Top 25 Albums of 2010

With the year finally coming to its end, it’s time to look at our favorite full length albums from 2010. We’ve gotten all of the others out of the way (7-inches and EP’s), so there’s really no better time to cover full lengths! This will be the last list looking back on the year of 2010 from the Styrofoam Drone, and after putting these all together, there’s only one thing that becomes clear – 2010 was a damn good year for music.

Unfortunately, there were still a few other albums out there we wanted to cover, but with time restraints and things of that nature, we just couldn’t cover everything we were hoping to. Some of those albums are included on the honorable mentions, and then a few are mixed into the countdown. But without further to say or do, I present to you our favorite albums of 2010. Enjoy and have a happy new year!

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Honorable Mentions/ Late Entries:

Hans Condor – Sweat, Piss, Jizz and Blood
Nice Face – Immer Etwas
– Sharp Ends – Sharp Ends
Heavy Times – Dead
Son of Rams – Untitled LP
– Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma
Islet – Celebrate This Place
Friendo – Cold Toads
– Sun Airway – Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier
Surfer Blood – Astro Coast
White Fence – s/t LP
– Lower Dens – Twin-Hand Movement

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25.)
The Unwed Teenage Mothers – Blonde Girls
Label: Play Pinball! Records
Track 3:
The dudes at Play Pinball! Records seriously know good pop music when they hear it. While we can’t exactly condone the bands actions for being unwed teen mothers, we can at least praise them for this highly addicting slab of wax that should come with a warning label. These nine poppy-punk outbursts should keep you coming back countless times.

24.)
Vermillion Sands – s/t LP
Label: Alien Snatch! Records
Track 4:
You’d think we like this band or something. Vermillion Sands had quite a productive 2010 – they released a couple of 7″ singles, played at Gonerfest, toured parts of North America, and the culmination of all these things was due to their full length from Alien Snatch. These guys and girl were flying under the radar for awhile, but they’re finally starting to change that. As you look forward to 2011, keep the Vermillion Sands in mind. Hopefully they’ll come back to the states soon enough for some more basement shredding action as well.

23.)
Dead Luke – American Haircut
Label: Florida’s Dying
Track 2:
This is definitely the only record on this list that sounds as cloudy and depressing as multiple rainy days. Dead Luke creates quite a creepy landscape in some of these tracks, most of the time coming completely drenched in reverb with woozy, shape-shifting textures. Not too sure what we can expect from this camp in 2011, but we’re looking forward to it.

22.)
Whitesand/ Badlands – Seeding the Clouds
Label: Magnetic Ghost
Track 8:
This highly ambitious record seemingly came out of nowhere this year. Clocking in at over 50 minutes, this whole album was recorded in a 19th century cathedral converted into a recording studio. This works wonders for their mysterious and darkened sound, as each song grows and grows with so much subtlety you might not even realize it at first.

21.)
Mount Carmel – s/t LP
Label: Siltbreeze Records
Track 1:
Everything on this album has such an invigorating and authentic 60’s blues rock feel from beginning to end. Nothing else comes off this legitimate when it comes to this sort of music. In other words, it’s like this stuff came right out of the 60’s. And the fact that they’re just a three piece band definitely proves that these three dudes have some serious talent. This was by far one of the more under-appreciated records from 2010.

20.)
The Strange Boys – Be Brave
Label: In the Red Recordings
Track 3:
The Strange Boys inviting guitar twang evokes the young, wide-eyed child in every listener. Not always as energetic as their first record; they tend to do a lot more mushy, acoustic songs this time around, but it still has it’s high points. And although these guys can put on a great show, it still confuses me to this day why they wouldn’t want their live show footage on the internet. Also confusing is the simple fact that they told me to e-mail them about it but then never respond – yeah, that’s nice. Thanks Strange Boys, you are quite strange.

