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CoS Year-End Report: The Top 100 Albums of 2010

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    albums thumb 260x260 CoS Year End Report: The Top 100 Albums of 2010The end of the year — CoS‘ fourth on the Internet — approaches, closing a very exciting run. It has been arduously difficult to decipher the commotion over my iPod blasting a ton of new music, and for this, I am thankful. Let us cross fingers that the nukes don’t come out blazing during the New Years’ parties, or else I will miss the fireworks of a loony self-fulfillment.

    We could sit here and reminisce on everything of prominence over the past 365 days, and all of you gracious readers that strapped us into the #1 Music Blog position on About.com could bask in nostalgia’s glorious sun shower. In the essence of practicality, while revisiting landmark albums like Exile On Main St. and Pretty Hate Machine, dismantling Consequence of Kanye at the culmination of his Dark Twisted Fantasy, and doling out five stars to Arcade Fire, we had the chance to compile this lovely Top 100 list for your critiquing and commenting pleasure.

    This is the cream of the crop from all walks of genre, sub-genre, and fused genres alike. This is the definitive mark, two-thousand-ten’s best album releases, summarily graphed — and generously bled for — by your favorite Web site’s dedicated writers and contributors. So much has happened in such a minute expanse of time, we could not feasibly compress it all into a single article, but nonetheless, here lies the certifiable superlative one-off for 12 months’ worth of music.

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    [cue the confetti strands and silly string]

    Significant moments leave a deep impact during December; we start wondering if things were given due justice. Questions arise as to why certain obligations might have been neglected (did you listen to even half of the albums on our list yet?). Perhaps many will silently renew devotions for the sake of a new year. Personally, I try not to guilt myself too harshly; After all, humans are imperfect creatures. Forget about making some last-minute proclamation of weight-loss goals and nicotine withdrawals. Why not focus on enjoying that year-end martini? If you want to lose pounds or finish your novel, do it for your own reasons, not because it’s the standard.

    Make 2011 a time of positive build, not redundant letdown. Other usual goal selections are still worthy causes, but nothing is ironclad. If another passing birthday has taught me anything, it is that life is too short to bitch and moan. Think of the positives instead of the negatives, and you will find that the music sounds much sweeter than it did. The rose tint is absent, the naggers are quieted — What remains is the soothing remedy of a happy medium, the way it makes sense for you.

    Welcome to the end of 2010 — May your resolutions be fruitful, may your Armageddon be swift, and may your record collection exponentially grow in value. May Chinese Democracy be your how-to guide for overhype. May the last lone Walkman live long and prosper. And may your iTunes gift card see plenty of use.

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    In bowing out, we implore you… pop the Scroll Lock from your keyboard — it’s obsolete now.

    -David Buchanan
    Senior Staff Writer

    100. Black Label Society – Order of the Black

    bls order of the black CoS Year End Report: The Top 100 Albums of 2010

    Ozzy Osbourne and Zakk Wylde have both released albums this year: the former’s Scream, the latter’s latest Black Label Society disc, Order of the Black. While Scream seems to have fallen from grace (despite being entertaining enough), Black Label Society have risen from the grave. With old school rising to the nth degree, Order of the Black is definitely one of the best heavy metal albums all year. Is it favoritism if Wylde shares a birthday with my daughter? -David Buchanan

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    99. Avi Buffalo – Avi Buffalo

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    High school must have been a trip for this fresh-out-the-suburbs band that only recently graduated. Following in the ’60s-recalling footsteps of fellow indie poppers MGMT, Avi Buffalo’s self-titled debut gives us innocence on mushrooms, and plays like their own personal summer of love. “Truth Sets In” and “Five Little Shits” show the craftsmanship behind the music is top-notch. Noodly guitars form flower-child pop rock with forays into folk and country as on “One Last”. The lyrics may be a little high school, but Avi Buffalo write music like pros. The guitar work alone sounds 20 years older, as they work through one sunny jam after another. Avi Buffalo couldn’t have come at a better time, what with so many throwback rock bands making their mark in the past year. While timing is everything, so is having a solid record where every track stands out. With an album like this, it sounds like the next generation will be all right. -E.N. May

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    98. The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang

    gaslight anthem american slang cover CoS Year End Report: The Top 100 Albums of 2010

    Nowadays, rock and roll music is married to a lot of different genres, be it rap, pop, various forms of world music, etc. Rare is the truly good album that is just plain rock and roll. However, The Gaslight Anthem proved rock can still just be rock, with the down-on-their-luck punk rock of American Slang. Pain and frustration roar through the speakers, all on the backs of big, booming guitar and tight-as-it-comes drumming. The album showed that while rock music is drifting further away from its glory days, there’s still tons of room for the good, old-fashioned stuff. -Chris Coplan

