The Best (My Favorite) Albums of 2010

1. High Violet, The National

In July, SPIN Magazine decided to celebrate their 25th Anniversary with 5 shows at Terminal 5 in New York City – Flaming Lips, Smashing Pumpkins, Spiritualized, The Black Keys, and The National. I almost went on Wednesday to see The Black Keys but turns out they were playing earlier in the night at Central Park Summerstage so I saw them there instead. On Thursday, I went to a taping of The Colbert Report with some friends. Upon leaving the taping, I got a call from my friend Adam.

Adam had just purchased 2 tickets to see The National from a co-worker and wanted me to go with. I was a few blocks from Terminal 5… Sure! Terminal 5 was awesome that night as soon as we walked in, dressed up in a mood of celebration for SPIN.


I had never seen The National. A few of their tracks had shown up on a Genius playlist here or there, but I was only a casual listener. That changed at Terminal 5 that night in July. They walked out to the stage with little bombast and started into the opener, “Start a War.” I instantly knew they were beyond good. “Anyone’s Ghost” followed. “Bloodbuzz Ohio” and I knew it was getting crazy good then… BAM… “Mistaken for Strangers.” All night…. So. damn. good.

They are my new favorite band. High Violet is a dark masterpiece, if you can call anything they do a masterpiece after 2007’s Boxer.

2. This is Happening, LCD Soundsystem

LCD Soundsystem announced  that they were going to play shows at Terminal 5 this summer on their website, about an hour before tickets went on sale. I got tix to night #2. 2 more shows sold out. They announced secret shows at Music Hall of Williamsburg and Webster Hall day-of at 9am on random days leading up that sold out instantly.

One of the few concerts I have been to that felt like a true New York City experience, like you were at an event that could happen any other place, but it wouldn’t be the same. The band, their history, their hometown.

We tend to wear out albums when we listen while we work at eMusic. This album came dangerously close, but I could listen to “I Can Change” everyday forever.

3. The Suburbs, Arcade Fire

The most epic album of 2010, in every category. This is one of the few albums that gets better every single time you listen to it. What started out as being too many songs now isn’t enough. What sounded repetitive now sounds like creative genius.

The Arcade Fire / YouTube event earlier this year at Madison Square Garden would (will) make one of the great concert films of the 2010s. Arcade Fire are at their best, and in the live concert realm, they have few peers, if any.

4. Lisbon, The Walkmen

What a surprise. I tried throwing on a few of their albums in the background at eMusic at few times, never caught on. They make you work for what you get. Not on Lisbon. It is a great set of songs – like a scruffier Beirut, and with way more attitude. Grizzly Bear guitar with less esoterica.

5. Gorilla Manor, Local Natives

While Venice Beach is probably more Bohemian than Greenwich Village these days, Silver Lake is becoming (is) LA’s soiree into hipsterdom, and already seems cooler than Williamsburg. That’s where these dudes are from.

When I saw them at The Beach at Governor’s Island this summer, they remarked that it was their biggest show to date. I was lucky to be there.

These tunes are awesome. The most killer harmonies. They can play AND write hip tunes.

6. Contra, Vampire Weekend

I saw Vampire Weekend twice in 2010: in January at Webster Hall the week their album came out, and at Radio City Music Hall in September. Webster Hall was so sold out I had to buy scalped tickets outside. They were $75. No one would come down to the show with me due to the price, so I bought 2 and sold one to Jason Hammonds for $40. The only problem, they were fakes. We were at the bar for an hour before the show and the ticket scalper was long gone by the time we got in line. AWESOME. I waited outside the venue with another dude as every single in front of us went in line. Begged venue staff to let us in. Offered to bribe doormen. Nothing worked. We weren’t gonna give up. We considered scaling the roof. 5 minutes before the show… a miracle happened.

A ticket broker was supposed to have 15 people on his list. The door girl at Webster Hall fucked it up. To make up for it, she said he could bring in whoever he wanted. He walks outside, says “Who wants to get in for free?” The other dude and I almost started weeping with joy. Needless to say, we got in.

This is a solid solid disc, which is why, by September, they were playing 3 sold out shows at Radio City. A great NYC band.

7. Heaven is Whenever, The Hold Steady

I saw The Hold Steady at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta this summer. I was reminded instantly why they are one of my favorite bands. Aside from writing one of my favorite songs of 2010, “The Weekenders,” they demonstrated what being an ass-kicking professional rock ‘n roll band from Brooklyn (via MN) looks like.

8. Transference, Spoon

I’ll admit, was not a fan of Spoon’s show at Radio City at March, but that was all the front-of-house sound guy. They kicked ass at Bonnaroo in 2007. This record is no different from all of the others, just making one of the best records of the year every time they show up to work.

9. Infinite Arms, Band of Horses

I saw Band of Horses twice in 2010 (I’m lucky as fuck). The first time was an AOL-sponsored event in Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal for a small crowd of 200-300 people (we were 5 people back!). The other was at Williamsburg Waterfront in a concert so epic Grizzly Bear OPENED for them.

This disc is great for people who love this band. It is no Cease to Begin (nothing is), but it sure is satisfying.

10. God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise, Ray Lamontagne and the Pariah Dogs

There are tunes on this record that make my body twist and turn from the soul in Ray’s voice. The guitars sound SICK. There are enough tunes on here that will kick your ass to make the whole album worth the effort. Does it ever get any better than “New York City’s Killing Me”?

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