The 10 Most Badass Records of 2010

 2010 was yet another dismal year for record sales. In the United States, sales plummeted a jaw dropping 12.8 percent. With that being said, there is no shortage of great music out there, you just have to dig a bit deeper to discover it.

If you are lucky enough to have a great record store in your city (my all time favorites are Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis and Good Records in Dallas) make sure you take advantage. I promise you that this is your last refuge for finding quality music in an environment populated with actual humans. It really is a simple process, step in the store, ask for a recommendation, and discover your new favorite band. That’s how I found 9 of the 10 best records of 2010. Here I present to you, 10 amazing pieces of work, wrapped with a virtual bow alongside my highest recommendation of greatness. 
(click on Best Track under each review for a glance at songwriting genius.)

Spoon – Transference I will never understand why Arcade Fire is being nominated for a Grammy while the much better band is continually overlooked, while making some of the finest rock albums over and over again. Arguably not the bands finest work, but the side arguing is seems to be lacking depth and any good sense of the elements involved in a great rock n roll album. Best Track: The Mystery Zone

Hey Champ – Star – Another surprise find in 2010 that was easily found in regular rotation on my player. By far the best “indie rock” release of the year. The track “Cold Dust Girl” should have been blaring out of every hipsters earbuds over the summer but somehow it was completely overlooked. A perfect mix of synth-pop, smart sing-a-long lyrics, and a solid groove that will keep you guessing what year it is. Also my pick for video of the year. Best Track: “Cold Dust Girl”

Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy I may not be a fan of his public appearances, but there is not denying this man is a musical prodigy. Kanye continues to push the boundaries of hip-hop, and there’s a hook that comes with, rivaled only by the size of his mouth. Regardless of his antics, this is a fantastic record in every respect. Best Track: “Power”

Best Coast – Crazy For You – Of all the over hyped hipster buzz bands of 2010 this is the one that stands out, and in a very good way. Fuzz pop, surf rock, lo-fi, whatever you call it, it’s great songwriting. The vocals are lush the melodies undeniably catchy, and the album as a whole is a true gem. Best Track: “Crazy For You”

Paper Tongues – Self Titled – Here is my guilty pleasure record of the year. It’s an undeniably catchy mix of pop, rock and soul that should have easily been platinum selling and arena filling. Instead, they are virtually unknown and fall victim to the “we’ve made such a diverse record no one knows what to do with us” syndrome. In the current overpopulated bland world of pop music, this band could have made it relevant one more time. Best Track: “Ride To California”

Band of Horses – Infinite Arms – Seeing this band live make you remember how much you love live music. Brilliant songwriting, thought provoking lyrics, and a sound that is distinctly their own. Their step up to a major label was the right move at the right time. Let’s hope the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences gets this one right and awards them a well deserved Grammy. Best Track: “Loredo”
Francis and the Lights It’ll Be Better – I stumbled upon this band by pure accident; I arrived at the MGMT show early and they were the opener. I fell in love with the live show as they were brilliant. Imagine the Afghan Whigs crossed with Kings of Leon and a touch of Peter Gabriell’s best work. A record that could have easily been released in 1985, it’s a welcomed addition to the class of 2010. There are not many people left who can write songs like this, not even Phil or Peter.

 The Black Keys Brothers – There comes a time in every great rock bands career when they craft their undisputed masterpiece, this is theirs. Like the first time I heard Led Zeppelin IV, I could immediately tell this one is special. A rock n roll album that reiterates the importance of the guitar and the drum grooving together while reminding us that we don’t get to hear greatness like this very often. Best Track: “Howlin’ For You”

Fitz and the Tantrums – Picking Up The Pieces – Another fantastic example of an incredible artist and record going almost completely unnoticed in 2010. A modern take on 70’s soul at it’s finest moment. It’s as if Hall & Oats were the biggest band in the world all over again, but this time it’s 2011. A spectacularly solid record that will hopefully get a re-release and new life in 2011. Here’s to finding your new favorite record. Best Track “Moneygrabber”.


Broken Bells – Self Titled James Mercer (The Shins) and Dangermouse have crafted a modern masterpiece. A hauntingly gorgeous epic of an album that brings together two of the brightest minds in modern music. A collaboration that we can only hope will happen again, and that lightning will indeed strike the same place twice. Best Track: “The Ghost Inside”

What records do you consider the best of 2010? Which record are you most looking forward to in 2011? Please leave you comments below. Thanks for reading.

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Jason Miller
Jason Miller

Jason Miller is a leading digital B2B marketer, who’s held senior roles at LinkedIn, Marketo, and ActiveCampaign. Before entering the B2B space, he spent ten years at Sony, developing and executing marketing campaigns around the biggest names in music. He is a prolific keynote speaker, digital marketing instructor at UC Berkeley, and best-selling author. Also an accomplished rock concert photographer, his work appears in books, magazines, and album covers.

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