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Old 12-18-2010, 11:37 PM  
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Reaper's Top 30 (plus Honorable Mentions) Favorite Albums of 2010

This year, a very deep year for music, I will post a top 30, complete with descriptions and YouTube embeds to a song I really like from each album.

My top 30 isn't quite complete yet. I anticipate posting everything for that list tomorrow. But in the meantime, this thread will begin with a handful of Honorable Mentions, listed alphabetically, for people to mull over.

Honorable Mentions:
Brotha Lynch Hung - Dinner and a Movie
Enforcer - Diamonds
Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier
LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
Manticora - Safe
Oceansize - Self Preserved While the Bodies Float Up
Overkill - Ironbound
Pain of Salvation - Road Salt pt. 1
Sleigh Bells - Treats
Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
Tech N9ne - Collabos: The Gates Mixed Plate
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Mojo
Bobby Watson - The Gates BBQ Suite
Kanye West - G.O.O.D. Fridays


Top 30:
30.) The National - High Violet
29.) Kutt Calhoun - Raw and Un-Kutt
28.) Joanna Newsom - Have One on Me
27.) Gayngs - Relayted
26.) Johnny Cash - American Recordings VI: Ain't No Grave
25.) Burzum - Belus
24.) Blind Guardian - At the Edge of Time
23.) High on Fire - Snakes for the Divine
22.) Karnataka - The Gathering Light
21.) Ihsahn - After
20.) Das Racist - Sit Down, Man
19.) Kvelertak - Kvelertak
18.) Enslaved - Axioma Ethica Odini
17.) Heathen - The Evolution of Chaos
16.) Briton Rites - For Mircalla
15.) Glasser - Ring
14.) Big Boi - Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
13.) Borknagar - Universal
12.) Sigh - Scenes from Hell
11.) Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here
10.) Alcest - Écailles de Lune
09.) Robyn - Body Talk
08.) Ces Cru - The Playground
07.) Triptykon - Eparistera Daimones
06.) Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid
05.) The Lord Weird Slough Feg - The Animal Spirits
04.) Angra - Aqua
03.) Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
02.) Dessa - A Badly Broken Code
01.) Agalloch - Marrow of the Spirit

Thanks for reading/listening! Feel free and discuss the albums mentioned or the albums snubbed.

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Old 12-18-2010, 11:40 PM   #2
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Enforcer - Diamonds:
Enforcer play traditional heavy metal. Reeeeallly traditional. From the songwriting, to the aesthetic, to the production, the whole album sounds like it could have been released in 1984. So why would a band even bother playing this kind of NWOBHM in 2010? They only reason I can see is because you can make it worth it. Because you have timeless riffs and vocal hooks out the ass. Enforcer has these things. This is not an ironic album. The Swedish members of this band consider straight-up heavy metal to be "timeless." Catchy as all Hell, very fun, worth a listen. If this album had come out in 1984, we'd be hailing it as a classic.



Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier:
Iron Maiden continue to stay relevant. They might be old, but they still kick ass live. And they continue to grow as artists, amazingly enough. This album sees the band experimenting with incorporating American rock & roll into their recent progressive-tinged version of their trademark sound. I think this album could use some trimming, but ultimately it IS a new Iron Maiden album. It is something to be thankful for.



Brotha Lynch Hung - Dinner and a Movie:
Yeah, I already screwed up alphabetical order. So what. Brotha Lynch Hung, for the uninitiated, raps about murder and cannibalism and death and gross stuff. He's a clever lyricist, but his project doesn't move past horror. Why listen to him? Because, despite his lyrical content, dude is one of the best rappers on the planet. His flow is utterly unique, and it moves with a precise, lusty loop. It sounds like how the eyes of a serial killer move around a room full of potential victims. This is Brother Lynch's first album on Strange Music (Tech N9ne's label), and he holds nothing back. The only reason it didn't make the top 30 is because it has A LOT of skits filling up the album length. Way too much story. The rapping that's here though is largely excellent.





LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening:
It's an LCD Soundsystem album. You know what to expect. This one is a massive step down for me from 2007's momentous Sound of Silver. This album feels tired in places, bored with itself. Still though, it's LCD Soundsystem.


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Old 12-18-2010, 11:43 PM   #3
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Manticora - Safe:
Manticora released their 8th album this year. It ****ing rules. The only reason it doesn't make top 30 is because it doesn't show much growth. Manticora, at this point, have found themselves a formula. They play blistering progressive/thrash metal with vocals out of German power metal. They love riffs. They love songs around six minutes. This new album has prominent keyboards on many of the songs, which is a new wrinkle for them. If you like metal, you have to listen to this.




