Louder Than War’s top 80 albums of 2010

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These damn lists are never final.  You start compiling and more and more stuff appears. And I’m not even a lists kind of person really. Music is beyond lists, especially in 2010. It’s too fractured to tidy up into a list. BUT we will try!
Also there’s been so many great pop singles that you can’t stick into a top 80 albums that we already have a warped picture of the year. One single download can have more value than a whole album.

Maybe the album format is dead? there’s plenty of evidence in this list that as a work of art it’s not but as one of the signposts of popular culture does the album sit alongside key gigs, festivals and the latest mobile phone or Apple releases as a signifier?

There have been lots of great releases this year but it feels like the calm before the storm. The big bands are back next year and also the cuts may kick in and things get a bit wilder out there.

Despite all this the top 80 would have been a great list in any year…

Please comment or get in touch if you have any more to add to the list!

1.  Shining ”˜Blackjazz’ (indie recordings) utterly awesome fifth album from dark yet thrilling Norwegian noise metal outfit. Wildly manic and with free jazz sax skronk on top”¦perfect!

2.  Grinderman ‘Grinderman 2’ (Mute) dark and funny collection of lyrical mid life crisis blues!

3.  Off ”˜First Four EPs’ (Vice) Keith Morris, ex Black Flag and Circle Jerks singer, in what could be his best record yet”¦a brattish, high molten Stooges/primetime hardcore assault and quite brilliant.

4.  Massive Attack ”˜Helogoland’ (Virgin) stark, dark and moody- more like the album Pil should have made after ‘Metal Box’ than the dance tag that MA get dumped with.

5.  MIA ”˜Maya’ (XL) crush collison of styles- from a cool Suicide lift to street beats from all over the world in arguably the most punk rock album of the year that mashes up international popular culture and spits it back with a political and yet empowering bile.

6.  Killing joke ‘Absolute Dissent’ (Spineform) Convincing intense comeback  from the key original line up of the highly influential outfit who possess the necessary dark voodoo to convince.

7.  Pulled Apart By Horses ”˜Pulled Apart By Horses’ (Transgressive)”¦brilliant high octane hardcore from Leeds based crew.

8.  These New Puritans ”˜Hidden’ (Angular/Domino) brilliantly imaginative reinvention of the sparse rhythmic dynamic of mid period XTC and other high IQ punk period misfits for band’s second album.

9.  Factory Floor ”˜Untitled’ (Blast First) stunning, stripped down hypnotic music with the dark pulse of classic Kraftwerk and the stripped down smarts of old school NW post punk outfits like Section 25.

10. Crass ”˜reissues’ (Southern) The classic albums remeastered and with new artwork are as potent as when they were first released in the early eighties and their uplifting call to peacenik arms are as timely as possible.

11.  Rolo Tomassi ‘Cosmology’ (hassle)”¦Diplo produced second album, tearing up the template and reconstructing as noisy cut and paste merchants.

12.  Autechre ”˜Oversteps’ (Warp) another aural adventure which sees them remain on their idiosyncratic electronic path. Complex rhythms joust with neo-soundtrack atmospherics and sounds that affect you both mentally and physically.

13. The Ex ”˜Catch My Shoe’ (Ex Records) Long time Dutch punk crew mix fractured post punk with African rebel folk and polyrthymic punk rhythms- 30 years in and still captivating

14.   Sleigh Bells ‘Treats’ (Columbia) post MIA distorted beats and boy/girl shouting. We love it.

15.  Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine ”˜Audacity Of Hype’ (alternative Tentacles) Jello’s most urgent sounding release since primtime DK’s with all the crooked wit and potent anger still intact just when we needed it.

16.    The Fall ”˜Your Future Our Clutter’ (Domino)  best recorded Fall album for yonks, where you can hear the clank and grind of the machine and the bile and humour of the lyrics.

