Here we are at the end of another year. Which means it’s time to see what albums were released this year that made my best of list. My list is not in any order. So without further delay, here’s my picks.
- Rolling Stones Exile On Main Street [Deluxe Edition]
Back in 1972, The Stones released what is now regarded as one of the greatest albums in recorded history [at least in the eyes of some critics and many fans]. In May of this year, they re-released the album with a bonus CD containing ten additional songs, five of which were unreleased from the Exile sessions. “Plundered My Soul” is true to form from those days and stays very close to the sound and style of the album. This new release is well done and is close to the 1994 Virgin remastered version.
- Broken Bells
A friend bought this album and had me sit down and listen to it, from start to finish. It’s now become one of my most played albums this year. The genius of James Mercer from The Shins and Brian Burton [aka Danger Mouse] has created an incredible musical work that anyone may just fall in love with. Songs like “Ghost In Me” and “Vaporize” are wonderful and complete.
- LCD Soundsystem “This Is Happening”
James Murphy is nothing short of cool. He’s this guy that creates synth sounds and makes them into 6-7 minute songs that are ultra repetitive. But not the kind of repeat you want to shut off. The kind that you want to play over and over. I saw his band open for Arcade Fire in 2007 and was instantly hooked. This latest album was highly anticipated by many, myself included. I had heard the songs “Drunk Girls” and “I Can Change” before the album was officially released and the rest of the songs are just as great.
- Arcade Fire “The Suburbs”
Unlike LCD SS, I knew the work of Arcade Fire with their stunning debut Funeral and their pretty good sophomore release Neon Bible. But perhaps one of the albums I was waiting for with baited ears was their third release. Tracks like “Month of May” and “Suburban War” have taken their place along their other great works. My only regret this year was not being able to see them perform these songs live.
- Miniature Tigers “F O R T R E S S”
My daughter loves this band. And I can see why. With this follow up to 2008’s Tell It To The Volcano, this band led by Charlie Brand and Rick Schaier takes an island-like sound and turns it into something very cool. “Bullfighter Jacket” is an instant classic with it’s sing-a-long “Yi Yi Yi Yi Yi Yi” chant. and the lead off single of “Gold Skull” is no slouch, either. I finally got to see these guys live a few weeks back and the songs hold up just as well live.
- Mumford & Sons “Sigh No More”
“Bluegrass gone alternative” is what I wrote some weeks ago in my praise of this album from an obscure UK band. It’s not normally something I would like in a music style, but obviously I do. Tracks like “The Cave” and the tongue-in-cheek “Little Lion Man” have become regular plays on my iPod.
- Neon Trees “Habits”
And yet another band my daughter turned me on to. A local band from Provo, UT, they went big with their hit single “Animal” and then went even bigger, becoming better known to the rest of the world outside Utah. They recently were on the new Conan show and have sold quite a few copies of this debut album. It’s only eight tracks long, but I’ve added “Girls And Boys In School” and “Your Surrender” as favorites. I expect big things from their sophomore release, which I understand they are working on.
- Iron Maiden “The Final Frontier”
Since the days when Number Of The Beast became well known, I’ve been a big fan of Maiden’s work. I have pretty much every album they’ve released since and this year’s ten-track effort did not disappoint. I quickly latched onto songs like “Mother Of Mercy” and “Coming Home” I still have yet to see them live and it’s one of my goals to do that before they call it a day. Up The Irons!
- Vampire Weekend “Contra”
A small band that got popular and then got even more exposure to the mainstream. You’ve heard their songs like “Horchata” and “Cousins” all over the radio. Now you can hear “Holiday” in the most recent Honda commercial. But don’t label them as sell-outs. They just have catchy tunes that everyone likes. And if you ever get a chance to see them live, do it. The energy and effort is incredible to experience.
- Kanye West “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”
My selection of hip-hop artists that I like is small and narrow. But I’m telling you, this Kanye album is growing on me very quickly. Diverse, bold and quirky, each song has a different but similar feel to it. Just listen to “Gorgeous” “Monster” or “Lost In The World” and you might get hooked as well. Plus, you might also see why the major music rags picked it as their favorite of 2010.
- Weezer “Hurley”
Since the days of the Blue Album, I’ve been a Weezer fan, although, not everything they’ve done has impressed me [last year’s “Ratitude” could have been better]. But this new release with tracks like “Trainwrecks” and “Hang On” bring them back into the favorite fold of my music collection. Rivers Cuomo is a proven songwriting expert.
- Cee Lo Green “The Lady Killer”
This isn’t Gnarls Barkley, but it’s the singer from that rock/pop duo. I raved about the “Fuck You” single here a few weeks ago and I can say that the rest of the album is pretty good. I didn’t have a lot of time with this album, but it’s grown on me quickly with songs like “Old Fashioned” and “Bodies” It’s a lot of vocals… and throwback-like sound. Very jazzy and soulful. Cee Lo kills it in a good way.
Just Out Of Reach
- Stone Temple Pilots
Anyone who knows me and my love of music will have heard me rave about STP at some point in their career. I’ve got every album, regularly listen to their albums from start to finish. I’ve seen them live several times and they do not disappoint. So I had high expectations for this first album of theirs since 2001’s Shangri-La Dee Da. It was good, but I expected more. Oh well. I’m still a big fan, so-so album or their great work from 1992-2000.
- Ratt “Infestation”
This is my favorite of all the hair metal bands. I finally got to see them when they opened for Poison a few years ago. So when I heard them talk about their new album on the Eddie Trunk show, I was jazzed. I went out and bought it and listend to it non-stop for a couple of weeks. It’s the classic Ratt sound and the tracks are really good, it just wasn’t good enough to make my top list. I also saw them live this year and their level of performance was just ok. Maybe I should have seen them in their hey day.
- KoRn “Korn III: Remember Who You Are”
KoRn has had a lot of ups and downs in the last ten years. They lost one of their key guitarists to Jesus. Their original drummer left. And their experimental sound wasn’t what their loyal fans were waiting for. Then they announced they were working with the original producer who made their first two albums awesome. Sound wise, it was familiar, but the excitement wore off quickly. Not sure what it was, other than maybe they were trying to capture something great and failed. I’m not trashing this album by any means, it’s just not as good as what I was waiting for.
He might have been small in stature, but had a big and powerful voice
Original photo found on Zimbio
Ronnie James Dio lost a short term battle to stomach cancer in May of this year. The entire metal and hard rock world mourned a loss of a great vocalist and frontman. Long time fans of Ronnie knew him as the voice of Elf and Rainbow. And then us Black Sabbath fans praised his work on the re-birth of that band’s career with the 1980 album Heaven and Hell. He created a monster with his own band Dio, who had hit after hit that rocked the radio waves. And then just when you thought he was taking a breather, he re-united with the same crew that made the Dehumanizer album and the band Heaven & Hell came alive. They toured, made an album and injected heavy metal back into the mainstream of rock.
His work stands today as some of the best known in the world of metal. He will surely be missed but always remembered.
Your Picks for 2010
So what do you think? I’m sure there are some I left off, but this list are the ones I heard and embraced.
What are your picks for best albums this year?