My top 10 albums of the year – 2010 – with a January 2011 update!

I used to find out about new music by reading music magazines and listening to the radio. I still do a bit of that but this year’s album choices have largely come through different social media choices and live music experiences – which has meant that the list doesn’t necessarily match the mainstream lists of albums of the year – which pleases me greatly!

So here’s the run down:

1. Good God! Born again funk – Various artists

Euphoric and funky gospel music. What’s not to like? I can’t get enough of this album. One day I would love to go to a church that has worship like this! Fantastic stuff!

How did I find this?

I found this listening to the brilliant Jarvis Cocker Sunday Service show on BBC Radio 6. Heard this track – Like a ship – and promptly went and downloaded the album!

2. Senc to the shaking – Mi Mye

A late discovery this year, this is a delightful album of folk Indie. Loving the violins on this.

How did I find this?

My mate Sean shared a link to this ‘pay what you like’ album on Facebook – I had a listen (for free) and then downloaded it!

3. The Suburbs – Arcade Fire

I really love the Arcade Fire’s first album, Funeral. Their second outing, Neon Bible, I did quite like but found its creeping sense of dread too much to bear repeating. I was, therefore, really pleased with their third album, The Suburbs. Much more upbeat and punkier but still with a theme of lost childhoods and nostalgia.

As part of their release, they collaborated with Google to create this incredible musical experience – try it out for yourself, this blew my mind:

How did I find this?

Traditional route for this one – I heard it was coming out and bought it straight away, I think they’re a great band.

4. Through low light and trees – Smoke Fairies

I saw Smoke Fairies live supporting the Low Anthem. A band with two front women, both playing guitar. They create haunting melodies and dreamlike soundscapes. A great discovery and so nice to discover a band hearing them live first.

How did I find this?

I saw them live! Here’s a live recording I made on my phone:

5. Plastic Beach – Gorillaz

A great third album from Gorillaz with some amazing collaborations including Lou Reed and Mark E Smith – probably the two grumpiest men in rock. Here’s my favourite track:

How did I find this?

Again, traditional route for this one – they’re a big band!

6. The Fool – Warpaint

I was chatting with a friend at work about the paucity of decent girl-led indie bands – of which there were an abundance in the 90s (L7, The Breeders, Sleeper, Garbage, Echobelly, Hole…) And funnily enough, I then soon after, heard Warpaint. A brilliant all-girl four piece who echo some of the best of Nirvana. Here’s the full album available to listen to. This is great stuff!

How did I find this?

I can’t quite remember but I think I saw a link to this on Twitter or it may have just been on the great music sharing site ‘Hypem’. They’ve been played an awful lot on BBC 6 music in recent months.

7. Gorilla Manor – Local Natives

Local Natives are like a more melodic Animal Collective but less melodic Vampire Weekend! The drums on this album are fantastic. Their music is upbeat and euphoric. Here’s my favourite track:

How did I find this?

I regularly listen to music being shared on the website Hype Machine. They do a monthly podcast and I heard Local Natives on that and went to check them out.

8. Hunting my dress – Jesca Hoop

It’s not often that you hear something truly unique. Jesca Hoop’s voice is totally that. Undefinable as a singer just as Bjork and Joanna Newsom. This is an incredible album with a real sound of the new.

How did I find this?

My brother in law sent me a text saying ‘have you heard of Jesca Hoop’ – the rest, as they say, is history!

9. Sole Kitchen – Water Tower Bucket Boys

Another band that I heard first live. Fantastic ‘old time’ music – bluegrass – from a group of lovely young men from Portland, Oregon. If this won’t get your foot tapping I don’t know what will!

This song seems appropriate for this time of year:

How did I find this?

Heard them live at the Foxes and Convicts live music night at Milo in Leeds.

10. Obadiah – Frazey Ford

Frazey Ford is the lead singer of a band called the Be Good Tanyas. This is a lovely folksy Americana album, ploughing a similar furrow to the ubiquitous Mumford and Sons.

How did I find this?

I think Lauren Laverne – the BBC 6 music DJ tweeted a link to a free track (the one shared above) and then I investigated further.

So there it is, quite an eclectic mix. I love that new media is opening up far more ways to discover new music. Matching the rise in downloadable music is a rise in the live experience. It is in live music that bands make their money these days rather than in recordings and there are two albums here that I bought purely on the strength of live performances. I’m sure 2011 will bring some similar experiences – well I hope so!

Update January 2011:

Whenever you create a list like this you realise all the great stuff you missed off!

Honourable mentions go to:

March of Dimes – From those who were there

My mate Sean’s great band – lovely Americana with beautiful lyrics. My ukulele features on my favourite track:

Laura Marling – I speak because I can

Folk music that sounds like it’s been around for years, sung by a woman who’s not been around for years!

Fave track:

Zola Jesus – Stridulum II

I bought this album mainly for this beautiful track:

Goldfrapp – Head First

I reviewed this album earlier this year. I’ve always found Goldfrapp a better ‘singles’ band than ‘albums’ band – listening to a whole album of theirs can be a bit much but I love love love the synths on this 80s inspired track:

Finally, an album that made a lot of best of lists this year was

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan – Hawk

Now I couldn’t put this down as one of my albums of 2010 as I only bought it two days ago! But you must check this out, it’s fantastic! I heard this song twice on BBC 6 Music and had to find out who it was:

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