The Mostly Armless Top 50 Albums of 2010 Part One (50 – 31)

As tempting as it is to wait to see if any other gems come to my attention before finalising my 2010 list, there are only a few weeks of the year left so I need to draw a line under what I have ranked so far, anything else that comes up now, well tough, I’ll just have to make separate posts about them.

Here’s the plan, I will announce the top 50 in reverse order over three consecutive posts starting today with numbers 50 to 31, then there will be 30 to 11 and then finally the top ten. In each will be links to listen to the album on Spotify or Soundcloud (“Listen”), a sample video (“Look”), and a link to Amazon to purchase it if you so wish (“Buy”). So, without further ado, *trumpet fanfare*, here we go!

50. Broken Bells – Broken Bells

James Mercer (vocalist from The Shins) and producer Danger Mouse’s first joint release is a nice little bunch of ditties. To me it sounds an awful lot like a Shins album with some electronic elements thrown in. Very nice but nothing terribly exciting.

Listen, Look, Buy



49. The Phantom Band – The Wants

Second album from this Glasgow band, sprawling indie rock that, like The Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit is not afraid to present their music with a strong Scottish accent! Can’t find a decent video so check out the track “Everybody Knows It’s True” via Soundcloud below.

Listen, Buy


48. Tweak Bird – Tweak Bird

Illinois brothers Caleb and Ashton Bird’s debut album is a half hour blast of psych/stoner rock, the guitar/drum duo at times feel similar to Death From Above 1979 but with slightly less balls-out swagger!

Listen, Look, Buy



47. Trans Am – Thing

Electronica, dance, rock, metal, experimental. Just some of the words that could be used for describing this band of twenty years. This, their ninth album, is quite the mixed bag of genres.

Look, Buy




46. Frightened Rabbit – The Winter of Mixed Drinks

Third album by the authors of my favourite album of 2008. Unfortunately I don’t think it gets anywhere near the brilliance of “The Midnight Organ Fight”, maybe vocalist and songwriter Scott Hutchinson needs to go through personal hell to come up with such fine tunes, I wouldn’t wish that on him obviously but, although nice, none of the tracks here really stand out for me.

Listen, Look, Buy


45. Eleven Tigers – Clouds are Mountains

Found out about this one through Drowned in Sound’s Overlooked albums of 2010 thread. The press seem to be calling it where to go next following Burial, I can see what they mean. An album of lovely laid-back dubstep which might have been higher in the list but I’ve only managed to give it one listen at the time of writing this!

Listen, Look, Buy



44. Tunng – …And Then We Saw Land

London based experimental folk band’s fourth album utilises all sorts of instruments including sea shells! Really great live act too.

Listen, Look, Buy




43. These Monsters – Call Me Dragon

Leeds band These Monsters finally released their debut album in March, having seen them lots of times as support acts on various bills in Leeds over the last few years I wondered whether I’d ever see a proper physical release! They twist the usual post-rock formula by adding a saxophone and not sticking to the quiet/loud song structure, tending to be more loud/loud! They’re noisy and great fun, catch them live if you can.

Listen, Look, Live @ BBC


42. Padang Food Tigers – Born Music

Purchased after reading the enthusiastic review from Norman Records and hearing two tracks on Soundcloud. Delicate, almost ambient guitars and various other instruments. Check Norman Records’ review to describe it better than I can.




41. Kylesa – Spiral Shadow

Excellent catchy, sludgy riffology from Savannah, Georgia’s Kylesa. This, their fifth album is still as heavy as before but adds a more psych-rock feel. To quote – “Call Kylesa prog– or even psych, really– at your peril. Few modern prog or psych bands offer the kind of face-caving, riffs-first punch Kylesa bring to each tune. And tunes they are, with shout-along hooks that reliably hold things together between the double-drummer showcases and the bursts of uncut, old-school metal-flash soloing.”
Listen, Look, Buy


40. Killing Joke – Absolute Dissent

Can you believe Killing Joke have been around for thirty years? And they still sound angry! They came back to the fore in 2003 when Dave Grohl lent his name and pounding drum skills to their self titled debut of that year and this carries on in a similar vein, aside from stand out track “European Super State” that eschews the guitars for electronics. Good stuff!

Listen, Look, Buy



39. Midlake – The Courage of Others

Follow up to “The Trials of Van Occupanther”, this album comes close to surpassing it containing some lovely folky melodies and having a more immediate impact than its predecessor. Just listening to this makes me want to grow my beard back! 🙂

Listen, Look, Buy



38. Butterfly Explosion – Lost Trails

I saw this Dublin band supporting God is an Astronaut early this year and really enjoyed their particular brand of post-rock. Unusual (relatively) in that for a post-rock band they are not instrumental, Gazz Corr’s vocals add a bit of a shoegaze feel to the album. Another piece of evidence that proves it’s always worth catching the support act at gigs!

Listen, Look, Buy



37. Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse – Dark Night of the Soul

Originally slated for release in 2009, due to legal problems it did not see the light of day as a physical release until July this year. A tragically well timed release following the suicide of Sparklehorse main man Mark Linkous, this album features guest performances by a myriad of disparate artists, from Julian Casablancas (The Strokes), Iggy Pop, Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), all the way to film director David Lynch (who was also involved in the artwork included in the CD and the postcards issued with the Ltd Edition version)
Listen, Look, Buy


36. Errors – Come Down With Me

Continuing with their witty puns of TV shows (their 2006 mini album was entitled How Clean is Your Acid House and the remix edition of this is called Celebrity Come Down With Me!), this Glaswegian instrumental electronic outfit release their second album proper. They are label-mates with fellow Glaswegians Mogwai and some of the slower parts of this album are reminiscent of them, although never quite as noisy!
Listen, Look, Buy


35. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

Nearly didn’t investigate this album as I was very disappointed by “Neon Bible”, but then noticed an Amazon promotion so got it for £1! Although over an hour long it manages to not overstay its welcome and to these ears is a lot better than “Neon Bible”, it doesn’t quite reach the quality of their debut “Funeral” and is less experimental.

Listen, Look, Buy



34. The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster – Blood & Fire

The brilliantly eccentrically named band return with their third album a full six years after “The Royal Society”. It kicks off at about 100mph and doesn’t really slow down for its entire 38 minute runtime. I’m surprised they haven’t really made it as big as this album sounds like they deserve, maybe it’s their unwieldy name.

Listen, Look, Buy



33. Melissa Auf der Maur – Out of Our Minds

Ex bass player of Hole releases her second solo album. No big diversions from her self titled debut, which is no bad thing as that was a cracker! Big riff-laden metallic pop.

Listen, Look, Buy




32. Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart

Vancouver band Black Mountain’s third album could have been released in 1975 and would have been massive, that’s not to say it’s dated, just that it mines a lot of the psychedelic, bluesy rock from that period such as Led Zep and Black Sabbath.

Listen, Look, Buy



31. 65daysofstatic – We Were Exploding Anyway

Less rocky and glitch-laden than their earlier work such as “The Fall of Math”, Sheffield’s 65daysofstatic give us far more dance-oriented tunes here, soaring beats and hands-in-the-air moments. Hopefully their recent support slot with The Cure has introduced a lot more people to their infectious instrumental anthems.

Listen, Look, Buy



Stay tuned for Part Two (30 – 11) which should be posted in a few days.

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