions. By God were we pleased to hear something this amazingly well-produced and wonderfully rocking. Like an Irish Bloc Party, the Cast of Cheers stepped up to fill the void while Kele Okereke was busy making a self-indulgent solo album. One of the best Irish debuts in years. Oh and even better? It doesn’t cost a cent.




3.

Justin Townes Earle
Harlem River Blues



I didn’t introduce star ratings on Swear I’m Not Paul until late in the year, but this was a worthy recipient of my first ever official five star rating (two others would’ve received the same adulation obviously.) His most consistent record yet, this song had no filler tracks like his earlier records. The standout tracks of Midnight at the Movies and the Good Life stood out a lot more on those albums, but that’s not because they’re better than the songs here, but rather when taken in comparison with the few duff tracks on each album. There’s not one duff track here, but still ‘Christchurch Woman’ and ‘Rogers Park’ shine through. Amazing.




2.

Drive-By Truckers
The Big To-Do



This is the Drive-By Truckers’ eight album, and they’re having one hell of a career. Every album so far has been great, and this is their best since guitarist/songwriter Jason Isbell left the band. When someone like Isbell quits, there should be a void, but with songwriters like Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, and the emergence of bassist Shonna Tucker, the Drive-By Truckers are anything but short of talent. John Neff and Jay Gonzalez round out the band, and there is not one weak link to be found. On ‘Birthday Boy’, Mike Cooley created another career-best. Oh, and their ninth album is due next month (it’s every bit as good as you’d hope).




1.

James Vincent McMorrow
Early in the Morning



The “best album to come out of Ireland in a decade” was not just the best Irish album of 2010, but also the best album of 2010 full stop. The best record anyone, anywhere released. It’s getting a worldwide release in March 2011, and the rest of the globe is in for a real treat. Filled with gorgeous laid-back folk songs, McMorrow’s record was the perfect album for a quiet walk in the countryside, as the enchanting sounds perfectly reflected the world around. Vocally spot-on, and lyrically amazing, each song on here was a standout, and next year should see him rightfully get the acclaim he deserves. The best album of 2010. No question.

Read more:
100-76
75-51
50-41
40-31
30-21
20-11

Related posts:

  1. List: Top 100 Albums of 2010 – 20-11
  2. List: Top 100 Albums of 2010 – 50-41
  3. List: Top 100 Albums of 2010 – 30-21
  4. List: Top 100 Albums of 2010 – 40-31
  5. List: Top 100 Albums of 2010 – 75-51

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