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2010: The Year In Veigh

Top 50 albums of the year. 2010 ruled and sucked for a lot of reasons (much like every year before it and likely after it as well) and these albums provided the most fitting soundtrack to me. I've also had fun when on this site, and discovered a great deal of these here. Cheers homies.
50Black Breath
Heavy Breathing

I feel like this album lost a lot of steam after some initially deserved hype; my guess it had something to do with fromtheinside leaving. Pretty great blackened tough guyish hardcore. Hell yeah genre descriptors.
49Earl Sweatshirt

Odd Future created a Wu-Tang-like hype train this year, and this sick little bastard played the whacked-out role of Ol' Dirty. I still can't tell whether we're going to look back on these guys in the years to come as more of a gimmick or a revolution, but I'm interested as hell to find out.
48Kings of Leon
Come Around Sundown

Jesus Christ (pun intended), I did not see this coming. I actually kind of dig Only By the Night, but this record manages to be a simultaneous return to form while progressing a few of the more unique elements of their sound in an attempt to create a sort of grandiose, Joshua Tree epic. Of course they fall way short, but it's just shocking they didn't fall flat on their faces. This is a good record.
47The Contortionist

I never really listen to stuff like this (anymore), but this is really less deathcore and more just good progressive death metal with a few breakdowns. Really cool guitar work at times too.
46The Chariot
Long Live

Yes, a "surprising album" trifecta. Wasn't expecting much from this (hell, I didn't even know it was coming out) but this is a really fun, mathy metalcore album. Nothing game-changing, but the recording technique gives it a raw, performance-like feel that gives it a unique quality of its own.
45Mike Patton
Mondo Cane

I put off listening to this for way too long. It's the most fun and accessible Patton's been in years, and I think that's probably all that needs to be said.
44The Abominable Iron Sloth
The ID Will Overcome

A highly overlooked, sludgy, hardcorey mess of an album, the band with an awesome name may have released the heaviest music of 2010.
43The Damned Things

Makes me wanna slam beers with BigHans.
Public Strain

This is a huge grower, so a lot of people will probably write it off after one listen -- but if you stick around it becomes one of the year's most satisfying listens.
41Amia Venera Landscape
The Long Procession

Probably not worth the ridiculous hype it got, but it's still a really fucking good metalcore album in the genre's dying days.
Split the Atom

Why did I put off listening to this for so long too? Usually not my thing, but these guys just create mind-numbingly cool music. Deviant, I blame you for not making me listen to this sooner.

Very heavy, atmospheric sludge metal. The vocals were a bit grating at first, but after I warmed up to them this album actually opened the door for me to listen to more bands with that style -- and I ended up finding a couple of my favorite records from this year.
Fallen Light

Really cool dubstep stuff, like a less paranoid Burial in a way (I'm by no means an expert with this kind of thing). This is just a great album to wind down to after a long night.
I F*cking Hate Rappers

I really liked this on first listen, then it grew off, then I listened again and began to appreciate it for what it is -- a sort of outdated approach to indie rap, but done really well. His rhymes and flow are tight and clever, the beats get the job done and at times are very interesting, plus there are enough vocal hooks to make it a memorable listen. Good stuff.
36Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse
Dark Night of the Soul

This is a beautiful, borderline breath taking indie album, full of a lot of subtleties that remind me of why I love music. Great roster of guests too.
Quietly, Undramatically

I never thought I would like black metal this much, but these guys are kind of what I always had hoped to hear when I listened to the genre, and had previously been disappointed. The guitars are more about aggression than technicality, the drums are consistently interesting and the vocals are just harsh enough to keep it from sounding, too, I don't know... cheesy? Awesome album.
Majesty and Decay

This grew off me as the year wore on, but it's still one of the best death metal albums of the year, and a great addition to their incredibly impressive discography.
33Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All

What could serve as a perfect introduction to the 'gang, this features bomb tracks from all the members. However, don't go in expecting this to be their 36 Chambers, it's really more of a compilation than an actual crew album -- but it still rips shit up.
32Reflection Eternal
Revolutions Per Minute

Releasing their second album a decade later was an interesting move, but the Talib and Hi-Tek combine for another successful outing, if a little less epic than it's almost legendary predecessor. Just Begun might be the best hip hop song of the year, and it's definitely my favorite collab of 2010.

