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Top 10 Albums of 2010

Top 10 Albums of 2010

We did it, we made it to 2011. And although just about everyone else out there has already published their "Best Of 2010" lists, I prefer to wait until 2010 actually finishes. What if over the holidays I was to discover some great 2010 music hiding in my collection? As a team, we are last to the party, I know, but as I once said (and received a detention for) "Better late than early."

I'm not sure how the music scene looks to you, but to me it looks like it continues to fragment. Not just in abundance of musical styles that are incorporating influences from the past five decades, but also as a business as a whole. More and more listeners find alternative ways to connect with the music outside of the mainstream; and while mainstream music continues to be just that, there is plenty of other great music out there getting appropriate attention. Part of this is because bands are marketing themselves using new technology in innovative ways, in addition to writing music that their fans want to hear.

In the lists below, I believe these attributes of the music industry are well represented. Even though the contributors here at Sticky generally have similar attitudes toward music, the crossover on our lists is fairly limited. We may find out about music from each other, but in the end, what we listen to appears to be something quite personal.

Before we get into individual picks, here are the top 10 albums compiled from the Sticky Magazine contributor's lists below:

  1. Arcade FireThe Suburbs
  2. The NationalHigh Violet
  3. HolleradoRecord In A Bag
  4. Dr. DogShame, Shame
  5. The Black KeysBrothers
  6. Mumford and SonsSigh No More
  7. Yukon BlondeYukon Blonde
  8. Plants and AnimalsLa La Land
  9. The Gaslight AnthemAmerican Slang
  10. The Morning BendersBig Echo
That's a pretty decent list of albums and all are worth a listen to see if you also agree. But if you're looking for more new and interesting music, I recommend you dig into the lists below. In many cases, I'm familiar with other contributor's picks and am glad the albums made it onto someone's list (if not mine) but in other cases, I listened to some new music while compiling this article and realized there was some great music I almost missed out on.

Natalia Buia

  1. The NationalHigh Violet
    Matt Berninger’s voice drips like honey on toast when singing songs about guilt, financial instability, and anxiety with so much poetic power. This album holds the most personal meaning to me on this list. “Sorrow” should be listened to on repeat in the dark.
  2. Band of Horses Infinite Arms
    This band has perfected the alt-country sound with their third album. Nothing surprising and outside-the-box but still overall pleasing to the ears with twangy tunes like “Older” and “Laredo”. The opening track “Compliments” uses tasteful strings to really pull at your own.
  3. The Morning BendersBig Echo
    The California boys refresh their sound with quirky lyrics and hypnotizing chords. “Pleasure Sighs” and “Excuses” are key tracks. The latter sums up my summer days spent chasing boys and dancing on streets.
  4. HolleradoRecord In A Bag
    Certainly, a band that’s just as good live as on record (I’ve seen then play 39573498 times this year – slight exaggeration). The only downer with listening to their record alone is the lack of confetti and nachos. “Fake Drugs” and “Juliette” are solid songs and even more gratifying to listen to live.
  5. Dr. DogShame, Shame
    Having every Dr. Dog album and EP in my collection, I was nervous while anticipating the release of this one. Honestly, I just didn’t want it to suck. Thankfully, the band’s relentless when it comes to crafting 60's harmonies and catchy melodies. “Mirror, Mirror” is no exception.
  6. Arcade FireThe Suburbs
    Youth and suburbia are consistent themes on this album drenched in rusty guitar riffs, vintage synth sounds and haunting vocals like in “Half Light II (No Celebration)”. The Arcade Fire is one of the few bands that steadily produce quality albums where all songs can stand out on their own.
  7. Angus and Julia StoneDown The Way
    The brother and sister from down under have put out this best work yet. This album is full of acoustic lullabies and tender arrangements. “I’m Not Yours” is as heartbreaking as it gets.
  8. Beach HouseTeen Dream
    Who doesn’t love spending an hour listening to Victoria Legrand’s airy breathing and sultry whispering sprinkled upon layers of synth and cymbals. “Walk In The Park” whets your appetite if you’re into the aforementioned.
  9. The Gaslight AnthemAmerican Slang
    A real damn shame they were forgotten on a lot of lists this year. Brian Fallon need not worry, he’s always on my mind. His raspy voice in “We Did It When We Were Young” still gives me goose bumps.
  10. Gramercy RiffsIt’s Heartbreak
    The little band from the east coast that could. I met and interviewed them this summer and instantly fell in love with their romantically hopeful and hopelessly romantic lyrics, along with the misty vocals in songs like “Little One”. You have no idea how many times I had this entire album on repeat.

