It’s impossible to rank a best of albums list since it’s all subjective and it’s impossible to listen to everything. That said, out of the hundreds of records that I listened to, I definitely had favorites. The following is a list of 50 records released in 2010 that I got completely lost in, obsessed with and attached to. I ranked the top 20 to create a little division, but I feel so strongly about any of these records that any of them could be #1 on a particular day.

  1. Parenthetical Girls – Privilege, Pt. I / Privilege Pt. II: The Past, Imperfect

  2. The Parenthetical Girls released a pair of incredible four song EPs in 2010. Each EP displays the band’s dynamic ability to combine 60s pop, electronics, orchestration, and melodrama into one thrilling package with it’s own distinct sound. Unfamiliar with the band prior to 2010, the release of Privilege, Pt. 1 led me to discover a discography loaded with delights.

    Favorite Track: “Evelyn McHale”

    parentheticalgirls.com

  3. Judson Claiborne – Time And Temperature

  4. His voice shook the foundation of my soul, replacing lethargy with deep emotion. Time and Temperature is of of the most soulful folk records I’ve ever heard. Stripped down to just vocals and an acoustic it’d still be powerful, but the additional strings, percussion and horns give the album a majestic feeling.

    Favorite Track: “My How We Change!”

    judsonclaiborne.com

  5. Menomena – Mines

  6. Every time I hear Menomena’s Mines it gets more and more colossal. Pounding drums, monster riffs coming from all sides, Mines totally engulfs its listener.

    Favorite Track: “Queen Black Acid”

    menomena.com

  7. Motel Motel – The Big Island

  8. For me, Motel Motel’s sophomore record was my most anticipated album of 2010. Their debut was one of the best, most ambitious debuts I’d ever heard. Following the band as the songs of The Big Island began taking, there was no question that their followup would be just as ambitious. With breathtaking harmonies and a unique combination of elements of prog, jazz, country, and rock, The Big Island stands as a contemporary masterpiece that has yet to be realized by the masses.

    Favorite Track: “Cowboy”

  9. The Walkmen – Lisbon

  10. Once again utilizing the ideas of past successes, The Walkmen created a modern classic. It is a timeless record built for rainy days when you want to reflect upon your past, good and bad.

    Favorite Track: “Torch Song”

    marcata.net/walkmen

  11. Mike Patton – Mondo Cane

  12. Forgive me for thinking that Mike Patton is one of those musicians who can do no wrong, but with a history that includes Mr. Bungle, Faith No More, Fantomas and Tomahawk, it was no surprise when Patton released this masterpiece indebted to Italian composers. This is arguably Patton’s greatest vocal performance and the orchestration that accompanies him is the perfect compliment.

    Favorite Track: Il Cielo In Una Stanza

    www.ipecac.com

  13. Liars – Sisterworld

  14. Still bizarre, Liars seem totally incapable of making an album that’s anything less than brilliant. This may be their most in-your-face record to date, filled with an uneasy tension that often gives way to an explosive tribal attack.

    Favorite Track: “The Overacheivers

    liarsliarsliars.com

  15. Miles Kurosky – The Desert Of Shallow Effects

  16. The return of Beulah’s frontman was met with little fan fair but was every bit as good as fans of his former band could hope for. Having left the music scene to fight illness and despair, The Desert of Shallow Effects feels like the triumphant comeback of an old champion. Poppy, emotional and overflowing with instrumentation, it’s a lush pop rock record.

    Favorite Track: “West Memphis Skyline

    mileskurosky.com

  17. Beach House – Teen Dream

  18. Everyone who hears this record falls in love. In love with the hazy, seductive vocals. In love with the slow romantic journey that it takes its listeners on.

    Favorite Track: “10 Mile Stereo

    beachhousebaltimore.com

  19. The Acorn – No Ghost

  20. Following up Glory Hope Mountain was no small task, but The Acorn somehow managed to do it. Once again Rolf Klausener’s words are well thought out poetry delivered in a genuine way that brings it complimentary feeling. Eyes will often tear up when listening to the somber “On The Line.”

    Favorite Track: “Slippery When Wet

    theacorn.ca

  21. The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night

  22. This is what stoner rock should sound like. Dreamy and loaded with riffs, The Besnard Lakes made an album for those of us who still love our classic rock records, but hoped it’d continue to take new forms.

    Favorite Track: “Albatross

    thebesnardlakes.com

  23. Oh No Ono – Eggs

  24. While it came out overseas midway through 2009, Oh No Ono’s hi-fi dreamland didn’t hit the U.S. until 2010. One of the best produced records I’ve ever heard, it’s a colorfully psychedelic trip that seems to soar all around you.

    Favorite Track: “The Tea Party

    ohnoono.com

  25. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach

  26. The first voice to be heard on Plastic Beach is none other than Snoop Dog. It’s a star-studded cast making appearances on a record by a fictional band, but it’s also something greater. Damon Albarn utilized his supporting cast by writing amazing songs with a sound that’s totally his own. Best moment on the record: Bobby Womack’s vocals on “Stylo.”