19.)
MYTY KONKEROR – I miss the future.
Label: Twin Lakes Records
Track 2:
After a short intro track, all the sudden your face to face with that menacingly heavy guitar chord – talk about sounding like you’re going insane. MYTY KONKEROR were hard at work putting this album together for over two years, starting back in the summer of 2008. As you can see, the patience has definitely paid off for these three responsible dudes. Keep an eye out in early 2011 for a fully legitimate repress of the record from Twin Lakes Records.

18.)
Teen Daze – Four More Years
Label: Arcade Sound Ltd.
Track 1:
Before 2010 came along, it’s not clear how many people can say they knew about Teen Daze, but there’s no way we can really prove that at this point. Possibly one of the best new artists to come along with the year 2010, we can only hope Teen Daze will continue trucking at this outstanding rate – and if you’re one of those people waiting who ordered the “Four More Years” vinyl from Arcade Sound Ltd., this Tumblr post might concern you. Uh oh.

17.)
Magic Bullets – s/t LP
Label: Mon Amie Records
Track 11:
These guys formed out in San Francisco way back in 2004, and by the time 2010 came along they were releasing their second full length album. Jangly guitars, punchy bass lines and a sunny spring time mood dominate this joyous record from start to finish. Let’s hope that Magic Bullets cook up something nice for us in 2011. Right now it’s not clear what they have planned, but there’s got to be something on their minds. We should know soon enough.

16.)
Mi Ami – Steal Your Face
Label: Thrill Jockey
Track 2:
You need to be VERY careful before diving into this second effort from Mi Ami. Coming in too quickly would most likely scare any listener away. Lead singer Daniel Martin-McCormick is immediately berating us with his completely unintelligible vocals as soon as the first song starts, hereby proving how relentless and intense this record actually is. If you can see through the ruthless yelping and the scratchy textures, you’ll discover a uniquely tribal album that is just begging for your approval.

15.)
Circle Pit – Bruise Constellation
Label: Siltbreeze Records
Track 6:
This debut album from Australia’s Circle Pit is a great set up for anything else to come down the road. There’s an obvious “I don’t give a fuck” kind of slacker attitude that comes along with most songs, and the raspy, grungy boy-girl harmonies only help reinforce their self-depreciating sound. If there’s anything else that’s bound to catch your attention here, it’s probably all the nasty guitar work. Not sure what these guys are like in a live setting, so let’s hope they decide to come around sometime soon.

14.)
Jaill – That’s How We Burn
Label: Sub Pop
Track 1:
The Jaill story is kind of an interesting one – kind of like that peculiar album art above. These guys have a ton of releases that most people aren’t even aware of, and this one here is like the culmination of everything prior. They take on a heavy indie rock approach with pop sensibilities as well as psychedelic, and they’re far from being afraid to share their love for weed and getting stoned. Now that they’ve delivered this one to us via Sub Pop, we should probably expect to hear more from Camp Jaill come 2011.

13.)
Young Adults – Black Hole
Label: Amdiscs
Track 3:
With a couple of these bands we’ve included on our year end lists, a few of them all come from a similar area in Boston. Believe it or not, they’re all key parts to a constantly growing music scene including all sorts of punk and garage rock. Young Adults just may be the premier act within the madness, and it’s proven immensely with their invigorating debut “Black Hole”. Sure, it’s still early in the game for these guys, but that makes looking into 2011 with Young Adults in mind that much more interesting. In other words – who knows what’s going to come next.

12.)
Male Bonding – Nothing Hurts
Label: Sub Pop
Track 4:
Male Bonding have been working their way around the lo-fi scene in London since at least 2008 now. Since then they’ve gained much attention and only continue to push forward. Maybe that’s from their never-slow-down, too-much-caffeine approach to the music. Thirteen brain burners cover this album from front to back, and not a single song dares to venture past the three minute mark. Now we dare you to try and not get addicted to this stuff.