Chad Hutchings

  1. MenomenaMines
    An album built from the ruins of four men's personal chaos. Introspective, raw, and delicate; Menomena spends fifty-four minutes saying everything I've felt since reaching adulthood.
  2. JonsiGo
    This album is matchless auditory art; Jonsi's work has propelled the evolution of the symphony.
  3. Sufjan StevensThe Age of Adz
    Sufjan mixed every ounce of ego, insecurity, and mania that he'd felt over the past five years and poured it into 2010's definitive epic album.
  4. Frightened RabbitThe Winter of Mixed Drinks
    The year's best tribute to all the highs and lows of life and love and all of the other sappy nonsense that men are uncomfortable talking about.
  5. The NationalHigh Violet
    My favourite professional brooders somehow pressed a roller coaster into an LP, and made the whole thing so haunting and beautiful that it's often painful to play.
  6. YeasayerOdd Blood
    An album that shows everything that we never expected from computers. It's an amazing band's completely new bag of tricks.
  7. Avi BuffaloAvi Buffalo
    A fragile mix of gentle guitar rock and layered ambient gems that leave me watching the clock in anticipation of a sophomore release.
  8. Mice ParadeWhat It Means To Be Left Handed
    Dynamic and overflowing with influences from the group's mile-deep musical roots.
  9. ShearwaterThe Golden Archipelago
    The most sequentially fluid album of the year, that's only done justice as a work in its entirety. If you only listen to a sample track, don't bother listening at all.
  10. Wild NothingGemini
    A sticky, fuzzy creation. This is perfect headphone music.

Julie Lavelle

  1. JónsiGo
    If you know the talent and beauty that Jónsi Birgisson brings to each musical endeavour he encounters, I need not explain why this album is my top choice. With his extraordinary falsetto vocals and melodic, dreamy melodies Jónsi quickly captured my attention. I can safely say I am addicted to the music he has released, including 5 full length albums with the widely acclaimed Sigur Rós, and a one album with his boyfriend Alex Somers under the name Jónsi & Alex. "Go" is an epic journey in the world of melodic rock. It's hard not to become completely infatuated with this album as it combines a wide array of emotions throughout it's emotional voyage. From the fast-paced, excited "Boy Lilikoi" to the heart wrenching beauty of "Tornado" and then again, to the moving, enchanting closing tune of "Henglias," this album is practically incomparable to everything else I listen to.
  2. Sufjan StevensThe Age of Adz
    Once again, Sufjan Stevens has managed to shock everyone with his completely changed sound on his latest release. Switching from his well-known previous releases of place themed albums, calming banjo playing and whisper-like singing, he has emerged with a intensity that is unmistakable. "The Age of Adz" stands out as a more personal, extremely passionate ordeal, and this makes it easier to fall completely in love with this album. With Stevens bitterly whispering "At least I deserve the respect of a kiss goodbye", he plays to every man and woman who can surely attest to having been in his shoes at one time or another. Every time I listen to this album I feel I am rediscovering each song, learning new things, uncovering new sounds. I think Sufjan has many more amazing musical things in store for us in times to come.
  3. She & HimVolume Two
    One of my favourite singer-songwriters, M. Ward, and the ever-beautiful, ever-talented Zooey Deschanel have managed to release another amazing album. From the moment these tracks hit my ears, I knew they would be favourites for years to come. With a hit of an old timey feel, the adorable duo has managed to bring a new life to the dream pop we once heard coming from some classic 60s pop bands. M. Ward is the perfect background for Zooey's vocals, and the two combine their musical sounds for a simple, sentimental yet still very beautiful album.
  4. Frightened RabbitThe Winter of Mixed Drinks
    An immediate favourite of mine, this album was on rotation for weeks/months after it made its way into my life. Front man Scott Hutchinson has a way with words that is nostalgic and beautiful at the same time. It will forever remind me of 2010 and the exciting happenings that has made this year so wonderful.
  5. The Album LeafA Chorus Of Storytellers
    With some of the most beautiful tracks I've heard this year, The Album Leaf have done it again. With a similar sound to all of their other albums, they've still managed to perfect a dreamy, effortless beauty that is hard to match. Unlike their previous albums however, this was a full band effort during recording and the album speaks for itself this time, a full, multi-layered masterpiece that is suitable for any mood.
  6. Joanna NewsomHave One On Me
    With her unique, child-like voice, Joanna captured my heart with her album "The Milk-Eyed Mender." Unsure of what to expect in her full length follow up to "Ys" almost 4 years later, Joanna did it again. Although remarkably more subdued and gentle in comparison, her imagination and awe-inspiring harp playing are just as amazing as ever. Split up into 3 discs, my special favourite is the track "In California." With the highs and lows of a roller coaster this song gets me every time, I am transported to a different place, time, wherever my emotions take me. I'll be listening to this album for years to come.
  7. The NationalHigh Violet
    A favourite on everyone's list, this album took over before I knew what was happening. With the ability to get stuck in my head "High Violet" managed to become that album that you could listen to over and over and somehow with every listen there was a new moment to notice and enjoy.
  8. The Tallest Man on EarthThe Wild Hunt
    Another fast favourite the moment I put the record on, Kristian Matsson (the solo guitar player behind the moniker of The Tallest Man on Earth) has captured my ears once more with his follow up to his first full length "Shallow Grave." With fast, catchy guitar rhythms that coincide perfectly with his strong, raspy voice "The Wild Hunt" is something my folk-driven ears are sure to love.
  9. Jenny and JohnnyI'm Having Fun Now
    This album is the perfect culmination of Jenny Lewis' and Jonathan Rice's solo music efforts. Each part of this duo is easily distinguishable in their upbeat melodies. Jenny is the poppy force behind these two, as Jonathan's simple guitar strumming and relaxed vocals mix in perfectly to create a wonderful mix. I always imagine myself on a beach while listening to this, maybe due to the song 'Big Wave." My favourite track on this album is "Knowledge of Good and Evil," for it's catchy lyrics and dance-y beating drums.
  10. Beach HouseTeen Dream
    This ethereal, dreamy album is hard to deny. With the beautiful, haunting vocals of Victoria and Alex, it's hard to not become completely wrapped up in their world. Despite the sad and emotional basis of the album, it's uplifting in it's melancholy. Maybe it's the constant driving beat to each song or the raised, yearning vocals, but either way it creates for a completely beautiful, amazing album.