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    97. Caribou — Swim

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    When an artist makes a turn towards pop, one wonders whether the artist has actually improved or simply tricked the listener into accepting the music. I wondered this after hearing Merriweather Post Pavilion and The Suburbs, but 48 listens later each, I’m pretty sure those are both still good albums. Like, 90 percent sure, but I didn’t need to be converted. Caribou sparked these same questions for me with Swim, and going with my instinct was the right choice. It’s hard to put this down, as they used to say when albums were physical objects. Even if you’re not on drugs, Swim will make you feel like you are. It’s not just for dance music junkies though — Caribou has much more to offer than a beat and some synth fiddling. -Harry Painter

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    96. Tokyo Police Club – Champ

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    After a somewhat disappointing debut LP in Elephant Shell, which failed to capture the spark of their A Lesson in Crime EP, Tokyo Police Club returned in 2010 with Champ. Like its name would suggest, the album feels triumphant in that it reintegrates that catchy vibe and also sees the band expand their lyrical concepts by adding a dash of worldly cynicism and diversifying their sonic output with lots of effects and improved instrumentation. Consider this the band’s musical equivalent of Rocky making it to the top of the stairs. -Chris Coplan

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    95. Mike Patton – Mondo Cane

    mike patton mondo cane CoS Year End Report: The Top 100 Albums of 2010

    Mondo Cane in one sentence: Mr. Bungle meets ’50s Italian pop with a backing orchestra. Seriously, it’s Mike Patton! Weird is not his calling card — it’s his genetic makeup, and I look forward to more operatic productions in the future. At the very least, a Mr. Bungle reunion? Pretty please? -David Buchanan

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    94. Cotton Jones – Tall Hours in the Glowstream

    cotton jones tall hours in the glowstream CoS Year End Report: The Top 100 Albums of 2010

    Not many records do an artist’s influences perfect justice, creating something strangely fresh without sounding like imitation. But Tall Hours in the Glowstream, Michael Nau’s dreamed out, smoky, hazy exploration of country’s golden age, is exhilarating in both its authenticity and dreamy beauty. -Drew Litowitz

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    93. Laurie Anderson – Homeland

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    Homeland is a sprawling and desolate quasi-sequel to Laurie Anderson’s first breakthrough 1984 performance piece, United States Live. This revisiting of America rides on the back of economic desperation, global unrest, and the new electronic reality. It’s a fascinating and haunting perspective on our day and age, from America’s greatest performance artist. -Cap Blackard

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    92. Weezer – Hurley

    weezer hurley CoS Year End Report: The Top 100 Albums of 2010

    On Weezer’s eighth full-length album, Hurley, the band did what they do best; they made a Weezer album. And as always, Rivers Cuomo kept it close to the heart. He and the guys rehashed the glory days “back when Audioslave was Rage” on the Jackass sing-along “Memories”. Rivers kept the power pop Weezer alive too, with “Ruling Me” and “Hang On”, but also wrote some personal and emotional songs like “Trainwrecks” and “Time Flies”. No matter how many releases they have, Weezer showed us that all they will do is rock. At least as long as they have the limbs to do it. -Ted Maider

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    91. The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night

    the besnard lakes are the roaring night CoS Year End Report: The Top 100 Albums of 2010

    Shoegaze and ’70s AOR make for a strange combination, but together they make The Besnard Lakes‘ sophomore LP, The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night, which sees the band continue to sharpen their sound with lush, slow-burning jams. Jace Lacek’s classic guitar work and resonant voice fit perfectly with Olga Goreas’ acidy soprano. Turn it up, bang your head, and vibe out. -Jeremy Larson

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    90. Antony and the Johnsons – Swanlights

    antony and the johnsons swanlights CoS Year End Report: The Top 100 Albums of 2010

    More a step sideways than a step backwards, the new album by Antony and the Johnsons doesn’t quite reach as many high points as his previous two albums, but it doesn’t have many low points either. It’s another very solid effort from one of the most unique voices in modern music. Adding more guitar-based songs gives this album a wider palate than before, but the highlights are still Antony and his piano. His voice, like always, is the main attraction, and his lyrics are just as affecting as ever. The centerpiece of the album is the title track, a mysteriously sprawling song that is simultaneously one of the strangest songs Antony has ever produced and also one of his best. If his self-titled effort was an introduction, I Am a Bird Now was his breakthrough masterpiece, and The Crying Light was the solid followup to a near perfect album, then Swanlights proves that Antony is here to stay. -Carson O’Shoney

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    89. Los Campesinos! – Romance is Boring

    los campesinos romance is boring CoS Year End Report: The Top 100 Albums of 2010

    Singer Gareth Campesinos! wants to talk to you about sex. And death. And fighting. And football. And everything in between. Seems like a lot of material to shove into one album, right? Yet, not only does Romance is Boring cover all of this and more, it does so in a dramatic, sarcastic, and anthemic fashion. The sprawling, 15-song effort is full of tasty moments to digest over multiple listens. The band covers sparse arrangements, noise rock, and even what the casual observer may call a hit song. Numbers like the title track, “There Are Listed Buildings”, and “Straight in at 101” are certainly highlights, but this is a record you should hear from beginning to end. Romance may be boring, but Los Campesinos! is anything but dull. -Joe Marvilli