11.)
Happy Birthday – s/t LP
Label: Sub Pop
Track 1:
Opening track “Girls FM” starts up with a twisted guitar hook, and there’s really no looking back afterward. Kyle Thomas and his gang created quite an enjoyable record here, and if the poppy glam of that opening track is any indication, Happy Birthday are here to stay. With the unusual “inverted tuning” of the guitar and Mr. Thomas’ undeniable pop sensibility and love for all women, we should only expect to hear more from this goofy crew from Vermont. The band has got an entertaining Twitter account as well – hence that goofy comment.

10.)
Free Energy – Stuck on Nothing
Label: DFA, Astralwerks
Track 4:
Free Energy took timeless classic rock qualities and renewed them for 2010 on their debut album. With this fresh new approach, most would probably welcome the youthful energy of this record. But then there’s probably some who find it totally corny. Let’s ignore those folks, because they don’t know what they’re missing. On top of all that, the entire album was produced by another big name from 2010 – LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy – which might be another reason Free Energy caught on so well this year.

09.)
White Denim – Last Day of Summer
Label: Self-released, not on label
Track 12:
In terms of albums coming out of nowhere from 2010, this White Denim album takes the cake. White Denim had been working on their third full length album over the past summer, and in the midst they decided to take a small pit stop. This resulted in them releasing an entire full length album with nearly 40 minutes of music, completely for free, and just for fun. Said best by the band members themselves, “This record is something we made as a little summer retreat from our ongoing work on the third full length. Many of these tunes have been bouncing around since the formation of the band back in ’06.” That’s basically the story behind these songs in a nutshell. We’re already well aware of the capabilities of White Denim, so we just need to sit tight and see what this third full length has to offer in 2011. Only problem is it just won’t come quick enough…

08.)
Warpaint – The Fool
Label: Rough Trade
Track 3:
These girls from Warpaint…let’s just say they do their own thing. Not many bands right now are experimenting with the same type of slithery psych-rock that they produce so well. It’s almost like they have their sound down to a science, and after seeing the band perform in a live setting, you will not dismiss that statement. In fact, you’ll agree so much that you’ll vow to see them every time they come to your town. If you need reassurance, or you just don’t want to believe, follow that link above and see if you agree. We really hope you do.

07.)
Dead Ghosts – s/t LP
Label: Florida’s Dying
Track 6:
These Vancouver dudes never seem to take a break. With at least three different releases in 2010 (correct me if there’s more), that appears to be an accurate statement. Dead Ghosts take their rowdy form of garage rock and mix it with a highly gratifying blues rock twang that’s just too good to ignore. Every last song on the record features some sort of guitar hook or solo, and it never fails to be as addicting and time-consuming as the last. Musically time-consuming to be specific, simply because you can’t listen to anything else while you’re playing your Dead Ghosts record on repeat. We don’t know what’s in store for 2011, so the best you can do is just keep your ears listening.

06.)
Brain Idea – The Survival Scrolls
Label: Permanent Records
Track 1:
Brain Idea may have created one of the most thought-provoking albums of 2010 with this record right here. “The Survival Scrolls” is the result of their first demo tape, which they rerecorded and completely reorganized for the purpose of this album. There’s not any specific direction you’re supposed to take when listening – you just have to sit back and let the record take you where it will. They take plenty of obscure sounds and musical genre’s and mash them up into this record, and the results are positively stunning. The most noticeable qualities you might detect first include nods to punk and psych-rock, but there’s a bunch more underlying that come and go as the record progresses – including tropical-pop gems, hazy ambiance interludes, throbbing post-punk jams, and bizarre instrumental tracks. This record has a little bit of everything, and it definitely deserves a bit more attention than it’s actually received.

05.)
Grass Widow – Past Time
Label: Kill Rock Stars
Track 3:
This female trio takes their music very seriously, and it definitely shows. Their ethereal approach can strike a soft spot at any moment, and once it does you’re not going to forget it – at that point you’ll only be begging for more. By far the most striking aspect of the Grass Widow sound comes in their singing. Each of the three girls plays their part in the singing efforts in one way or another, and the way their voices intricately weave in and out of each other is nothing short of jaw-dropping. There’s definitely something to this music that these girls are not telling us about, because no matter how hard you try, it still feels like were missing a part of the picture. As long as they keep doing their thing, I’m sure people are completely okay with that too.

