I know it’s a little late, but better late than never. Here is my end of year list for 2010. I’ve compiled this based on both which albums I think are musically best, most intelligent, most pleasing to listen to, and, of course, which ones had an impact on me in the course of 2010.
Best albums of 2010
15. Valencia - Dancing With A Ghost
Why it’s good: Valencia’s third album is a little more experimental than We All Need A Reason To Believe, and much more inconsistent, but it’s still a damn good record from one of today’s best pop-rock bands.
What it means to me: October rockin’.
Favorite lyric: “Sometimes it’s alright when you’re left with broken hearts / because you grow with good intentions / you learn more about this life”
Check out: “Spinning Out”
14. The Classic Crime - Vagabonds
Why it’s good: A fantastic Christian rock album. Heartfelt lyrics and touching vocals resonate throughout this album.
What it means to me: Early Spring inspiration..
Favorite lyric: “Love is a terrible art / it’s a hook in the heart / that can drag you on broken glass / and as you protest the shards in your flesh / the hook tears out your chest until you’re just a broken mess”
Check out: “Four Chords”
13. Taylor Swift - Speak Now
Why it’s good: It’s good to see a major label pop artist releasing something with artistic integrity. A fantastic hour-long offering of empowering love and heartbreak songs.
What it means to me: Something to fall asleep to
Favorite lyric: “I’ll spend forever wondering if you knew / I was enchanted to meet you”
Check out: “Mine”
12. Neon Trees - Habits
Why it’s good: With their debut album, Neon Trees have done something different. Habits is a fantastic dance-rock album, and if I may say so, the sexiest album of the year.
What it means to me: The high life soundtrack.
Favorite lyric: “Would you love me still if I were to confess / that I had a little too much fun, back when I was young”
Check out: “Sins Of My Youth”
11. Man Overboard - Real Talk
Why it’s good: While nothing groundbreaking, Man Overboard’s debut full-length puts the fun back in pop-punk. An album of songs about fantasy girls and drunken nights? Count me in.
What it means to me: Late summer afterparty soundtrack.
Favorite lyric: “There aren’t enough lights in your house that you could leave on for me tonight / there aren’t enough fights I could lose to justify how I feel tonight”
Check out: “Fantasy Girl”
10. Anberlin - Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place
Why it’s good: It’s so rewarding to watch a band release album after album over the years. To watch them grow, develop musically – and still remain as relevant as ever to you. Anberlin have continued to change, and have continued to remain the best Christian rock band around. Their latest offering takes a stab at arena-rock with huge anthems throughout the album, but it retains the passion and emotion that an Anberlin album has.
What it means to me: Damn good album. Late summer bitterness soundtrack.
Favorite lyric: “There are songs I’ll never write / because of you walking out of my life / there are words that don’t belong / because of you I’ll never write another love song”
Check out: “The Art Of War”
9. Bad Books - Bad Books
Why it’s good: When talent combines with talent, this is what you get. Andy Hull and Kevin Devine have, as expected, crafted a fantastic indie-folk offering. Don’t miss this record if you like either artist.
What it means to me: Dreamy October mornings.
Favorite lyric: “Crooked days come bundled up in bunches / and break your brain like a branch”
Check out: “I Begged You Everything”
8. The Wonder Years - The Upsides
Why it’s good: With the release of the most iconic pop-punk record in years, The Wonder Years have elevated themselves from nobodies to 2010’s buzz band in the pop-punk scene, signing to a reputable label and gaining hoards of fans. To write songs that so many people can relate to is a skill.
What it means to me: Positive Winter anthems.
Favorite lyric: “I’m not sad anymore”
Check out: “All My Friends Are In Bar Bands”
7. Butch Walker - I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart
Why it’s good: I adore Butch Walker. Once again, he has created an album that sounds nothing alike anything he’s created before, and indeed, anything that’s out there at the moment. Musically, the album is a gorgeous array of groovy arrangements and intricacies. Lyrically, Butch once again shows a tender and genuine side of himself. This is what happens when producers get given the opportunity to release albums. Fantastic, mature, classically-themed rock music.
What it means to me: The word “cool” in spring 2010.
Favorite lyric: “She’s got a birth mark / On the inside of her thigh / Ask me how I know / About the inside of her thigh”
Check out: “She Likes Hair Bands”
6. Tigers Jaw – Two Worlds
Why it’s good: While a step down from their self-titled masterpiece (I don’t use that word lightly), Two Worlds sees Tigers Jaw presenting a mere 25 minutes of Brand New-esque, thoroughly depressing, yet absolutely fantastic and emotively possessing rock music. Ignore the DIY production and ‘whiney’ vocals - these aspects are who Tigers Jaw are. Beyond them, there’s an absolute gem of a record. If you’ve ever had your heart broken or felt worthless, even for a second, you’ll relate to this album (and their self-titled).
What it means to me: Insomnia soundtrack. Lonesome soundtrack.
Favorite lyric: “If I’m living in the past, I’m not living.”