I suppose this would be my favorite death metal album of the year, and it's really good, but it doesn't really say a lot for what kind of year it was for the genre (compared to last year at least). Or maybe I just didn't listen to the right albums, I don't know. But on the subject of Jupiter, it's frenzied, angry and catchy all at once and is a fantastic ride.
Beyond Hell/Above Heaven

RAWK. This is one of the most fun albums of 2010, grab yourself a brew and throw on 7 Shots. At like, 3:30 in the afternoon or something. On a weekday. Just live life, man.
29Domo Genesis
Rolling Papers

My Wu-Tang analogy of OFWGKTA continues, with the crew's Method Man character releasing a hazy album of choice cuts. Such an easy listen, yet you'll still catch some new stuff in Domo's flow with repeated spins.
Halcyon Digest

This is indie as hell to my ears, but it's fantastic. I found myself doing a lot of driving through Chicagoland in snow storms over the past month or so (between work and family holidays) and this record was the perfect soundtrack.

Now we come to my favorite OF release of 2010, the Ghostface and Raekwon combo (I know there's only one rapper here, shut up and go with it) provide the cool edge to the crew that it needs to balance out the disturbing RZA/GZA vision of Tyler, the psychopathic hysteria of Earl Sweatshirt and the drug-induced ramblings of Domo Genesis. Maybe the coolest album of the year, full of clever rhymes and DOPE beats.
A Determinism of Morality

Really cool post-metal album with a hardcore edge and a spaced-out atmosphere. The clean vocals are a welcome surprise as well. This actually was a contender for my album of the year when it first came out, but it's since grown off a bit.
25Cee Lo Green
The Lady Killer

This is what the Odd Couple should have been, to me. Though I still dug it, I felt it was missing the "it" factor that made St. Elsewhere such a success. Regardless, this is a completely separate affair, and manages to create a James Bond meets Shaft atmosphere with some incredibly catchy neo-soul. Also, Fuck You is still song of the year damnit.
24High on Fire
Snakes For the Divine

Whiskey drinkin' music.
23The Black Keys

Just a great rock album, with a MoTown vibe. The guitar work is great, they managed to create a perfect tone for each song.
Valley of Smoke

An awe-inspiring combination of post-metal and sludge with a flair for the progressive passage, easily one of 2010's best and most unique-sounding metal albums. This sounds like the record I wanted Mastodon to make after Leviathan, when all we got was that relative turd Blood Mountain.
Cold and Distant, Not Loving

If this hadn't been such a great year for hardcore, Kerouac could have given us the genre's best offering. Even though some other releases topped it in terms of quality, the one thing this album can bring to the table is unbridled fucking aggression -- rivaling bands like Converge and early Dillinger Escape Plan in that department.
20How to Dress Well
Love Remains

Yes, this album is dark, cold and chilling. But it's also remarkably catchy, even if you have no idea what the hell the lyrics are. A stunning listen.
19The State Lottery
When the Night Comes

I can see the comparisons to The '59 Sound, but I think this stands on its own. The songs have the youthful energy of punk rock, but the lyrics show the veteran swagger that's needed to make successful Americana. Plus the lead guitar and saxaphone melodies are fantastic.
18Minus the Bear

Maybe it's fanboy bias, but I really liked this record. One of my favorite soundtracks to the summer of 2010, it's fun and catchy yet still provides enough instrumental flourishes to keep you entertained.
Foreign Tapes

It is possibly the year's best debut album, and one of the best indie releases as well. Gorgeous vocals, beautiful atmosphere, intriguing guitar work -- this band's got it all and may have a classic up their sleeve someday.
16The Menzingers
Chamberlain Waits

What a fantastic piece of punk rock. Soaring, melodic, anthemic, BigHansian, whatever you want to call it, these guys have it by the keg-load. Rest assured, this album is best served in a frosty mug. Also props to Satty for getting me (and Hans?) started on these guys.
Total Life Forever

Total Life Forever is stunning, at times progressive, indie pop/rock that is as infectous as it is complex. Spanish Sahara is a song of the year contender, and Miami makes me want to put on a leisure suit and drink Mojitos.
14The Dillinger Escape Plan
Option Paralysis

Initially, like everyone else I was caught up in the hype train of calling this album among their best and proclaiming it the early album of the year. Then, predictably, the backlash was too strong and this album started getting borderline trashed by people who were singing its praises about five days earlier. The truth is, it's neither album of the year nor a bad release -- it's an excellent culmination of Dillinger's best attributes into what is almost a career-defining album. Maybe not as fresh as their earlier work, but very close in quality.
13 Dangers
Messy, Isn't It?

