So do people still buy albums? It is a subjective question and depends a lot on the availability (and knowledge) on torrent sites for many. And with albums usually streaming in their entirity, one listen and move on is one of the guiding mantras of the internet, is it not?

But there were plenty of albums to delve into this year. If you haven’t already seen Stereogum’s, Drowned in Sound’s or the many others, then hopefully the list below might (re)introduce you to something great.

The list is purely my own, with my own opinions and free of any outside influence. It is great to reflect on 2010 and see that it was one of the strongest years of music I can remember. New bands like Not Squares and Gold Panda came along and made some pretty memorable things, while I also discovered bands that have been on the circuit for a number of years and finally had a breakthrough (Flying Lotus and Beach House).

But of course there were albums that didn’t feature that should have: Big Boi’s Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, Crystal Castles’ second self-titled album, Twin Shadow’s Forget, Mount Kimbie’s Crooks & Lovers and Foal’s Total Life Forever were all albums worthy of your ears. Of course, your definition of best is up for debate, but the following list is my own preferences of 2010. In album form. I hope you find something to treasure.


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20. Yeasayer – Odd Blood
19. Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma
18. The Walkmen – Lisbon
17. Redneck Manifesto – Friendship
16. Somadrone – Depth Of Field
15. Not Squares – Yeah, Ok
14. Janelle Monae – The Archandroid
13. Avi Buffalo – Avi Buffalo
12. Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner
11. Hot Chip – One Life Stand
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10. The National – High Violet

There are few sure things in life. The National making a great album is one of them though. High Violet had a lot to live up to. Boxer and Alligator set a very high bar, but the group’s fifth album is more than capable of following it. The opening of ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ was our first taste and was far from the only jewel in the band’s arsenal. ‘Afraid of Everyone’ (a song of the year in its own right) and ‘Conversation 16’ were as heartfelt as anything the band had done before.


The National – ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’
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9. Solar Bears – She Was Coloured In

A duo from Wicklow/Dublin creating chilled out dance music? Is this allowed in Ireland? Solar Bears created one of thos albums that throws up new delights with ever listen. ‘Crystalline (Be Again)’, the centrepiece of the eclectic album had so many twists and turns that it leaves you breathless. ‘Dolls’ was another highlight from the 15-track collection that never even comes close to outstaying its welcome. A genius blissed-out collection of songs.


Solar Bears – ‘Dolls’
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8. Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record

There was not much hype leading up to this one, but listening though all 14 songs, you wondered why not? It was a pleasant surprise that Broken Social Scene had lost none of the magic that had marked them out as stalwarts of the music scene so long ago. The solo releases had not had an adverse effect on the band. With ‘Texico Bitches’ and ‘All To All’, the band had the magic back. But nothing prepared us for ‘Meet Me In The Basement’, an instrumental blast of power from the Canadian collective.


Broken Social Scene – ‘Meet Me In The Basement’

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7. Vampire Weekend – Contra

This came out right at the start of the year and suffered slightly in the shadow of its older brother. But as the singles came, the album had buried itself in the indie consciousness. ‘White Sky’ had one of the catchiest and most-difficult parts to sing along to without having people look at you (I would like to see Matt Cardle try to hit those high notes). With ‘Holiday’ and the autotuned ‘California English’ following, the album just had hit after hit. It was always going to be a winner in the end.


Vampire Weekend – ‘Holiday’
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6. Kanye West – My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy

What more is left to be said about this album? Pitchfork gave it a 10.0 (the last album to get such a score was Wilco in 2002). It is bloated and overflowing with ideas and features guest spots from Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Drake and so many more. ‘Can we get much higher?’ we are asked on the first song. The answer becomes clear over the course of the following 12 songs. I could also have included all the GOOD FRIDAY tracks that Kanye released in the run up to this album dropping. You can still grab them at his website.


Kanye West – ‘Runaway’
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5. The Cast Of Cheers – Chariot

It started with an inoccuous tweet from Super Extra Bonus party saying everyone should listen to this band because they were playing a date with them. The next day, Nialler9 was talking about them. And the rest is history. The album was there for free and this unheard of band suddenly did become, as Niall said, everyone’s favourite new Irish band. It was heavy, with hints of post-rock, but there was more here. The fact it was so catchy is something you can’t say about much post-rock.


The Cast Of Cheers – ‘Tip The Can’
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4. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz

I am not completely immersed in Sufjan Steven’s history so perhaps that was why it didn’t shock me that he had apparantly changed with sound for The Age of Adz. This is an electro-tinged album that takes in a whole breadth of emotions. The opening track ‘Futile Devices’ is a deceiving one, and as ‘Too Much’ kicks in, I instantly fell in love with album. At almost 80-minutes long too people were perhaps blown away by it, but there is so much to discover that people will be talking about this long after all the negativity dies away. And the title track… words cannot do it justice.


Sufjan Stevens – ‘The Age Of Adz’
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3. Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History

Two Door Cinema Club’s d├ębut album lasts barely over half an hour and is one of those albums you play again and again and before you know it it is the most played album in your library with 365 plays on each song. Everything on Tourist History is catchy, and the tempo never falls below ecstatic. And it is not a simple album either. The guitar riffs that play underneath each other are a joy to behold, while ‘Undercover Martyn’ has become an anthem for anybody who is thinking about buying a mobile phone.


Two Door Cinema Club – ‘Something Good Can Work’
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2. Beach House – Teen Dream

I remember in November 2009, Rostam from Vampire Weekend was asked what he was listening to and he claimed that the then forthcoming Beach House album was going to blow everyone away. He was not wrong. Teen Dream is the band’s third album, and is one of the most beautiful things you will hear. Every song sounds like a shining beacon of light in a dark world. From the opening track ‘Zebra’ to ‘Take Care’ the listener is taken through a whole range of emotions. A tearjerker, but a happy one.


Beach House – ‘Zebra’
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1. Villagers – Becoming A Jackal

There was never really any doubt about this one. From the second I saw Villagers play their fourth gig back in De Barras in Clonakilty, west Cork, about 20 months ago, I fell in love with them. Becoming A Jackal appeared in May and had everything you could possibly want from an album. There were highs, lows, singalongs, and tears. The brainchild of Conor O’Brien, formerly of The Immediate, Villagers also feature members of now-defunct Berkeley and One Day International, and have been a true Irish success story. Garnering attention from all over, it was difficult to ever not listen to this album. It followed on from a few eps we heard in the previous year, and it did not disappoint. ‘Set The Tigers Free’ and opener ‘I Saw The Dead’ were particular new highlights. This should be held up for years to come as the benchmark for quality.


Villagers – ‘I Saw the Dead’