Check out: “Let Go/Trashed Floors”
5. Against Me! - White Crosses
Why it’s good: Punk album of the year. This album may have its critics, but Against Me! have succeeded again in reinventing themselves from album to album. This is Against Me!’s most accessible effort, sporting a polished modern radio sound, but the record retains the passion that any album fronted by Tom Gabel’s ever-determined vocals has. Lyrically, the album is testament to the fact that Against Me! still stand for something and are able to captivate new generations of punk rock fans.
What it means to me: Autumn motivation soundtrack.
Favorite lyric: “Do you remember when you were young / And you wanted to set the world on fire”
Check out: “I Was A Teenage Anarchist”
4. You, Me, And Everyone We Know – Some Things Don’t Wash Out
Why it’s good: Pop goodness. A debut full-length from these guys has been long due. And it’s been worth the wait. Like any good pop album, Some Things Don’t Wash Out has its hooks, its relatable lyrics, its instrumental idiosyncracies, and above all, is catchy as fuck. Don’t be shy and indulge.
What it means to me: Pop music for my ears.
Favorite lyric: “Your love is like a bus / I may miss you, but I know more will come”
Check out: “Bootstraps”
3. The National – High Violet
Why it’s good: Indie album of the year. The National have crafted an immaculate, elegant record that is simply irresistible. The album is a stream of melancholy sounds that coincide so beautifully with frontman Matt Berninger’s vocals, which are sensually deep and emotive throughout, leaving you clinging onto every note. I’m not a huge fan of indie music, as I find it either too boring, too eclectic, or too pretentious. This album is neither of those things. Listen to it, preferably with a glass of Jim Bean at hand.
What it means to me: Late summer introspection soundtrack.
Favorite lyric: “All the very best of us string ourselves up for love”
Check out: “Afraid Of Everyone”
2. Conditions – Fluorescent Youth
Why it’s good: Wow, wow, wow. This was unexpected. With their debut album, Conditions have delivered the best borderline post-hardcore/heavy rock album of the year. This is the album Saosin wish they’d written. The record combines hard-hitting, contagious choruses with verses that are saturated with lyrical gold dust. This is an essential album for every young fan of rock music. I wish all music was as meaningful as Conditions’ is.
What it means to me: Drunken summer nights & their hangovers.
Favorite lyric: “King of diamonds, king of hearts / one dies loved / and one is dead from the very start”
Check out: “Make Them Remember”
1. The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang
Why it’s good: This is what modern rock ‘n’ roll should sound like. After the success of The 59 Sound, many artists would have faltered in fear when making a follow-up. Instead, The Gaslight Anthem have returned to deliver a sublime effort, and one that is deeper, catchier, and more emotive than previous material. Who does it better than we do? In 2010, no one does.
What it means to me: Early summer memories of listening to this album in awe.
Favorite lyric: “Was I good to you, the wife of my youth / Not another soul could love you / Like my rotten bones do”
Check out: “The Diamond Church Street Choir”
Top EPs of 2010
5. The Spill Canvas - Realities
Why it’s good: Catchy cock-rock-esque songs about dating waitresses and crashing cars. Of course I love this.
What it means to me: April jamming jam.
Check out: “Our Song”
4. Poema - Sing It Now
Why it’s good: This young Christian pop duo are putting class back into pop music. And they’re adorable.
What it means to me: February sleep soundtrack.
Check out: “2 AM”
3. We Are The In Crowd - Guaranteed To Disagree
Why it’s good: Irresistably catchy power-pop. Fantastic male/female dual vocals. A band to watch in the future.
What it means to me: Early summer days soundtrack.
Check out: “Never Be What You Want”
2. Cady Groves - The Life Of A Pirate
Why it’s good: Cady stole the hearts of many with her second EP, and she earned herself a record deal. The EP contains the cutesy-est collection of songs from a young woman that is set to take the music world by storm.
What it means to me: “I’m so proud” music.
Check out: “I’m Still Here”
1. Lydia – Assailants
Why it’s good: Lydia’s farewell album is a absolutely incredible. Perhaps a small step down from 2008 masterpiece Illuminate, but this is still a fantastic piece of music. If this was a full-length, it would be be in my top 5. They will be missed.
What it means to me: Summer 2am soundtrack.
Favorite lyric: “I’m sure I know what you’re going through / I call it vanity / the world is yours so take it.”
Check out: “We Clean Up So Well”
The Band Perry - The Band Perry
A Day To Remember - What Separates Me From You
Emarosa - Emarosa
Fair - Disappearing World
He Is We - My Forever
Jesse Barrera - Love In Technicolor
Jimmy Eat World - Invented
Linkin Park - A Thousand Suns
The Morning Of - The Way I Fell In
The Narrative - The Narrative
Off With Their Heads - In Desolation
Stacy Clark - Connect The Dots
Steel Train - Steel Train
5. Mêlée - The Masquerade
4. Automatic Loveletter - Truth Or Dare
3. My Chemical Romance - Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys
2. VersaEmerge - Fixed At Zero
1. The Rocket Summer - Of Men & Angels
Looking forward to in 2011:
10. Black Cards
8. Panic! At The Disco
7. Jack’s Mannequin
6. Nightmare Of You
5. Dear And The Headlights
4. Third Eye Blind
3. Manchester Orchestra
1. The Dangerous Summer