1. The Age of Adz, Sufjan StevensIndie folk god Sufjan Stevens had a lot of people in a wild tizzy in late August when he released the EP "All Delighted People". Even more so when it was announced that his first full album since "Illinoise" would be released in October. The Age of Adz features a completely new sound; one that is a far departure from the banjo & acoustic guitar that drew in some of his most devoted fans. The new Sufjan has drum beats, synthesizers, buzz's, bleeps, bloops, and other unidentifiable noises... all brilliantly layered into a pièce de résistance of musical genius. Sufjan played Seattle's Paramount Theater in November- the entire experience was mind-blowing, to say the least.
Highlighted Tracks: Too Much, Vesuvius, Impossible Soul, All for Myself, I Walked
2. The Head and the Heart, The Head and the Heart
The hottest newcomer in 2010- The Head and the Heart went from relatively unknown, to opening shows for groups like Vampire Weekend and Dave Matthews Band; all while establishing themselves with their own unique sound. Contagious melodies, beautiful harmonies, and a steadfast work ethic were just a few of the ingredients of THatH's success in 2010. Watch for this local Seattle band to explode in popularity in 2011. I saw them live for a total of four times this year- such a fun show, it got better and better each time.
Highlighted Tracks: Down in the Valley, Lost in My Mind, Sounds Like Hallelujah, Winter Song
3. The Suburbs, Arcade FireIt's difficult to create a feel of nostalgia out of thin air... but Arcade Fire did just that. Evoking memories that I may have not even had- The Suburbs is a tribute to the cul-de-sacs, sprawling developments, and innocent bliss of growing up. I also had the great opportunity to see them play at the Key Arena this year, they were incredible- don't pass up the chance if you get it!
Highlighted Tracks: Ready to Start, Sprawls II, We Used To Wait, Rococo
4. How I Got Over, The Roots
Entering their third decade of making music, ninth studio album, busy every night with their house-band duties for Jimmy Fallon… no way they could put out a decent album. Wrong. This is the Roots. Masters of their craft, The Roots put together the strongest hip-hop album of the year.
Highlighted Tracks: Walk Alone, Dear God 2.0, How I Got Over
5. Contra, Vampire Weekend
After releasing their self titled debut album in 2008, the bar for Vampire Weekend was raised to near impossible heights. They met it, and just may have cleared it. Contra was released in January of 2010- and was a go-to album all year long. It fits every season- and nearly every mood. Clean cut sounds with lots of heart. Incredible live show- might I add.
Highlighted Tracks: Giving up the Gun, White Sky Holiday, Cousins
6. The Wild Hunt, The Tallest Man on Earth
This was possibly my favorite brand new find of 2010. Kristian Matsson may remind many of Bob Dylan (perhaps too strongly), but his lyrics are deep and music is strong for something all his own.
Highlighted Tracks: The Wild Hunt, You're Going Back, A Lion's Heart
7. Spotlight, Andrew Platter
Andrew Platter is a great musician.. and even a greater friend. Let’s go back to the great musical part though… A-Platz released his newest album “Spotlight” this year, and I’ve been jammin’ it ever since I got it. It’s great tunes for a late Saturday morning accompanied by a big cup of coffee.
Highlighted Tracks: Find it with You, Spotlight, Snowed In, Weight of Glory
8. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West
Kanye’s newest album has been hyped up like crazy among the hipster/pitchfork crowd… Although I haven’t hooked onto it with the same infatuation- I can’t deny that “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” has really grown on me over the past month or so. Watch this visually creative music video for a taste...
Highlighted Tracks: Dark Fantasy, Power, All of the Lights, Lost in the World
9. All Day, Girl Talk
Highlighted Tracks: All of them
10. The Story, Soma Communities
Just released in time for Christmas- this collaboration album from members of Soma features a tremendous mix of music from some gifted musicians- including Aaron Spiro. I've been listening to this almost non-stop since it came out.
Highlighted Tracks: Angels, The Plow, Abel
11. Brothers, The Black Keys
Highlighted Tracks: Everlasting Light, Tighten Up, Howlin' For You
The raw sexy sound of a distorted guitar is always hard to ignore- and The Black Keys sure does draw your attention. While their most popular hit was "Tighten Up" - Brothers is full of gritty tracks that are begging to be rocked out the air guitar.
12. Tribute to Famous People, Pomplamoose
Highlighted Tracks: Single Ladies, La Vie en Rose, Telephone, September
Adorable little Pomplamoose charmed the socks off me this year, with their stripped down cover songs of some of the most popular hits of today and yesteryear... their videos are also mucho fun to view... bonus points for cutie Nataly Dawn.
13. Business Casual, Chromeo
Highlighted Tracks: Night by Night, Don't Turn the Lights On, I Could be Wrong
"I like when current 80's music sounds better than real 80's music."
- Jamie Spiro
True story Spiro, true story.
14. Sir Lucious Left Foot, The Son of Chico Dusty- Big Boi
Highlighted Tracks: Shutterbugg, Back Up Plan, Turns Me On
The first album from Big Boi since 2006 (with Outkast)- Andre Patton unleashed a hip-hop masterpiece this year. Lots of great collaborations, snarky lyrics, and solid beats. This album definitely contributed to my speakers in my car blowing out this year.
15. Sea of Cowards, The Dead Weather
Highlighted Tracks: Die By the Drop, Blue Blood Blues, Old Mary
Jack White is a musical genius- surround him with Alison Mosshart, Dean Fertita, and Jack Lawrence... that's face-melting status. The Dead Weather turn it up to 11 with their second studio album.
16. Of the Blue the Colour of the Sky, OK Go
Highlighted Tracks: White Knuckles, This Too Shall Pass, Skyscrapers
OK Go, Music videos galore, creativity and fun tunes join in a fantastic marriage. Link Time: Ok Go YouTube
17. Beach House, Teen Dream
Highlighted Tracks: Silver Soul, Zebra, 10 Mile Stereo
Released in January, Teen Dream has been gaining solid recognition throughout the year. Not only is the album good- they put on a pretty enjoyable live show as well.
18. Congratulations, MGMT
19. Volume Two, She & Him
Departing from their electro-dance sound of Oracular Spectacular- MGMT brought back the old sound of mid 60's Psych Rock that has you dancing to a different beat. (Hey-O! Zing!)
Highlighted Tracks: Flash Delirium, It's Working, Brian Eno, Song for Dan Treacy, Someone's Missing
Highlighted Tracks: In The Sun, Home, Brand New Shoes
Zooey Deschanel & M. Ward are back with their indie as f*ck allure. Sweet melodies and fun loving lyrics make Volume Two an excellent album for the perfect spring day.
20. The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III), Janelle Monáe
Highlighted Tracks: Tightrope, Suite II Overture, Oh Maker
ArchAndroid is filled with creative music talent from relative new comer, Janelle Monáe. Lots of soul, lots of power, lots of imagination.