You Ain’t No Picasso’s favorite albums of 2010

This was a pretty interesting year. But amid all the craziness I managed to find some good records. It wasn’t favorite year for music, but it was still a good one. Here’s what I enjoyed the most in 2010.

#30. Idiot GleeEP
(Hop Hop, 2010)

The only thing that makes me happier than putting this EP on is knowing that it’s 100% a product of Lexington. James has nothing but good things ahead of him if he keeps up the great work with Idiot Glee — and with his debut due out next year on Moshi Moshi, I have no reason to doubt that he’ll be on my favorites list again next year.

#29: Summer Fictions/t
(self released, 2010)

As I said when I first discovered this group a week or so ago — this record’ late-in-the-year release was a great “ha ha” to any pop fan who already made and posted their year-end list. This record is exceptionally solid and has held up well on repeated listens — not often something you can say about the area of pop Summer Fiction occupies.

#28: The RootsHow I Got Over
(Def Jam, 2010)

One of the smartest hip hop groups of all time refuse to break their streak of good records. I was a little surprised by the decision to sample Monsters of Folk/Jim James, but it turned out great. I guess that’s why they’re the Roots and I’m just a fan.

#27: Ben Folds/Nick HornbyLonely Avenue
(Nonesuch, 2010)

Ben Folds is doing a remarkable job of sustaining greatness this far along in his career. Teaming up with Nick Hornby was a bold choice that paid off very, very well. And it takes some real skill to write a smart, catchy song about Levi Johnston.

#26. Sufjan StevensAge of Adz
(Asthmatic Kitty, 2010)

I would have figured that Sufjan’s return would have yielded at least a top 10 score, but that’s not the way it played out. The songwriting is rock solid, but the production lost me at times.

#25. Guardss/t
(self released, 2010)

Hooked by Cult’s involvement on “Sail It Slow,” reeled into the boat and gutted by the rest of it. The fact that it’s free doesn’t mean it’s not quality. Snatch it up while you still can and then join me in crossing our fingers to hope for years and years of more great music from this group.
#24. Oh No OnoEggs
(Friendly Fire, 2010)

I got my first taste of Eggs while riding through the Finnish countryside. When I got home the record sounded just as sweet as it did thousands of miles from home. These Danish imps have crafted a record that succeeded where so many of their idols have lately fallen flat.

#23. The NationalHigh Violet
(4AD, 2010)

I hesitate to call myself a “National fan” — I mean, I like them but in my experience being a National fan is like being a soccer hooligan. They’ve got some dedicated fans. But even though the bug hasn’t bit me solidly yet, I still loved this record. It’s dark, deep and dynamic.

#22. Avi Buffalos/t
(Sub Pop, 2010)

Here’s a record that — while fairly acclaimed — didn’t really seem to get the attention it deserved. If they can toss out another one as good as this, I’d bet that they’re going to see a Shins-like explosion that reaches into their back catalogue. But until then, you and I can sit here listening to “What’s In It For?” for a long, long time.

#21. Miniature TigersFortress
(Modern Art, 2010)

Forget Devo, this record truly has something for everybody. It covers the full and diverse spectrum of indie pop — how could it not make my list?

#20. CrocodilesSleep Forever
(Fat Possum, 2010)

My fondest memory of this record is listening to it on full blast in the car while driving at night through a rainstorm. The sound filled my car up and warmed me like a hot bath. Their last record was good, but Sleep Forever is just fantastic. The union of Jesus and Mary Chain production with Wavves-esque songwriting turned out to be better than anyone would’ve thought.

#19. WavvesKing of the Beach
(Fat Possum, 2010)

I was so completely surprised to love this album. I didn’t really enjoy his debut and had already become tired of his on stage antics. But hey, a solid record can shut up the critics/fans/etc.

BONUS! David CrossBigger and Blackerer
(Sub Pop, 2010)

Anyone agree this is his best comedy album yet? I’m a so-so fan of his previous ones, but this blew me away.

#18. Les Savy FavRoot For Ruin
(French Kiss Records, 2010)

Les Savy Fav’s live show > Les Savy Fav’s albums. However, both sides of that equation are great.