Oceansize - Self Preserved While the Bodies Float Up:
Oceansize is not a band that is content to rest on its laurels. They are constantly exploring new soundscapes, new modes of expression. I doubt they'll find an improvement on the songwriting found in their album Frames, but I love that they try. This album is in turns technical, beautiful, happy, melancholic, patient, restless. I love the diversity, but the album doesn't ever truly cohere into a single vision. As far as prog releases go, there weren't many better this year. The two-song combo or "Build Us A Rocket Then" and "Oscar Acceptance Speech" proves that.



Overkill - Ironbound:
This is Overkill's 16th album. They've been thrash stalwarts for as long as thrash has existed. I don't know why, but they picked 2010 to put out perhaps their best album. Ironbound blew me away. The band is so committed to their craft here; the riffs are as explosive and the pace as frenetic as it has ever been in the band's discography. Any time the world can get a legitimately good thrash album these days is a good time indeed. I'll let the song speak for itself.




Pain of Salvation - Road Salt pt. 1:
Pain of Salvation is one of my favorite bands. They are largely tremendous. Singer Daniel Gildenlow is, without question, one of the top 5 vocalists on the planet. His voice will bring you to real, honest tears. Their last album saw a evolution away from progressive metal and towards a more rock-based sound. This new album is almost entirely rock. Yet... it's pretty fantastic still. Hard to get into? Yes, especially for long-time fans. Fret not; the album has a couple of songs -- "Sisters," and "Of Dust" -- that rank among the best the band has recorded.

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Old 12-18-2010, 11:44 PM   #4
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Sleigh Bells - Treats:
Oh snap, Barry puts a hipster record on his honorable mentions. Sleigh Bells was a big buzz band this year, and not without merit. Yeah, the album is REALLY loud. Yeah, it's kinda' simple. But man, is it ever danceable. As far as dance music goes, this is pretty damn heavy. It is practically the doom metal of dance music. I would never have figured it, but I've seen the crushing, stuttering, "Crown on the Ground" bring a dancefloor to a state of thrall.




Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz:
Man, Sufjan didn't withhold a single idea from this album, did he? This album is ****ing crazy. All of the restraint shown on Illinoize has been replaced by utter bombast. In a lot of ways, this is the indie rock equivalent of Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Sufjan's talent for a vocal hook and a guitar lick keep this album from derailing. It's a slow-grower that will yield new things over multiple listens.




Tech N9ne - Collabos: The Gates Mixed Plate:
Instead of mixtapes, Tech gets a bunch of original beats together w/ a bunch of features and releases full albums under the "Tech N9ne Collabos" moniker. This year's Collabos album, a tribute in part to old-school KC hip hop, doesn't have the depth that previous ones did, but it is a solid listen. Tech himself is always on-point, after all. The track "O.G." (short for Ollie Gates) is polarizing; if you don't love the sort of Bay Area beats and Roger Troutman-style Vocoder hooks that were a staple of early 90's KC rap then you might not like the song as much as I do.



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Old 12-18-2010, 11:46 PM   #5
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Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Mojo: It physically pains me to leave the first Heartbreakers album since 2002 off of my top 30. This album didn't fully connect with me, though. This is because it is a 100% blues album (guitar-driven blues though it may be). I love some of the tracks, like the rest. This album is most notable for guitarist Mike Campbell, a truly bad-ass, criminally underrated guitarist, going apeshit. He's usually so restrained and tasteful, but this material called on him to unleash himself. And he does. And the results are pretty damn fun.




Bobby Watson - The Gates BBQ Suite:
Jazz legend and UMKC professor Bobby Watson released an album this year very important to Kansas City. It is, as the title suggests, an entire jazz suite dedicated to Kansas City barbecue. That's right: KC BBQ legend Ollie Gates had TWO albums named after him this year. If Arthur Bryant were still alive, he'd be pissed. Obviously, I get a boner over the inspiration of this album. But I was also supremely impressed with the record itself. I don't listen to a lot of modern jazz, so I can't really say for sure if this is the most vital jazz album of 2010. But it sure feels like it.




Kanye West - G.O.O.D. Fridays:
This is a cheatyface inclusion, I suppose. Kanye recorded a lot of music this year. A lot of it was great, but didn't fit the artistic project of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. So Kanye released those killer tracks once a week, each Friday. So I'm giving an honorable mention to the whole collection. For those people who wanted more pure rap out of MBDTF, these tracks will be all the balm they need. 2010 is the Year of Kanye in many ways, and these tracks are a large part of that.