17. Dropkick Murphy’s ‘Live on Lansdowne’ (”¦”¦.)  second live album from Irish folk/punk crew captures their raucous life affirming Guinness through a fuzzbox revelry”¦

18.  Sexual Objects ”˜Cucumber’ (Creeping Bent / Aktion & Spass) ex Fire Engines still with manic mojo intact in inventive burst of creativity.

19. Various ‘Black Hole- Californian Punk 1977-1980’ (Domino) LTW! Favorite Jon Savage’s collection of the initial speed kills Cali punk bands from 76/78

20. GBH – ‘Perfume and Piss (Hellcat) second wave punk veterans

21.   Street Dogs ”˜Street Dogs’ (Hellcat) former Dropkick Murphies frontman returns with street punk crew who pack in the songs on their guttural album

22.   Bear in Heaven ”˜Beast Rest Forth Mouth’ (Hometapes) sparse electronic workouts

23.   The Jim Jones Review ”˜Burning Your House Down’ (PIAS) re inventing the wheel and making rock n roll sound urgent and sharply dressed again.

24.  No Age ‘Everything In Between’. (Sub Pop) Filthy noise that is quite beautiful in its innovation and atmosphere and stunning in its scope for two people to create.

25.  Warpaint ”˜The Fool’ (Rough Trade) Shining, haunting, affecting wash of pure Californian beauty”¦.chiming production aided by John Frusciante

26.   Cancer Bats ”˜Bears, Mayors, Scraps and Bones’ (Distrort) charismatic, shouty 21st century punk hardcore

27.   Deftones ”˜Diamond Eyes’ (Reprise) pissing on the template with still powerful yet post nu metal atmospherics. Emotional and articulate and an example of how to make triumphant music out of the tragedy of their bassist ending up in a coma after a car accident.

28.  Sick of it All ”˜Based on a True Story’ (Century Media Records) convincingly brutal release as ever from New York legends and one of the last survivors of old school hardcore still cutting it.

29.  Edwyn Collins ”˜Losing Sleep’ (Heavenly) heart warming survivor  who overcame illness and who has not lost his touch in writing great songs.

30.  Manic Street Preachers ”˜Postcards From A Young Man’ (Sony) still writing great songs and still believing and still pissing people off”¦

31. Rammstein Liebe ist für alle da’  (Universal) ok I know it came out at the back end of 2009 but their stomping teutonic technocore metal with hilarious wind up lyrics sung in German is part of this year’s soundtrack at LTW! And we didn’t exist last year.

32.  Belle and Sebastian ”˜Write About Love’ (Rough Trade)”¨great tunes and deceptively tough no compromise attitude that makes them punk rock.

33.  LCD Soundsystem ‘This Is Happening’ (EMI) deconstructing the technology into human chunks and great witty songs.

34.     NOFX ‘The Longest EP’ (Fat Wreck) compilation of odds and sods from played for laughs but with no compromise punk rock politic attitude.

35.  Motorhead ”˜The World is Yours’ (Motorhead) Is here not only for just for being Lemmy and his not bending to anyone’s will or whim or the brilliant video for the single where Lemmy beats up the bankers but also for being the twentieth album of tough, punk rock action from the true heirs to the MC5.

36.  Hey Colussus ‘Hey Colossus And The Van Halen Time Capsule Present Eurogrumble Volume One’ (Riot Season) stunning, vibrant racket

37. Paranoid Visions ”˜Black Operations In The Red Mist!’ (PV) Dublin based long term Crass disciples sounding better and angrier than ever.

38.  Frightened Rabbit ”˜The Winter of Mixed Drinks’ (Fatcat) proving folk doesn’t have to be the terrain of the dippy and trendy.

39.  Dum Dum Girls ‘I Will Be’ (Subpop) joyous girl gang chug guitar anthems like the Ronettes hanging out with the Ramones in the coolest looking street gang ever.

