Stereogum’s Top 50 Albums Of 2010

Stereogum’s Top 50 Albums Of 2010


Do you remember “glo-fi”? The much maligned chillwave? Of course you do … for now. It’s interesting to note that after all of 2010’s trendy genre terms and hot-for-a-minute one-man bands, our Top 5 consists of a handful of sturdy veterans. The Top 10 expands to include a couple newcomers, newbies amid, again, three established crews. What does it mean? Well, the situation’s analogue to 2006 when a number of so-called “blog rock” bands like Tapes ‘N Tapes, Clap Your Hand Say Yeah, and Cold War Kids made immediate wav(v)es, but albums released by old standbys received the year-end kudos. This isn’t to say you should reject the new — there are plenty of debut albums in our Top 50 and plenty of worthwhile debuts that didn’t make it — but it does say something about the amount of music released and processed and then forgotten in any given year. (Trivia: Which band that debuted in ‘06 made it into our Top 5?) A positive result of all the fractures, fissures, flashy genre names: The average listener is definitely hearing more music and becoming more adventurous than in, say, 2006. (Sorry Decemberists.) Which means bands that may have seemed too “weird” for a casual listener even a few years ago are popping up in unexpected places in 2010.

It’s unclear why — oil slicks, down economy, jeggings — but it’s also been a much darker year for music via bands like Crystal Castles, oOoOO, Balam Acab, Zola Jesus, White Ring, Salem, Frank (Just Frank), the sundry so-called “witch house” (and Wierd) crews. As a result, the following list features more than a couple folks who might be charged with having goth tendencies (or at least black nail polish and old Cure and/or Kate Bush shirts). To take this sense of adventure into another direction, our No. 1 is someone your father might even know about and our No. 5 is on a “major label.” Notions of what “indie rockers” listen to is shifting and expanding, a positive step toward escaping the pratfalls of across-the-board year-end list homogeneity.

One of the fun things about lists is discovery, so it doesn’t make sense giving away too much, but we will say that what follows is the result of four people saying yes and no and maybe, and that if you were to break out individual lists from it, they’d look very different. (That said, if you asked us to collaborate again, it would look very much the same.) It should be noted that the following doesn’t include any metal — a separate one-man list for the heavy stuff will show up in Haunting The Chapel later this month, so please don’t ask why we didn’t include Agalloch or Watain. Also, we disqualified EPs; those get their own special ranking below the main…

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