This is a list of every album I’ve encountered that was released in 2010 and that I think is worthy of praise. The top 10 are in some sort of order, the rest are just listed in the vague order of how many plays they got on, rather than in any order of how much I like them.

  1. The Indelicates – Songs for Swinging Lovers – A lot of people don’t seem to have heard of this band, which is a great shame. This record is witty, literate and seeped in irony and sarcasm. It’s also the best thing I’ve heard this year in any genre, and is still available for free (or as much as you want to pay) from the Corporate Records website.
  2. The National – High Violet – In any other year this would be my album of the year. It managed to do well critically and commercially, and is yet another big step up from their previous work. I would imagine this would appeal to pretty much anyone who likes music with vocals and guitars, and as such I’d recommend it to most people reading this.
  3. Shearwater – The Golden Archipelago – Every year there is an album that I’m underwhelmed by when it comes out, but that by the end of the year I can’t live without. This year it’s by Shearwater, who I’d not even heard of a year ago. Each song is a sweeping majestic masterpiece, and the album as a whole makes early mornings make sense in a way nothing else can.
  4. The Love Language – Libraries – Imagine Brian Wilson and Phil Spector locked inside one man’s head for 25 years. If you like how that might sound then you’ll love this record. It could have been made in any year since 1965, but has some of the most perfect songwriting and production I’ve heard this year.
  5. The Pernice Brothers – Goodbye Killer – I like everything Joe Pernice has ever released, and this album acts as a good start to what is already a huge back catalogue. Some of this is out and out classic pop music, and it’s a brighter and catchier album than I think many people were expecting.
  6. Tindersticks – Falling Down A Mountain – I loved this band 15 years ago, and had no idea they still had this sort of record in them. It’s worth playing it after “High Violet” by the National, because parts of them are tapping the same smoky late night baritone vibe.
  7. Tame Impala – Innerspeaker – This was sold to me as an Australian band who sound like Led Zeppelin for 2010. And I can totally live with that. Another record that could have been made in the late 60’s, but one that I have grown to love this year to the point where I’ve since bought everything else they have ever made.
  8. Vampire Weekend – Contra  – I still think they sound like a cross between Talking Heads and Paul Simon. This is the album where that stops being a problem and starts being something I find oddly enthralling. It will be interesting to see where they go next though.
  9. Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan – Hawk – In some ways more of the same, but this time around they have stretched the musical palate slightly, as well as producing “Lately” which is a song of pure beauty and perfection.
  10. The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever – In some ways a disappointment, because it doesn’t live up to the potential I was expecting after “Stay Positive!”. However, if you simply take it on face value then it’s a perfectly good example of a bar-rock record that is trying to move from the bar to the stadium. Very much a grower, which is not what I was expecting.

And the rest…

  • The New Pornographers – Together
  • Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
  • Midlake – The Courage Of Others
  • The Divine Comedy – Bang Goes The Knighthood
  • School of Seven Bells – Disconnect From Desire
  • Wild Nothing – Gemini
  • Richard Youngs – Beyond The Valley Of Ultrahits
  • Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today
  • Ted Leo & the Pharmacists – The Brutalist Bricks
  • Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – Kollaps Tradixionales
  • Neil Young – Le Noise
  • Field Music – Field Music
  • Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz
  • Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky
  • Kele – The Boxer
  • Solex vs Cristina Martinez + Jon Spencer – Amsterdam Throwdown King Street Showdown!
  • Uniform Motion – Life
  • The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night
  • Allo Darlin’ – Allo Darlin’
  • Paul Smith – Margins
  • John Zorn – Ipsissimus
  • Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – III/IV
  • The Knife – Tomorrow, in a Year
  • LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening
  • Les Savy Fav – Root for Ruin
  • M.I.A. – /\/\ /\ Y /\
  • These New Puritans – Hidden
  • Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid
  • Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
  • Emeralds – Does it Look Like I’m Here?

Yes, that’s a lot of music. I dread to think how many hours of my life I’ve spent listening to these 40 records this year.