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    88. El Guincho – Pop Negro

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    The man who has been hailed the “Panda Bear of Spain” followed up his immensely successful sophomore album, Alegranza!, with yet another album of his curiously eccentric brand of pop music. Although this release did not receive the same acclaim as its predecessor, it was, without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable pop albums of the year. Opening track “Bombay” proved not only to be perhaps the sunniest, most memorable track on the album, but also provided one of the coolest videos of the year. El Guincho stayed true to form on Pop Negro, losing absolutely no integrity, having instead created yet another enjoyable work from his zany imagination. Spanish speaker or not, everyone will be able to understand the obvious musical prowess showcased on this album. -Winston Robbins

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    87. The Thermals – Personal Life

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    It ain’t easy squeezing a respectable catalog out of three chords. Few bands do it well, but The Thermals have thankfully stepped up to join the ranks of artists like The Bouncing Souls and Bad Religion as the modern day torch carriers of power punk. Unlike their earlier work, Personal Life displays more new wave tendencies, with lovelorn, bass-heavy tracks like “Only for You” and “Never Listen to Me” owing more to The Cars than The Germs. But mellowed out or not, 10 perfect songs in under 35 minutes is an equation that can’t be beat, even by their younger, rabble-rousing selves. -Dan Caffrey

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    86. Interpol – Interpol

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    Even though Carlos D was in the studio for Interpol‘s fourth go-round, the self-titled LP will always be associated with the visible bassist’s departure soon after its release. This is not completely unfair; If it weren’t for Paul Banks’ distinctive monotone, it would be hard to recognize this as an Interpol album. True, it’s not the Interpol we remember and expect, and it’s no Turn on the Bright Lights. But, my, did this LP not deserve to be ignored the way it was. This is more an album of scattered standout moments than one of constant pop perfection, but given repeat listens, those standout moments are worth the time. It’s hard to give Interpol the benefit of the doubt at this point, but here’s hoping the future improves for the New Yorkers. -Harry Painter

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    85. Four Tet – There Is Love in You

    four tet there is love in you CoS Year End Report: The Top 100 Albums of 2010

    It turns out that 2010 was an amazing year for emotional, powerful electronic music, but none is more emotionally strong than Four Tet‘s There Is Love in You. It’s a powerful album where a baby’s heartbeat is turned into an actual beat. The vocals, the beats, the atmosphere — it’s all beautiful. -Evan Minsker

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    84. Delorean – Subiza

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    Spanish quartet Delorean know what they’re doing. Subiza offers layer upon layer of samples, synths, and catchy melodies that result in an uplifting, atmospheric album sure to have your toes tapping. Repeated, airy vocals entrance the listener and add even more depth to the already complex and varied soundscape. The album plays like a DJ set, songs flowing in and out of one another, keeping true to the band’s Balearic roots. Animal Collective references aside, Delorean has forged a home in today’s overpopulated realm of electronic pop music. Whether it’s the ,majestic single “Stay Close” or “Warmer Places”, with its anthemic repetition of “Never settle, never settle, never settle”, Subiza does no wrong. -Caitlin Meyer

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    83. Pete Yorn – Pete Yorn

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    Before the drowsy acoustics of 2009’s Back and Fourth and a bubbly collaboration with Scarlett Johansson, Pete Yorn was roughing it up in the garage with producer Frank Blank. At the Pixies frontman’s behest, Yorn swiftly recorded his eventual sixth album in 2008, giving his usual classic rock stylings a newfound sawtooth urgency. Pete Yorn‘s first half is pared down to nothing but crunchy distortion, with power pop nuggets like “Velcro Shoes” and “Badman” recalling a scrappier T. Rex, while the more jangled second half pays tribute to R.E.M. and Big Star. “Come on wheels, take this boy away,” he croons in the twangy closing track. As long as it’s back to where he started, we’ll all be in good shape. -Dan Caffrey

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    82. Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM

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    Inspired by Charlotte Gainsbourg’s brush with death and subsequent time spent in an MRI scanner, IRM reveals Gainsbourg’s continued evolution and maturation as a singer. Through producer and co-writer Beck’s diverse instrumentation which ran the gamut between lush and minimalist, Gainsbourg’s distant, barely there whisper offers the occasional peek behind her mystique. The collaboration between Gainsbourg and Beck is a match made in heaven, with both artists bringing the best out of each other. Who else but Beck could replicate the pulsating rhythm and sense of claustrophobia produced by the machine, and turn it into such captivating music? IRM is two artists nearing 40 exploring and reflecting upon death, and the result is the best Beck album since Sea Change. -Frank Mojica

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    81. Belle & Sebastian – Write About Love

     CoS Year End Report: The Top 100 Albums of 2010

    A new Belle & Sebastian album is a welcome outcome in itself; Such is the band’s track record. This latest offering doesn’t disappoint, but requires repeat plays to really sink in. Once there, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that B&S have delivered yet another first-class pop album — bright, breezy and accomplished, both vocally and in the tight, rich ensemble instrumentation. -Tony Hardy

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