40.    Icarus Line ”˜Untitled’ ok, ok, it’s not out till next year but it’s an amazing record, their best yet and pure rock n roll

41.     Charlotte Gainsbourg ‘IRM’ veteran chanteuse in smokey, cool comeback that oozes sex and smarts.

42.  The Dillinger Escape Plan ‘Option Paralysis’ (Party Smasher) Tough, brutal and inventive 21st century hardcore but not genre trapped.

43. Interpol ‘Interpol’ (Matador) dark, moody atmopsherics from band who have now transcended their record collections and love of Mancunian moodists like Joy Div and the Chameleons and struck out on their own.

44.    Crystal Castles ”˜Crystal Castles 2′ (Fiction)  fucked up twisted electro pop machinations.

45.  Liars ”˜Sisterworld’ (Mute) more dislocated adventures

46.  Gogol Bordello ‘Trans-Continental Hustle’ (American recordings) more gypsy punk from the American outfit. This time produced by Rick Rubin.

47.  Male Bonding ‘Nothing Hurts’ (Sub Pop) Bubblegum with a punkish attitude

48.  Swans  ”˜My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky’ (Young God)  sternly impressive comeback

49.  Gaslight Anthem  ‘American Slang’ (sideone dummy) dealing anthemic post Bruce Springsteen songs of love and loss on the American heartland”¦

50.  Deerhunter ”˜Halcyon Digest’ (4AD) highly original twisted indie with a hint of the godlike Marc Bolan in the vocal warbles.

51.    Gil Scott-Heron ”˜I’m New Here’ (Rough Trade) stunning return from smoky voiced king of gravitas and wisdom.

52. The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster ‘Blood & Fire’ (No Death) still on fire and still sharply deranged and dangerous as ever with their filthy punk rock hooligan blues

53.  The Vaselines ‘Sex With An Ex’ (Subpop) Great  return from sassy, steamy garage indie bedsit outfit beloved by Curt Cobain.

54.  Slim Cessna’s Auto Club – ‘Buried Behind The Barn’ (alternative tentacles) country blues, gothabilly mess of blues”¦

55. Pink Industry ‘New Technology 2010’ reissue (Brazil) Liverpool freak show that was packed full of fiery talent making utterly original music.

56. Sufjan Stevens ‘The Age Of Adz’ (Asthemetic Kitty) another one off release and first for five years, adventures in electronics and orchestration and twisted into something very new.

57.  Gorillaz ‘Plastic Beach’ (Parlaphone)  their weakest album yet but still close to pop perfection. Looking forward to their ipad recorded xmas day released album (note- not the first ipad recorded release)

58.  Kelis ‘Flesh Tone’. Pop at its most wacky and kooky.

59.   Charlatans ”˜Who We Touch’ (Cooking Vinyl)  still stylishly mod and effortlessly pop cool with Hammond driven classic British pop plus a Penny Rimbaud poem.

60.   Caribou ”˜Swim’ (Rough Trade) unclassifiable mash of electronic multi rhythms and organic kookiness, quite brilliant.

61.  Strawberry Blondes ‘Fightback’   melodic Clash flavoured rock n roll.

62.  Frontline Assembly ‘Civilisation’ Dependent) industrial crew who still prove there is plenty of life in the form.

63.  D.O.A. ‘Talk – Action = 0’ hardcore legends who have never lost their edge.

64.  Every Time I Die – New Junk Aesthetic ”˜ (Epitaph) metalcore meets mathrock as suitably complex and visceral as you would expect.

