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Gyro's Top 25 Of 2010 (with Descriptions)

It was difficult making this, but these are my 25 favorite albums of 2010. I didn't add descriptions to all of them and a lot of what I have may seem half-assed (because some of it really was), but I wanted to get this out. To help some of you get into particular artists you've never heard or just haven't bothered to check out thus far, I've included youtube links for a sample. Enjoy!
25Broken Bells
Broken Bells

Time hasn't been as kind to Broken Bells, as it was originally one of 4.5s, but it's still an enjoyable album to spin from time to time. Honing a style that's similar to Zero 7, Broken Bells bust out in 2010 with a fun and more than adequate debut record. Danger Mouse of Gnarls Barkley and Shin's vocalist James Mercer have collaborated to produce an album that sounds entirely different than their influences.
The Mall & Misery
24Arcade Fire
The Suburbs

Upon first listen I was immensely disappointed with The Suburbs. I thought it to be too long for its own good with more than a couple songs that I'd consider filler tracks, but I think what I was most sour about was the fact that it wasn't Funeral2.0. Win Butler and Co.'s scathing third album The Suburbs is a good example of sacrificing substance for accessibility. Some of the material here is right on par with their previous two albums, but the album is weighted overall with tracks that needn't exist. "Empty Room" drags, "Wasted Hours" is lifeless, and "The Suburbs (Continued)" is entirely pointless. Regardless, "Sprawl 2" is the perfect summer song and ranks amongst Arcade Fire's best songs and "Suburban War" might just be their greatest song. While lacking in consistency, there's still a lot to take away from this.
Suburban War
23Belle And Sebastian
Write About Love

Expectations are a bitch. It seems to be something we do subconsciously: criticizing an album for not living up to the potential of the one previous to it, despite it still being a wholly enjoyable experience. I find myself committing this cardinal error in judgment occasionally. Such was the case for Belle And Sebastian's "Write About Love" - the shoes it had to fill were massive, and well, you guessed it! It did not live up to the success of its older brothers. But let's not omit it entirely, some of the catchiest and most infectious songs of 2010 are here. "Sunday's Pretty Icons" and "I Can See Your Future" are two fantastic highlights - the latter proves Sarah Martin to be a distinguished vocalist who should both sing on more tracks during this album and, respectively, do more singing on each and every track, perhaps then they would have hit the mark. Nothing ventured, nothing gained; forward?s the only way to go!
I Can See Your Future
22The Morning Benders
Big Echo

Being released earlier in the former half of 2010, Big Echo could have been lost amidst all of the brilliant albums proceeding it, however, it has withstood the test of time. Suffice to say, Big Echo has warranted many revisits for several reasons -this album has a radiant summer-vibe to it, something you'd listen to on a beach (no, I'm not alluding to the album art). It's chocked full of catchy vocal sections and guitar hooks that will keep you playing them over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.
21Sufjan Stevens
The Age of Adz

Sufjan Stevens is not fucking around! But maybe he is? I'm not sure anymore as to whether I agree with the notion that he's fucking around or being serious. I choose to not let such things concern me though, it's irrelevant in the end - the music matters most, and The Age of Adz is one hell of an epic journey.
20Brendan Perry
19Dark Sanctuary
Dark Sanctuary

It's unfortunate, but not a lot of people are aware of 'darkwave' music. Dark Sanctuary is a brooding french album, laden with harp, viola, and two gorgeous female vocalists as they weave together some of the most touching songs imaginable. Though strenuous to listen to in its entirety (at times), Dark Sanctuary is a beautiful album for people who appreciate beautiful music.
Sous Les Neiges Eternelles
Steppin Up
17How To Dress Well
Love Remains
You Won't Need Me Where I'm Going
Marrow of the Spirit

Personally, I find Marrow of the Spirit to be their best album, and one of meditation... I realize I'm in the minority, so I won't bore anyone with my analysis.
The Watcher's Monolith

Daughters' key variable is the guitar playing juxtaposed with Alex Marshall's drawl (an Elvis Presley influenced technique), in addition to the loud dissonance collapsing in on almost every one of their songs' closing minute(s). As a vocalist, Alex Marshall has improved exponentially since Daughters' debut album Canada Songs, placing them alongside the likes of The Locust. His vocals have changed so drastically that it's hard to imagine him as the same vocalist screaming and panting his way through the short, sporadic songs on the aforementioned debut.
The First Supper
The Golden Archipelago

