December 2, 2010
These are the albums I have recommended most to friends over the year (my personal metric for favorite music). Please feel free to share your favorites in the comments, and please check out others' online "best of 2010" music lists.
My favorite eleven albums of 2010, along with free and legal mp3 downloads (where available):
Beach House's music gets deeper and better with each release. Teen Dream has been part of my house playlist for over a year, Victoria LeGrand's vocals have never been more emotive.
Justin Townes Earle's Harlem River Blues grew on me as much as any album this year. Earle's songwriting talent and simple arrangements are impressive in this collection of original timeless Americana.
Local Natives brim with talent, their arrangements are subtle and their musicianship skillful, but it's the vocal interplay that draws you into their wonderful Gorilla Manor.
Marnie Stern has always impressed me with her guitar, but her songwriting shines just as brightly on her self-titled album.
The vocal harmonies alone on Mountain Man's Made the Harbor album are one of the year's musical highlights, and combined with the band's sparse arrangements create one of the most exciting folk albums in years.
For a good example of the band's vocal prowess, Mountain Man's Daytrotter session is one of the year's most transcendent live music experiences.
The National rolls on with another stellar release, High Violet. I can think of few other bands with their combination of songwriting, musicianship, and lyricism.
I loved Sharon Van Etten's debut album Because I Was in Love (one of my favorite albums last year), and her songwriting and performance get even stronger on epic. The album showcases Van Etten's songwriting versatility while retaining the emotional heft of her lyrics.
On the strength of the band's demos Sleigh Bells' Treats was the 2010's most anticipated album by me. Easily the year's most innovative album, Treats is filled with songs deconstructed almost to their breaking point, only to be brought back even better (this album is the Six Million Dollar Man of indie rock). The song "Rill Rill" was not only my song of the summer, but probably my favorite song of the year.
Kristain Mattson (aka The Tallest Man on Earth) is sure to garner even more Bob Dylan comparisons with his second album, Wild Hunt. The simple arrangements (usually just his guitar) accentuate the wonderful oddness of the Swedish folk singer's lyrics.
A concept album about the Civil War, The Monitor melds the horrors of war, lost love, and our modern discontent into one of the year's most aggressively passionate and moving albums.
Warpaint: "Undertow" [mp3]
Warpaint's sound has been described as shoegaze, dreampop, and psychedelic, but I'd call it dark, swirling indie pop. All four band members share a rare musical connection when playing, which is evident on the album but effervescent live. The Fool seemingly reveals more of itself with every spin.
also at Largehearted Boy:
2009 Largehearted Favorite Albums
2008 Largehearted Favorite Albums
2007 Largehearted Favorite Albums
2006 Largehearted Favorite Albums
2005 Largehearted Favorite Albums
2004 Largehearted Favorite Albums
2003 Largehearted Favorite Albums
2002 Largehearted Favorite Albums