#17. Owen PallettHeartland
(Domino, 2010)

Owen dropped the Final Fantasy title, polished his already shining sound and wound up crafting a true work of art. Love it.

#16. Sleigh BellsTreats
(Mom + Pop, 2010)

Finally, a record that gives the cheerleaders and the high school punk rockers some common ground. If I’d made a list at the halfway mark of the year, this record would have fared a lot better. This was a lot of people’s jam album of 2010 and I was no exception.

#15. MGMTCongratulations
(Columbia, 2010)

A lot of people were let down by this one. A lot. But working in a record store, I can tell you that I ran across a ton of people who were overwhelmingly thrilled with it (same goes for the new Vampire Weekend — it takes all kinds). It wasn’t exactly what I hoped for, but I thought it was really impressive. I hope this band never goes away.

#14. Ted Leo/Rxthe Brutalist Bricks
(Matador, 2010)

I was pretty let down with Ted Leo’s last effort, so this time I was actually a bit shocked that I loved — not liked — his new record. It’s a little grittier and more punk than his work that originally hooked me, but it’s just another side of a very complete artist.

#13. Of MontrealFalse Priest
(Polyvinyl, 2010)

Was this the direction I hoped they’d take? Not really. Have they done a bang-up job with it in spite of my wishes? You bet.

#12. The New PornographersTogether
(Matador, 2010)

After their last snooze of a record, the New Pornographer’s Together sounds even sweeter. Every part of the group we love is back: Dan’s moody songs, Neko and Carl’s harmonies, the crunchy riffs and more. They hit every mark on this one.

#11. Kanye WestMy Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
(Def Jam, 2010)

If the internet continued on the same path for the next 10 years, more words will have been written about My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy than WWII (either way it gets the better rating). I doubt this’ll be the album to convert non-hop hop fans, but it is the one to delight fans of the genre. The production on the first five tracks are the stuff of dreams — very diverse and lofty dreams.

#10. GrindermanGrinderman 2
(Anti-, 2010)

Grinderman just sounds so freeing, doesn’t it? From the moment that the guitars in “Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man” tear their way out, Grinderman 2 is just a liberating force crafted by the man responsible for some of the best music of the past 20 years.

#9. MenomenaMines
(Barsuk, 2010)

A bit of a drop for Menomena since their last was named my favorite album of 2009, but I still really enjoyed it. This one’s much darker but still just as meticulously crafted.

#8. Wolf ParadeExpo 86
(Sub Pop, 2010)

This was the first time I was finally able to let go of my expectations and love a new Wolf Parade album for what it is. For a long time I was so tied to how they sounded in the pre-Sub Pop era that I wanted them to keep rewriting “Modern World” over and over. But now that I’ve conquered that demon, I’m free to realize that they continue to churn out incredible work. Oh and thanks to the “Yulia” video for making me sad every time I hear the song now.

#7. Tallest Man on EarthThe Wild Hunt
(Dead Oceans, 2010)

I’ve sworn off saying “our generation’s Dylan,” but let’s just say that the Tallest Man on Earth is a great folk singer with fascinating lyrics and a pretty unique voice. And dozens of listens later I still get a tingle down my spine at the one-two punch of “King of Spain” and “Love Is All.”

#6. JaillThat’s How We Burn
(Sub Pop, 2010)

For me, Jaill’s That’s How We Burn has been the little album that could. Ever since I grabbed it out of the pile because of the Sub Pop logo, nice album art and novel name it’s been nothing but great tunes for me. The funny thing is that I don’t know ANY song titles on this record. I grab it, hit play and let the album play from start to finish. And if I’m the only one upstairs at work I usually hit PLAY a second time after that.

#5. The Morning BendersBig Echo
(Rough Trade, 2010)

At SXSW 2009 I talked to Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear and found out he was working with the Morning Benders. Kinda weird since I thought I was the only person in the world who listened to the Morning Benders. So I spend the next year excitedly waiting for some tunes from that collaboration to leak. I couldn’t have been happier with the result or happier for their success.

