KBD's Top 20 Albums of 2010: Part One (of Two)
Many highs and lows in the music world, but a great amount of artists this year had their shiniest moments thanks to their risks and successful undertakings. Let's take a look at this year's best and brightest albums, starting from number twenty and ending in this section at eleven.
20. Molice - Catalystrock
The Tokyo quartet’s recent album may not have been as kick-ass as their debut Doctor Ray, but Catalystrock still managed to rock hard thanks to the surf-rock inspired madness in such tracks as “Android said” and “Let’s Merge.” It’s in “Romancer” where the band really gets into their finest grind and lets everything loose. It’s an album that certainly grows on you the more you listen, helping to pave the way for Molice to earn some international success.
19. Flobots - Survival Story
Jonny 5 and company continue to travel the road that Rage Against the Machine once walked with more politically-charged hip hop with their Denver flavor. “Cracks In The Surface” and “White Flag Warrior” are filled to the brim with anger, whereas “Superhero” is the song of hope for a better future. Jonny 5’s mic skills are at their best in “By The Time You Get This Message...,” and it's his band that shows why Flobots are still not be reckoned with in these tough times.
18. The Nervous Wreckords - Valuminium
With Louis XIV on indefinite hiatus the guitarist/vocalist Brian Karscig decided to put his musical skills to work on the dance floor. Your feet won’t want to stop when “Similar But Not The Same” plays around with a blend of modern rock and Victorian classical, and once “8 Track (I’m Comin Back)” blares in your speakers you’ll wish you can wear your sunglasses at night once again. You can’t even talk about Valuminium without mentioning “When The Beat Comes Down Like A Storm,” the greatest ditty that Bob Dylan missed out on penning.
17. Broken Bells - Broken Bells
With The Shins taking a brief break lead vocalist James Mercer teamed up with Danger Mouse to create an album filled with pure heart and soul. The handclap-filled “The High Road” was a perfect opener, and “The Ghost Inside” sounded more like a Gorillaz track than anything appearing on Plastic Beach (Mercer doing a great impression of 2D). “October” is where the listeners will feel like flying as high as they can, with “The Mall & Misery” carefully bringing them down to the ground safely.
16. Disturbed - Asylum
I would’ve laughed if you told me ten years ago that Disturbed would still be rocking out as hard in this present day, yet here we are with their strongest album to date. They kick up the metal in the title track, play politics in “Never Again” and pull their listeners into a downward spiral with “Serpentine.” Pick up the deluxe version for a rendition of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” that’s also surprisingly good.
15. Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame
Philadelphia’s favorite band (sorry, Boyz II Men) returns with another great blend of rock, folk and alternative sounds. Sing-along tracks like “Stranger” and “Unbearable Why” are fun listens, but it’s in “Jackie Wants A Black Eye” where their tongue-in-cheek cleverness is showcased. Whistle along to “Someday,” and find out why this album of farewells ‘n’ regrets is Dr. Dog’s most honest and heartfelt album to date.
14. TsuShiMaMiRe - Sex On The Beach
The Japanese all-girl trio return with one hell of a fun album. The title track and “Strobe” continue on with Mari, Yayoi and Mizue’s hidden evils within their innocent voices, and their sarcastic approach to their country’s music world in “J-POP” show that these ladies have the balls to call out the wrongs in their industry. TsuShiMaMiRe also bring back more of their humorous style with “Grandmother’s Brassier” and “Nezumi Sensation” that was missing in their last album, but also remember to keep the tracks catchy for everyone to enjoy. If you missed out on them during their recent tour do yourself a favor and kick yourself in the rear as hard as you can.
13. Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Hawk
Like a duet between an angel and a demon Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan create some of the hardest folk songs in recent memory. It’s in such tracks like “Time of the Season” and “Come Undone” that the duo gently lay down its listeners to a cloudy slumber, but it’s the album title track that drags them to Hell and laughs all the way down. Listen to Campbell’s soft-spoken voice in “Sunrise” and “To Hell & Back Again,” and try not to get hypnotized by her Siren-like melodies.
12. April Smith & The Great Picture Show - Songs For A Sinking Ship
One of this year’s finest debuts, April Smith and her jolly roger friends sang with hearts’ content many lovable sing-alongs, ranging from the fast-paced and joyful “Colors” to the 007-ish “Dixie Boy.” It’s the track “Beloved” that will take your breath away, backed by a beautiful string section and a voice that will leave your eyes watered in sadness. When she ends the album with “Stop Wondering,” you’ll hope that she’ll strike gold again as she utters “I’ve got better things to do.”
11. Blood Red Shoes - Fire Like This
Thanks to Scott Pilgrim Vs The World America got its first taste of this British duo, and it's their second release that will keep its audience coming back for seconds and thirds. From its rip-roarious opener “Don’t Ask” and “Keeping It Close” to the heavy heartbreaker “Heartsink” and the psychedelic “Colours Fade” Blood Red Shoes creates a sound unlike any current two-piece band. Expect huge things to come from this band in the future.
Check out the Boston Bastard Brigade site on Thursday to find out which albums made it into my Top 10 list!