Believe it or not, despite all the silly stereotypes about music fans, we here at The L are generally pretty averse to numerically ranking the records and songs we like, as we are generally more prone to telling you, with our words, why we like them. This, we realize, is no fun at all. And so without further ado, we present you our list of the 25 best albums of 2010.
#25 Beach Fossils
Here we have lo-fi jangle pop by a bunch of twenty-somethings who have been known to play shows barefoot and whose album has received countless critical assessments riddled with references to "youth"and "beach music."Beach Fossils are that band. Say what you will, but if all of Brooklyn's lo-fi outfits sounded this good—if all their records were such effortless listens, if they all captured the same elusive sense of Americana, if all their hooks were this relentless—we'd be in great shape. Key track: "Twelve Roses"
#24 Wolf Parade
Wolf Parade's third full-length is one of highs and lows. Thing is, the highs are really fucking high. Songs like "Palm Road,""Two Men in New Tuxedos"and the one-two closing punch of "Yulia"and "Cave-O-Sapien"sound evolved but accessible; forward-thinking but reverent to the genre's past; anthemic but off-kilter. Key track: "Yulia"
#23 Avey Tare
Down There grinds away at you, cranking out subtle hooks and gritty allusions allegedly inspired by finding a crocodile's skull in a swamp. This, coming from the guy who sang about wanting to walk around with you "just you, just you, just you"on Merriweather Post Pavilion. Writing the material during his own divorce and his sister's battle with cancer, the Animal Collective co-frontman created the sound of a soul being dragged through the gutter out of a puzzlework of waterlogged electronics and self-recorded samples—not the most joyous listen of the year, but maybe the most strangely beautiful and ultimately universal. Key Track: "Lucky 1"
#22 J. Cole
Friday Night Lights
The North Carolina MC's debut on Jay-Z's Roc Nation label doesn't drop till March, but there's plenty to enjoy on his mostly self-produced 20-track mixtape from November. Soulful introspective songs like "Before I'm Gone"and "Enchanted"go great with the upbeat piano-powered "Higher"and the brassy, fluttery love story "The Autograph,"but "Blow Up"is the kind of song that reminds listeners why those in the know think Cole's the next big thing. Key Track: "Blow Up"
#21 Sharon Van Etten
Quietly, very quietly, Sharon Van Etten was one of Brooklyn's biggest breakout artists this year. She'd been playing around town for a couple years, and she released a very promising debut. With Epic, though, she upped the ante in a pretty serious way: She's doing what she's always done—writing relatively sparse, direct, airy folk songs—but she's simply doing it much better now. Her voice has grown more confident, and thus more powerful and unique. Her taste in accompaniment has diversified and remained impeccable. She hasn't made a mistake yet, basically. Key Track: "Save Yourself"