#4. Cults7″
(Forest Family, 2010)

Maybe I should save the gushy stuff for when their album comes out next year on a major label? “Go Outside” grabbed me (and the entire internet) by the ears and hasn’t let go nearly a year later. Without a doubt this was the freshest new sound I heard in 2010. If they’d put out an album this year I really think I would have picked it as my favorite of the year.

#3. YeasayerOdd Blood
(Secretly Canadian, 2010)

On paper Odd Blood must’ve sounded like a gutsy, potentially stupid move to make. It’s got about half a dozen production decisions that I usually hate and at times it seems a bit ridiculous. But on record it’s fantastic Hats off to Yeasayer for one of the biggest gambles and biggest payoffs of the year. This was my do-the-dishes/clean-my-room album of 2010.

#2. SpoonTransference
(Merge, 2010)

I tried to explain to someone why I can think of this album as both a disappointment and one of the best of the year (I mean, besides the fact that it was kind of a yawn of a year for music). Spoon’s basically been putting out A+ albums for the 10+ years they’ve been on Merge. So when they let loose this creative head-scratcher I was a little saddened to find that it was probably an A- at best. But after spending months and months with it, I realized it helps flesh out their discography so much more than another record in line with the others. “The Mystery Zone” and “I Saw the Light” really pop during their setlists and “Written in Reverse” and “Got Nuffin” are two of their best rockers ever.

BONUS! Aziz AnsariIntimate Moments for a Sensual Evening
(Comedy Central, 2010)

Honestly I’ve probably listened to this album more than any other this year. Aziz isn’t quite to the level of Patton Oswalt or Louis CK, but he is one hilarious SOB. Strange question: am I the only one who things that he starts things off with the only dud of a joke on this album?

#1. Portugal. The ManAmerican Ghetto
(Equal Vision, 2010)

It’s funny to me that an album that ranks so highly on my year end list was one that I was originally a little let down by. This album’s predecessor Satanic Satanist has quickly become one of my favorite albums of recent years, and I really wanted this one to hit me as hard and as fast as that one did. But I can’t force it to be more like its brother — and, really, why would I? American Ghetto is like reading the first third of someone’s autobiography; John Gourley paints a picture of the places and people who helped shape him as a young adult. And though topics range from bars to friends taken in by drugs, the end result still shines are brightly as any album that came out this year.

Full list after the break.

You Ain’t No Picasso’s favorite albums of the year
1. Portugal. The Man – American Ghetto
(Aziz Ansari – Intimate Moments)
2. Spoon – Transference
3. Yeasayer – Odd Blood
4. Cults – 7″
5. Morning Benders – Big Echo
6. Jaill – That’s How We Burn
7. Tallest Man on Earth – Wild Hunt
8. Wolf Parade – Expo 86
9. Menomena – Mines
10. Grinderman – Grinderman 2
11. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
12. New Pornographers – Together
13. Of Montreal – False Priest
14. Ted Leo/Rx – Brutalist Bricks
15. MGMT – Congratulations
16. Sleigh Bells – Treats
17. Owen Pallett – Heartland
18. Les Savy Fav – Root for Ruin
(David Cross – Bigger and Blackerer)
19. Wavves – King of the Beach
20. Crocodiles – Sleep Forever
21. Miniature Tigers – Fortress
22. Avi Buffalo – s/t
23. the National – High Violet
24. Oh No Ono – Eggs
25. Guards – s/t
26. Sufjan Stevens – Age of Adz
27. Ben Folds / Nick Hornby – Lonely Avenue
28. Roots – How I Got Over
29. Summer Fiction – s/t
30. Idiot Glee – EP

22 thoughts on “You Ain’t No Picasso’s favorite albums of 2010”

  1. Good list. Couple little things; Menomena’s last album wasn’t in 2009, and Menomena and Yeasayer do not share the same exact album art ;)

  2. if you’re talking about the “I kill for gay people, you don’t do SHIT” joke, I think that ones’ pretty good, but the t9 joke after it kind of takes it too far.

