Top Albums of 2010

Here are the top thirty albums of 2010, as chosen by your wonderful KZUU MGMT! Tell us who your number one was!

30. Frontier Ruckus – Deadmalls & Nightfalls

KZUU darlings and Birds on a Wire headliners Frontier Ruckus dropped their newest LP this year, and thanks to our wonderful DJs (mostly Chelan), they racked up the plays with songs like “Ontario” and “Silverfishes”. -Adam (& the spirit of Chelan)

29. Weekend – Sports

On Sports, Weekend take one of the most “un-googlable” artist-album names of the year and make some of the most infectious garage rock of the year. Sandwiched somewhere between No Age and My Bloody Valentine, Weekend’s sound is best realized on the incredible “Coma Summer”. -Adam

28. Viernes – Sinister Devices

Viernes (a duo who tour as a trio) make dreamy, electronic music with indistinguishable lyrics. Vocals and guitars blend together in this texture-based debut album.  -Kelsie

27. Bad Books – Bad Books

What exactly happens when you mix one great rock band with a vulnerable songwriter, you get the overly personal sound of “Bad Books”. This band includes members of alternative heavy weights, Manchester Orchestra and the lyrical creativity of Kevin Devine. This album is glossed over with your head banging tunes accompanied by those acoustic ballads. Bad Books is exactly what you would think it would sound like. With the talents of these two songwriters, this albums turns out to be a one hell of a listen. -Brennan

26. Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma

His best album yet. Infectious dubstep-meets-glitch music. The first half gets by on pulsating bass and bleeps and bloops, while the second half is very much rooted in jazz, similar to Madlib’s Shades of Blue. -Adam

25. Sarah Jaffe – Suburban Nature

Sarah Jaffe’s debut album is an honest recollection of the vulnerabilities that make music so sincere. Within the first couple listens into Suburban Nature, you feel as if Sarah Jaffe is right in front of you singing every song and pouring every raw emotion into these beautiful ballads. Suburban Nature does exactly what its intended to do, to take you out of your comfort zone and make you “feel” again. -Brennan

24. Wavves – King of the Beach

Pot-smokin’, skateboardin’, self-loathin’ Nathan Williams makes a triumphant return in 2010 with King of the Beach. Dropping the lo-fi noise that was so apparent on his previous two albums, Wavves take a more accessible approach with Beach. Backed by the drummer and bassist from the late Jay Reatard’s band, Williams has written the best album of his brief career. So far. -Adam

23. Julian Lynch – Mare

Julian Lynch’s music sums up one of the biggest trends in indie music in 2010 – experimental, lo-fi, psychedelic, ambient, whatever. No matter what you want to call it, it’s thought-provoking music that requires one to listen on a deeper level. -Kelsie

22. How To Dress Well – Love Remains

One of the more original efforts this year, Tom Krell sings lo-fi R&B jams straight out of the mid-90s. His vocals are unintelligible, but it doesn’t seem to matter because he sings with so much feeling. -Adam

21. Twin Shadow – Forget

Forget is the 80s-inspired debut album by Brooklyn resident George Lewis Jr. (a.k.a. Twin Shadow). The album is loaded with electronic, new wave gems like “Castles in the Snow” and “Tether Beat”. -Kelsie

20. Mountain Man – Made the Harbor

An album that can be definitively called “beautiful,” Made the Harbor is essentially an a capella album, what little guitar appears on it is strummed delicately and soft. But the three Vermont girls who make up Mountain Man sing with so many beautiful harmonies that it doesn’t really matter. A great rainy day album. -Adam

19. Andrew Belle – The Ladder

Andrew Belle really isn’t the KZUU type, he isn’t what the music enthusiasts would call “indie”. But if you haven’t listened to Andrew Belle’s “The Ladder” you really are missing out. The delicate sound of Belle is one of pure innocence, lovely songs that bring the melodramatic side in all of us. The level of honesty that comes with Andrew’s vulnerable voice is just the thing to tickle your sweet tooth. Bringing out the realization that singer/songwriters can be just as innovative as any Animal Collective wannabe with a sampler. -Brennan

18. Baths – Cerulean

Much like his his peers (Toro Y Moi, Washed Out, Gold Panda) Will Weisenfeld is creating some gorgeous glitch-hop, further amplified by his airy falsetto. Album standout “Amnials” is one of the best songs of the year. -Adam

17. CEO – White Magic

White Magic is another album that’s been strangely absent from many year-end lists. CEO is a side project of Eric Berglund (The Tough Alliance) drenched in smart and catchy electropop goodness. -Kelsie