65.   Drums Of Death ”˜Generation Hexed’  noisy and inventive molten meltdown of techno, rave and punk rock”¦

66.  Electric Wizard ”˜Black Masses’ (Rise Above)  Dorset doom metal

67.               Blackhole ”˜Dead Hearts’ muscular hardcore from Gallows brothers band

68.               Pendulum ”˜Immersion’  (Warners) pleasingly dumb post Prodigy gonzoid stadium dance fun.

69.  I Am Kloot ”˜Sky At Night’ (Shepherd Moon) heart on sleeve raw crafted Mancunian late night bedsit guitars”¦

70. The Black Keys ”˜Brothers‘ (nonesuch) raucous blues drenched rock n roll with a powerful intensity

71. Roky Erickson with Okkervil River ‘True Love Cast Out All Evil’ (ANTI)  just for being Roky and for still being with us”¦and for his first new album for 14 years.

72. Chrome Hoof ”˜Crush depth’ more orchestral antics from ex cathedral experimentalists

73. Johnny CashAmerican VI: Ain’t No Grave‘ (American) with that voice even the crumbs he left on the studio floor sound great

74. Gonjasufi ”˜A Sufi And  A Killer (Warp) fantastic dark smoky voice hobo hip hop from yoga loving desert rat

75. Pantha Du Prince ”˜Black Noise’ stripped down minimalist techno with hint of shoe gazing

76. Holy Fuck ‘Latin’ (Young Turk) cut and past electronic mash up fun.

77. The Coral ”˜Butterfly House’ (Deltasonic) classy sixties fused garage pop

78. Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse ”˜Dark Night of the Soul‘(Capitol) conceptual meeting of diverse minds with a glossy book of David Lynch pics.

79. Against Me ”˜White Crosses’ (sire) melodic black t shirt punk rock angst

80. Eminem ‘Recovery’ (Interscope) still capable of great moments whilst dealing with the tricky topic of outgrowing brattish personae

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40 comments on “Louder Than War’s top 80 albums of 2010”

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  1. Loving the list, making me want to catch up on a few I’ve missed. Can I suggest Frank Turner?

  2. Laberinto ‘Bohemio’Using great samples, hard but funky beats and spat in Colombian Spanish, this group who hail from Medellin, deserve to be heard. I don’t speak Spanish but I don’t need to, the music connects, and you don’t need more than that.

    Hope & Social ‘April’ Available for what you can afford to pay from their website, this lp is sublime. Fantastic vocals, rousing, sing-a-long choruses, trumpets, violins, saxophones, banjos, wonky tonk piano and massed choirs. Here is a band making great music and keeping control of their own destiny. Ace!

    Asmara All Stars ‘Eritrea’s Got Soul’ For fans of the recent(ly) rediscovered Ethiopian jazz/soul and funk sounds of the 5o/60’s via the awesome Ethiopiques series, here comes the next in the seemingly never ending series of beautiful African music. A mix of new sounds mixing with the aft mentioned jazz/soul Asmara All Stars just make great music.

    Janelle Monae ‘The ArchAndriod’ I’ve only just come across this but I love it. A real mix of contemporary RnB, Hip Hop, Soul, Funk and Pop. Monae has a great voice and appears to be willing to experiment with sounds and not care too much for convention. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

    John Legend & The Roots’Wake Up’ I’ve never been keen on John Legend. I am however a massive Rootsfan. For me, they are the most experimental and interesting Hip Hop band around, making quality music and in ?uestlove they have one of the true innovators. The two go together here brilliantly, taking on political, protest music and making it their own. Legend’s voice and delivery perfectly complimenting The Roots live hip hop approach.

    Roots Manuva and Wrong Tom ‘Duppy Writer’ Our own Hip Hop innovator. Roots has always done his own thing and never really got the props his music deserves. He has done it again on this album. Teaming up with Hard-Fi’s old tour DJ Wrong Tom, they have remixed/re-imagined Roots material to create a fresh new Dancehall album, straight out of Stockwell!