  3. huh, yeasayer, wolf parade, and spoon were the big letdowns of the year for me.

    1. the tallest man on earth – the wild hunt/sometimes the blues is just a passing bird
    2. beach house – teen dream
    3. dessa – a badly broken code
    4. deerhunter – halcyon digest
    5. how to dress well – love remains
    6. owen pallett – heartland/a swedish love story EP
    7. superchunk – majesty shredding
    8. film school – fission
    9. no age – everything in between
    10. titus andronicus – the monitor
    11. caribou – swim
    12. flying lotus – cosmogramma
    13. harlem – hippies
    14. joanna newsom – have one on me
    15. best coast – crazy for you
    16. avey tare – down there
    17. the books – the way out
    18. warpaint – the fool
    19. the body – all the waters of the earth turn to blood
    20. ted leo & the pharmacists – the brutalist bricks
    21. abe vigoda – crush
    22. marnie stern – s/t
    23. liars – sisterworld
    24. lcd soundsystem – this is happening
    25. hot chip – one life stand

  4. Dessa’s badly broken code really should be on the list. Its definitely high up on my list.
    I’m also surprised that LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip aren’t on here. You should also check out Blockhead’s The Music Scene. Another great album.

    Love the blog and have a great Christmas Matt!

  5. I’ve been saying for months that the Spoon record is a “grower.” At first, I wondered about it — comparing it to the rest of their stuff, wondering about direction, etc. And then, it hit me. It’s great — and in my opinion, the best record of the year.

    The Superchunk record deserves a nod for the most FUN record of the year.

    Arcade Fire? Yes, there’s the hype. But it’s a solid record.

    Thanks, as always, for the good writing, Matt.

  6. uh ye. aziz ansari is funny. the portugal the man album was OK but fell way the fuck short of what the satanic satanist did for me. the summer fiction album is god damn excellent. the other shit in the list is stupid indie blog nonsense. and kanye west’s album was as good as all his other albums were and all of those were fucking OK. ugh i hate seeing year end lists with hyped indie blog garbage.

  7. also, no. there were many duds on the aziz CD. really a few. and if you think patton oswalt is someone any comedian has to live up to then you really know very little about comedy. he makes jokes about comic books and video games and all that lame shit but that doesn’t qualify him as anything good. he’s really unfunny. louis, i agree, as everyone has, is a living comedic legend. patton oswalt? the fuck is wrong with you. i’m very sensitive about stand up comedy. patton oswalt? i’m gonna curse a shit load. his best quality is the logic he brings to real life situations and geekazoidism, and there were 20,00,00,00000000,0000000000000 comics that do it way the fuck better than him. you pissed me the hell off. i mean, you can have shitty tastes in music, that’s fine, since i’m sure you listen to a bajillion new albums a day, but this comedy thing annoyed the hell out of me. i mean was that a joke? patton oswalt? really? what the hell dude. HE’S NOT ON THE -LEVEL- OF PATTON OSWALT? WHAT IN THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? TO EVEN IMPLY THAT PATTON WAS GOOD IS ONE THING, BUT TO IMPLY THAT AZIZ HAS TO LIVE UP TO PATTON, THAT’S REALLY TOO FAR. IT’S UNACCEPTABLE. THIS MAY SOUND LIKE A JOKE NOW, BECAUSE I’M HARPING ON THIS WAY TOO RIDICULOUSLY, BUT I’M GOD DAMN SERIOUS. not silly. really. i don’t get it. patton oswalt? what the fuck dude. i mean. if you’ve seen more than one patton oswalt performance, then you’ve seen a zach galifianakis performance. and he is better than oswalt. what the fuck. i’m really mad now. patton oswwalt? what the fuck? is that a joke? i’m still confused about whether or not that was a joke. i’m really irritated now and find it hard to get back to what iw as doing. i get it, he is a comedian that makes some funny jokes, but what in the FUCK. you typed his god damn name in the same line as louis ck. ugh how fucking disgusting. louis ck is among chappelle and seinfeld and david. oswalt is among… that ugly tall guy who talks a lot about metal music, and this other guy i forgot his name. dude, you took it too far. i’m really really irritated.