Honourable mention goes to:

Dr. DogShame, Shame, Holly MirandaMagician's Private Library, HansonShout It Out, Azure RayDrawing Down The Moon, Broken BellsBroken Bells, AmiinaPuzzle, matt pond PAThe Dark Leaves, Kaki KingJunior, MenomenaMines, Miniature TigersFortress

Courtney Lee Yip

  1. Yukon BlondeYukon Blonde
    With an explosive show at CMW this year, a follow up at the Garrison, and just recently an opening spot for the Wooden Sky, this West coast Canadian group proves that hard work does pay off. With a musical energy that walks the fine line between beautiful ballads and heart melting rock and roll, these down to earth dudes will be a constant on my playlist for years to come.
  2. Tame ImpalaInnerspeaker
    The starting track, "It's Not Meant to Be," on Tame Impala's first full-length made one of my top songs of all year and for that alone I place this album up there with it. One minute, thirty seconds in I'm already back in San Francisco walking aimlessly in the sunny streets... but in the 60's. Did this album come with a little something extra or am I imagining things?
  3. LCD SoundsystemThis is Happening
    I think I followed the making of this record a little too religiously. As James Murphy released each online video of his studio rantings and developing diddies, I felt closer and closer to the production process. This might be why when it came out I may or may not have been claiming that I was the inspiration for Drunk Girls. All jokes aside, this work of musical art deserves every bit of praise it's been getting, whether or not we hated you for making us wait three minutes for the break to happen in Dance Yrself Clean.
  4. Black Rebel Motorcycle ClubBeat the Devil's Tattoo
    When I first saw the music documentary DiG!, I couldn't believe that it was my beloved BRMC's frontman Peter Hayes that escaped the revolution-gone-wrong in his previous band, The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Ever since, I can't help but see such an influence in their music, and this is definitely a great thing. Beat the Devil's Tattoo immerses you back in the dreams you had as a kid getting in saloon fights and riding motorcycles across the country.
  5. Beach HouseTeen Dream
    It took me a very long time to get into this album and two live concerts to finally flick my light on. Their opening show for Vampire Weekend this past summer blew me out of my bolted stadium seat. It's ethereal quality is best served loud and clear whether it's during a summer music festival sunset or blasting in your car as you try to mimic Victoria Legrand's impossibly beautiful voice.
  6. The Black KeysBrothers
    No doubt this album got plenty of attention this year and for very good reason. From start to finish, the sixth record for The Black Keys is a too-perfect sequel to 2008's Attack and Release. It's every bit as solid as it is catchy and there's no harm in that.
  7. Dr. DogShame, Shame
    Play this record on a Sunday afternoon with all the people you love while you eat breakfast, drinking coffee, and you'd have this on your list too.
  8. The Dead WeatherSea of Cowards
    It doesn't matter how many side projects Jack White has, for some reason it just gets sexier and sexier. And this time I define that in two words: Alison Mossheart.
  9. Laura MarlingI Speak Because I Can
    While you're all fawning over Joanna Newsom, English folk singer Laura Marling is being pushed from the limelight, but that doesn't worry me at all. Forget songbird, this woman is more like a song-phoenix singing with no fuss only truth. Love the way it should be, music as it should be; tough words hitting you softly, disguised in beauty.
  10. GirlsBroken Dreams Club (EP)
    This may be just the EP follow up to Girls' glorious self titled hit last year, but that's the exciting part. Six songs short, and I'm already itching for more. Christopher Owens sings against a 1950's quickstep horn section in "Thee Oh So Protective One," and we couldn't be swooning any more in our poodle skirts. Whether you felt like you were at a farm dance in the 50's or not, it doesn't matter. Like a great book, albums should be transporting you somewhere.

