The Truth About Music

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The Truth About Music Presents: Top 10 Albums of 2010

We’ve been calling it the year of the single. While other years have had larger, more acclaimed singles, this year stood out for its move away from the album as a format. While there were some great albums, it seems more bands than ever are focusing all of their attention on one song. One song to rule them all as one might say. In spite of this, we’ve narrowed down the hundreds of albums released in 2010 into the ten best. Here they are:

10. The Rainy Day Sessions EP by A Rocket To The Moon: Finishing right on the cusp, our first album is a weird one for sure. I’m very skeptical of giving a top album spot to an EP, let alone an EP that was recorded as a live performance. For some reason, this EP completely blew me away. A band with a single chart topping song during the year 2010 (“Like We Used To”), A Rocket To The Moon’s lead guitarist Justin Richards, in an interview during Warped Tour, expressed a deep interest in country music and the style in which those songs are written. Coming from a perceived pop artist, this was shocking, until I heard this EP. A natural slant towards the genre, A Rocket To The Moon have a great feel for the instrumentation and style that many of today’s country acts perform in. It is with a flare for taking a big risk and a group of true musicians willing to do what they love that this EP makes our list.

9. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West: In one of the worst two year stretches an artist can have, Kanye West saw himself become a social outcast and a musical bust after his album “808′s and Heartbreaks” became his third consecutive to decrease in sales. Needing a comeback in the worst way, he enlisted the help of nearly a dozen other artists including Jay-Z and the upcoming super power Nicki Minaj. What West had failed to do on his previous album was rap. He spent most of the album experimenting with awkward auto-tuned singing instead of doing what got him to where he was. With his 2010 album, he puts everything behind him and goes back to rapping like the front line performer he has the potential to be.

8. Habits by Neon Trees: We can admit it. This album was a late bloomer for us. The first single “Animal” was incredible right up until the point it drove us crazy. It was the b-sides, such as “Sins Of My Youth” and “Girls and Boys In School” that finally won us over. It was the bands latest single “1983″ that finally drove us over the edge. It is a rarity when an unknown band is able to backup a huge debut single with an album capable of standing its ground. Fans of bands like Phoenix and MGMT will argue to the ends of the earth that their albums backed up their singles. On the contrary, these albums will end up hurting the bands in the end. Singles should compliment the album not stand apart from them. Neon Trees not only get it, they rock this concept to the fullest.

7. The Lady Killer by Cee Lo Green: Even the name of this album rocks. One of the most hyped albums of the year, Cee Lo Green won the world over by having the balls to name a lead single “Fuck You.” After over two years on the shelf, Cee Lo Green returned to the pop music world, leaving his Gnarls Barkley persona behind him. Instead of moving forward, Green took massive steps backward. He stepped into the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s all in pursuit of the perfect collection of sounds to fit his over the top personality. Riddled with a gospel vibe and a massive pipe organ, this album is a masterpiece and musical journey through the years from beginning to end.

6. Recovery by Eminem: A serious contender for artist of the year in 2010, Eminem could do no wrong. With two #1 singles in the United States coming from this album, the second “Love The Way You Lie” reached that peak spot in dozens of countries all over the world. One of his most emotional songs, it helped to propel this album to triple platinum status. While the singles are great, there are plenty of other reasons to love “Recovery.” Out to secure his spot as an all time great lyricist, songs like “25 to Life” and “No Love” have incredible runs that rival his peak nearly ten years ago. With no end in sight and an early favorite for Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards in February (2011), Eminem’s second album in as many years turned a lot of heads, offended a lot of prudes and made him among 2010′s most successful artists.

5. Paper Tongues by Paper Tongues (TAM’s Indie Album of the Year): Last year I gave this spot to indie rockers Hockey. Every year there is an indie album from a completely left field band that seems to blow us away, our Indie Album of the Year. This year that honor belongs to Paper Tongues, a group of rockers from North Carolina. They have managed to skillfully mix rock and rap into a lyrically strong collection of songs that comprise the debut album. Released in March of this year, the record saw some modest success on the charts, peaking at #110 on the Billboard 200. Songs like “For The People,” “Ride To California” and “Get Higher” showcase everything this band has to offer. Do yourself a favor and check them out before we reach 2011.

4. Loud by Rihanna: Putting Rihanna above both Kanye West and Eminem is not an easy claim to defend. While West’s album might prove to be a great album in the long run, it just hasn’t been around long enough for me to digest and make it a top 5 album. Rihanna’s album had a great mix of songs that really drew you in and kept the listener engaged. An album is great when casual fans (top 40 listeners) don’t know the best songs on the record. The singles were good on “Loud” but the b-sides were incredible. There is a collection of about five songs right in the meat of this album that show Rihanna’s incredible range and skill as a performer. In addition, a Rihanna only take on “Love The Way You Lie” provides a fresh perspective on one of 2010′s biggest hits. Almost everything about this albums rocks and it deserves the #4 spot.

3. Sidewalks by Matt & Kim: Another album that really snuck up on listeners, this duo didn’t fall into the sophomore jinx after the incredible success of 2009′s “Grand” (the bands self titled debut came before their mainstream success). With a really light feeling throughout, the album has enough of a pop edge to take the edge off for casual listeners while providing die hard fans plenty of the classic Matt & Kim style. The entire album carries a bounce that puts a smile on your face and the songwriting behind this band hasn’t faltered since day one. Walking that fine line right in between top 40 and indie heartthrobs, this Brooklyn based group created an album that simply screams New York.

2. B.o.B. Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray by B.o.B.: These final two spots were incredibly difficult to pick. I knew it was a two horse race when I began this list. After weighing the two albums, B.o.B.’s impressive debut came in second. A rap artist with a diverse musical taste, it shines through in all the right places. Rarely do you find an artist with all the tools. He can sing, he can rap, he can play guitar, he writes and he has the production wherewithal to turn pieces of paper into hit singles. The only artist in this genre who might share these qualities is Kanye West. Similar to his start, B.o.B. got some huge endorsements in the form of collaborations with Lupe Fiasco, Rivers Cuomo, T.I. and even Eminem. As if the album couldn’t stand on its own, it also produced three charting singles over the course of 2010 (“Nothin On You,” “Airplanes” and “Magic”). If not for this next artist, B.o.B. would be sitting at #1.

1. Doo-Wops and Hooligans by Bruno Mars: Without a doubt, 2010 could be called the year of Bruno Mars. Never in the course of 365 days has someone’s life changed so much. Featured on B.o.B.’s “Nothin On You” in February, his career took off from there as he appeared on “Billionaire” with Travie Mccoy and then took the world by storm with an EP followed closely by a full length album. As a singer he is light falsetto voice can fit into a slow jam or layered into a huge rap jam. No person would argue with the talent level. Performing live at the Grammy’s Nomination Show, he tore the production away from the single “Just The Way You Are” hitting every note without a flinch. Beyond simply recording and performing these songs, he is the writing genius behind not only his songs but huge 2010 singles like Cee Lo Green’s “Fuck You”. What put this album over the edge, separating it from the #2 album was the stuff in between the singles. The quality of Mars’ b-sides is undoubtedly superior. Think of it as an entire album of potential singles. “Doo-Wops and Hooligans” is fantastic from the very first note of “Grenade” to the trippy fade away on “The Other Side” the albums final track.

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  • Comment by Barry posted December 23, 2010 at 13:53

    A completely underachieving album that I had hoped would make your list but is noticeably absent is Lazarus from Travie Mccoy. It didn’t get the attention it deserved but that album was great from start to finish. Give it another listen.