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The Best Albums of 2010: #31 through #40

The Y! Music Playlist Blog

These are selections #31 through #40 in our Best Albums of 2010 countdown series.

#31. Congratulations by MGMT 

Released:  April 13, 2010
Label: Columbia
Metacritic Score: 72
Charts: European Top 100 albums, #2 The Billboard 200, #1 Top Digital albums, #1 Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums,  #1 Top Rock albums
Amazon Link

MGMT is one of the bands that missed my list in 2007 even though they released an album that I fell in love with, Oracular Spectacular. This was not because the album did not make the cut, but because I did not become aware of it until after the year was out. This happens to me every year since it's impossible to hear everything released even when you work at it. Well, I made sure it did not happen this year for MGMT. And I love Congratulations even more than Oracular Spectacular.

#32. Blackjazz by Shining

Released: February 2, 2010
Label: Indie Recordings/Red
Metacritic Score: 83
Album Charts: N/A
Amazon Link

Shining's Blackjazz is an album that pushes the limits of what music can be. Boundaries are not just breached, they are shattered, completely destroyed, ground up into a fine powder, burned and then buried. This music has a metal heart, but the band incorporates free jazz, industrial grinding and electronic flourishes where it adds to the experience. The end result is like nothing you've ever heard.

#33. One Life Stand by Hot Chip

Released: February 9, 2010
Label: Astralwerks
Metacritic Score: 79
Album Charts: #103 The Billboard 200, #5 Top Electronic albums, #1 Top Heatseekers
Amazon Link

When I first heard Hot Chip (Coming On Strong) back in 2005, I thought they had a lot of promise, but I was worried that these were just kids with some good software who got lucky. Well, they have progressively gotten better with each new release and have solidified in my mind their talent as pop composers. You will not be able to shake a large percentage of the songs on One Life Stand because they leave such a deep impression.

 

#34. Uni5: The World's Enemy by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

Released: May 4, 2010
Label: Asylum Records
Metacritic Score: NA
Album Charts: #5 R&B albums, #14 The Billboard 200, #3 Top Rap albums
Amazon Link

Bizzy is back, so Uni5 finds the original 5 members of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony back together after a decade apart. Let me just say that this is the glossiest, radio friendly album the band has ever released. So true underground snobs may brush it off as a sellout, but there is no way to avoid feeling this album if you actually listen to it. This could be a bright spot for a band that has struggled to regain their former glory.

Watch a video for a song from this album at YouTube

#35. The Golden Archipelago by Shearwater

Released: February 23, 2010
Label: Matador
Metacritic Score: 74
Album Charts: #12 Top Heatseekers,#41 Top Independent albums
Amazon Link

The Golden Archipelago is a concept album with island life at its core. It is the final part in a trilogy of albums preceded by 2006's Palo Santo and 2008's Rook. Rook was one of my favorite records of 2008 and Archipelago does not quite reach the high bar set by that previous release. However, Archipelago has a different approach and deserves to be judged for what it is, not what we hoped it would be. It's more open, more expansive and dare I say, more beautiful -- still one of the best albums of 2010.

#36. The Foundling by Mary Gauthier

Released: May 18, 2010
Label: Razor & Tie
Metacritic Score: 82
Album Charts: N/A
Amazon Link

The immediate connection that Mary Gauthier's music makes with the listener is a key part of what makes her such an important songwriter. She's unafraid to search in dark corners to ask questions about the human condition, even if it means exposing her soft white underbelly. The Foundling is no exception as the artist speaks about the emotions of those who are adopted (she is herself adopted) and longs to understand the question, "Where did I come from?"  Mary wastes no time on the trivial and uses her music to get to the heart of important subjects. More songwriters should take note.

#37. The Courage Of Others by Midlake

Released: February 2, 2010
Label: Bella Union
Metacritic Score: 72
Album Charts: #92 The Billboard 200, #10 Top Independent albums, #18 Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums, #27 Top Rock Albums
Amazon Link

If you're a fan of the Midlake sound you cannot pass on The Courage Of Others. The methodical, mid-tempo, AM radio warmth of this record will rush over you and instill a desire to read Keats from a leather-bound book deep in the woods around a crackling fire. But then again, maybe that's just me. Courage takes full advantage of the gloomy, but natural undercurrent that Midlake presents so well.

#38. Surfing The Void  by Klaxons

Released: August 31, 2010
Label: Polydor
Metacritic Score: 67
Album Charts: #49 Top Heatseekers, European Top 100 albums
Amazon Link

In addition to having one of the best album covers of 2010, the new album by Klaxons contains some powerfully addictive pop hooks that are accentuated by epic production and youthful energy. This is a band that is still relatively young and I can hear so much promise in their songwriting skills and overall sound. Don't be surprised if they end up with a very long and successful run. Singles like "Echoes" show the kind of promise we heard on early singles of a band like U2 circa 1980.

#39. The Black Dirt Sessions by Deer Tick

Released: June 8, 2010
Label: Partisan Records
Metacritic Score: 72
AlbumCharts: ##4 Top Heatseekers, #24 Top Independent albums
Amazon Link

Deer Tick put another notch in their belt this year on the way to having a respected and intriguing career. Melancholic and measured, The Black Dirt Sessions offers the listener a heartfelt look into songwriter John McCauley's mind. The understated production offers a smooth surface for the gravelly voice of McCauley to weave its tale.

#40. Body Talk by Robyn

Released: November 22, 2010
Label: Cherry Tree
Metacritic Score: 83
Album Charts: #142 The Billboard 200, #3 Top Electronic albums
Amazon Link

Body Talk is chock full of so many memorable melodies and danceable beats that it sounds like a greatest hits package. It's safe to say that Robyn has cemented herself as the most probable artist to steal the crown of the greatest dance pop act in the history of Sweden, ABBA.

More albums of the year:
1-10, 11-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, 51-60, 61-70, 71-80, 81-90, 91-100

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