List: Top 100 Albums of 2010 – 30-21

Part five of my best albums of 2010 list. Here’s 30-21…


Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

The newest album from Grace Potter and the Nocturnals is technically their third, but feels more like a debut, thanks to the introduction of two new members: rhythm guitarist Benny Yurco and bassist Catherine Popper. Produced by firstly T-Bone Burnett and then Mark Batson, it perfectly fuses soul and rock & roll, and sounds like a smoky throwback to the 60s. You often hear the exclamation “they don’t make them like they used”, but this album proves the wrong. Anyone disappointed by the new Duffy album should check here to see how it’s done.


Crazy Heart
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The last time we heard Colin Farrell singing was on the soundtrack for Intermission, where he took on ‘I Fought the Law’. Sadly, that time, the law definitely won. However, in Crazy Heart he found a genre which suited his voice better. He’s still no great singer, but he’s surrounded by excellent artists. Waylon Jennings and Townes Van Zandt gave star turns, but the highpoint was Ryan Bingham’s Oscar winning ‘The Weary Kind’. It’s hard to think of a better song this year.


Fight Like Apes
The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner

Forget the blasphemous album title and the use of the c-word, and instead focus on the music. Fight Like Apes’ second album didn’t have the immediacy of their debut (we knew what to expect this time around), but marked itself out as a worthy follow-up. A collection of punchy, furious tunes, it provided the perfect foundations for an expansive extension to their unstoppable live show. Hopefully that’s what we get next, a proper, full-on live record from one of Ireland’s finest rock bands.


Janelle Monae
The ArchAndroid

It wasn’t the album that reinvented music, it wasn’t the year’s best, but it was a wonderful collection of singles alongside some forgettable filler. Normally this wouldn’t make for a list-worthy album, but oh those singles. Absolutely mind blowing. As a debut, it’s momentous, and hopefully something Monae can build on. But if this is all we get from her (she has fingers in many non-musical pies), then at least we’ve gotten ‘Come Alive’, ‘Tightrope’, and ‘Cold War’.


The Golden Archipelago

Less rocking than predecessor Rook, Shearwater’s latest opus The Golden Archipelago was a proper old-school album from start to finish. Whereas Janelle Monae’s record was a collection of songs that claimed to be part of a greater whole, The Golden Archipelago had to real stand-outs, and was just a marvellous consistent piece from start to finish. It really helped that Jonathan Meiburg’s vocals suited the slower, less rocking tracks too.


Depth of Field

A very late entry to my list of the best albums of the year, but this one was so impressive, it made a massive dent in the top 30. With other members of the Redneck Manifesto off pursuing their sideprojects, Neil O’Connor released his third album as Somadrone, a warm collection of easily-accessible electronica/rock tracks. O’Connor’s songwriting is greatly impressive, and he’s meticulously learned the art of perfect songcraft from refining the tunes of others. His best effort yet, and if it had been released earlier in the year, it may have ranked even higher.


Brad Mehldau
Highway Rider

The last time Brad Mehldau teamed up with Jon Brion was on career defining Largo, and here, again, the pair have created a jazz masterpiece. Whatever Brion touches usually turns to gold, from Aimee Mann’s early records to Kanye West’s Late Registration, but most notably on his own soundtrack work (something which Brian Eno might call “sonic soundscaping”). The two disc Highway Rider combines the best elements of Brion’s production with Mehldau’s contemporary jazz genius, and is an album that easily crosses over to appeal to non-jazz fans.


Shit Robot
From the Cradle to the Rave

Conspicuously absent from Picthfork’s Top 100 Albums of 2010, Shit Robot won acclaim from everywhere. It was well deserved, with everyone from the Prefix to NME proclaiming Marcus Lambkin’s disco tunes to be amongst the most entertaining and danceable of the year. From the Cradle ranks Lambkin alongside Richard David James as one of Ireland’s finest electronic music makers.


The Divine Comedy
Bang Goes the Knighthood

Neil Hannon is going through his second utterly consistent phase. Following on from the excellent Duckworth Lewis Method album last year, he returned to his old stomping ground to produce yet more lyrical gold with the Divine Comedy. Charming and clever, ‘The Complete Banker’ summed up how everyone in Ireland really felt.


Kanye West
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

After the disappointing change in direction on 808s and Heartbreak and some kind of awards ceremony controversy, hip-hop super-ego Kanye West came back with another fantastic album. The fantastic use of guests, alongside the genius promotion tool of his free G.O.O.D Fridays tracks, West treated his fans (and doubters) to a hip-hop masterclass, particularly on ‘Monster’, the track which launched Nicki Minaj into the stratosphere. There were some great G.O.O.D. Friday tracks left off this album, such was the strength of the material he had to work with.

Read more:

Related posts:

  1. List: Top 100 Albums of 2010 – 40-31
  2. List: Top 100 Albums of 2010 – 50-41
  3. List: Top 100 Albums of 2010 – 100-76
  4. List: Top 100 Albums of 2010 – 75-51
  5. List: Mojo Magazine’s Top 50 Albums of 2010

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