Best Music Of 2010: DR

author DR date 27/12/10

Is it me or has 2010 been a ridiculously good year for music? You're right, it's not just me. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of 2010 for me is how mostly relatively 'small' bands came out of seemingly nowhere to provide us with what could easily become watershed moments in their respective genres over the coming years; the kinds of albums you look back on as having created new pathways for others to tread, or simply those that have reaffirmed your faith in particular scenes. Of course, bigger names have released quality albums, too; but for me, 2010 has been the year of the underdog.

There has been so much music I'm so eager to share with you all that I couldn't limit myself to a top 10/20/30 releases list. So, I've instead broken it down into three parts: top 50 songs; top 10 EPs/Splits; top 30 full-length albums. I haven't broken each item down and explained what it means to me or why it's awesome, because that would then become a block of text - the very thing we're trying to avoid with this deviation away from the articles of previous years. Read it/skim it, let me know what you think of the format and my choices - and don't hold back on either.

Best Music Of 2010 - Daniel Roe (DR)'s picks

Top 50 Songs:

50. Tigers Jaw - Dent

49. Audrey - The Importance of Being Earnest

48. Down To Earth - Radio Stoned

47. Bring Me The Horizon - Don't Go

46. Young Guns - Crystal Clear

45. Summer People - Glossy Eyed

44. Bars Of Gold - The Hustle

43. Transit - P.S.

42. And So I Watch You From Afar - S Is For Salamander

41. Lydia - We Clean Up So Well

40. Our Last Night - Across The Ocean

39. Portugal. The Man - 1000 Years

38. The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang

37. Fair - Walking In My Sleep

36. Los Campesinos! - Romance Is Boring

35. Castevet - Chilsen

34. Everyone Everywhere - Tiny Planet

33. Last Lungs - Ingeland, Part 3

32. United Nations - O You Bright & Risen Angels

31. The Rebs - Keep Smiling

30. The Narrative - Fade

29. What Hands Are For - Push Waves

28. Vampire Weekend - Cousins

27. The Spill Canvas - Good Graces, Bad Influence

26. Funeral For A Friend - Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don't

25. La Dispute - Why It Scares Me

24. Caleb Lionheart - Make Believe

23. Circa Survive - Fever Dreams

22. The Gay Blades - Puppy Mills Presents

21. Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson - Scientists Now Think This City is Overdue

20. Balance And Composure - Rope

19. Conditions - Miss America

18. Touche Amore - I'll Get My Just Deserve

17. Four Year Strong - On A Saturday

16. Fang Island - Davy Crockett

15. The Classic Crime - Cheap Shots

14. You Me At Six - Underdog

13. Jonsi - Boy Lilikoi

12. Bright And Early - Something Personal

11. Her Name Is Calla - Pour More Oil

10. Jimmy Eat World - Invented

9. Man Overboard - Fantasy Girl

8. Norma Jean - A Media Friendly Turn For The Worse

7. Oceana - Joy

6. Letlive - Muther

5. Crime In Stereo - Type One

4. Blueneck - Low

3. 65daysofstatic - Tiger Girl

2. The Wonder Years - Washington Square Park

1. The Felix Culpa - An Instrument

Top 10 EPs/Splits:

10. Audrey - The Flyaway

9. What Hands Are For - ...Please Believe Me

8. Castevet/Into. It. Over It. - Snacktown

7. United Nations - Never Mind The Bombings, Here's Your Six Figures

6. Caleb Lionheart - Climbing Up A Mountain, Just For The View

5. And So I Watch You From Afar - The Letters

4. The Spill Canvas - Abnormalities

3. Oceana - Clean Head

Oceana's departure from Rise was inevitable; with "Clean Head" they moved away from 'scene' music and into mellower indie in the vein of Mew and As Cities Burn. The style-change was surprising to say the least - it alienated a lot of old fans, but it made them relevant outside of said 'scene', and not just because of the style, but because of how good they are at it.

2. Balance And Composure/Tigers Jaw - Split

PP said it best when he wrote "You have no excuse not to check both bands out, especially because we're at a point in time when it's any day/week/month now that they'll blow up. Don't you wanna be a part of that?". With Tigers Jaw being arguably the band at the very forefront of 90s emo/indie revival, and Balance And Composure having all the right influences in the likes of Boys Night Out and Brand New to fit in nicely with their own ideas, how can you not be listening to them? The potential of both bands is staggering.

1. Touche Amore/La Dispute - Searching For A Pulse/The Worth Of The World

Both bands are opinion-dividers; elitist 'screamo' fans don't want either of them, and those hot on the tail of all things new and popular can't get enough of them. I don't want to a part of either of those two sides of the argument. This was a great introduction to Touche Amore, but as for La Dispute, well, not to sound like a fucking hipster but they have been one of my favourite bands since before 2010, before No Sleep Records and La Dispute exploded. This time out they were angry, Jordan Dreyer's vocals were driven and his lyrics still poetic; this split merely affirmed my love for them.