Rook doesn't hold a candle to The Golden Archipelago, which is why it's a shame to think that a lot of people will most likely never listen to this as a result of being put-off. The Golden Archipelago manages to do a lot in its short run-time of 38 minutes, moving from gorgeous piano-centered songs that sooth (Hidden Lakes) to triumphant, grandiose anthems "Castaways". As it turns out, good things DO come in small packages.
Hidden Lakes
13The Dillinger Escape Plan
Option Paralysis

Dillinger Escape Plan aren't nearly as aggressive as they were in the days of Calculating Infinity, but make no mistake, they're still kicking major ass! Option Paralysis is a gift to fans and a return to form after the terribly half-assed Ire Works. It's heavy when it needs to be and docile when you're least expecting it (despite there being a lot of slower, more ballad-y songs, they suit Dillinger Escape Plan.) The album leads off with the best and hardest hitting song "Farewell, Mona Lisa", a song that literally collapses in on itself in the final 30 seconds. It's an excellent summation of the entire album: chaotic.
Farewell, Mona Lisa
12Big Boi
Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty

This year wasn't phenomenal for hip-hop, which is why Big Boi's Sir Lucious Left Foot is such a breath of fresh air. Inventive sound, varied musical style, and Big Boi's engaging lyricism all work to part this from typical 'rap' albums.
11Joanna Newsom
Have One on Me

You've gotta love Joanna Newsom, she's so quirky and cute; Have One on Me might be her best CD too. I don't seem to be anywhere near as offended as most by The Milk Eyed Mender, but it's worth noting that Joanna has matured a lot - both as a vocalist and a musician, certain songs on Have One on Me recall influences like Kate Bush and Tori Amos. The songs can seem overlong at first, but it's an album that requires more than a couple of listens to fully appreciate and understand it. I had one on her
In California
10Titus Andronicus
The Monitor

tonight two great ships will pull back to their ports
depleted of everything that shoots flames and reports
and in the morning the shells will wash up on the shore
and the mighty old earth will have no other recourse
but to shiver and shake and make shit in their shorts
because we have been told "men if you've been assured
there's a way to live the valley of your forefathers gave you
The Battle of Hampton Roads
Scenes From Hell

Sigh seem destined to be overlooked by not just the Sputnik community, but in general. A myriad of criticisms regarding production value, lyricism, vocals, and the juxtaposition of renaissance-esque music with the unforgiving screams, grunts and growls (despite this being a conscious decision) have loomed over Scenes From Hell. But looking past that (for those of us who can), Scenes From Hell is full of spectacular songs. "The Summer Funeral" being the theatrical standout could possibly vie for metal song of the year and "L'art De Mourir" isn't far behind. Scenes From Hell is a menacing, polarizing, overwhelming album... Listen again.
L'art De Mourir

I never would have imagined that I'd be saying one of the happiest albums released in 2010 would have been conceived by Sigur Ros' front-man Jonsi. Sure, Sigur Ros were headed towards a poppier sound, that much was apparent with med sud i eyrum vio spilum endalaust, but I'd never expected Jonsi to bust out songs as emphatically happy and up-beat as "Go Do" and "Animal Arithmetic". The only time throughout Go where I found myself relating this to Sigur Ros' sound was in songs "Tornado" and "Henglis", otherwise this is a massive departure in style. It's an easy, fun, and wholly enjoyable listen from start to finish. I've said it before pertaining to Sigur Ros and I'll say it again here: Jonsi uses his voice almost as if it were another instrument, matching the pace and atmosphere of the songs for contextual perfection; the personification of happiness.
7Janelle Monae
The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III of IV)

I was lucky enough to get to see Janelle Monae last August for her first ever concert in Canada. It became clear to me then that Janelle Monae is so much more than just another pop star. She's an entertainer - a person who works hard to impress. When Janelle was moving about fluently on stage with the help of her dance ensemble, I realized that she really asserts herself well; she feels and believes in her music and it's very convincing to us, her audience. It's this pervasive aspect which sets The Archandroid apart from any other pop album released this year. It's the energy, the passion! Despite Janelle cramming more genres than you'd think would work into one album, she somehow pulls it off and is at the top of her game in every single song. In the hands of a less experienced artist, The Archandroid would have been a mess, but luckily it's meticulously crafted and one of the finest albums I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
Public Strain