  8. I agree. Not a great year but still some very good music came out of it. Here’s my list:

    1. These New Puritans “Hidden”
    2. Local Natives “Gorilla Manor” (Yes, I know it came out in 2009 in the UK)
    3. Fang Island “Fang Island”
    4. Land of Talk “Cloak and Cipher”
    5. Deerhunter “Halcyon Digest”
    6. Arcade Fire “The Suburbs”
    7. Menomena “Mines”
    8. The National “High Violet”
    9. The Poison Control Center “Sad Sour Future”
    10. The Intelligence “Males”
    11. Superchunk “Majesty Shredding”
    12. Spoon “Transference”
    13. Sufjan Stevens “The Age of Adz”
    14. Robert Pollard “Moses on a Snail”
    15. Beach House “Teen Dream”
    16. The Besnard Lakes “Are the Roaring Night”
    17. MGMT “Congratulations”
    18. Broken Social Scene “Forgiveness Rock Record”
    19. LCD Soundsystem “This is Happening”
    20. Phantogram “Eyelid Movies”
    21. Suuns “Zeroes QC”
    22. White Denim “Last Day of Summer”
    23. Vampire Weekend “Contra”
    24. Owen Pallett “Heartland”
    25. Midlake “The Courage of Others”

    I guess I like indie blog garbage! Other 2010 releases that hit my ears hard: Yeasayer, Morning Benders, Maps and Atlases, Boston Spaceships, The Fall, Twin Shadow, Wild Nothings, Liars, Best Coast, No Age, Stereolab, Wolf People, Sunny Day in Glasgow, Black Mountain, Avey Tare, Venice is Sinking and many more (but you get the gist.)

  9. Pattow Oswalt comment of the year? Thanks asasdaf. Good stuff.

    Also FUCK YOU asasdaf for not knowing Brian Posehn’s name you lazy shit. You claim you know more than YANP when it comes to comedy..bah! That really pisses me off. Posehn is 300 times better than AZIZ! How dare you talk down metal and Patton Oswalt! FFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

  10. Dunno, this list seems all out of whack. The National + Sufjan < Avi Buffalo + Wavves? Spoon, Wolf Parade + Yeasayer in the top 10? I mean Yeasayer? They can pull together a good track, but their albums are awful. Whoever said they're like Animal Collective covering Ben Folds was dead on. Spoon and WP were just meh.

    TMOE probably my favourite of your top 10, although he's not so much "our generation's Dylan" as "our generation's Dylan impersonator."

  11. Jim: thanks for the catch!

    Peter/Brody: I need to check that Dessa album out!

    Dollar Man: I kinda wish I hadn’t put Local Natives on last year’s list so I could have put it waaaay high on this year’s.

  12. Yes, I agree. Indie blog garbage is trash (a little tautology fir you bitches). I long to return to the days when we could get all of our music news from
    advertising funded corporate owned record company controlled print media. Which reminds me, what the hell has Better Than Ezra been up to lately? God, I loved that band!

  13. Following the logic and emotion in that stand-up comment was truly captivating. Amazing.

    I’ve got to say that it’s strange to see Sufjan and The National so low and a striking lack of Arcade Fire. Those (along with LCD Soundsystem, The Walkmen, Deerhunter, Morning Benders, Damien Jurado, Foals, Spoon) were my favorites. And calling a 7″ your #4 album of the year is an odd move, almost as odd as listening to that Yeasayer album more than twice (zing).

    But it is good to see someone giving Wolf Parade their propers. That album is fantastic and it’s strange that people blow it off.

  14. Summer Fiction led me to your list. Saw some similar tastes (Folds et al.), so thought you might like to check out Guster “Easy Wonderful” and Silver Seas “Chateau Revenge”, my picks for #1 and #2 of the year.

  15. I haven’t been visiting blogs enough recently to get a good idea of what’s good this year but your recommendations have always been great in the past.

    Will be purchasing Avi Buffalo and Protugal. The Man.

    Merry Christmas.

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