Here are my favorite albums of 2010 of everything I listened to. As usual, my tastes are all over the map as you can clearly see. You’ll see some long time favorites like Eli “Paperboy” Reed, Justin Townes Earle, Hold Steady, and Ray Lamontagne in my top 10 but also pay close attention to some new discoveries like Caleb Stine and Mumford & Sons. One thing is clear, it’s been a singer-songwriter year for me.
Top 60 Albums of 2010
- MATTHEW RYAN, Dear Lover (The Acoustic Version) [★★★★★/4.917]
Like Mayer, I debated whether or not this second version of Dear Lover is qualified to make this list. But the thing about it is that this stripped-down acoustic version delivers in a way that the original 2009 release didn’t quite. Thematically, the lyrics speak about loyal friendships and the true love and painful loss that comes with having to let go of things you hold dear. Gentle acoustics, soulful harmonica, and Ryan’s gravelly voice tells these stories so perfectly well. This is the way these songs were intended to be performed. The final result is an amazing album and my pick for album of the year.
- CALEB STINE, I Wasn’t Built For A Life Like This [★★★★★/4.900]
A late entry for me but one that caught me by surprise and absolutely blew me away. Caleb Stine hypnotizes with thoughtful storytelling on this beautifully performed solo acoustic album. Fans of Hayes Carll or Jay Farrar should pay close attention. I’m excited to see where Stine goes from here. It’s a one-two punch for singer-songwriters in 2010!
- JESSE MALIN & THE ST. MARKS SOCIAL, Love It To Life [★★★★★/4.700]
Malin brings back Todd Youth from their days together as D Generation and rips a masterpiece.
- MUMFORD & SONS, Sigh No More [★★★★★/4.667]
These guys seem to be one of the big stories of the year. Infused banjo, dobro, and mandolin make nice additions to this London-based folk rock band.
- ELI “PAPERBOY” REED, Come And Get It [★★★★★/4.667]
Reed never disappoints. With ‘Come and Get It’ 60’s era soul is as explosive as it ever was.
- JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE, Harlem River Blues [★★★★★/4.636]
‘Harlem River Blues’ is my favorite JTE album thus far. It’s been a roller coaster of a year for Earle being in and out of rehab again. He keeps outdoing himself with each release.
- TWO COW GARAGE, Sweet Saint Me [★★★★★/4.615]
The Columbus-based band fronted by Micah Schnabel surprised me with this late entry. ‘Sweet Saint Me’ makes me think Two Cow Garage has finally taken their energetic stage presence to the next level with this release. For me, the songwriting is what separates this one from their previous full-length recordings dating back to 2002. Columbus seems fertile with talent these days.
- JOE PUG, Messenger [★★★★★/4.600]
Wow! Where did this guy come from? In his mid 20s, Pug tells stories that make you think he’s already seen it all. Keep your eyes and ears on Joe Pug I have a feeling we’ll be hearing much more from JP to come.
- HOLD STEADY, Heaven is Forever [★★★★★/4.583]
The only thing wrong with ‘Heaven is Forever’ is that it’s consistent. The band that seems to have rewritten the books the last few years has suddenly become predictable. That said, I’ll take consistency time after time if it keeps on sounding as good as this.
- RAY LAMONTAGNE & THE PARIAH DOGS, God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise [★★★★/4.500]
It seems like commercial success has brought the normally quiet New Englander out of his shell a little with ‘God Willin’…’. Look close enough and you may see a smile underneath that grizzly beard of Ray Lamontagne. Let’s hope he keeps the band together after attracting three Grammy nominations including one for Best Contemporary Folk Album with this release.
- GLOSSARY, Feral Fire [★★★★/4.455]
- LEEROY STAGGER, Everything is Real [★★★★/4.455]
- KINGS OF LEON, Come Around Sundown [★★★★/4.384]
- BROOKE FRASER, Flags [★★★★/4.364]
- JONATHAN TYLER & THE NORTHERN LIGHTS, Pardon Me [★★★★/4.364]
- CONSTELLATIONS, Southern Gothic [★★★★/4.273]
- FRONTIER RUCKUS, Deadmalls and Nightfalls [★★★★/4.250]
- CROOKED STILL, Some Strange Country [★★★★/4.250]
- GRACE POTTER AND THE NOCTURNALS, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals [★★★★/4.231]
- JENNY AND JOHNNY, I’m Having Fun Now [★★★★/4.182]
- ERIC BRACE & PETER COOPER, Master Sessions [★★★★/4.182]
- JOHN LEGEND & THE ROOTS, Wake Up! [★★★★/4.167]
- PETER CASE, Wig! [★★★★/4.083]
- THE STONE FOXES, Bears & Bulls [★★★★/4.083]
- TAYLOR CARSON, Defending The Name [★★★★/3.938]
- 6 DAY BENDER, E’ville Fuzz [★★★★/3.923]
- OLD 97’s, The Grand Theatre, Volume One [★★★★/3.917]
- THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS, Together [★★★★/3.917]
- SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE SKIDS, The Kudzu Ranch [★★★★/3.917]
- BEN SOLLEE AND DANIEL MARTIN MOORE, Dear Companion [★★★★/3.909]
- KINGSLEY FLOOD, Dust Windows [★★★★/3.909]
- PERNICE BROTHERS, Goodbye, Killer [★★★★/3.900]
- AMERICAN GRAVEYARD, Hallelujahland [★★★★/3.857]
- THE ROOTS, How I Got Over [★★★★/3.857]
- ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO, Street Songs of Love [★★★★/3.846]
- DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS, The Big To-Do [★★★★/3.846]
- KASEY ANDERSON, Nowhere Nights [★★★★/3.818]
- THE SADIES, Darker Circles [★★★★/3.818]
- THE BLACK KEYS, Brothers [★★★★/3.813]
- CASEY, Casey [★★★★/3.800]
- ROGER MARIN, Silvertown [★★★★/3.800]
- THE FAREWELL DRIFTERS, Yellow Tag Mondays [★★★★/3.786]
- RAUL MALO, Sinners and Saints [★★★★/3.778]
- MARTIN SEXTON, Sugarcoating [★★★★/3.769]
- BOW THAYER & PERFECT TRAINWRECK, Bottom of the Sky [★★★★/3.750]
- JOSH ROUSE, El Turista [★★★★/3.700]
- RECKLESS KELLY, Somewhere In Time [★★★★/3.667]
- DAVID MYLES, Turn Time Off [★★★★/3.636]
- THE HONEY DEWDROPS, These Old Roots [★★★★/3.600]
- MARAH, Life Is A Problem [★★★★/3.583]
- FRANK VIELE & THE MANHATTAN PROJECT, Neon Lights [★★★★/3.556]
- BACKYARD TIRE FIRE, Good to Be [★★★★/3.545]
- RYAN BINGHAM, Junky Star [★★★/3.538]
- CARRIE RODRIGUEZ, Love and Circumstance [★★★★/3.500]
- SPOON, Transference [★★★/3.455]
- THE BEAUTIES, The Beauties [★★★/3.4]
- CLAY MCCLINTON, Livin’ Out Loud [★★★/3.364]
- DRIVER, Dashboard Alchemy [★★★/3.364]
- JASON & THE SCORCHERS, Halcyon Times [★★★/3.357]
- LAWN CHAIR KINGS, Lawn Chair Kings II [★★★/3.357]
About the author: Washington, D.C. area web designer by day. Music is my muse. I host Twangville‘s weekly Readers‘ Pick.