Good, but not quite top 10 - High Expectations Division:
- New Pornographers - Together
- Spoon - Transference
- The Apples in Stereo - Travelers in Space and Time
- Blitzen Trapper - Destroyer of the Void
- Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record
- Interpol - Interpol
- Los Campesinos! - Romance is Boring
- Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - the Brutalist Bricks
- Vampire Weekend - Contra
- The Whigs - In the Dark
- Wavves - King of the Beach
Apples in Stereo, Spoon, Broken Social Scene, New Pornographers, Los Campesinos!, Vampire Weekend, and Ted Leo were probably victims of their own success. I had really high expectations for all of those albums, maybe too high. And while all had songs that I really love, none of them were good enough start to finish to rank higher.
Admittedly, the Whigs, Interpol, and Blitzen Trapper fell a little flat for me this year, though Blitzen Trapper did put on a really great show in August.
Albums I never really gave a chance to:
Broken Bells, like Teen Dream, starts out really great, and then I just kind of get lost in the rest, and sometime after I stop paying attention, the record ends. I supposed that's my fault, but hey, this is my list. As for Wolf Parade, I had the misfortune to get their album around a time where I had a bunch of shows coming up, and I usually spend that time listening to the bands I'm going to see. It was a problem of timing for them. I need to get back and listen to that album a few more times.
Unexpected Returns and Side Projects who released great albums in 2010:
- Teenage Fanclub - Shadows
- The Posies - Blood/Candy
- Blue Giant - Blue Giant
- Admiral Radley - Admiral Radley
- Everybody Was in the French Resistance, Now - Fixing the Charts, Vol. 1
The Posies just missed making my list, and indeed they were included on various versions. I really love the Ken Stringfellow songs on this record, and I think it's their best since Frosting on the Beater was released 17 years or so ago. Their show with Brendan Benson in November was terrific.
Blue Giant is the alt-country version of Viva Voce, one of my favorite bands. It's not my favorite musical style, but they pull it off well, and anything that includes lead guitar from Anita Robinson is worth listening to.
Admiral Radley is the fusion of Earlimart and Grandaddy, and the album sounds like, well, what you'd expect if you combined Earlimart with Grandaddy.
EWITFR,N is the side project of Eddie Argos (Art Brut) and Dyan Valdes (the Blood Arm). It's a response record, in which they respond to other pop-songs. The live show is part concert, part comedy routine.
Stuff that wasn't on my radar when 2010 began:
- Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
- Avi Buffalo - Avi Buffalo
- The Happy Hollows - Spells
- Sleigh Bells - Treats
- The 1900s - Return of the Century
Sleigh Bells, as mentioned yesterday, put out an album I really like a lot, but their live show was underwhelming. Still, I love the album, and in another year it probably could have made the top 10.
The 1900s suffered only from a late release. Their album is excellent, but their live show (last Friday) was absolutely phenomenal. One of the best translations of an album to a live show that I've ever seen. They sound like Belle and Sebastian, but on stage, they really crank up the energy. They're local to Chicago, so I really hope we get a lot of opportunities to see them play.
Finally, I can't think of a category for the Thermals, who I didn't discover until 2010 even though I'd heard of them before. I started listening to their 2009 album "Now We Can See" before the new album came out, and I fell in love with it. I like it a lot more than I like their 2010 album "Personal Life", which has some great tracks, though I don't like it much start to finish as NWCS.
Tomorrow: Day 1 of the main event.