You know that thing that pretty much every single pop band is lacking nowadays? It’s called originality and Versaemerge has it by the tons. Fixed At Zero was the year’s best debut, and in good reason too, the intense vocals of Sierra Kusterbeck, mixed in with the haunting programming and eerie feel of the album, make for a complete experience. From the first notes in opener “Figure It Out” to the epic closer “Lost Tree”, it’s clear that Versaemerge knew exactly what it is they wanted to do, but unlike most other bands, they executed it perfectly.
It sure took a long time (four years to be exact) for Hellogoodbye to return with a new album, but the wait was well worth it. Would It Kill You? is catchy, beautiful, and wonderfully arranged, not to mention a huge leap forward from the band’s previous work. Mixing horns and strings with sugary hooks and soothing vocals, Hellogoodbye has been able to release the year’s best pop album. If I had to wait another four years for a new album from Hellogoodbye, I’d be perfectly fine if I knew that it would be as great as Would It Kill You?
Admit it, you had to eat your words on this album, you want to go back and erase any time you said Chiodos was “dead”, just admit that the moment you heard the beginning of “Caves” you realized you were wrong the whole time. It’s not often that a band loses a member as charismatic as Craig Owens and is able to get back on their feet, much less make an album that triumphs over any of their previous releases. Chiodos had some big expectations to meet, and yet they manage to fulfill them and more. So if you were one of those people who unreasonably declared this band deceased then don’t worry about it, and if you still haven’t given this album a chance, then it’s time to get off your high horse and give in to one of the year’s best albums.
Dark, brooding, and honest. Anberlin’s fifth full length saw them return to what made Anberlin one of those untouchable bands. Unleashing it all for one great release, Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place showed Anberlin being aggressive (We Owe This to Ourselves), insanely catchy (Impossible), and honest (Down). This album truly portrays the beauty of Anberlin, somehow they are able to mix several elements of music without ever seeming phony or like they are trying to please anyone. Truth is Anberlin is one of the most talented and genuine bands in music today, and I honestly can’t think of any other act that deserves success more than them.
Who’s to say what Gorillaz is anymore? On one hand they are the twisted artistic creation of comic book artist Jamie Hewlett, while on the other hand they are the musical project of Blur frontman Damon Albarn, but none of that really matter when your album is as great as Plastic Beach. Whether it was Damon Albarn crooning on “On Melancholy Hill”, or Snoop Dogg giving a fantastic introduction to the album in “Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach”, or legendary soul singer Bobby Womack convincing me that he is the greatest vocalist that ever lived in songs like “Stylo” and “ Cloud of Unknowing”, or up and coming Swedish-Japanese singer Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon bringing a sense of beauty and melancholy to “Empire Ants” and “To Binge”, it was clear that this album was by far the best of this year. Plastic Beach is smart without being pretentious, and it’s catchy without being dumb, and in a world where every band is trying to be the greatest, it’s nice to see one who just simply is.
- Tokyo Police Club – Champ
If the list was the top 6 albums of 2010 then you can bet this album would be on it.
- The Wonder Years – The Upsides
For having the year’s most honest and self-revealing lyrics.
- Travie McCoy – Lazarus
For making me eat my words on his solo project.
- Girl Talk – All Day
For being the most exhilarating, and exciting record of 2010.
- Our Last Night – We Will All Evolve
For proving that to make a great album you don’t need gimmicks, all you need is talented musicians and songwriting skills.
- Adeste – In Parables
They came out of relative obscurity, and made an album that was ten times better than most releases that came out this year.
- Pierce the Veil – Selfish Machines
After the promise that A Flair for the Dramatic showed, this album should have been one of the year’s best, instead it was a mixed affair of pop experimentation.
Best Album Art
- Klaxons – Surfing the Void
A cat, in an astronaut suit? Count me in!
Best Live Show
- Gorillaz at Key Arena, Seattle, Washington
Concerts should be more than a sonic experience, they should also be a visual treat, and Gorillaz knows this very well.
Most Anticipated 2011
- Taking Back Sunday
The fact that the original Tell All Your Friends lineup is back immediately made their new album one of my most anticipated for next year, “Best Places to Be a Mom” defnitely made it my most anticipated album for next year
- Abandon All Ships – Geeving
I am regularly able find at least one good thing about any album, this was the exception.
Best Music Video
- Vampire Weekend – Giving Up the Gun
Jake Gyllenhaal, Joe Jonas, and Daft Punk playing tennis, with Lil Jon as a tennis coach made for the best and most memorable music video of the year.