Spinning Platters Presents the Official List of the Top 10 Albums of 2010

by Gordon Elgart on December 22, 2010


No, it's not an album, but what you see here sure helped one album make our list.

by The Spinning Platters Staff

Unlike last year, we spent more than a month at the Spinning Platters offices (our homes) passing albums around to try to determine a staff list of the Top abums of 2010. We were going for “Top 10 and ties,” and that ended up at exactly 10. There was a nomination step, a finalist selection step, a final voting step, and then we had a list. No list is perfect, but ours is not only pretty darned good, it also manages to represent the wide variety of  musical tastes among our team here (i.e. some of us hate some of these albums). Now, read and enjoy our Top 10 for 2010.

10. Robyn – Body Talk

Five years after her eponymous breakthrough album, unstoppably infectious Swedish dynamo Robyn made up for lost time in 2010 with a trio of releases that reinvigorated and redefined dance music. She also embraced an innovative new business model, continuing to write, record, and release new music while touring behind the first installment in her series. Body Talk Pt. 1 wasn’t released until June; by November, she’d released three flawless EPs of euphoric ear candy.

So what is it about Robyn that elevates the art form of dance music? In addition to the ruthlessly efficient diamond-cut pop she’s crafted alongside the likes of Diplo, The Knife, Röyksopp, and Kleerup, there is the ferocious commitment, piercing vulnerability, and gale-wind gusto with which she attacks each and every track. It should also be noted that she’s the most explosively contagious live performer this side of Beyoncé. Whether on sass-mouthed ass-shaking anthems like “Fembot” and “U Should Know Better” or moments of heartbreaking dancefloor transcendence like “Dancing On My Own” or “Indestructible,” the Body Talk songbook is pure pop pleasure. (Jason LeRoy)

9. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening

What does it sound like when you hit age forty in New York City? James Murphy AKA LCD Soundsystem wrassles directly and indirectly with this issue on his “This Is Happening” LP.

Murphy’s shimmying dance-punk swirls through a pulsing cloud of percussion and semi-spontaneous micro-events, effortlessly weaving songs longer than six minutes out of fuzztoned keyboards, yelps, and an overtaxed high-hat. With the the whimsy, willful fluidity, and dance-y funkiness of the Talking Heads, this music goes right for your hips.

But where does he want it to go? That’s the problem. For a man who traffics in handclaps and gleeful cowbell solos, the lyrical content betrays the artist’s agony: he wants you to want him but not in a way that he wouldn’t want you to. Come here. Let me be. Come to me. Go away. And there is no respite in-between the two extremes. That’s a worn-out way to be.

When describing this album, SP’s own Raffi Yousouffian said “It’s like a desert and there’s little oases in there.” Yes. Bleak, bleak, bleak and bleached-white from the wear of the city’s worries. Murphy is making your hips shake, but he’s holding you at arm’s length. It reminds the listener of Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s later seasons, where the teeth-gritted disdain for the fawning audience is tangible on-screen.

Murphy snarls through “You Wanted A Hit” at those who want his wares yet delivers the clattering hook-sodden single “Drunk Girls” like it was no big deal, no big effort.

Akin to Kanye West,  Murphy seems to be working through his feelings publicly through the language he knows; struggling with sadness and enuii, trying to fill the hole inside, blunt about what he craves, scared and searching for what he needs, and really just wanting to to get home. But where is home? What does home mean anymore?

Is this music ironic? Over-personal? Post-ironic? Is he dancing behind that keyboard or is he writhing? Both? (Christopher Rogers)

8. You Say Party – Xxxx

The epitome of group hugs, You Say Party (punctuation optional) give you synths and all kinds of fun. Whether it’s the basement early-’90s dancing of “There Is Xxxx (Within My Heart)” or the mid-’80s soul cleansing post-new wave “Laura Palmer’s Prom,” this record will make you smile like cherry ice cream. Le Tigre tried and failed at this when they signed with a major. Yeah Yeah Yeahs got really close. But You Say Party hit the nail on the head so hard that Bush 41 is throwing up his Japanese dinner all over the place. Sumimasen! (Joel Edelman)

7. Deadmau5 – 4×4=12

I don’t know that Deadmau5’s 4×4=12 is the best album of the year, but it’s certainly not the most catchy, you won’t be walking about with hooks stuck in your head like a Katy Perry record, mainly because their aren’t any… In fact there are every few lyrics in the record at all. What puts 4×4=12 on our list is more so the experience, the experience of the LED cube and one of the greatest lighting shows since Daft Punk’s 2007 tour (Both of them designed by the same folks BTW). After you see “Sofi Need’s a Ladder” and “Ghosts and Stuff” live you’ll immediately refer back to seeing it live. The lighting show subliminally ingrains the music into your psyche. It’s not to say that 4×4=12 wont be great when listening to it without a live show to reflect on to, it will be in the top 20 records of the year, but once you have that live show installed into your mind- that’s what will make it a top 10 record of the year, just close your eyes and reflect! (David Price)

