1. Joanna Newsom, Have One on Me Three discs, 18 tracks, two hours plus … and I’m left wanting more. More of that distinctive voice. More of that delicate harp. More of those unconventional folk arrangements. After Have One’s February release, everything else was left battling for second.
2. Superchunk, Majesty Shredding Yeah, you can call it a comeback. Nine years between LPs, and the ’chunk recaptures the rock of its early-’90s youth. This one will have you digging out your old copy of No Pocky for Kitty—then marveling at how well the new tunes stack up.
3. Emeralds, Does It Look Like I’m Here?
4. Liars, Sisterworld
5. Xiu Xiu, Dear God, I Hate Myself
6. Robert Pollard, We All Got Out of the Army
7. A Crowd of Small Adventures, A Decade in X-Rays Who says locals can’t play with the big boys? From hypnotic opener “Ancient Giants” through slow-building closer “Fast Travel,” as good a batch of songs as you’ll find—anywhere—from 2010.
8. Pantha du Prince, Black Noise This and Emeralds alternated as my go-to background this year. No telling how much less work I’d have gotten done without 'em.
9. Sufjan Stevens, The Age of Adz
10. Women, Public Strain
1. Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
2. Waka Flocka Flame, Flockaveli
3. Big Boi, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
4. Yelawolf, Trunk Muzik The Alabama MC’s literary rhymes dot brutal, atmospheric portraits of his region. Think of him as a creative-writing genius … who just happens to hang out with Gucci Mane.
5. Blacklist Royals, Semper Liberi The unheralded Nashville garage act plays über-hooky ’60s AM-style rock. Featuring bits of punk, rockabilly and pop, nearly each track on this debut is a bar-style singalong.
6. Janelle Monae, The ArchAndroid
7. Title Tracks, It Was Easy
8. Erykah Badu, New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)
9. Soulja Boy, The DeAndre Way Once thought to be ushering in rap’s apocalypse, this Boy’s evolved from a gimmicky purveyor of dance crazes into a mature maestro of earworm jams.
10. The Living Sisters, Love to Live Three unrelated LA Sisters who combine for highly textured folk tunes emphasizing harmony. They’re something like the Carter Family for a new generation.
1. Retribution Gospel Choir, 2 The second album from the auxiliary project of Low’s Alan Sparhawk sounds like Neil Young playing in a blizzard—a loud collection of gnarled guitar ruminations with heavy riffing and an even heavier heart.
2. Superchunk, Majesty Shredding
3. The Bird and the Bee, Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates In the hands of soft-glow vocalist Inara George and keyboard/producer whiz Greg Kurstin, blue-eyed soul becomes warm, elegant synth-pop.
4. Drive-By Truckers, The Big To-Do
5. Pantha du Prince, Black Noise
6. Robyn, Body Talk
7. Duran Duran, All You Need Is Now Producer Mark Ronson resurrects circa-1982 Duran Duran. Unstoppable hooks, sleek disco-glam beats and glittering synths—just like in the old days.
8. The War on Drugs, Future Weather
9. Violens, Amoral A Brooklyn band that incorporates its influences—shoegaze, new wave, post-punk, jangle-rock and synth-pop—in a fresh, engaging way.
10. Pomegranates, One of Us
1. Matador at 21 (The Pearl, October 1-3) I considered ranking individual bands, then realized that would leave just two or three slots for everything else that happened onstage in 2010. For the curious, my top 5 sets of that wondrous weekend: 1. Superchunk, 2. Guided By Voices, 3. Chavez, 4. Fucked Up vs. Ted Leo, 5. Come.
2. Leonard Cohen (Caesars Colosseum, December 10)
3. LCD Soundsystem (The Pearl, October 12) If you were on the floor for this one, no one would blame you if you’re still sleeping it off.
4. Roger Waters (MGM Grand, November 26) The most visually spectacular concert of the year—and quite possibly the past decade.
5. Pixies (The Joint, September 25)
6. The Walkmen (Beauty Bar, September 19) The cherry on top of the most loaded Neon Reverb festival bill yet.
7. Silversun Pickups (The Joint, July 16) Ear-shredding waves of gloriously noisy rock. When did these guys start channeling My Bloody Valentine?
8. AC/DC (MGM Grand, April 9)
9. Erykah Badu (The Pearl, June 24)
10. Punk Rock Bowling (Sunset Station, May 7-9)