Neil Young / Le Noise
I’m no huge Neil Young fan, but I certainly respect his place in the annals of Rock n Roll history. In most cases, I’d rather see Pearl Jam play a Neil Young song than Neil himself. This year; 42 years after the release of his solo debut album, Neil got together with Daniel Lanois to create ‘Le Noise’ (get it, Le Noise). This is about as solo as a solo album can get, as there is no backing band to be found. The entire album is comprised of Neil’s voice and guitar. It’s not acoustic, either. Most of the tracks are done with full on electric guitar which makes for a very interesting, unique album experience. It’s great that a man so far into a music career can still be open to new musical directions and experiments.
Deftones / Diamond Eyes
I can’t really be sure if this album marks a true turnaround, or just a fluke since there’s nothing that really represents a significant change or growth in the bands sound. Deftones haven’t really done much for me since White Pony, and that was over 10 long years ago. With their long-time bass player Chi Cheng laying in a coma, they managed to hit the mark in ways that the last 2 albums couldn’t. “CMND/CTRL” and “You’ve Seen The Butcher” are highlights.
Circa Survive / Blue Sky Noise
Not only is this album a disappointment, but it seems this band as a whole is a disappointment. I always think that these guys should have died tragically (or at least broken up) after the release of their first album. The vibe that made Juturna so great has been missing from everything since, and seeing them live only reinforced their inability to live up to the hype. It’s a damn shame because that first album was soooo good.
Kanye West / My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
No matter what, Kanye gets a lot of attention, so it comes as no surprise that there’s plenty of talk about this album being the best of the year, or the best ever. The fact that it came out at the very tail end of the year makes it easy to forget how long a year is, and all the great music that’s been released over these last 12 months. Is this a very cool album? Yes it most certainly is. It steers back toward more typical hip hop when compared to the unique beauty of 808’s & Heartbreak, but it does so in grand fashion. Sadly, this album suffers from poor mastering the way so many others have in recent years. It takes away from the overall listening experience, but this is still among the years best.
Sade / Soldier of Love
For a good while, I was calling this my album of the year. It’s just so easy for me to love Sade albums in general that I’m automatically biased toward them. No matter how good this album is, the odds were against it being able to top her last album; Lovers Rock, which was released 10 years ago. In reality, I don’t know that many albums, by anyone, will top Lovers Rock on my list of all-time greats. Still, Soldier Of Love is Sade doing what she/they do best, which is the perfect mix of sexy and somber, with top notch vocals and production throughout. “The Moon And The Sky”, “Soldier Of Love”, and “Babyfather” are not to be missed.
The Black Keys / Brothers
Thumping bluesy Rock n Roll from two white dudes. Basically, it sounds like The Black Keys. No real surprises here, but the album is damn good, and you should have it. I also love the fact that this album was mixed entirely “in the box” despite all the retro/analog silliness that can be attached to this band.
Black Sabbath / Heaven and Hell
This obviously isn’t for an album that was released this year, but the album that I listened to the most in 2010. I had already been months deep into very frequent listens of Heaven And Hell when Ronnie James Dio passed away from stomach cancer on May 16. Hearing that news just added more fuel to my Dio-loving fire. I’m truly sad that Dio is gone, but luckily we have these albums forever.
Album Of The Year
Melissa Auf der Maur / Out Of Our Minds
Considering the current state of the music business, it doesn’t surprise me that the best album of the year got almost no mainstream attention, and that most people have never even heard any of it. This is the kind of boundless, creative album that I wish more bands would strive to make. The songs are all very well written, the production is absolutely stellar, and the whole vibe is positively unique. I hate the fact that she’s too spoiled to do a proper tour of the United States and hit the little towns like, you know, PHILADELPHIA, but I guess that’s what happens when you start out riding high with Hole and Smashing Pumpkins early in your career. Anyway, this is as good as it got in 2010. Dig it.