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12.18.19 My Top Ten Albums Of The 2010's

My Top Ten Albums Of The 2010's

The time has come to count down the ten best albums of the 2010's!
10White Denim
Corsicana Lemonade

Kicking things off is 2013's Corsicana Lemonade, by the rollicking Texas rockers, White Denim. Churning out some of the finest true blue rock records of any decade, White Denim stood out in a decade swarmed by mumble rap and genre-less arena pop. By contrast, the Austin locals donned their finest leisure suits and slammed out virtuosic guitar work at lightning speed, with an easy grin on their faces. As the best that their discography has to offer, Corsicana Lemonade swaggered onto the rock scene with the kind of confidence you can only exude after one too many gin & tonics. What's more remarkable is that White Denim actually had the chops to back it up (and then some).
9Janelle Monae
The ArchAndroid

The state of R&B at the turn of the century was as stale as it was grim: the domain of daytime radio disc jockeys. That is, until Janelle Monae hit the scene. In a flash, she conjured an afro-futurist odyssey that changed the face of R&B, as not only a respected genre, but an untapped source of soul and storytelling for the new millenium. When Janelle Monae effortlessly tapped in to her soul and motown roots, she wasn't seeking to produce a throwback, anachronistic sound. She was simply doing her homework, cherry picking the choicest grooves and rhythms and re-purposing them like a mad scientist, concocting a sci-fi epic for the ages.
8Run the Jewels
Run the Jewels 3

When hip hop outsiders El-P and Killer Mike first teamed up something magical happened. A gorgeously grotesque atom bomb went off, an explosion of verse, bass, and blood. Both veterans played off of each other's rage and speech craft almost instinctively. Initially, critics deemed it "lightning in a bottle," implying that such a monstrous and pounding collaboration could not be replicated beyond a single, shocking release. The critics were wrong. Run The Jewels took over the alternative hip hop scene throughout the 2010's, not only as furious MC's but as purveyors of truth and political icons in their own right. As the already shaky 2010's transitioned into the Trump era, characterized by tribalism, bigotry, and corruption, Run The Jewels were there, burning down the soap box and reaching for their pitchforks. Run The Jewels 3 speaks truth to power with a sharp wit, a grim snarl, and a pair of bloody knuckles. Haters had better run.
7Father John Misty
I Love You, Honeybear

The 2010's were the decade of the Millennials, and there is a particular character to their psyche, informed by their society and surroundings, that only a madman could capture. Enter: Father John Misty, a guitar wielding shepard to his lost flock of Millennial souls. His strongest release teases its balance of earnestness and ironicism with its pointedly saccharine title: I Love You, Honeybear. You see, in an era of false promises, mounting debt, and a dying planet, you need a dose of cynicism to be earnestly hopeful and loving. How else can you embrace your earnest desire for things as simple as true love and a place to call home in the 21st century without donning a sheen of ironicism? It isn't a disguise, its an essential characteristic of empathy in the 2010's. Today, true love and connection must be built on a foundation of truth, and struggle, not a fairy tale. This idea, and many others, are expressed in Father John Misty's gorgeous ballad-driven sermon: I Love You, Honeybear.
Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

A number of artists captured the societal malaise of the 2010's in verse & chorus to great effect, but few captured its raw essence as effectively as Deafheaven. And no work was as intimately human as their 2018 release, the aptly titled Ordinary Corrupt Human Love. This sweeping epic combines the stunning emotional crescendos of Post Rock with the crunching fury and existential dread of Black Metal to tap directly into the anxieties of the era, trying and failing to hide in the darkest corners of your mind. By leveraging their Black Metal roots Deafheaven grants an urgency and aggression to the sweeping emotional peaks and valleys that are characteristic to Post Rock, while rooting their thrashing in some of the most genuinely beautiful harmonies and epics either genre has on offer. This is painted, poured, splattered, and conjured on a vast aural canvas. Guitars bellow and scream. Dual kick drums rumble as if they were earthquakes. It is as dreadful as it is sublime.
5Tame Impala

