Reasons for Living: My 50 favorite albums of 2010, part two

December 8, 2010

To the tune of the Andy Williams chestnut:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

All the critics are listing

And everyone’s wishing

Their favorite albums appear

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! 

Here is the second installment of my countdown to the best album of 2010.

40. Various artists, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” sountrack (ABKCO)

A brilliant soundtrack to a great rock ’n’ roll movie, from the fake originals that Beck wrote for our heroes Sex Bob-Omb (“Garbage Truck” rules!), to the tracks from Broken Social Scene, Metric, Beachwood Sparks, and the Black Lips.

 

39. Black Mountain, “Wilderness Heart” (Jagjaguwar)

For rock fans who cut their teeth in a certain era of Black Sabbath/Deep Purple sturm und drang, the third album by thes eCanadian stoner/psychedelic/heavy-metal mavens is irresistible, with Amber Webber’s seductive, nicely leavening the awesome growl.

38. Octopus Project, “Hexadecagon” (Peek-a-Boo Records)

There’s no denying that Austin’s psychedelic/electronic combo boasts the coolest theremin (and sexiest theremin player) in rock today, but even more important on record are the unique and otherworldly soundscapes, which always are enhanced by strong melodies. 

37. Sade, “Soldier of Love” (Sony)

This may not be the best from the queen of “quiet storm” R&B, but it’s great just to have her back, exploring a much darker vibe befitting the times.

36. Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard, “One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Music from Kerouac’s Big Sur” (Atlantic)

I dig Gibbard, especially when he’s not whining too much, but I can take or leave post-Tupelo Farrar. The Kerouac connection is what puts it over the top for me.

35. David Singer, “Arrows” (www.davidsingermusic.com)

This chronically underrated Chicago musician has given us another set of smart, literate, heartfelt psychedelic pop musing on no less a subject than the importance of music in our lives in this solipsistic era of the easy download.

34. The Bewitched Hands on the Top of Our Heads, “Hard to Cry” EP (Sony Music)

This sextet from Reims is thoroughly steeped in four decades of great psychedelic pop, and they are masters of conjuring the sounds of a bad trip.

33. Rhymefest, “El Che” (www.elchethemovement.com)

Forget about Chicago politics; Che Smith is needed even more in hip-hop, so long as he continues to give us raps like these, alternately political and goofy, but always thoroughly unique.

32. The Ruiners, “Happy Birthday Bitch” (Pravda)

A killer set from one of the nastiest garage-rock quintets out of Detroit since the Motor City Five.

31. Drivan, “Disko” (Smalltown Supermusic)

Norwegian renaissance man Kim Hiorthøy teams up with three equally ambitious women from Sweden and Finland for a collection of hypnotic electronic transmissions from an alternate universe.