Sean McNamara

  1. Arcade FireThe Suburbs
    Canada's best band do it again. Yes it was a bit long, but when did more Arcade Fire become a bad thing?
  2. The Black KeysBrothers
    Brothers features a bit of a change-up in sound from this 2-piece from Ohio. Every song matters, and gives you a piece of what ends up being a fantastic album from beginning to end.
  3. The WalkmenLisbon
    Lisbon shows the true range of The Walkmen. From the rocking "Angela Surf City" to the slower, horn infused "Stranded", this album should cement the bands reputation as one of the best.
  4. Vampire WeekendContra
    Vampire Weekend make some of the most interesting music around, and Contra is as ambitious a 2nd album as one could hope for.
  5. She & HimVolume 2
    My pick for "feel-good" album of the year, this collection of beautiful pop love songs can put a smile on anyone's face.
  6. HolleradoRecord In A Bag
    Party band of the year, Hollerado did it all in 2010. A great album, crazy live shows, and the coolest video of the year... not too shabby!
  7. The NationalHigh Violet
    Moody singer Matt Berninger's imagery-laced lyrics paired with well crafted, dark melodies make High Violet an interesting, enjoyable listen.
  8. Broken Social SceneForgiveness Rock Record
    A triumphant return for Toronto's indie royalty. More focused and confident, Broken Social Scene continue to turn good ideas into great music.
  9. Mumford & SonsSigh No More
    Mumford-mania has struck, but don't let that deter you from loving this record. Beautifully arranged songs about love and loss, Mumford & Sons are here to stay.
  10. The CoralButterfly House
    How many bands release a fantastic album after a best-of? Well, The Coral have, and Butterfly House is a well-crafted album full of , wonderfully melodic songs.

Pete Nema

  1. Plants and AnimalsLa La Land
    Plants and Animals make music that agrees with my home and daytime listening habits. A great solo listen from start to finish.
  2. HolleradoRecord In A Bag
    This album was originally released in 2009, and I included it in that Top 10 list as well. But it was re-released in 2010, so I get to include it again. I like it that much. Some of my best times out at shows over the past two years have been with this band.
  3. Two Door Cinema ClubTourist History
    I picked this off of eMusic.com and then didn't listen to it for months. Not my typical listening, but so many good songs.
  4. The ReasonFools
    "Come and Go" is one of my favourite songs of the year. The whole album is good.
  5. Sweet ThingSweet Thing
    Fun pop made for good times with more than a few sing-alongs.
  6. Mumford and SonsSigh No More
    So much hype, and perhaps there are some that are over-zealous, but, yes, this is a great album. You can't hide passion.
  7. Library VoicesDenim on Denim
    Strong start with "Drinking Games", strong finish with "Hello Cruel World" and lots of fun in between.
  8. The Golden DogsCoat Of Arms
    This new album from local band The Golden Dogs is as strong as any of their previous material, with a few extras. "Dark Room", "Weapon", and "Permanent Record" are standouts.
  9. Broken BellsBroken Bells
    There will come a day when I finally get tired of listening to "The High Road" but that day has not yet arrived. A few other good ones on here too.
  10. Rogue WavePermalight
    I often feel like I'm the only one around that Rogue Wave speaks to, but that doesn't stop me from listening. Listen to "We Will Make A Song Destroy".

