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The Best Albums of 2010: #51 through #60

The Y! Music Playlist Blog

These are selections #51 through #60 in our Best Albums of 2010 countdown series.

#51. Avi Buffalo by Avi Buffalo 

Released:  April 27, 2010
Label: Sub Pop
Metacritic Score: 81
Charts: #19 Top Heatseekers

No one can present the thoughts of a teenager better than a teenager. So 18-year-old Avigor Zahner-Isenberg has that going for him. What's harder to believe is how someone so young can forge such great, wispy tunes in a way that feels so natural and real. This is a band to watch for sure and this album is one of the year's best.

#52. Total Life Forever by Foals

Released: June 15, 2010
Label: Sub Pop
Metacritic Score: 77
Album Charts: #30 Top Heatseekers, European Top 100 albums
Amazon Link

Total Life Forever is a more low key effort than the band's 2008 debut Antidotes. It's quirky art school rock that has it's fair share of contagious rhythms. Less jerky and more refined is how I would describe it, and it's this slight change of direction that help bring the music of the Foals to a new place. A place that I like better. 

See a video from this album at YouTube

#53. The Drums by The Drums

Released: September 14, 2010
Label: Downtown
Metacritic Score: 73
Album Charts: #17 Top Heatseekers
Amazon Link 

The 1980s resurgence is not dead. It continues to pop up from one band to the next. And while it does not seem that 80s throwbacks have much staying power these days, I love it when a new album hits the mark. The Drums is one such album. If this was released 25 years ago it would have been the hottest thing going. Just because it's a bit late doesn't mean it's not just as much fun to listen to.

#54. Sisterworld by Liars

Released: March 9, 2010
Label: Domino Mute
Metacritic Score: 78
Album Charts: #11 Top Heatseekers, #36 Top Independent albums
Amazon Link

Liars may be one of the most arty bands around these days. The music and obtuse lyrics on Sisterworld paint a world of alienation and pull the listener into something more akin to a film than an album filled with individual songs. You never know what sounds will be utilized next, but they all fit nicely within the confines of what is more important as a whole.

#55. Genuine Negro Jig by Carolina Chocolate Drops

Released: February 16, 2010
Label: Nonesuch
Metacritic Score: 78
Album Charts: #150 The Billboard 200, #1 Top Bluegrass album, #2 Top Heatseekers
Amazon Link

The second full-length effort by the Carolina Chocolate Drops continues to expose people to African-American string band music. And it does so in an impressive manner. Violin, banjo, percussion and jug all help present what is essentially music that provides a background for having a great time. Something that African-Americans used to escape the harsh realities of life in America 150 years ago. This is not an important album simply for its role in keeping a slice of American history alive, but because is just plain good music.

#56. Le Noise by Neil Young

Released: September 28, 2010
Label: Reprise
Metacritic Score: 81
Album Charts: European Top 100 albums, #14 The Billboard 200, #2 Top Canadian albums, #14 Top Digital albums, #4 Top Rock albums
Amazon Link

Maybe I am biased, but Neil Young can do no wrong. Le Noise finds his distinctive vocals and poignant lyrics cutting through haze of feedback and atmospherics. It is indeed "noise", but Neil harnesses it so well that you never notice the lack instruments besides Neil's guitar. Not many people in the world could pull this off, but Neil Young makes it sound easy.

#57. My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky by Swans
Released: September 21, 2010
Label: Young God Records
Metacritic Score: 83
Album Charts: #23 Top Heatseekers
Amazon Link

The Swans reappeared out of nowhere this year with a new album called My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky. In my humble opinion, this is the most solid and intriguing release that Swans have ever given us. It has been a very long time (11 years) since we had a new Swans record and this one is a powerful as it gets.

#58. National Ransom  by Elvis Costello

Released: November 2, 2010
Label: Hear Music
Metacritic Score: 79
Album Charts: #39 The Billboard 200, #12 Top Digital albums, #8 Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums, 39 Top Rock albums
Amazon Link

Elvis Costello is one of the most productive and iconic artists working today. His newest album National Ransom takes on the economic crisis head-on. The record finds Elvis is continuing on his Americana trip, and although shallow fans who long for the pub rock days may be disappointed, I say to hell with them. Elvis is doing what he wants to do, and Elvis does his best work when he does what he wants. 

#59. Wake Up! by John Legend & The Roots

Released: September 21, 2010
Label: Columbia
Metacritic Score: 76
Album Charts: #8 The Billboard 200, #16 Top Canadian albums, #3 R&B albums, #3 Top Digital albums, European Top 100
Amazon Link

There may not be a better live band on the planet than The Roots, and not many singers can hang with the vocal stylings of John Legend. So this project was basically a match made in heaven. Combine these facts with a selection of cover songs that deserve to be heard, but may not be the best known, and you have something really special.

#60. The Big To-Do  by Drive-By Truckers

Released: March 16, 2010
Label: ATO Records
Metacritic Score: 78
Album Charts: #22 The Billboard 200, #1 Top Independent albums, #9 Top Digital albums, #6 Top Rock albums
Amazon Link

2010 found the Drive-By Truckers giving us their 8th full-length album. The Big To-Do is Springsteen-like, not so much in the musical style, but because it examines, up close, the hardships that can be found in every American town. Not a pop record you'll find yourself humming by any stretch, but it makes my list for the stunning way in which it tackles painful subjects without fear.

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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