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Posted at 3:05 PM ET, 12/21/2010

Lists: David Malitz picks his top 10 albums of 2010

By David Malitz

lcd soundsystemIf LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy is going out, he's going out on top. (Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

You've seen top 10 lists from Chris Richards and Allison Stewart. Here's one more, with Kanye's lowest ranking yet!

1. LCD Soundsystem - "This Is Happening"
It wouldn't be fair if James Murphy hung it up after another perfect album that cherrypicks the best moments from the hippest record collections, backed by life-affirming beats. Let's hope this is just half of the story and there's another Jordan-esque threepeat in the future. (And hey, if he wants to move to D.C. and tarnish his legacy after that, we'll take it.)

2. Kanye West - "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy"
Every song is a conversation piece. New favorite moments crop up even after 20 or 30 listens. Not only did Kanye completely live up to the monumental hype he created for himself, but he brought his friends along for the ride and helped them reach new heights. Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross, two rappers each enjoying banner years, shine brightest during their cameos on this album.

3. Titus Andronicus - "The Monitor"
Heart-on-sleeve, barnstorming rock-and-roll epics, fantastically messy sprints through punk, pub and good old New Jersey arena rock. The sound of a man (Patrick Stickles) shouting his lungs out, spilling his guts, and turning his body inside out in other ways.

sharon van ettenSharon Van Etten's second album was a major breakthrough. (Courtesy of Pitch Perfect PR)

4. Sharon Van Etten - "epic"
Leaving behind the solo acoustic thing, Van Etten takes her crystal clear voice and escapes the singer-songwriter ghetto with an album of melancholy dirges backed by a full band. If there's ever a sequel to "Magnolia," Paul Thomas Anderson can leave Aimee Mann be and just let Van Etten write the songs to be played during those heartbreaking montages.

5. No Age - "Everything In Between"
This is the kind of progress you love to see. The alternately hazy and prickly sounds that served as the duo's foundation are still there, but now they have to fight for attention with the best hooks and melodies of the band's career.

6. Superchunk - "Majesty Shredding"
It's as if the indie rock's most likable band simply pressed pause on its career for nine years. This isn't a throwback or a reinvention, just another fantastic batch of pogo-inducing, fist-pumping almost-anthems. In other words, a Superchunk album -- maybe the best one yet.

harlemAustin, Tex., trio Harlem is ragged in all the right ways. (Evy Mages/FTWP)

7. Harlem - "Hippies"
There were approximately 100 indie-garage-pop albums released in 2010 that would have made killer 7"s but couldn't hold up over the course of an LP. (I will compile a best-of list soon, in fact.) This was the one on which each of the 16 songs sounds A-side worthy -- loose, limber, swinging and with a chorus that makes you want to sing into a microphone with someone else.

8. Glasser - "Ring"
On this striking debut from Cameron Mesirow, a.k.a. Glasser, each processed drum beat and keyboard gurgle sounds coated in a thin layer of ice. But it’s Mesirow’s warm, enveloping voice that keeps “Ring” from becoming a distant affair, casting her as the blogosphere’s New Age chanteuse of choice.

9. Spoon - "Transference"
Not that we didn't already know, but this skeletal batch of songs proves that every Spoon album is essential listening. Open spaces create a vacuum that emphasizes each and every bass thump or piano plink. Sometimes it's so empty that it seems Britt Daniel is just toying with us, but even if he's pushing fewer buttons (or, rather, plucking fewer strings) he sure knows which ones to push.

10. Drunkdriver - "Drunkdriver"
It's almost fitting that this destructive trio imploded just before the release of this terrifying album. This is a brutal, unrelenting slog through screamiest and sludgiest terrain of punk/noise/hardcore, the absolute opposite of the made-to-be-background music that was so in favor this year.

By David Malitz  | December 21, 2010; 3:05 PM ET
Categories:  Lists  | Tags:  Drunkdriver, Glasser, Harlem, Kanye West, LCD Soundsystem, No Age, Sharon Van Etten, Spoon, Superchunk, Titus Andronicus  
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Next: Clicky shuffle: Random songs for Wednesday morning

Comments

And someone finally gives the Drunkdriver album the credit it deserves.

Posted by: azaghal1981 | December 23, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

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