Best of 2010: Albums

6 Dec

Everyone, it’s time for a Best Of List. No need to thank me (but yes, you are welcome).  I’m just doing my part to make everyone’s Mondays a little sweeter.  Today I’ll share the albums that found their way to my iPod and stayed there for a good long visit.  Most debuted this year, but I just had to share one that I discovered this year (but wasn’t quite born in 2010, so sue me).  Maybe you can give your Christmas music collection a short break, and pop these in if you haven’t had the fortune of giving them a listen to yet.  Enjoy!  Happy listening and reading!

Sufjan Stevens:  Age of Adz

This album is weird, futuristic, earnest, mind-bending, and I’m just getting started with my adjective adulation if you can believe it.  Stevens experiments with sound in Age of Adz, but I would never call it noisy.  Age is instead a layered, orchestrated psychotherapy session. Instead of just slapping a love song together, he compares the end of a relationship to the apocalypse.  Or to highlight the power of nature he sings a hypnotizing song to a volcano. I could go on, but in the end I love his ability to make me think about life and to feel really cool while doing it.  I suggest having a devoted listening session the first time you meet this album.  And if you have time, listen to his EP All Delighted People.  The first track is EPIC.  I keep coming back to buy his albums because he never fails to take his music and lyrics to a level that, well, blows my mind and Age of Adz did just that.

She & Him: Volume II

Although I completely love Zooey Deschanel’s throwback 60s fashion sense, I love her whimsical music even more.  Volume II is fun and consistently enjoyable. It may sound corny, but her stuff makes me think of convertibles, love and sunshine. Oh no, did I just describe a Yoplait commercial? Anyway, her songs are also sing-along-able (ever a plus for me) and if Deshchanel errs, it is on the side of cuteness. And who could grudge her of that. I do it all the time! (I kid. Mostly.)  The bottom line:  she and M. Ward offer songs of the 60s era with renewed zest that make them surprising and refreshing in the 2010 world of auto tune and daisy dukes.

Vampire Weekend: Contra

It is always a little scary when a band that had a wonderful debut album comes out with their second one.  And thankfully the guys from Vampire Weekend did not disappoint.  All you have to do is listen to the first track “Horchata” to know that you are in for a treat.  They somehow continue to combine the rules of pop (addicting bouncy melodies) with African and surf-inspired beats to create an extremely recognizable and unique sound.  Contra is fun and if anything, more deliberate than their first outing.  Vampire Weekend is a band that may just manage to stick around for a good long time while appealing to a wide audience.  We’ll see.  I also get nervous when a band that had 2 great albums makes a 3rd.

Carla Bruni:  Quelqu’un m’a dit

Okay, here’s my non-2010 entry.  But I just couldn’t help myself.  And 2003 wasn’t that long ago, right? Um, wow, that was 7 years ago.  Time does fly.  Anyway, I include this album because Carla Bruni’s folksy, light, but beautiful album is the ideal complement to reading, baking or driving.  Whatever you feel about the French, you have to admit their language is beautiful.  I can’t understand a word of this album, but the ambiance her husky voice and minimal instrumentation creates adds a great soundtrack to my life.  And like Stevens, I just feel cool when I listen.

I hope you have the chance to check some of these out.  There are always more I could list like Local Natives’ Gorilla Manor or The Black Keys’ Brothers.  And those are great, but I really tried to narrow my list to those that I got addicted to this year.  See how honest I am?  I hope you found some interesting sound tracks to life, and if not, you can borrow some of mind.  I love sharing.  Have a great one!

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