6. Belle & Sebastian – Write About Love

A new Belle & Sebastian record is like a brand new sweater. They are always warm and comforting, yet exciting. Write About Love is no exception to this rule. This is a morning record: bright with a little bit of a bounce, the kind of thing you need to start your day out right. They’ve even stepped out of their comfort zone, but inviting alt.country/jazz superstar Norah Jones and indie film star Carey Mulligan to surprisingly compatible results!  Also, if you sing along with Mulligan’s first verse from the record’s title track, you will develop super powers.  (Dakin Hardwick)

5. Vampire Weekend – Contra

After all the praise for their 2008 debut album, Vampire Weekend had some big britches to fill with this year’s release Contra.  But Vampire Weekend did the impossible and escaped the cursed sophomore slump by finding the perfect balance between the old and new.  The African influenced rhythms are still there, along with the wit drenched lyrics, but it is all given a different twist. With these twists (an indie song with Auto-Tune!?!  Joe Jonas in a music video!?!) Vampire Weekend continues to be the breath of fresh air keeping the genre of “indie” music alive.  Contra is quite likeable with it’s genre jumping, but underneath the polished pop-indie-punk romps is a musical depth that few bands achieve.  It’s like you can hear all the albums that Rostam Batmanglij, Chris Tomson, Chris Baio and Ezra Koenig grew up with peeking through the layers.  That hodgepodge itself makes the album so interesting that, even though it was released the first week of January, it still resonates enough in December to be an album of the year. (Marie Carney)

4. The Black Keys – Brothers

When I found out that The Black Keys were releasing a new album this year, I felt like a small child anticipating Christmas morning when I would be able to unwrap my shiny new gift and envelope myself in the goodness I knew was in store for me. True to form, what I heard completely elated me. The second album produced by the ubiquitous Danger Mouse really solidified the polished grime that has become The Black Keys signature sound. And though The Black Keys never stray too far from their musical roots, they’ve come a long way from the recordings captured in
drummer Patrick Carney’s basement.

Lyrically and vocally, Dan Auerbach is in top form. The falsetto on the albums opening track, “Everlasting Light”, is a refreshing palette cleanser as well as sort of a bookmark to the closing song, “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Auerbach croons out sweet nothings like pro. However, everything in between is as gritty and raucous as one would expect. My favorite track on the album, “She’s Long Gone”, makes me want to grab my Rock Band mic and thrash my head around while lip-syncing along. (Caroline Hernandez)

3. Marina & the Diamonds – Family Jewels

Usually you know a pop record when you hear it.  You can see it coming from miles away.  But Marina (the Diamonds are a literal translation of her Greek last name), covers it up the pop so elusively inside a layered symphony of fun chaos that in no way could you have put up a filter even before you found yourself nodding along to it.  The first layer consists of Marina’s deep and powerful voice. It dominates the forefront, ranging from sultry to yelping shriek, at any moment of a song. Layer two fills in with new wavy melodic synths, darting piano, alternative guitar riffs, thumping bass lines and authoritative but dancy drums.  A final third layer compels with dark heartfelt, but sometimes tongue-in-cheek lyrics swimming in irresolute personal themes.  But then, amidst all these non-overtly poppy individual layers, and the identifiable influences swirling in Marina’s energetic sound, hide the wonderful melodies and catchy hooks weaved into the songs.  It’s not until you are singing along to every song before you realize that they have completely conquered you, revealing one surprisingly fantastic elixir of a pop record. (Raffi Yousoufian)

2. Kate Nash – My Best Friend Is You

This will be my third time writing about Kate Nash for the site this year, but this album deserves the attention. A cross between catchy 60s girl groups and 90s riot grrrl, My Best Friend Is You is both pop and substance at its best. Kate Nash’s lyrics have always been a bit darker then the music that accompanied them would suggest but with this album she was able to make the mood of the songs more apparent while still making me dance around in my seat as I write this. (Vanessa Romero)

1. Janelle Monae – The Archandroid

Now here’s an album that defies description. That said, here I go describing it. First off, it’s really long, and needs to be taken as if it were an old fashioned double album. The lyrics hint at a larger scifi-esque story, but it’s more fun to ignore it that focus on it. It’s a prog-soul explosion with weird psychedelia like “Mushrooms & Roses,” Anne Murray/Stevie Wonder soft rock like “Oh, Maker,” and straight-up dance singles like “Tightrope.” And that’s just the first half of the record. Then when you get to Suite III (the second half), you get an Of Montreal duet, an extremely odd song involving losing underpants, and a big calypso finale. While the album can be intimidating on one sitting, every single track is a winner here. The amount of chutzpah and creativity that goes into making an album like this is worthy of recognition, and we’re definitely proud to call Janelle Monae’s (hopefully first) magnum opus our album of the year.

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous December 25, 2010 at 9:12 am

I was going to include Monae but then I thought that an album that features so many guest artists really shouldn’t be something that is tops. Oh well.


Casey Martinez December 28, 2010 at 9:32 pm

I think this is a good representation of the music that came out in 2010. a well rounded list is my favorite kind!


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