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Old 12-19-2010, 12:10 AM   #6
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Old 12-19-2010, 12:27 AM   #7
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You hear J Cole Friday Night Lights?
Yeah. I liked it fine enough, but I didn't find to good enough to warrant special mention. There's a lot of hip hop that found itself on the chopping block just before the honorable mentions. There's a lot of good music across all genres that fell just short of honorable mentions status for me.
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Old 12-19-2010, 12:48 AM   #8
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Old 12-19-2010, 12:50 AM   #9
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No Freeway with Jake-One or the J.Cole mixtape? Fail.
There's 30 spots left to be revealed. Will The Stimulus Package make Reaper's top 30? Stay tuned.
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Old 12-19-2010, 12:55 AM   #10
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There's 30 spots left to be revealed. Will The Stimulus Package make Reaper's top 30? Stay tuned.
I'd be surprised Freeways style is really hit or miss but Jake One really makes some beautiful beats on that album. I only know a lot about hip-hop so I cant guess what else makes your list. You seem to be a variety guy.
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Old 12-19-2010, 01:04 AM   #11
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I'd be surprised Freeways style is really hit or miss but Jake One really makes some beautiful beats on that album. I only know a lot about hip-hop so I cant guess what else makes your list. You seem to be a variety guy.
Spoiler: it didn't make the top 30. But I did enjoy that record. Seriously, there's so many albums that I really like that landed #41-75 for me.

Variety guy indeed. I try to listen to just about everything. There are certain genres where I am a complete n00b (electronic-based genres, mostly), but even then I find albums that I like (and can defend why I like them). Since this is a favorites list (and not an objective "best" list), my genre preferences will really shine through. I know what my top 30 is, I'm just not 100% on the order of a few of them yet. Looking at the albums though, the genre breakdown goes like this:

Metal (all subgenres): 15 albums in the top 30 (half!)
Rap/Hip-Hop: 6 (a lower number than most years)
Pop: 3
Rock: 2
Electronic: 2
Country: 1
Other: 1
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Old 12-19-2010, 01:34 AM   #12
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I bet the Roots made your list
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Old 12-19-2010, 07:59 AM   #13
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Old 12-19-2010, 08:19 AM   #14
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I'm hoping that High Violet by The National makes an appearance.
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Old 12-19-2010, 03:04 PM   #15
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30.) The National - High Violet:

A key reason why I don’t claim this list to necessarily represent the “best” albums of the year: I don’t know the context for some of these bands that the kids listen to these days. A lot of my friends really like this album, so I listened to it. I don’t have the context with The National to know whether this album is them treading water or exploring something new or whatever. Going simply on what I hear on this record: I quite like it. Well, some of it. I think the album gets off to a slow start, the singer isn’t very good, and I absolutely hate the flat, thudding drum sound. But the album’s middle section is legitimately arresting to me. Tracks like “Afraid of Everyone,” “Runaway,” “Conversation 16,” and especially “Lemonworld” earn all the praise this album receives. The songs on this album are quiet, sparse, and vaguely like lullabies, but brimming with a palpable tension that keeps you on edge.







29.) Kutt Calhoun - Raw and Un-Kutt:

A homer pick? Sure. There’s nothing particularly special about Bloody Kutty’s 3rd full-length album, but I sure did listen to it a lot this year. On one level, this just no-frills KC hip-hop: hyphy beats meets swelling organs, party songs juxtaposed against deeply introspective ones. What gives this album the extra kick that put it above a lot of other rap albums very close to it in quality is the fact that it is a true album. A concept album, even. Not a particular deep concept: Kutt goes on a wildly introspective drug trip that causes him to look back on his life, his mistakes and difficulties, and either come to a point of redemption or succumb to the anger that has been building in him for years. The concept means that the songs make sense together, that there is a cohesive artistic project going on here. I’m all about the rap album that acts as a true ALBUM. As I write this, Royals pitcher Zack Greinke was traded to the Brewers. Which makes my favorite line in rap this year – “Just like a fastball from my ****a’ Zack Greinke, my pants a little low and my breath kinda’ stanky” (from the track “Get Kutt”) - a touch bittersweet. May this 2010 album always remind me of Greinke’s 2009 season.







28.) Joanna Newsom - Have One on Me:

This is likely the most intimidating harp-and-voice album you’ll encounter. Three discs, over 2 hours in length, this album goes on forever. It’s deceptively simple in terms of arrangements. Most songs are feature only, or are at least dominated by, Joanna’s harp playing and her ethereal voice. She sounds like if an angel had a child with Olive Oyl (from Popeye). In a good way! Her voice has never been stronger, and it carries these songs (and softly delivers her intricate lyrics). Despite having some filler (not in terms of songs, but in terms of minutes within songs), this huge album is paced quite well. Just when you think you might tire of voice-and-harp, here will come a horn section out of nowhere, or some acoustic guitars playing harmony with the harp, or a freaking sitar or multiple flute players. Deceptively simple. Always compelling.











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