Top 10 Albums of 2010

23rd December 2010Feature, MusicOne Comment

pathwayTop 10 Albums of 2010
~ Craig Detweiler

‘Tis the season to present gifts just like the three wise men of the Bible. While I love the portability of MP3 for moving my music around, somehow an iTunes gift card doesn’t have the same tangible thrill as unwrapping a new album like Bruce Springsteen’s long awaited THE PROMISE, the best new, old album of the year. Ease and speed seem sure to supplant the physical CD. But for this Christmas, I decided to celebrate those records I bought in 2010. These are CDs that brought me into the few record stores I can still find, to purchase an album I can hold in my hand. Call me old-fashioned. Yet isn’t Christmas an old fashioned, dare we say, timeless event?

I understand why some music fans would blanche at buying a whole album. My biggest sonic disappointment was Weezer’s alleged comeback album, Hurley. While the occasional song rocked, it was also stocked with plenty of filler. Better to download by the song than to buy en masse. So which albums held up to extended and extensive listens? These are my Top Ten of 2010:


All too easy to overlook Britt Daniels seemingly effortless song craft. ”Transference” is not quite up to “GA, GA, GA, GA, GA”’s classic standards, but it still quirky and strong. Enter “The Mystery Zone.” Trivia note: The cover photograph by William Eggleston is in his current retrospective at the Los Angeles County Musuem of Art.


A tribute to the power of practice. Serving as Jimmy Fallon’s back up band has kept them lean and hungry—deep in the pocket. Let Black Thought engage in some serious, bass driven teaching.


Buddy Miller takes the producing reins from T Bone Burnett for a bristling run through America’s folksy and bluesy roots. Plant reaching back to his sonic roots as a means of leaping forward. The album lives up to its title: creating moments of musical delights.

7. SHE & HIM \”VOLUME 2\”

Light, bright, airy, and accessible. When times are dark, it is important to have some lightweight pop. M. Ward erects a Wall of Sound straight from the 60s for Zooey Deschanel to coo and croon over. Delectable.


Best recovery of the 70s country rock vibe. What the Eagles might sound like if they were still recording…. The stars pictured on the cover match the spaciousness sounds within. Band of Horses love to make beautiful music—their harmonious atmosphere approaches the heights of their Seattle neighbors, The Fleet Foxes.


Escaping the dreaded sophomore slump with another smart blend of Afro/Caribbean pop, ska, and alternative rock. This jingly jangly college rock keeps my entire family singing along. Perfect for a coastal drive or the psych up to a water polo match.

4. M.I.A. \”MAYA\”

The harshest beats and most savage sounds around presented in a light-shifting prism case. Is this the sound of the third world rising? Then, bring it on. This grating album seems designed to prove that having a baby and marrying the heir to the Seagram fortune hasn’t softened her in the slightest. I stand convinced.


This highly anticipated album started slow but kept growing on me. Not the rave up we expected. But a sepia toned homage to our collective suburban upbringings. The Butler channel their inner cul-de-sac to dramatic and nostalgic effect. Buoyed by the most inventive music video of the year for We Used to Wait.

2. JONSI \”GO\”

A shimmering, spritely jaunt away his more dour days in Sigur Ros. Jonsi creates luscious collaborations with Nico Mulhy. Not quite sure what Native American headdresses have to do with Icelandic pop but these uptempo songs formed the backdrop for the most exhilarating concerts of 2010. Check it online here.


Why does a banjo seem so essential to music circa 2010? This rousing celebration of English pub culture sounds like the party we all needed this year. Evidently, unplugged is the new electric. “Sigh No More” feels like a great lost Pogues album. Nobody blended the sacred and the profane with more unabashed delight than Mumford & Sons. Take your pick from an array of instant classics: ”Little Lion Man,” “White Blank Page,” “Winter Winds,” or “The Cave”. Relevant Magazine called their album “a holy hootenany.” I consider this raucous revival sheer joy.

Craig has written about film in The New York Times, and appeared on CNN and NPR. He currently teaches film at Pepperdine University and works as a liaison between the university and the entertainment industry. This review first appeared on Craig’s blog and is republished here with his permission.

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  • One response to "Top 10 Albums of 2010"

  • Travis
    21:16 on December 23rd, 2010

    Thanks Craig for this review. I’m excited to listen to these.


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