It’s 2010, the year of the Tiger, and we were absolutely spoiled with a plethora of infectious records. A Canadian group won huge at the Grammys, we say goodbye to electro-indie heroes, and a duo out of Ohio got their big break. These albums are in no particular order and are just a few of the great releases from 2010.
Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
The Suburbs was the third studio record released from Canada’s indie rock collective Arcade Fire and it dropped on August 2, 2010. The LP debuted at #1 on the Irish Albums Chart, the UK charts, the Billboard top 200 and the Canadian Albums chart. The record’s lyrics were inspired by Win and William Butler’s upbringing in the suburbs of Houston, Texas. Win said “it’s neither a love letter to, nor an indictment of, the suburbs – it’s a letter from the suburbs.” Their sound continues to evolve on this record but seems to dabble into many different styles. Win’s unique voice shines through in indie anthems like “Ready to Start”, “The Suburbs” and “We Used To Wait”, while Regine Chassange’s beautiful vocals fill the more synth focused “Sprawl II”. The album was received extremely well and made the group a household name after winning the 2011 Grammy award for Album of the Year.
The National – High Violet
High Violet was the 5th album from The National and was released on May 10, 2010. The band decided to once again produce the record themselves, with assistance from Peter Katis who had worked on previous releases, Alligator and Boxer. This was The National’s most commercially successful record to date, charting at #3 on the Billboard 200 and selling 51,000 copies in its first week. Fans got a taste of what High Violet would sound like when they premiered the opening track “Terrible Love” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The soft spoken, melancholy sounds of Matt Berninger built up to breaking points at times with natural energy flowing through the record. This LP is widely respected among critics and fans with Time Magazine naming it the 4th best album of 2010.
Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record
The 4th studio album to come from Toronto’s prolific Broken Social Scene, Forgiveness Rock Record was released on May 4, 2010. The ever changing line up had help from Feist, Emily Haines of Metric, Scott Kannberg of Pavement, and Sebastien Grainger of Death From Above 1979, which gained the record another Polaris Music Prize nomination. The album was recorded in Chicago with John McEntire at the production helm, and also in Toronto at the studio Sebastien Grainger and Jimmy Shaw share. Emily Haines, Julie Penner and Feist recorded a track together, making it the first time in ‘BSS’ history the three have appeared on the same song. The record peaked at #1 here in Canada and #34 on the Billboard 200 with Pitchfork rating it 8.3/10.
Local Natives – Gorilla Manor
Gorilla Manor is the debut record from Californian quintet, Local Natives, and it was released on February 16, 2010. The self-funded album was recorded in their hometown of Los Angeles and production was shared between the band themselves and Raymond Richards. The LP’s name came from the house the band shared in Orange County while writing the album. Guitarist Ryan Hahn said “it was insanely messy and there were always friends over knocking around on guitars or our thrift store piano.” Upon release, the record was met with positive reviews and it landed at #3 on the Billboard 200 in the New Artist Chart.
Vampire Weekend – Contra
Released on January 11, 2010, Vampire Weekend’s sophomore record Contra picked right back up where their debut album left off. The bands quirky core sound remains prominent but they evolved to much more. Contra features the group’s influences more than its predecessor; diving into new waters, they utilized synthesizer loops on cuts like “Diplomats Son” and “Taxi Cab”. Produced by lead guitarist Rostam Batmanglij, the textural elements like layered backing vocals and drum machines are distinguishing features on this record. It was the band’s first LP to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 and the 12th in history to do so through an independent label.
Wolf Parade – Expo 86
The third studio record to come from Montreal indie rockers Wolf Parade was released on June 29, 2010. It comes after co-leaders Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner’s very successful solo projects Sunset Rubdown and Handsome Furs. Unlike their previously self-produced album, Mount Zoomer, Expo 86 came together rather quickly with the help of new producer Howard Bilerman. The record sounds cohesive and focused, as if there weren’t side project ideas floating around. This also happens to be the final LP from Wolf Parade. Exclaim Magazine named it the 17th best pop rock album of the year.
The Black Keys – Brothers
Co-produced by the band, Mark Neill and Danger Mouse, Brothers got its release on May 18, 2010. This record almost never happened after a feud started between Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney – Dan was poised to release solo material and Pat wasn’t aware of these plans. He felt like information was kept from him and the two didn’t talk for several months. Eventually things smoothed over and back into the studio they went. Coming off of a rough divorce Carney was having a tough time dealing with the record process until Auerbach played him “Next Girl” for this first time. This became the first song recorded for the album. Their familiar rhythm is again prominent throughout the album but the production on what used to be a garage blues band became a little shinier. Still built around the thumping drums of Carney and Auerbach’s memorable guitar riffs, it was the bands most commercially successful record to date.
Beach House – Teen Dream
Teen Dream is the third record from Beach House and it was made available on January 26, 2010. The recording process kicked off immediately following a very extensive tour in support of Devotion. The duo wanted to create a more sophisticated sounding record. With a crisper sound comes a heavier price tag, Alex Scally said, “Every bit of money we got, we spent. The recording was insanely expensive. Every single step of the way, we’ve just tried to go more, go further.”
LCD Sound System – This is Happening
The third and final album released from New York City trio LCD Soundsystem, was done so on May 17, 2010. Recording for the new disc began in 2009, with frontman James Murphy saying it would “definitely be better than the (previous) two” and that it would likely be their last record. Once that was announced their was a generous amount of hype surrounding the record and in the minds of critics and fans, it met their expectations. The album was given a rating of 9.2/10 from Pitchfork and Exclaim magazine wrote, “If it’s the ‘end of an era,’ at least he left us with his best.”
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
The third record to come from virtual band Gorillaz was released on March 3, 2010. Plastic Beach came out of a project Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett began working on in 2007 called Carousel. Albarn had written over 70 songs for Carousel and it ended up transforming to what we now know as Plastic Beach. The LP got its name from the beach that was next to Albarn’s house; “I was just looking for all the plastic within the sand” he said. Like most Gorillaz records, the album was filled with guest vocals with appearances from Lou Reed, Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, De La Soul, and more. The album is loaded with poppy anthems, but with superbly clever lyrics. The record sold 112,000 copies in its first week and debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200.
Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest was released on September 28, 2010 to widespread acclaim. Produced by the group themselves, Ben H. Allen and Henry Barbe, Halcyon Digest was recorded at Chase Park Transduction studios in Athens, Georgia. The closing track on the record was recorded by Bradford Cox separately as a tribute to the late Jay Reatard. Many of the songs were written while touring with Spoon to promote their previous release, Transference. Through a Facebook posting, Cox stated that: “The album’s title is a reference to a collection of fond memories and even invented ones. The way that we write and rewrite and edit our memories to be a digest version of what we want to remember, and how that’s kind of sad.” Halcyon Digest was slotted at #3 on Pitchfork’s 50 Greatest Albums of 2010.
Tame Impala – Innerspeaker
The debut full length to come from Australlian indie rockers Tame Impala, Innerspeaker was released on May 21, 2010. The album was recorded in a “beach shack” around 4 hours outside of Perth, right on the Indian Ocean. There was no internet, no phone reception and no TVs, which means no distractions. The house they were working in had constant electrical problems causing the group to lose full recorded tracks multiple times but say it was a luxury to record around that scenery. You can almost hear the environment they were surrounded by in the record; hazy and relaxed rock tracks that get stuck in your brain for days.