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Best Albums of 2010
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Amanda Palmer - Amanda Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele

C'mon…it's Amanda Palmer. It's Amanda Palmer covering Radiohead. It's Amanda Palmer covering Radiohead on a ukulele. This EP features Amanda's unique versions of hit songs like "High and Dry," "No Surprises," and two versions of "Creep." If only this were a full album, would have loved to hear her do "House of Cards" or "Karma Police."

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

It might not be as strong as past albums, but if I were to introduce someone to Arcade Fire, I'd play them The Suburbs first. The loose concept of the album serves as a letter of suburban life with all the highs and lows poetically chronicled. The band's chamber pop sound is in full effect on "Empty Room." Frontman Win Butler shares vocals with wife/back-up singer Régine Chassagne on the economic epitaph, "Half Light II (No Celebration," while giving her a true chance to shine in the wonderful closing number, "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)."

Belle & Sebastian - Write About Love

The signature sound of this indie pop band from Glasgow has been featured in films like High Fidelity and Juno. That sound will be easily recognized in the opening track, "I Didn't See It Coming," featuring the melodic voices of Stuart Murdoch and Sarah Martin. Acting as guest vocalists are Norah Jones on the melancholic "Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John" and actress Carey Mulligan on the titular "Write About Love."

Best Coast - Crazy For You

This L.A. trio has already won over famous fans like Bruce Springsteen, Will Arnett, and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore. They've opened for Weezer and there should be plenty of crossover between fans of both bands. Best Coast has a retro-60's pop feel infused with a distorted garage rock sound. If they remade all those beach blanket movies with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello for the hipsters of today, Best Coast would be the soundtrack.

The Black Keys - Brothers

Listening to their blues based music, it's hard to believe the Black Keys are a pair of white guys from Akron, Ohio, one of whom looks an awful lot like an adult Squints Palledorous from The Sandlot. Brothers opens strongly with three fantastic songs in "Everlasting Light," "Next Girl," and "Tighten Up" before closing with a cover of Jerry Butler's "Never Gonna Give You Up" as Dan Auerbach shows off a falsetto tone.

The Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards

Speaking of blues, Jack White shows he isn't running out of creative steam anytime soon, first with the White Stripes, then the Raconteurs, and now the Dead Weather. White shares vocals with Alison Mosshart from the Kills (with Dean Fertita & Jack Lawrence of the Raconteurs) and really brings the ear candy in their sophomore effort. The two of them really tear it up on the album's first single, "Die by the Drop."

Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest

Halcyon Digest effortlessly glides between slow and moody with tighter, upbeat pop sounds.

Hot Chip - One Life Stand

Listening to Hot Chip is like hopping into a DeLorean and traveling back into the 1980's. The smooth vocals and synth-pop sounds are reminiscent of new wave bands like Erasure and Pet Shop Boys.

LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

Front man James Murphy is like some one man musical arsenal. This is Happening is pure audio delight with catchy tunes like "Pow Wow" and "Drunk Girls," which recalls the Beastie Boys' "Girls." Murphy also lampoons the music industry with "You Wanted a Hit," which had me involuntarily bobbing my head to the beat without noticing at first.

Levi's Pioneer Sessions/50 Years of Doc Martens

Both Levi's and Doc Martens gathered a diverse collection of artists to perform covers of their favorite songs. Even better, they made those songs available for free download. Doc Martens snagged The Raveonnettes, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Noisettes, and Michael Davis of the MC5. Not to be outdone, Levi's sponsored John Legend, Nas, and The Swell Season, among others. The best of the Pioneer Sessions include: She & Him on Johnny Mercer's "Fools Rush In," The Shins covering Squeeze's "Goodbye Girl," and a cover of The Velvet Underground's "Pale Blue Eyes" by The Kills.

Lower Dens - Twin-Hand Movement

If you're into moody, shoe-gazing indie rock, then Lower Dens' debut album (with soulful lead vocals by Jana Hunter), Twin Hand Movement is a definite recommend.

Sharon Van Etten - Epic

I'm also on the hunt for great female vocalists in the vein of Cat Power, PJ Harvey, etc. This year, I discovered Sharon Van Etten.

She & Him - Volume Two

I heart Zooey Deschanel. She & Him's first album was my top choice in 2008. Volume Two does not disappoint with more of the retro-bubblegum pop that made their previous work such an easy listen.

Honorable Mentions:
Band of Horses - Infinite Arms
Beach House - Teen Dream
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Beat the Devil's Tattoo
Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record
Caribou - Swim
Charlotte Gainsbourg - IRM
Kings of Leon - Come Around Sundown
No Age - Everything in Between
Yeasayer - Odd Blood

Favorite Singles:
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti – "Round and Round"
Blitzen Trapper – "Destroyer of the Void"
Broken Bells – "The Ghost Inside"
Cee-Lo Green – "Fuck You"
Crystal Castles – "Celestica"
Goldfrapp – "Rocket"
Gorillaz – "Stylo"
How to Destroy Angels – "A Drowning"
My Chemical Romance – "The Only Hope For Me Is You"
Spoon – "Got Nuffin"
Weezer – "Ruling Me"


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