Top 10 Albums of 2010 That Made Nobody's List (But Should Have Been on Everyone's)

Guest Post by: Steve Gregg
The state of the union here in America says 2010 was a year, but judging by my list of favorite albums, I'd say it was the year of pertinacious energy and optimism. Yes, some of the albums on my list might not be the “best,” but they were the albums that I listened to the most, the albums that meant the most to me.

Mavis Staples
You Are Not Alone

Staples collaborated with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, who produced this album like Rick Rubin produced Johnny Cash's last albums. The blueprint: bring an aging artist back to his or her roots, strip the music down, mix a couple of covers and traditionals with some never material, and watch the aging artist emerge back into the spotlight with new vigor. The blueprint works. You Are Not Alone is a winning effort for Staples, who should have never been out of the spotlight to begin with.

Big Boi
Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty

Have a good time: that's all this album asks of you. A long-time coming, Sir Lucious Left Foot is a bucketful of party, deep-fried in the South, brimming with tongue-tying, boastful, lyrics and oozing with a trail of funk that leads all the way back to the Mothership. Big Boi is ever inventive and charismatic, and his flawless flow elegantly complements every crazy turn of the production. Gospel choir on “General Patton,” I'm talking to you.


8.The Mynabirds
What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood

I've been waiting for years for someone to come along and take what Cat Power has tried to do – resurrect the country and soul sounds of the 1960s – and actually do it well. Finally, here came Laura Burhenn, the lady-half of defunct indie-pop duo Georgie James, in 2010. The debut album from the Mynabirds has been my go-to album for breathy blue-eyed, horn-riddled soul that shuffles, jangles, and bounces just the way Dusty Springfield did.

7. Against Me!
White Crosses

I'm the first to admit that I thought the punkness of White Crosses would be outside of my comfort zone. Then, I listened to it, and my comfort zone grew larger. With White Crosses, Against Me! did not create just another throwaway disc of teen-aged angst. Instead, they created a catchy slice of rock-and-roll a short-but-sweet drive through a post-adolescent wasteland.

The Tallest Man on Earth
The Wild Hunt

After I gave The Wild Hunt to a friend of mine, he texted me this message: Now I know how people must have felt the first time they heard Bob Dylan. The Tallest Man on Earth, Kristian Matsson, probably gets compared to Dylan too often, but there's a reason for it. Like Dylan, Matsson cuts a concise figure of the human condition with deft hands. This album is simple and comforting, a fit companion for the times when you might feel like the onliest man that ever lived.

The National
High Violet

I can't think of any other album by any other band in 2010 that made melancholy sound so refreshing. High Violet subtly moves without ever relying on hooks or coherent narration. Its power rests in its instrumentation – a bassoon here, a string section here, Matt Beringer's baritone everywhere. Funereal anthems from start to finish, High Violet is 11 songs that are both sad and happy simultaneously. Even more amazing is that these happy-sad songs compel us to sing along, happily.

Foxy Shazam
Foxy Shazam

I'm the little brother of a Queen lover. Coming of age in the 1980s, my brother, a solid six years older than me, blared the soundtrack to Flash Gordon when he'd pick me up from school. At the time, I was embarrassed by it, the guilty pleasure that it is. But the more I listened to it, the more I grew to embrace it and Queen alike. Foxy Shazam works on me in much the same way. Their self-titled album is a victory lap full of blistering guitar solos, fiery theatrics, and flamboyant vocals that should allow Freddie Mercury to rest a little more peacefully. Foxy Shazam fills the Queen-sized void.

The Gaslight Anthem
American Slang

Some of the best songs are songs that tell stories, and Brian Fallon, lead vocalist for The Gaslight Anthem, has no shortage of stories to tell, much like the Boss. Blogs have complained about Fallon's affection for all things Springsteen for several years, but, hey, if you're going to incessantly channel someone, who better to channel than Bruuuuuuce? American Slang is a slick one-two wallop of youthful mythology that finds strength in its brevity, veracity, and uncanny ability to deliver an honest-to-god hook.

Cee Lo Green
The Lady Killer

Cee Lo's summertime mixtape, Stray Bullets, warned us that this album was coming, but little could have prepared anyone for the vocal prowess and confident artistry that Cee Lo would thrust at us full-force with The Lady Killer. Seriously, What doesn't this The Lady Killer do? Fueled by the viral hit, “Fuck You!,” The Lady Killer is an fantastic collage of progressive soul, eccentric uptown hip-hop, and seductive spy-thriller themes. You can't help but be mesmerized.

Fang Island
Fang Island

Pure joy, that's what Fang Island's self-titled album is. In Pitchfork's review of this album, Fang Island describes their aesthetic as “everyone high-fiving everyone,” and that's about as accurate as it gets. I've had to tear myself away from this album out of fear that I'd ruin it, that somehow by overplaying it I'd squeeze the everloving life out of it. But that's a ridiculous notion. This album is a neverending triumph, no matter how tightly I hold it. The blistering power chords and revitalizing lyrics continually tell me so.

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