Thin Line Between Stupid and Clever

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Best Albums of 2010

It’s becoming harder and harder to find good music.  Not that there is actually less good music made, only that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find.  MTV gave up on music long ago.  Rolling Stone gave up on good music long ago.  Publications that actually tried to cover good music are either dead or on the verge.  See Paste Magazine. The ten best selling albums of 2010 are all likely horrible (1.18 million people bought an album made by Usher in the year 2010???).  But all hope is not lost.  There were a lot of excellent albums released in 2010.  Here’s the best of the best (that I was fortunate enough to listen to).

Here we go (in no particular order):

The Black Keys, Brothers

This was the best album of 2010, hands down.  While many albums on this list are great, this is one of those albums that will be considered as one of the “best of the decade.”  It’s also the only album on this list that approached “mainstream success.”

Listen if: You like great music.  That is all.

Don’t listen if: You are one of the 1.2 million people who bought an Usher album in 2010.

Best Song: All of them, although “Tighten Up” is definitely the most well-known.  That’s as good of a place to start as any.

She and Him, Volume Two

Volume Two is She and Him’s followup to their first album, wait for it……Volume One. This album is not quite as great as their debut, but still excellent.

Listen if: You like M. Ward.  You liked their first album.  You want to hear an actress with actual musical talent make an album. 

Don’t listen if: You have a strange dislike for Zooey Deschanel.  (How is this possible?  She’s just so, so damn adorable). 

Best Song: If “In the Sun” doesn’t make you smile, you will die miserable and alone.

Kid Rock, Born Free

Ha!  Just kidding.  I haven’t heard a single second of this, but I’m sure there are songs about beaches, beer, Hank Williams, and probably America in general.  I’m also sure they are terrible.

Justin Townes Earle, Harlem River Blues

Occasionally an album will come along that, while good, just sounds like everyone was trying too hard.  This is not one of those albums.  It almost sounds as if they weren’t trying at all, but in the best way possible.  Genuine.

Listen if: You remember when country music was good.  You like Johnny Cash, Old Crow Medicine Show, or just good songwriting in general.  You like NYC.

Don’t listen if: You need a lot of electric guitar.  You think Taylor Swift is real country music.  You don’t like Johnny Cash, Old Crow Medicine Show, or good songwriting in general.

Best song: Tie between “Rogers Park” or the title track.  He wrote the first when he was eighteen.  Makes your life feel wasted, huh?

Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses, Junky Star

If not for the Black Keys, this would have been the best album of 2010.  Sounds a little like Ryan Adams at his best crossed with a little Tom Waits growl.  That’s not a bad thing.  Ryan Bingham is probably best known for his Oscar-winning song, “The Weary Kind,” for the film Crazy Heart.  Well, it’s not even the best song on this album.

Listen if: You think Ryan Adams is one of the most talented artists alive (raises hand). You find good songwriting important.  You think acoustic guitars can still rock.

Don’t listen if: You think Lady Ga-Ga’s music is “not that bad.”  Good songwriting is unappealing to you.  You think Ryan Adams’ music is “boring.”

Best song: All of them, but try “Hallelujah” (no, it’s not another cover of the Leonard Cohen song) or “The Wandering.”

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, I Learned the Hard Way

Definitely the most original album on this list.  That voice, damn.

Listen if: You like and miss good soul music.  You liked Amy Winehouse’s music before she was destroyed by booze, drugs, and insanity.

Don’t listen if: Just f’ing listen.  There’s no guarantee that you’ll love it, but you’ll be intrigued.

Best Song: That’s really not the point with this one, but a favorite is “Mama Don’t Like My Man.”

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2 thoughts on “Best Albums of 2010

  1. Music has a mystic manner of being able to take you instantly back to a specific place and time in your past
    I will definitely vote them, for one reason….

  2. Pingback: Favorite Albums of 2011 « Thin Line Between Stupid and Clever

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