    Favorite Track: “Stylo

    gorillaz.com

  27. Gonja Sufi – A Sufi And A Killer

  28. Some have dubbed him the Captain Beefheart of hip hop and that title makes sense. A Sufi And A Killer is a long stylistically diverse debut record that sounds like nothing else.

    Favorite Track: “She Gone

    sufisays.com

  29. James – The Morning After The Night Before / The Morning After The Night Before

  30. Some people think of James as a one hit wonder from the 90s. Those people have never heard anything else the legendary band has written. A double release with each disc running at half an hour, James released possibly their best work since Laid this year.

    Favorite Track: “Tell Her I Said So

    wearejames.com

  31. The Books – The Way Out

  32. As unclassifiable as any record they’ve done, The Books don’t sound like anybody else. The Way Out takes from all genres and creates a music collage work of art.

    Favorite Track: “Free Translator

    thebooksmusic.com

  33. The Black Keys – Brothers

  34. Under the guidance of Danger Mouse, Akron’s blues rock duo made the biggest leap musically of about any band around. The songs are soulful and Dan Auerbach’s vocals are better than ever.

    Favorite Track: “Too Afraid To Love You

    theblackkeys.com

  35. Sufjan Stevens – Age of Adz

  36. The reigning king of orchestral pop goes electro, and somehow it’s not a disaster. Age of Adz is an incredibly intricate electro album full of orchestral flourishes.

    Favorite Track: “Age of Adz”

    sufjan.com

  37. Malachai – Ugly Side Of Love

  38. Part trip hop, part 60s pop, part spaghetti western, Ugly Side of Life seamlessly blends styles into an exciting danceable psychedelic record.

    Favorite Track: “Another Sun”

    malachai.tv

  39. Nightlands – Forget The Mantra

  40. War On Drugs bassist David Hartley made his full length debut as Nightlands with a fully realized sound on Forget The Mantra.  Similarities to War on Drugs and Kurt Vile can be found if searched for but there’s a bit of Peter Gabriel, Beach Boys and Animal Collective also among other things.

    Favorite Track: “300 Clouds”

    nightlands.us

21-50 in alphabetical order

  • Adrienne Drake – Dullabies

  • Favorite Track: “Between Space & Clouds”

  • Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

  • Favorite Track: “The Sprawl II”

  • Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today

  • Favorite Track: “Bright Lit Blue Skies”

  • ArpLine – Travel Book

  • Favorite Track: “Make It Rain”

  • Callers – Life of Love

  • Favorite Track: “How You Hold Your Arms”

  • Caribou – Swim

  • Favorite Track: “Lalibela”

  • CocoRosie – Grey Oceans

  • Favorite Track: “Here I Come”

  • Common Prayer – There Is A Mountain

  • Favorite Track: “Of Saints”

  • Cowboy Indian Bear – Each Other All The Time

  • Favorite Track: “Madeline”

  • Drink Up Buttercup – Born And Thrown On A Hook

  • Favorite Track: “Seasickness Pills”

  • Frightened Rabbit – The Winter of Mixed Drinks

  • Favorite Track: “The Wrestle”

  • Frog Eyes – Paul’s Tomb: A Triumph

  • Favorite Track: “Lear in Love”

  • Future Islands – In Evening Air

  • Favorite Track: “Tin Man”

  • Gary Wilson – Electric Endicott

  • Favorite Track: “In The Night”

  • Ghastly City Sleep – Moondrifts

  • Favorite Track: “Billowing”

  • Helado Negro – Pasajero

  • Favorite Track: “Jurame”

  • Jesus Makes The Shotgun Sound – DAMNANT QUOD NON INTELLIGUNT

  • Favorite Track: “The Light, She Blinds Me”

  • The Love Language – Libraries

  • Favorite Track: “Blue Angel”

  • Medications – Completely Removed

  • Favorite Track: “Postcards”

  • The National – High Violet

  • Favorite Track: “Bloodbuzz Ohio”

  • of Montreal – False Priest

  • Favorite Track: “Famine Affair”

  • Saharan Gazelle Boy – Airplanes Can’t / Haunted Way (with Sea Change)

  • Favorite Track: “Something I Wanna Know About You”

  • Sharon Van Etten – Epic

  • Favorite Track: “Love More”

  • Shearwater – The Golden Archipelago

  • Favorite Track: “Castaways”

  • The Silent League – But You’ve Always Been the Caretaker

  • Favorite Track: “Resignation Studied”

  • Soft Reeds – Soft Reeds Are Bastards

  • Favorite Track: “The Sirens of Titan”

  • Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky

  • Favorite Track: “Reeling the Liars In”

  • The Tallest Man On Earth –  The Wild Hunt

  • Favorite Track: “You’re Going Back”

  • Tu Fawning – Hearts On Hold Tribal Antique

  • Favorite Track: “Just Too Much”

  • Unicycle Loves You – Mirror Mirror

  • Favorite Track: “Justine”