Tame Impala was, doubtless, the most surprising out of left field rags to riches story in the 2010 musical canon. A one man wunderkind churning out esoteric psychedelic jams out of his own bedroom has no place topping the pop charts and headlining music festivals. But then again, maybe it shouldn't be so surprising. Tame Impala's DNA is rooted in some of the most persistent sounds in the history of modern popular music. Most notably the sunny psychedelia of The Beatles. While the group wouldn't reach its absolute peak until 2015's pop-friendly Currents, their musical curiosity was at its highest with 2012's Lonerism. As an album it is mystical and alluring, employing a kalidescopic mix of guitar effects, electronics, and eclectic instrumentation to paint something truly marvelous to the ear. By exacting great discipline in the editing room, balanced by universal lyrical themes of isolation and unrequited love, Tame Impala crafted a vibrant psychedelic mindscape for the masses.
4King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard
Nonagon Infinity

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard were the most vital rock band of the 2010's: releasing several albums every year, genre-hopping like madmen, touring, and recording relentlessly until the world was forced to pay attention. This audacious and brilliant seven piece outfit from Australia climbed from the grimiest clubs to festival headliner status through sheer grit and audacity alone. In absence of any obvious mass appeal or surprise hits seen by their peers (namely, Tame Impala), King Gizzard had to make their presence known by dropping an atom bomb on the rock world as we know it. Throughout the decade they dropped several, but none put the band on the map quite like 2016's Nonagon Infinity. A high octane, pulse pounding, addictive, adrenaline fueled freak fest of an album that is fueled by an endless supply of catchy hooks & raging riffs. Structured as an infinite loop, this album is a never ending jam, one so mind-blowingly good, you'll be happy to leave it spinning for eternity.
Nearer My God

Very rarely are we granted an opportunity to see a band come into their own so decisively, and so triumphantly as Foxing did with 2018's Nearer My God. While the band had made a small name for themselves in the fourth wave emo scene, somewhere along they way they decided that they wanted to be more. That they had something to say. And say it they did. The band crafted an entire suite of crushing anthems that would tear the roof off of all the arenas that they have never been invited to play. Stunning guitar leads, backed by pulse pounding percussion, electronics, and vocals all lift up a narrative that is shockingly vulnerable and genuine. Nearer My God is a one of a kind work that actively deconstructs our vapid obsession with fame & fortune while at the same time falling to its knees in despair, in desperate want of fame & fortune's greatest promise: to be loved.
2Low Roar

In 2014 Low Roar gave the world a gift. 0, an album that takes you on a breathtaking journey through love, loss, and life. One so chilling and lush that you have no choice but to steel yourself for the devastating cold and marvel at its beauty. This album's brilliant synthesis of sweet, melodious songwriting and sprawling, ambitious soundscapes combine the best elements of Sigur Ros, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Bon Iver, and combine them into something wholly original, personal, intimate, and deeply affecting. This is an album that will leave you in December's cold, desperately kissing a lover that will never be. An album that is like that first gasp of clean, cold January air. You can nearly see your breath on its bright, brilliant rays.
1Fleet Foxes
Helplessness Blues

Granting any record the label "Album Of The Decade" is a tall order, but in 2011 Fleet Foxes stood on the mountaintops, dewy eyed and clad in plaid flannel, & declared that the title would be theirs with the stunningly gorgeous Helplessness Blues. The album is is a study on the Millennial's condition, although Fleet Foxes' narrative is as warm as hot cider and as chilling as November's breeze. There is a sense of hopeful melancholy here that is unique to our aging generation; they wax poetic on the creative drive of their generation, and of the crushing societal systems they find themselves stuck in. But more than anything, they romanticize the simple life of days long past with a heartbreaking sincerity. However, with all its Millennial focus, the album has an undeniable timeless quality. The musicianship on display is simply staggering; the precise string instrumentation, and the multi-part vocal harmonies, as raw and earnest as they are, seem to descend from the heavens. A classic.
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