  3. Lists are slightly pointless but quite good fun and a useful way of discovering new music, so here is what I think everyone should have been listening to in 2010, in some sort of vague order that got slightly arbitrary after about number 12…

    1. 65daysofstatic – We Were Exploding Anyway
    2. Flowers Of Hell – “O”
    3. Delphic – Acolyte
    4. Exit Calm – Exit Calm
    5. Holy Fuck – Latin
    6. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
    7. I Like Trains – He Who Saw The Deep
    8. Y Niwl – Y Niwl
    9. Charlie Barnes – Geekk
    10. The Phantom Band – The Wants
    11. Pantha Du Prince – Black Noise
    12. The Strange Death Of Liberal England – Drown Your Heart Again
    13. Her Name Is Calla – The Quiet Lamb
    14. OMD – History Of Modern
    15. Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner
    16. Insect Guide – Dark Days And Nights
    17. Laboratory Noise – When Sound Generates Light
    18. Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles
    19. Islet – Wimmy
    20. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

    Just missed out: These New Puritans, Manic Street Preachers, I Am Kloot, probably other stuff I have forgotten…

  4. Passion, Pain & Loyalty by Orphan Boy

  5. John, you thinking of Badmarsh & Shri? The bass player we met. Albums are Dancing Drums and Signs. I’ll burn all this and the above off and post to you….

  6. John, great list, but you missed Patrick Duff’s second solo LP “The mad straight road” off. Stunning return to form from the ex-Strangelove man and my fave for 2010. Would probably add Devo and OMD’s latest offerings to the list too – great return to form from a couple of veterants. And the Black Rebel Motorcycle album “Beat the devil’s tatoo”.

  7. I’s suggest the debut album from THE MATTLESS BOYS on http://www.drummingmonkey.de records.
    Featuring Duncan Reid, Honest John Plain, Vom Ritchie and Casion Steel from The Boys.
    It’s superb!

  8. stick Tamaryn “the waves” in, and @landdaniel’s *riverrun* ambient project…and if you’re doing bands related to icarus line who have albums out next year, stick @QueenKwong’s LP in there (that too is out next year and produced by Joe Cardamone.) If not, put her on a one to watch next year list. With Daniel Land and the Modern Painters’ second LP. yeah? peace.

  9. Also R Loren’s Sailors with Wax Wings LP. Utter genius. From Texas, a state that balances political stupidity with musical and artistic excellence(see also Roky Erikson, Butthole Surfers, Lift to Experience, Pyramids etc etc)

  10. “We Come As Aliens” by Vic Godard – I reckon it’s his best since “What’s The Matter Boy”. Some great pop tunes, and brilliant spirit.
    “A Memory is Better Than Nothing” The Television Personalities. Hit and miss in places, but some wonderful tunes on there.
    And “God Bless Jim Kennedy” by Me, of course…

  11. Best Coast – Crazy For You. Sun-kissed, breezy indie pop with an undercurrent of noise-fuzz dream rock the Jesus and Mary Chain would be proud of.

  12. There’s some great records in the above list, lots that’d appear on my top 80 list were I to compile one. And great little potted descriptions of each too. On the money with each one.

    I’ve always suspected the best way to do album of the year lists is to separate it by genres. There’s not much in the list above from the dubstep/ukfunky/etc scene. And it’s been the best year ever for this genre with it’s move out into the mainstream. So to keep the dubstep massive happy here’s some of my favourites from said genre:

    Actress – Splazsh
    Altered Natives – Tenement Yard Volume One
    Baths – Cerulean
    Daedelus – Righteous Fists Of Harmony
    Flying Lotus – Pattern+Grid World
    The Gaslamp Killer – Death Gate
    Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner
    Ikonika – Contact, Love, Want, Have
    Lorn – Nothing Else
    Mount Kimbie – Crooks & Lovers
    Matthew Dear – Black City
    Nosaj Thing – Drift Remixed
    Scuba – Triangulation
    Shlohmo – Camping
    Starkey – Ear Drums And Black Holes
    Teebs – Ardour
    Tokimonsta – Midnight Menu
    Magnetic Man – The Cyberman EP (if EP’s are allowed)

    And finally, one of my top 3 albums of the year was the brilliant remixed version of Dubkasms roots reggae/dub album from 2007, “Transform I”, remixed by some of dubsteps top stars & imaginatively called (‘dubbed’, if you like)(sorry) “Transform I (Remixed)”. I would encourage anyone with even the vaguest of interests in reggae/dubstep to sniff out both these records.