16. Sleigh Bells – Treats

Sleigh Bells came onto the scene about a year ago, being one of the biggest blog bands this side of Manhattan. Their crunchy noise-pop sound gave us a new creation to sink our teeth into. This duo brings out the guitar breakdowns that we find in our metal music as well as the innocence in Alexis Krauss’ playful voice. Each track has one common thread, to rock your socks off and make those tiny little hairs on your arms to stand up. Sleigh Bells debut is a great achievement and finds other artists trying to replicate their noise pop sound. -Brennan

15. Beach Fossils – Beach Fossils

Surf-beach-chill-pop-punk-wave-fi, or something similar, but every song is a toe tapper, packed to the brim with infectious hooks and shimmering guitar riffs. -Adam

14. Secret Cities – Pink Graffiti

While Pink Graffiti has been bashed by critics as being schizophrenic and inconsistent, this somehow ends up working for North Dakota trio Secret Cities who make experimental and psychedelic chamber pop. -Kelsie

13. Dr. Dog – Shame, Shame

Being their fourth full length, we know what we are getting ourselves in for. Dr. Dog is a consistent band that writes great songs and makes no apologies for it. Their sound is genuine and sincere, with signature vocals that make you feel right at home. Album standouts such as “Someday”, “Jackie Wants A Black Eye”, and the groovy “Shadow People” make us realize sometimes simplicity isn’t all that bad. -Brennan

12. Soft Cat – Wildspace

A gorgeous folk album from the mind of Neil Sangiri, a Baltimore artist who creates some beautiful orchestral folk music. One of the most underrated and ignored albums of 2k10. -Adam

11. Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be

I Will Be is buzzed-out chick rock at its finest, full of tracks that sound different from each other and don’t reference cats or weed every thirty seconds. -Kelsie

10. Toro Y Moi – Causers of This

An album that will unfortunately get lumped in with the “chillwave” crowd, but Chaz Bundick (the face behind Toro Y Moi) proves that his talents reach far beyond summertime nostalgia on Causers by emulating greats like J Dilla to create a new brand of hip-hop fusion. -Adam

9. Wild Nothing – Gemini

Jack Tatum’s debut as Wild Nothing is proof that one-man “bedroom pop” projects don’t have to be generic. Gemini draws you into a world for its brief thirty-minute duration reminiscent of summer, better times, and the Cure (if Robert Smith were on antidepressants). -Kelsie

8. Surfer Blood – Astro Coast

The most surprising debut of the year comes from a bunch of Florida kids who led the 90’s alt rock nostalgia wave this year. Astro Coast is arguably one of the best guitar albums released so far this millennium, taking the very essence of Weezer’s “Surf Wax America” and extending into long-play form. -Adam

7. Lower Dens – Twin-hand Movement

Twin-hand Movement is the first full-length by freak folk crooner Jana Hunter’s band. Hunter’s voice blends in well with the fuzzy guitars and steady drums that define Lower Dens’ sound. -Kelsie


6. Beach House – Teen Dream

Everything about Beach House got better on this album. Better songwriting, better vocals, better guitar tone, and better cohesiveness. No other album this year was as easy or pleasing to listen through from front to back. -Adam

5. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today

While our review for this album was sparse (“p4k creamed over this one”), make no mistake that this is a great album. Ariel Pink takes a similar approach to Gayngs here, creating some retro pop that’s suited for the backseat of a car after a high school prom. “Round and Round” is the banger (pun totally intended) here. -Adam

4. The Morning Benders – Big Echo

Expansive and reverb-soaked along with Grizzly Bear-esque production (thanks, Chris Taylor) pop defines The Morning Benders’ sophomore album. -Kelsie

3. Avi Buffalo – Avi Buffalo

Lead singer Avi Zahner-Isenberg was only 18 years old when KZUU blogged about his upcoming album earlier this year. Made up of songs he wrote himself, some dating back to his early teens, his self titled album features some of the most catchy and sweet indie pop songs of the year. KZUU DJs agreed, since “What’s In It For”, “Coaxed”, and “Truth Sets In” racked up the plays, making Avi Buffalo one of the most played albums of 2010 at KZUU. -Adam

2. Tamaryn – The Waves

Female-fronted shoegaze bands were probably too numerous in 2010, but Tamaryn plays the genre so well it’s impossible to reprimand them. -Kelsie

1. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest

Deerhunter are a band that defy categorization. Each of their albums transcend some sort of musical style, from the ambient drone on Cryptograms to the short and sweet shoegaze on Microcastle. Halcyon Digest is a mashup of retro pop and psychedelic rock, which culminates in the epic 6-minute “Desire Lines.” But it’s the ebb and flow of Halcyon Digest that makes it so addicting, from the driven “Revival” to the subtle and haunting “Sailing.” Deerhunter aren’t peaking here, they hit the peak and they’ve decided to set up camp for a few albums. There just isn’t anyone else making music this realized today.  -Adam


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