04.)
Purling Hiss – Public Service Announcement
Label: Woodsist
Track 1:
Crumby tape-like quality fuzz, astounding guitars, psych-punk inflections, woozy atmospheres…they’re all part of the recipe from this musical pioneer who resides in Philadelphia. Mike Polizze fronts the wildly talented Purling Hiss, and this is their third album, but it goes against the norm in terms of the usual Purling Hiss album arrangement. Instead of brewing up the typical 10+ minute Purling Hiss song, Polizze stuck to shorter songs lengths, which definitely helps keep your attention a lot better than the earlier material. The record is a 41 minute journey through a dazed out dream land, at other times sounding like a nightmare, and other times sounding like you’re drifting through space.

03.)
Jim Bryson & the Weakerthans – The Falcon Lake Incident
Label: Kelp Records (LP), MapleMusic (CD)
Track 4:
After seeing this whole list, some people might not think this record fits in with the rest. If you’re thinking that, you’re right, because it really doesn’t. Energetic folk rock with a very slightly punky twist at times definitely characterizes this record, but the bands don’t always go for the high energy and punk vibes. After spending last January in a cabin in the middle of a -40C winter on the gorgeous Falcon Lake in Manitoba, it’s really no surprise how this album turned out. After things get that cold, you’re not always going to have that energy anymore, and that’s when those warm and cozy songs from the album come into play. With that being said, there’s really nothing better to do than curl up next to your fireplace and throw this record on, because it probably wouldn’t fit in any other situation.

02.)
Women – Public Strain
Label: Jagjaguwar
Track 11:
We lightly touched on this album this year with that bonus 7″, but we never quite covered the album as a whole. We even went to go catch Women live in concert, which is a bit ironic considering that almost three weeks later the band suffered a huge on-stage meltdown that resulted in them canceling an entire European tour. On top of that, it was said they played their last show as a full band, but that statement has yet to be confirmed, and it probably won’t be. But let’s still hope it isn’t true, because it would be a damn shame after putting out an album like this one here. They use a boat-load of harsh noise and shimmering, sand-paper guitars on this record, almost like light is directly refracting off their sound waves and bouncing around in all directions, forcing you to try and make sense of it all. With all that being said, it’s really no surprise how they acted on stage that fateful night. If you’ve listened to these songs, specifically one like “Drag Open”, the stress is beyond noticeable – it sticks out like sore thumb. This goes a long way in showing that “Public Strain” was indeed the perfect title for this record, and all that grit only shows that the band was in need of a break from touring. So keep your hopes up for Women, because we don’t want them to go anywhere. But if they do, we can at least say one thing – “Eyesore” would be the last official song of their whole discography, and as far as we’re concerned, you can’t go out on a more perfect song than that.

01.)
Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
Label: XL Recordings
Track 7:
We didn’t exactly cover this album when it came out, but did we really need to? With all the other coverage and chart-topping positions it’s earning at the end of the year and throughout the year, it’s really no surprise how far Titus Andronicus has actually came. These guys came out of nowhere with their 2008 effort “The Airing of Grievances”, and since then things have only gotten bigger and better. Things were at their biggest and best point upon the release of “The Monitor”, and now it’s a matter of what could come next. This was by far the most ambitious release from any band in all of 2010 that didn’t also come off as corny, and it’s all paying off for the boys as they sit back and watch the numbers come in. Granted, topping the charts here on the Styrofoam Drone isn’t nearly as rewarding (okay, not rewarding at all) as second overall from MTV and making the Top 10 on Pitchfork (amongst others), but we just wanted to let them know we love what they’re doing and that they should keep doing it – whatever that means, exactly. But for now, we’ll see you in 2011. Happy new year.

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34 responses to “Top 25 Albums of 2010

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