Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Best Albums of 2010 So Far - Honorable Mentions

It's time to take a look at the best (read: my favorite) albums of 2010 so far. It's been a great year and quite honestly, this list has changed about a dozen times in the last week, but what you see hear should give you a good idea of the best music I've heard this year.

Below are my five honorable mentions and soon I'll give you my top 10.

Honorable Mentions/11-15 (Alphabetical):

Darwin Deez - Darwin Deez

Singer/songwriter Darwin Deez's self-titled debut is a pop-rock album with little in the way of excess, getting by primarily on Deez's gift for great melodies and simply catchy riffs. It's the kind of record that many will dismiss because of its plainness, but these sunny pop tunes are consistently great and all the more admirable for their straightforward compositions. Deez shows how much he can accomplish with just the basics, and the results are both entertaining and impressive.

LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening

James Murphy's supposed last album, This is Happening, leaves things on a high note with a collection of nine diverse and engaging tracks that contains some of the artist's best material. From the introspective cuts "All I Want" and "Home" to the aggressively funky numbers like "Pow Pow," Murphy offers plenty of reasons why it pains us to see him retire from the game (you know, if that indeed is the case). Of course, James Murphy would settle for nothing less than a dramatic and stylish exit.

Maps & Atlases - Perch Patchwork

Perch Patchwork, the first full-length record from talented newcomers Maps & Atlases, is one of those rare albums that manages to successfully marry technically impressive and progressive musicianship with pop accessibility. Even through all the sudden tempo changes and impossibly fast guitar riffs, the band keeps the hooks coming and the melodies memorable. It's a fun mix of pop, folk and prog-rock that shows even the most cerebral indie rock can be enjoyed by all.

Meursault - All Creatures Shall Make Merry

Meursault could probably be counted among the large group of emotionally intense Scottish indie bands that have been so popular lately, but it's clear from All Creatures Shall Make Merry that they are anything but typical of the genre. Blending digital soundscapes and filtered vocals with acoustic guitars, Meursault's latest moves from moments of quiet loneliness to explosive outbursts of anger and noise, using unusual production to create a uniquely stunning experience.

Villagers - Becoming a Jackal

Conor J O'Brien's debut as Villagers is, I must admit, just the kind of thing I'm prone to fall in love with. O'Brien is an Irish singer/songwriter with a decidedly eerie edge to his music, which puts him in league with the likes of DM Stith or Mimicking Birds--good company to keep. But on his first album, Becoming a Jackal, O'Brien proves himself a compelling lyricist and a talented musician whose hauntingly beautiful work stands apart from that of his peers.


Anonymous said...

Darwin Deez? Can't believe this skinny dude with the ringlet doo has fallen under my radar detector until now. Good stuff, like the Strokes with less attitude/leather jackets. Like some of Maps & Atlases, but the vocals remind me too much of Dave Matthews raised half an octave. Not a good thing :( Looking forward to seeing your top 10 later this month, especially when blogger favorite LCD Soundsystem is demoted to honorable mention status. Ion

Chris N said...

Yeah, Darwin Deez was a good find for me this year. And I have to say I'm glad I don't hear the Dave Matthews comparison with Maps & Atlases, or that would drive me nuts!

Top 10 will be up later today. Finally.