When it comes to albums released in 2010, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’s pored over them more intensely than a KEXP DJ. So, what were their favorites? Which CDs did they reach for the most, or, uh, “click on” the most in their iTunes players? Find out as KEXP looks at each DJ’s list through the month of December, leading up to our 2010 Top 90.3 Countdown, as voted on by YOU, the KEXP listener! Voting ends on Monday, December 20th, so let us know your favorites now.
Michele Myers’ 2010 Top Ten Albums
1. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening (DFA)
Smart, unpretentious and groundbreaking, James Murphy and his crew toss aside convention with long songs and bold mixes. This album manages to be on the edge of electronic innovation while remaining warm and relatable. So very dynamic! To quote my friend Conrad “When the beats kick in it’s so surprising you almost turn it down. But you don’t.”
2. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs (Merge)
This coming-of-age record for the young Canadian band is more melodic and pop-oriented than their earlier stuff. The live show was seriously kinetic, with unjaded joy and talent radiating from the stage. The lyrics show a unique take on modern culture that shimmers like a rough diamond. This record is a true classic.
3. Galactic- Ya Ka May (Anti)
There is no record I listened to more than this funky, happy record from the veteran soul-funk-turned-electronic band from New Orleans. Besides sporting Stanton Moore, one of the world’s best drummers, this release hosts heavy-hitting guest players (like soul great Irma Thomas) and lyrics that make you feel good. This summer I was bumping it so loud in the car a pedestrian told me to turn it down, ha ha ha.
4. The Roots - How I Got Over (Mercury)
This record starts out with a reflective, kind-of melancholy feel that is almost like the effect of a band like The Smiths. This group’s members (who pioneered the use of live instruments in successful hip-hop performance, and who play it better than any machine) turned 40 in the past several years, and these lyrics show a depth that is rare in any genre. Good medicine for a bad mood, it starts out sad and as it progresses becomes more and more upbeat and inspiring.
5. The Black Keys - Brothers (Nonesuch)
The addition of producer Dangermouse has seemingly opened the door to these (formerly primal) rockers softer side. The songs go from raw and rocking bluesy caveman to surprisingly soulful and sensitive. Who knew Dan Auerbach could sing like he does on “The Only One”? Their lyrics have only gotten better and more true to self.
6. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach (EMI)
Damon Albarn’s work from the band Blur to The Good The Bad The Queen to his all-star electronic-hip hop band Gorillaz is not self-conscious. He’s more of an explorer, a daredevil. Jumping the canyon. Planting the flag in the moon. And this record feels like that. It’s weird. Escapist. Cinematic. Wonderful. And the guests.... Soul legend Bobby Womack. Lou Reed! Paul Simonon and Mick Jones from the Clash!
7. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Leftfoot... (Def Jam)
The words that come to mind are “Big Beats”. Not since NWA have I heard a record that hits as hard as this with a payoff in tone, melody and signs of the times. This member of Outkast is not afraid to be silly or mean. There’s something really appealing about his honesty. He also slides in some surprisingly deep concepts. Saying flat out that this culture is going nowhere if we don’t stop lying to each other. The song “Shutterbug” is the undeniable dance song of the year.
8. Aloe Blacc - Good Things (Stones Throw)
It’s hard to do old-school soul. You know why? Cause it’s already been done. It’s the rare performer (Sharon Jones, Raphael Saadiq, Amy Winehouse) who can pull off this sound. And it’s usually done with a big, live band. Multi-instrumentalist Aloe Blacc has taken a different approach, rocking this record out by adding other styles (funk, reggae, rock) and keeping things simple and sincere. Plus, he’s got pipes.
9. Massive Attack - Heligoland (Virgin)
At first disappointing to many fans because of its sleepy tempo and airport-like soundscapes, this album, like every Massive Attack release, is a step into the future. Everyone expected something more hard-hitting, but the goal of this work is (I think) to get you to lie on the floor and put on your headphones. Incredible guests like Hope Sandoval from Mazzy Star, reggae great Horace Andy, Damon Albarn from Gorillaz and Adrian Utley from Portishead anchor this “audio movie” with an all-star cast.
10. Chemical Brothers - Further (Astralwerks)
From the brothers of darkness there comes a great light. This optimistic, energetic record is full of the dance songs you wanted from them. And it takes psychedelic music to a level that would make the Orb proud. It effects you physically. Beautiful.
Michele Myers is on the air Saturday afternoons, 3-6 PM.