25) Odd Blood by Yeasayer
Prior to the release of Odd Blood, Yeasayer was nothing more than a lowly New York based Art-Rock act that’s debut, All Hour Cymbals, was an inconsiderable production. Three years later, Yeasayer is one of the biggest buzz bands touring on the back of an ’80s influenced throwback collection which includes one of the best songs of the year in “Ambling Alp.” Which makes me wonder if its simply talent, or if there are darker forces at work. Did this group of musicians sell their souls to Beelzebub in the back alley of some hipster watering hole in Brooklyn? Was Odd Blood the product of this devilish deal? Time will tell I suppose.
24) Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager by Kid Cudi
Cudi broke onto the scene with a more than impressive debut last year and cemented his position as the top Stoner Rap artist on the market with his 2010 release Man On The Moon II. It’s the self-deprication that hooked me. Cudi doesn’t rhyme about Versace Shades, being a motherfuckin’ monster, or living like a gangster. Cudi can’t afford designer sunglasses, his self-esteem isn’t healthy enough to be a self-proclaimed monster, and he lives in more of a hipster’s paradise than a ghetto. Scott Mescudi knows three things, the bitter cold the world has to offer, how to sooth the pain with the stickiest of the icky, and how to create savage rhymes from it all. And he’s managed to gain the respect of the top dogs the game has to offer.
23) Songs For A Sinking Ship by April Smith & The Great Picture Show
April Smith & The Great Picture Show’s debut full length combines elements of old school ragtime and swing with new age pop influence making for one hell of a dance party when you spin it. Smith’s soulful crooning on tracks like “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” “Dixie Boy,” and “Terrible Things,” a track picked up HBO for the promotional commercial of Weeds, will have you whispering the words into your lover’s ear as you slow dance the night away. Later you can skank with your partner, arm in arm, to songs like “Movie Loves A Screen,” and my favorite, “Colors.”
22) Sea Of Cowards by The Dead Weather
Jack White has the midas touch and he struck gold again in 2010 with his latest project, The Dead Weather. This rock supergroup, composed of Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Dean Fertita (Queens Of The Stone Age), Jack Lawrence (The Greenhornes), and White, is by far the most powerful live act playing music today, and managed to capture its turf quaking intensity on a record for the second straight year Sea Of Cowards. With Mosshart’s banchee-like wales at the helm, Ferita’s bluesy rock riffs, and a rhythm section manned by White and Lawrence, in my humble opinion, The Dead Weather are the modern day embodiment of the late Led Zeppelin, and Sea Of Cowards is a Bluesified Rock N’ Roll classic.
“The Difference Between Us”
21) Contra by Vampire Weekend
Imagine a deserted island in the Caribbean. Translucent aquamarine waters crash into white-sand shore lines as green canopies sprout from the soil and the natives, preppy collegiates sporting sandals, in $80 pre-ripped jeans, and pastel colored Polo Shirts with popped collars, play volleyball in the sun. If you’ve successfully manifested this universe then you are currently in the correct state of mind to receive what Vampire Weekend has to offer with its sophomore release, Contra. This album is a sonic rendition of life on Cape Cod at Christmas, the sound of a privileged existence, a soundtrack to the world of the silver spoon. There are no sad songs and waltzes on this record, just champagne wishes (“Horchata”), political fixes (“Diplomat’s Son”), and upbeat mixes (“Holiday,” “Cousins”).
20) Shut Up, Dude by Das Racist
If Kid Cudi is the king of Stoner Rap then the guys from Das Racist are the clown princes of Munchy Rap. Forget about big screen televisions and self-loathing. The motto of this group has to be if “If you’ve got nothing, then you have nothing to be depressed about.” Instead, Himanshu Suri, Victor Vazquez, and Ashok Kondabolu have found that the quickest way to a hipster’s heart is through comedic “blunt raps,” with plenty of nerd-core pop culture references, and tracks with no more than thirty different words about the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell on Jamaica Avenue. Lots of news outlets more noteworthy than this one think Das Racist’s second release of 2010, Sit Down, Man, trumps Shut Up, Dude. Well, you heard it here first I suppose, it doesn’t…they’re both posses equal amounts of bad assedness.
19) Good Morning, Magpie by Murder By Death
Unlike the rest of the Murder By Death Catalogue, there is no extended concept on Good Morning, Magpie, no talk about the end of days, apocalyptic zombie hoards, or killer robots, only a depiction of the human condition on both ends of the spectrum in the most upbeat way this group of Indie Folk-Rockers knows how. The joys associated with bourbon drenched mornings and whiskey soaked nights are played out over the short intro track “Kentucky Bourbon,” which flows into “As Long As There Is Whiskey World.” The pains of the penniless are touched upon in “King Of The Gutter, Prince Of The Dogs,” as are the difficulties acquired those in the mourning process on “Yes,” which, coincidentally, is the catchiest song this band has ever recorded.
18) Castle Talk by Screaming Females
New Brunswick’s own Screaming Females is the latest act to make it out of the basements and into the big time. This D.I.Y. Punk act has captivated listeners with its fourth full-length release, Castle Talk, bringing out the crowds in droves all over the world. Screaming Females was always a good band, but something has transformed it, given it that mass appeal, and it is that front-woman Marisa Paternoster has been turned loose. Although Punk-Rock has always stressed power and attitude over ability, this three-piece is able to combine all three and Paternostro is at the epicenter with her savage guitar artistry and a newly discovered luscious vocal style. Look for Screaming Females on the festival circuit this summer as it turns every tent covered performance into a raging mosh.
“A New Kid”
17) This Is Happening by LCD Soundsystem
I’m sure I’ll take some heat for placing This Is Happening so low on the list but in all honesty, save for the opening salvo “Dance Yourself Clean,” one of the best tracks of the year, a lot of these songs are of unreasonable length and get fucking boring after James Murphy runs out of lyrics and is forced to repeat the chorus for the final tw0-minutes. That being said, “Drunk Girls,” a comedic study of the differences between drunk chicks and bros during a long night on the town, and the nearly 9-minute aforementioned introductory number, are truly great songs. I found that the first three quarters of the rest of the bunch are very enjoyable, if only James Murphy would have cut out the monotony, LCD Soundsystem could have created one of the greatest records ever made.
16) Brothers by The Black Keys
What struck me most about Brothers is that just about every song on this record can be used as the introductory number for a gangster films. It’s easy to picture a black cadillac lurking down the cobblestones in the Italian North End of Boston when “Next Girl” plays. How about a quick cutting montage of devious New York City nightlife with “Tighten Up” playing in the background. And “Howlin’ For You” could definitely act the soundtrack to the Reservoir Dogs’ slow motion strut in the opening of Tarantino’s film. This album is full of dangerous music. It’s Bluesy Rock N’ Roll done correctly by a duo whose done it right for a decade.
“She’s Long Gone”