Man, another hardcore album that could easily been the best of the year if 2010 wasn't so amazing. Dangers up the catchiness on this one, without having to sacrifice much aggression at all. Some truly epic moments on this album, and really not a dull moment. One of modern hardcore's coolest bands continue to etch their legacy in (broken) bones.
12Black Milk
Album of the Year

I think I liked this one more than most, and even though I liked the catchier, more synth-laden beats on Tronic, I really like the risks he took with the production on this one; hearing original and fresh production on a hip hop record is so rare in this age where everyone and their little brother can make beats on their computer. This is also Black Milk's best rhyming to date, and rather than merely suppoting the beats his lyrics actually take center stage for a good portion of the album.
11Kanye West
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

No, it's not in my top 10. While it is an excellent record, and may end up being the album that actually defines 2010 in a pop-culture sense, the lyrics just aren't interesting enough (in a non-TMZ kind of way) to make me place this above the other albums on this list. Don't get me wrong, I love the honesty and the clever punch-lines here and there, but it's just not quite lyrical enough for my tastes. Still, an epic record to be certain, and should at least be heard by all music fans simply because of its cultural relevance.
10More Than Life
Love Let Me Go

Yes, the year's best hardcore album! Incredibly melodic yet energetic, Love Let Me Go also happens to boast some of hardcore's catchiest riffs. There's also a subtle, urban atmosphere present here that's almost indescribable, yet also irresistable. A must-hear album for anyone with even a slight interest in the genre.
9Dark Time Sunshine

Another one that hit me almost instantly, grew off a bit, then I came to my senses and realized it was easily the best indie rap album of the year. Again, fresh production is the driving factor to the album's success, but it also contains some impressive lyricism -- especially in the album's middle section.
8Ghostface Killah
Apollo Kids

It's no Clientele, Ironman or Fishscale, but it's probably the next best thing. Wu-Tang's most consistent solo artist releases another gem with some classic-sounding beats and a multitude of guest spots that actually add a lot to the album's variety. Ghostface still has an otherworldly flow.
7Flying Lotus

A musical journey into outer space, complete with zero gravity and mind-numbing complexity. A truly refreshing piece of musical genius, Flying Lotus deserves every bit of praise he's gotten for Cosmogramma.
Diamond Eyes

If I had made this list in July, Diamond Eyes would easily have taken the top spot. Alas, we generally make our lists in December and this one had time to reveal that it had less staying power than I originally anticipated. Nonetheless, it's some of Deftones' strongest material, and that's saying something, considering they have one of the most consistent discographies in modern music. Full of crushing atmospheric beauty, ethereal vocal melodies and a few riffs that will demolish your speakers, Diamond Eyes is still a defining album of the year. Also, Abe's still a beast behind the kit, remaning one of heavy music's most underrated drummers.
5Janelle Monae
The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III of IV)

The most energized that pop music has sounded in a long time, Janelle not only incredibly hot, but also maybe the year's most single intriguing artist not named Yeezy. Catchy, thought-provoking pop music that contains a surprising amount of depth (both lyrically and musically), TheArchandroid will likely be looked upon in years to come as a milestone for the genre.

This might have ranked a bit lower if I wasn't such a sucker for rawkin' metalcore -- but damnit this is the most fun heavy album I've heard in a long time. The riffs are loud and catchy, I find myself chanting along to words that I have no idea how to pronounce and it just really makes me want to break shit. To me, this is metalcore, and it's also the best metalcore album of the year.
3Electric Wizard
Black Masses

Another album that I seemed to like most than a lot of others, this takes EW's signature psychadelic, sludgy, stoner brew and adds a heavy dose of melodicism into the fold. It's songwriting forumla is steeped in mid-70s Black Sabbath, only stretched out so as to achieve maximum impact. Also, insert requisite mentions of bong hits and clouds of smoke as a metaphor for sound here.
2Big Boi
Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty

Big Boi's long-awaited solo album finally dropped this year -- and it was damn well worth the wait. There really shouldn't be a question now of who was the secret to OutKast's success, but if there was Big Boi killed that debate with this monster of a hip hop album. Showcasing everything that's made southern AND mainstream hip hop great over the past decade plus, Big Boi's not afraid to pull out all the stops with the rhymes and production to even add a few new twists. This stands up there with even OutKast's best material and is a must-hear for any fan of the genre.
1The National
High Violet

Surprise! Was there really ever any question though? The year's best shot at a true classic is The National's third epic in a row. Successfully completing the coming-of-age trio of albums is their most mature and inspiring work they've ever composed, full of subtle intricacies and musical flourishes that not only stand on their own as enjoyable, but actually enhance the overall mood and theme of any given song -- creating a total package where the lyrics reflect the music, and vice versa. Form working together in harmony with content is something that I think we as music listeners either take for granted, or simply forget to think about at times, but that's really the most important aspect of true art. It's one thing for an album to have great lyrics or music, and another thing for it to have both. But when the lyrics and music are able to both stand on their own as excellent, yet combined make a cohesive statement it's truly something special; an aspect of music that's often missing yet never missed. The National are a band that understands that and rewards listeners who are able to stick around long enough to appreciate it.
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