I try to keep up to date on new music, but there are always great albums from the previous year that I don't discover immediately. Here are some releases from 2009 that didn't make it into my collection until sometime in 2010, all worthy of being in my Top 10 of 2010 list except for their release date.

  1. Manchester OrchestraMean Everything To Nothing
  2. fun.Aim and Ignite
  3. Florence and the MachineLungs

Whitney Pineault

  1. Arcade FireThe Suburbs
    Perfect from start to finish. The first time I heard "The Suburbs" I thought I had died and gone to indie rock heaven.
  2. The NationalHigh Violet
    A stunning effort. More beautiful with each listen.
  3. Dan ManganNice, Nice, Very Nice
    Technically not a '10 release, but if Polaris can do it so can I!
  4. Tokyo Police ClubChamp
    TPC's triumphant return. Jammed this album ridiculous amounts of times.
  5. Mumford & SonsSigh No More
    A great success story that completely lives up to the hype.
  6. Yukon BlondeYukon Blonde
    No need to skip over any tracks here 'case they're all fantastic.
  7. Leif VollebekkInland
    Beautiful, charming, unique. A near perfect debut.
  8. The Morning BendersBig Echo
    This album just makes me feel like a million bucks.
  9. Local NativesGorilla Manor
    I was late to the party on this one but what a solid release.
  10. The Black KeysBrothers
    How good is "Tighten Up?!" Love the gritty 70's blues rock vibe of this album.

Lucas Samuels

  1. The Barr BrothersThe Barr Brothers
    This is a release that’s sure to be overlooked by virtually every ‘Best of 2010’ list, mostly because the album can only be purchased from the artist website and at shows. This self-titled debut is full of atmospheric and intriguing folk and blues from brothers Brad and Andrew Barr. They also enlist the help of some of indie rock’s finest including Elizabeth Powell (Land of Talk), Elvis Perkins, Nathan Moore, Jocie Adams (The Low Anthem) and Emma Baxter.
  2. The Gaslight AnthemAmerican Slang
    The working-class American style of Bruce Springsteen meld with the punk assaults and technical proficiency of Television to create the unforgettable and anthemic sounds of American Slang. While Springsteen has never been one of our favourites, The Gaslight Anthem manage to expand on the sound he created, while at the same time making it entirely their own.
  3. Arcade FireThe Suburbs
    An unbelievable concept album from Montreal’s favourite indie rockers. The Suburbs may be less grand in terms of orchestration but the songs are catchier than anything The Arcade Fire has ever written.
  4. The War On DrugsFuture Weather
    Beautifully sculpted Americana music elevated by huge sound-scapes and good ol' fashion songwriting. The War On Drugs makes music for fans of Tom Petty who are simply bored of Tom Petty.
  5. Dr. Dog Shame, Shame
    Dr. Dog strip away the strings and the horns of albums past and manage to create a sound bigger than anything they’ve ever recorded. Moreover, Shame, Shame successfully captures the energy of the band’s notorious live performances.
  6. The Black KeysBrothers
    The duo from Akron, Ohio can do no wrong it seems. Brothers is another collection of unforgettable blues-rock songs ready for every action movie, HBO show and of course, beer and sports commercials.
  7. Plants and AnimalsLa La Land
    Plants and Animals drift away from the folk rock found on their amazing debut Parc Avenue and hone in a much more psychedelic and moody sound. Yet another Montreal-based band soaking in their surroundings and displaying them on record.
  8. Broken Social SceneForgiveness Rock Record
    Toronto-collective Broken Social Scene put their problems aside, rekindle some friendships and produce their best album since You Forgot It In People.
  9. WoodsAt Echo Lake
    The skeletal-psychedelic sounds of Woods is a bit hard to take at first, but once you get passed Jeremy Earl's shockingly high-pitched vocals, you can really start to dig their sound.
  10. Kanye WestMy Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
    This ambitious album features virtually every A-list rapper, Kanye’s most unique and unforgettable beats to date, and easily his most egotistical lyrics. Hands down, this is the best hip-hop album of the year.