The Shit List: Ten Best Albums Of 2010

Like every supremely self-important rock blog, we have taken it upon ourselves to unleash our own Best Of 2010 list for your perusal. Let me tell you, though, it wasn't easy. 2010 was an absolute crappy year for music as more than a few normally dependable bands that we had come to swear by turned in sub-par albums (we won't name any names, as most of them know who they are). As if that weren't bad enough, most new bands hitting the scene were total douche-bag poseurs with nary two original thoughts to rub together. Of course, the very fact that the once mighty music industry has become such a sad shell of its former self just makes the whole thing that much sadder. The music industry has joined the typewriter industry in the "Why the fuck even bother?" department and, hey, you heard it here first.

Amusement Parks On Fire - Road Eyes [listen to the title cut]
I remember being somewhat hesitant to pop this one in after reading of their loose association with Sigur Ros, but it took mere seconds for my worries to crumble under the glorious weight of a million choral voices washing over me like feathers shot from a cannon. I've yet to hear anyone mention this band without also dropping the "S" word (shoegaze), but that's such a lazy descriptor for a band whose sound is alternately ethereal, expansive, esoteric and explosive. What sets them apart from a number of great acts mining similar territory is their impressive command of melody and their willingness to embrace pop tradition while pushing the envelope.

Chumbawamba - ABCDEFG [listen to "Torturing James Hetfield"]
If you'd have told me this time last year that my Best Of 2010 list would include a freakin' Chumbawamba album, I'd have probably choked on my own tongue, but damn if these tub thumpin' one-hit wonders didn't make one of the more joyous records these ears have heard in a long while. The perfect antidote to the drivel the hipsters are spinning.

Darker My Love - Alive As You Are [listen to "Trail The Line"]
While earlier releases showed a love for (and command of) My Bloody Valentine/Cocteau Twins-ian guitar pop, DML command attention by hitting upon a sound that is a brilliant amalgamation of so many great bands, from CCR to REM, yet entirely their own.

School Of Seven Bells - Disconnect From Desire [listen to "Windstorm"]
Take the carefree and breathtaking vocals of sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza, mix in the multi-instrumental and production talents of Benjamin Curtis (ex-Secret Machines), and what you might expect to get is nowhere near as mind-blowing as the actual results, as heard on the group's stellar second effort, Disconnect From Desire. Owing an obvious debt to bands like Cocteau Twins and other 4AD acts of the mid-to-late 80's, School Of Seven Bells create a musical landscape that is cinematic in scope and rich with swirling detail. Slap on a pair of headphones and enter a parallel musical dimension.

Black Mountain - Wilderness Heart [listen to "Rollercoaster"]
If guilty pleasures are your thing, there is no record guiltier than this - a heady mix of glorious 70's classic rock riffage and shameless hooks flying at you from all directions. Those who believe (or need to be convinced) that it's all been done need only listen to this album for absolute confirmation. That's not to say this album is a prisoner of its own influences. Quite the opposite, in fact. The genius is in the construction, the careful selection of colors from the palette and, of course, the execution.

The Birthday Massacre - Pins And Needles (featured track: "Always")
This Canadian pop-goth outfit broke out of their shell and embraced their melodic side on 2007's Walking With Strangers, but, on their latest effort, they return to the harder-edged sonic attack that made their first couple records so promising. Of course, they are savvy enough to keep the hummable melodies intact, creating an album that skillfully straddles the line between deep goth-cred and something the mainstream could sink its teeth into, if it were so inclined. This is the band's best yet.

Best Coast - Crazy For You (featured track: "Boyfriend")
Nothing new going on here -at all - but who needs new when something this old-school is done so right and sounds so good? Sugar-pop melodies drenched in vintage reverb and soaring female vocals. Our prediction is that the rest of the world catches up to this so-far-behind-they-they're-ahead-of-their-time band in 2011.

Sweet Apple - Love And Desperation (featured track: "I've Got A Feeling")
Having never been a big fan of Dinosaur Jr., we never expected to like this record as much as we did. J Mascis and friends have kicked out the kind of rock album that makes you want to trade in the Prius for a primer-gray 1978 Camaro with a bitchin' eight-track tape deck. If you haven't given this one the time of day yet, do so. NOW!

Jimmy Eat World - Invented (featured track: "Evidence")
Arizona's favorite sons are three albums past the one that put them on the map and, though not as many folks are listening these days, the band have grown better and better with each new effort, creating songs that slyly sneak up on you from behind, compliment you on your retro checkboard Vans, and then blow you against the wall with the force of a thousand Marshall stacks set on stun.

Nada Surf - If I Had A Hi-Fi (featured track: "You Were So Warm")
Considering how great their last two records have been, it's no surprise that the band's taste in musical influences runs just as cool. This collection of covers sees the band covering a lot of ground; from vintage Dwight Twilley to eternally ethereal Kate Bush and beyond. What makes this record such a must-have is the band's ability to weave so many disparate song styles into a cohesive album that doesn't sound like a band running through bunch of other people's songs. Nada Surf achieve the next-to-impossible by making each and every song their own. Heck, Dwight Twilley himself was so impressed with their version of his song "You Were So Warm" that he posted a link to the song on his Facebook page.

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