    I shall leave it at that but there are an awful lot of other records that come to mind that could have made the list. But my head isn’t limiting itself to just 80, so whether all the records I’m thinking of would’ve made my top 80 I really don’t know.

  13. since you have Shining at #1, did you dig the New Wet Kojak albums by Scout McCloud etc (him from Girls Against Boys). they were a nice mix of indie alternative and skronky jazz. few years old now. he’s still going tho – Paramount Styles. Had an album a couple of years ago. http://www.myspace.com/paramountstylesnyc

  14. Agree on GvsB. they made “having two bassists” the new “having two drummers”.

  15. You’ll want to add a facebook button to your blog. I just bookmarked this article, although I had to complete it manually. Simply my $.02 :)

    – Robson

  16. i gues i have a bit of listening to do. thanks for the tips

  17. sure thing, i will root out the electronic version

  18. Surprised to see the Manic’s album up there! Have been a fan of the manics from the beginning and whilst I thought there were some great songs on there was far from a classic. Really like John Grant’s the Queen of Denmark. A bit mainstream but sometimes classic songwriting, is classic songwriting.

  19. @ LTW: Great list and well done for spotting Eighty decent(-ish) albums; seen some of these live at one time or other; not heard Roky Erickson since the Eighties (thought he was dead, hehe).
    Hellbastard might have been a good rock/metal addition.
    @ Gavin (20/12/10): They did well to pick 80; Manics are, kind of, the least mainstream of the mainstream groups (sort of left of centre and art school-ish).

  20. Unlucky Fried Kitten

    It must be so difficult to compile a list such as this one. It has left me with lots to check out…having been extremely busy over 2010…but…I’m happy with the Manics being there…and MIA and Crystal Castles and LCD Soundstystem.
    The only absent gem of 2010 that springs to mind for me is Shadows…a fine return to form from Teenage Fanclub. I love their 12-string feelgood guitar thrum so they would be there…for me.
    Someone mentioned that the Television Personalities had an album out…really??? I missed that one…so I’ll search for that :-)

    • Louder Than War

      check out Sleigh Bells..great album

      Teenage fan Club should have been in there…you are totally correct…

  21. Unlucky Fried Kitten

    There Is a Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let’s Keep It a Secret by Bring Me The Horizon…can I like that one???

  22. Of that lot, I think These New Puritans is my top thing of this year. Awesomely inventive, has a ‘what the fuck is THAT?!’ factor. The Swans album was good too. I quite liked Grinderman. The Belle and Sebastian album was in my most disapointing few major releases of the year – I really need to listen to it again as it has totally passed me by. The Arcade Fire record was generally ‘meh!’ despite one fucking amazing track

    (‘They heard me singing and they told me to stop, quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock…)

    genius.

    I think the most consistently pleasing thing for me this year was the excellent ‘Black Lantern Music’ netlabel from Scotland, which for a free label is really incredible. Intelligent, inventive – eclectic too, dubstep, hiphop, glitchy shit – even poetry. They win my award for 2010…

    link: http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=black+lantern+music&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

    • Louder Than War

      black lantern have done some great stuff…

      I can’t claim this list to be definitve…there’s far too much good stuff going on and looking back i don’t even agree with some of the list!

  23. Ah, sorry, just noted you didn’t actually have the Arcade Fire album in yr list! doh!

  24. John, you would love Spectorbullets – email me your address again!

  25. BTW, The TVPs album mentioned above, is sublime. Dan has it still!

  26. thought some oi bands like cock sparrer,ructions(dublin),runnin riot(belfast) might have made it.good selection though,grindermann vg.

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