I was going to write a soundoff for this... but then Adam Downer wrote a review.
5Flying Lotus

It's no surprise as to why Flylo's new album has been so well received by critics: it's immediate - easy to digest and very relaxing. The odd bleeps and bloops reminiscent of old Nintendo Games here and there add nostalgic value, while the oft-dark beats slickly canopy songs like "Recoiled". Cosmogramma is strung together very nicely and has a dark aura about it; an inviting one, however -one that doesn't demand attention as it's easily absorbing from start to finish.
4Current 93
Baalstorm, Sing Omega

A hidden gem if ever there was one. Baalstorm boasts chaos in a way that's all at once welcoming and frightening. Those of you who aren't aware of or are partial to neo-folk might find it difficult to listen to an album like this, but Baalstorm, Sing Omega shouldn't be quickly dismissed, it's just far too interesting. Chilling viola sections, demented organs, squawking crows, unintelligible children spontaneously screaming, sullen strings, crashing cymbals, etc., all things that sound convoluted and ridiculous on paper somehow are integral parts of Baalstorm, Sing Omega. It's not an album that's readily accessible to most,and it's sure to be shunned from many 'best of 2010' lists, but Current 93's latest effort sees itself high on my list, proudly holding the title of the fourth best album I've heard all year.
Passenger Aleph In Name
Halcyon Digest

Halcyon Digest didn't strike me as an album I'd revisit after hearing it for the first time, but I'm most certainly glad that I stuck with it. I've been somewhat disappointed with Deerhunter's previous efforts (though I haven't given them enough time in all fairness), so I can safely say that I wasn't expecting much from Halcyon Digest, but I was surprised at how cohesive it was after my second listen. Everything fits perfectly - from the playful, endearing "Revival", to the charm of Cox's voice, soaring over top the multi-colored "Helicopter", to the upbeat, energetic "Coronado". Halcyon Digest made me a believer.
2Kanye West
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Allow me to be completely honest for a moment here, until just recently I couldn't stand Kanye West - his rampant egotism originally painted the picture of a very self-absorbed douche to me. But after hearing [i]My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy[/i] it suddenly became clearer to me. Kanye IS an asshole, but he's fully conscious of this and he doesn't give a shit what we think. It?s then I realized that I was boycotting Kanye's music for the wrong reasons; you see, he's transcended his art to the point where people are now more caught up in the actual artist than the music at hand. I mean, let's be honest here, had anyone else released an album like My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy it would have been noticed, sure, but it wouldn't have been met with laudatory notice. This album is easily the best thing Kanye West has and is likely to ever lay claim to. Be it the quizzical nature of "Monster", the beautifully piano laden "Blame Game", the chopped sampling of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" on "Power", the brilliant latter half of the 9 minute epic "Runaway", the serene prelude to "Power", or the tranquil beauty of "Lost in the World"'s ending vocal intonation evocative of African chant, there are just too many reasons to love My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. This is an album that will be looked upon in years to come as a monumental work of art and Kanye's tour de force.
Blame Game
1The Knife
Tomorrow, In A Year

As my 2010 list comes to an end, I can't help but question whether I've placed everything in the right order or not. This, however, stands above them all - there isn't a shred of doubt. Here, in 2010, The Knife create an atmosphere unlike anything heard within or outside of the genre to form one of the most ethereal listening experiences in recent years. Modern music has been waiting for something as conceptually perfect as Tomorrow, In a Year. From the scuttling dissonant first half of the album to the latter, everything seems strategically juxtaposed to enthrall listeners and maintain consistency with use of transitional effects (consider the transition from the final moments of "Tumult" to the album's opus Colouring of Pigeons). The first half -sprawling as it may appear to some- only makes the second disc more enjoyable and acts as a pretext for the brilliance to come, with the anticipation growing as the music absorbs you, the listener. This album doesn't reward casual listening, which is where all the scathing criticisms towards it spawn from. However, if embraced in its entirety, Tomorrow, In a Year will open your eyes to the beauty of these genres and the inner mingling and manipulation of sound that was achieved by collaborating with Mt. Sims and Planningtorock. What?s possibly the coolest aspect of the album is how it plays to its premise of evolution. As we reach the final song "Height of Summer", it becomes blatantly obvious that Tomorrow, In a Year has evolved into pop at long last, and the journey to this pivotal point was an important and fascinating one.
Colouring of Pigeons
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