Top 30 Albums:

30. Collapse Under The Empire - The Sirens Sound

29. Museum Mouth - Tears In My Beer

28. Goonies Never Say Die - No Words To Voice Our Hopes And Fears

27. Kerretta - Vilayer

26. Our Last Night - We Will All Evolve

25. The Classic Crime - Vagabonds

24. Down To Earth - Prisms

23. Man Overboard - Real Talk

22. Everyone Everywhere - Everyone Everywhere

21. Transit - Keep This To Yourself

20. Athletics - Why Aren't I Home?

19. Conditions - Fluorescent Youth

18. Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson - Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson

17. The Gay Blades - Savages

16. Balmorhea - Constellations

15. Four Year Strong - Enemy of The World

14. Circa Survive - Blue Sky Noise

13. Blueneck - The Fallen Host

12. Norma Jean - Meridional

11. Jimmy Eat World - Invented

10. Last Lungs - Look At That Old Grizzly Bear

Glorious post-rock without the fat, without the pretention, and without waiting five minutes for anything to go anywhere. Right from the first song to the last, Last Lungs reach for crescendo after crescendo, moreover, they never fail to reach it, or to keep you utterly gripped. What's more, they're operating in an area of post-rock that few else are, for that reason I think this could be the beginning in a new era of post-rock.

9. Fair - Disappearing World

I'm not usually one for alternative pop/rock, but that's because the bands I usually hear don't have an ounce of the ability Fair have. Led by Aaron Sprinkle, they create some of the most assured, warming and flawlessly-produced music the genre has seen, and it all seems so effortless - and that's the best thing about Fair in my opinion, they're one of those bands that are so good and confident in what they're doing that they don't even sound like they're breaking sweat.

8. Her Name Is Calla - The Quiet Lamb

It's an hour and fifteen minutes long, with one of the songs lasting seventeen minutes, but the soundscapes are layered, textured, and fucking huge. By far the most challenging album I've listened to all year because of how epic in scope it is, and although many will be immediately put off, if you stick with it, it becomes one of the most rewarding musical experiences of 2010. Furthermore, they're English! "The Quiet Lamb" is an album so ambitious, so unique, that it restored my faith in the English music scene.

7. Jonsi - Go

If you hadn't figured out as much from Sigur Ros, Jonsi is the greatest, most unique from man around (imo). "Go" not only re-established that, it also declared Jonsi as being more than the Sigur Ros frontman - as a separate entity and artist, one that can not only craft orchestral soundscapes, but can create uplifting, magnificent, brilliant pop-music, too. You'll suddenly find yourself content that Sigur Ros are on a hiatus, if it means Jonsi continues to put out music like this.

6. The Wonder Years - The Upsides

Sometimes I felt like this album was single-handedly carrying me through crappy times, with it's huge group-vocals, infectiousness and messages about staying postive. So for that reason it must be so high on my list. You may be a little surprised to see this so high up. There are albums further down this list that are musically superior and more original, but this is my list, and "The Upsides" deserves the recognition. Plus, it was the album that reminded me there is still heart in the pop punk genre.

5. Fang Island - Fang Island

Probably the most original album on this list, and if you haven't listened to it yet, why the hell not? I don't remember ever hearing guitars sounding so happy, so infectious, and I certainly don't remember ever coming across anything quite like Fang Island. Let's not forget that this is still their debut, so Fang Island are only one way and one way very, very quickly. They say it best when they say "Sounds like - everyone high-fiving everyone."

4. Crime In Stereo - I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone

It's a punk album, but with enough of an indie and angsty feel to it to appeal to those not necessarily fans of the genre, such as myself. They got the balance between aggressive and melodic as close to perfect as you can get, the sudden shifts between quiet and loud, the confusion and anger of the vocalist, it all creates an utter beast of an album. I'm not too surprised this band split up, because leaving at this time, at the peak of their popularity and just after they've created such a huge album means they went on the greatest of highs.

3. 65daysofstatic - We Were Exploding Anyway

65daysofstatic had established their niche with previous releases, and no matter how many influenced bands tried to move into it, it always remained 65dos territory. With this they stepped out of their comfort zone into more popualated waters out of a desire to progress, and they nailed it. The electronics would have you think this was a dance album, but some classic-65dos guitar work confirmed they are still very much the same band at heart, and they know what they're doing. It's not just another album in their career, but arguably their most important because it gives them even more room to grow into for the future.

2. Letlive - Fake History

For a few years now the post-hardcore scene hasn't exactly been thriving for fans of good, passionate music. Too many copycats, trend-followers, blahblahblah. And then there is Letlive, who, out of absolutely nowhere, have reminded us that this genre can still produce fantastic music if the artists have the talent, passion, and one hell of a songwriter at the helm. "Fake History" is testament to the fact that if you don't want to settle for getting on the 'cool' tour by playing to trends, you want to change something and you want your music to actually matter, because you care about music, you can. They've definitely revived my interest in this genre.

1. The Felix Culpa - Sever Your Roots

It took me a while to get into it, with each listen revealing a little more, until one day when everything seemed to click. Since then, I haven't been able to stop myself from going back to this at any possible opportunity. This could be for one of many reasons: 1) I'm a sucker for progressive soundscapes with a few post-hardcore tendancies; 2) I'm a sucker for emotionally-charged vocals, equal to Cody Bonnette and Jesse Lacey, that with every vocal crack, waver and scream cause you to shudder, as if the vocalist's emotion has seeped into you; 3) I'm a sucker for well-crafted lyrics, and "Sever Your Roots" is quite possibly the most thematically perfect album I own; 4) I'm a sucker for great music - is it that simple? "I could write for days and days" about why I love this album, but I won't. "Sever Your Roots" is a masterpiece.

So there you have it, my Best Music Of 2010. At some point in January 2011 I'll post an article listing which bands, some big and some small, to expect good things from in the new year. Until then, leave your thoughts in the comments and see you next year!

P.S. if you click on "Related items" you can read PP's list in case you missed it.

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