2010 Album Buyer's Guide: A-L

RSL Album Buyer's Guide 2010
Self Portrait by Rembrandt

Welcome! You have just found one of the most exhaustive and well-considered lists of quality, new music available from 2010. We don't promise to have everything that's out there but what is comes in an easily digestible listing!

Read on below: there's an mp3 or video from each of THE BEST music projects RSL encountered in 2010. Ultimately, this A-Z shopping list (we have great confidence that any and all of these belong in your permanent collection) is a reflection of our own personal tastes. (Accordingly - there are some rather prominent omissions from this list - and we stand firmly by these selections. We didn't always agree - so there are some debated entries here!)

Absolutely Must Be Owned.

The Black Key - Brothers

Why They're at #1 - In 2010, the silly talented Akron, OH duo took something good and appeared to have effortlessly taken it to a whole new level. Brothers is a swanky, magnificent song book. You can read the songs like stories in a child's bedside book. But instead of simplicity and stale tone safe stories, the Black Keys pluck on heartstrings, descend dark staircases and share a drink with listeners. Interestingly, this act's greatest accomplishment this year may not in fact be this stellar record. The Keys' bawdy, swamp influenced blues & rock guitar (Dan Auerbach - shots from his solo tour at the Paradise in Boston 2 years ago) and simple, steady and powerful drumming (Patrick Carney - shots from SxSW) have clearly swayed the path of contemporary music. Indisputably the kings of what they do in indie music, the duo have plowed head on into Popular Culture.

The Black Keys have found themselves atop the pop culture pile; from songs in films, to sports highlight coverage to the backing tracks and themes of TV shows. Tracks from Brothers are even being used in advertising spots playing between the shows using the very same songs!

While I normally eschew such overexposure - even by favorite acts... let's pause on the actual level of quality in these tracks. Therein lies authenticity, hard fought experience and a link to music's past. It's impossible not to recognize this work's integrity. Most influential album of the year - and the record I played more than any other.

Web / My / Fb / Tw

Nowhere Nights

"One of my absolute favorite records of the year starts this alphabetical listing off right. Kasey Anderson has the soul of a much older fellow and the benefactors are his listeners. Be prepared to weather the storm with this wicked record," - Ryan Spaulding

Web / My / Fb / Tw


Archie Bronson Outfit - Hoola

"My favorite underground act from the last decade has returned! Archie Bronson Outfit are still writing songs about sex, rock 'n roll and fast cars, but the World just might finally be ready to listen. Coconut is one of the most fun albums of the year - pop it in and go for a drive," - Ryan Spaulding

Web / My / Fb

The Autumn Defense
Once Around

The Autumn Defense - Back of My Mind

Wilco's John Stirratt and Patrick Sansone released an exciting new album, Once Around - going by the name The Autumn Defense. The album won my heart with it's golden pop and gorgeous harmonies," - Ryan Spaulding

Autumn Defense
Web / My / Fb / Tw

Teen Dream

Beach House - Walk In The Park
Paulo Dourado photo

"Beach House has upped their game with Teen Dream. Though the talents of vocalist Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally were apparent on their previous releases, Teen Dream is just... well... dreamier. Songs like 'Used to Be' and 'Walk in the Park' make this release reverberate in your skull and melt your heart, like the best illusory summer dozes should," - Emma Dessau

Web / My / Fb / Tw

Rick Berlin
Paper Airplane

Rick Berlin - Hard 2 Be Liked

"2010 Singer Songwriter of the Year in our book. Rick Berlin has made a career out of questioning authority and living his art. What he has accomplished with Paper Airplane is quite possibly his best work to date. If you are indeed going to buy a number of these albums, I encourage you to take a chance on this one. Brilliant in every sense of the word!" - Ryan Spaulding

Web / Paper Airplane
Fb / Twitter / Truth

Forgiveness Rock Record

Broken Social Scene- All to All

"Broken Social Scene seems to pull off being both more accessible AND more complex than before. Check out 'Your Forgot It In People' and their self titled album.) Although Forgiveness Rock Record may not necessarily be my favorite album of the three, it is certainly no step backward for a band that always seems to be at the peak of their popularity," - Steve Legare

Web / My / Fb / Tw

Dead Confederate

Dead Confederate - Run From The Gun

"My Runner-Up Album of the Year. Dead Confederate came out of the woods with Sugar - an amazing, emotive and cerebral effort. Seeing these songs performed live really blew me away. You need this record to have any semblance of a 2010 representation. A masterpiece - the sign of a band with real staying power." - Ryan Spaulding

Dead Confederate
Web / My / Fb / Tw / Yt

The Deadly Syndrome
Nolens Volens

The Deadly Syndrome - Wingwalker

"Quirky, fun and folky on their debut, The Deadly Syndrome dips into more adventurous (though still melodic) waters and pushes their sound into new places. Lyrically there’s an increased self-awareness and edgier quality that shows a band in transitional growth," - Julie Stoller

The Deadly Syndrome
Web / My / Fb / Tw

The Drums

The Drums - Me And The Moon

"Its hard to listen to The Drums and not hear New Order, but wearing your inspirations on your sleeve is no crime. In this case, it resulted in a peppy, elegantly simple indie-pop gem. I'm bopping along to their treble-ly bass lines as I write this and can't help but smile," - 5342 Studios

The Drums
Web / Fb / My / Tw

Blood and Fire

Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster - Love Turns to Hate

"The return of this truly strange band after some years unsigned is very welcome. Despite a change of lead guitarist (old guitarist Richard Fownes left to join NIN) and label, 'Blood and Fire' is just as eccentric a mix of metal, goth and early Nick Cave like drama as their previous two efforts. One of the most interesting things I’ve heard this year," - Nick Parker

Web / My / Fb / Blog

American Fever Dream

Aaron English - Sleight of Heart

"Aaron English may prove to the most relevant songwriter of the year. His work on the timeless American (Fever) Dream is pure contemplative genius," - Ryan Spaulding

Web / My / Fb / Tw / itunes

True Love Cast Out All Evil

Roky Erickson - Be and Bring Me Home

"This is a heartwarming story of a man who’s come back from the abyss – and is stronger than ever. Beautifully supported with the warm, folky tones of Okkervil River and occasional bits of ‘field recordings’ and electronic interludes which hint at Roky Erickson’s inner turmoil, he sings of a personal battle to reclaim his life from years locked away in a mental institution, in a gentle and starkly honest way," - Julie Stoller

RE Web / OR Web / My / Fb / Tw

"One of the Best Young Bands in the America. Filligar are definitely someone you should know. The new album, The Nerve, is amazing," - Ryan Spaulding

Web / My / Fb / Tw

I'm New Here

Gil Scott-Heron - Me And The Devil

"So much of what we listen to these days is about losing ourselves, Escape. Gil-Scott Heron has been talking about Reality for so long he has come to personify it. Heron's voice resonates in the soul," - Ryan Spaulding

Web / My / Album

To Travels and Trunks

Hey Marseilles - Rio

"There are some albums that come along that just make your heart 'feel big'. Hey Marseilles' To Travels & Trunks is one of those. This mini indie orchestra which is something like a cross between The Decemberists and Beirut will sweep you away with their lush melodies. Love it. Love it." - 5342 Studios

"One of the most magical live shows and a bigger than life emotional experience. Get swept up in this record. Really wonderful," - Ryan Spaulding

Hey Marseilles
Web / Myspace / Twitter / Secret Show

I Learned the Hard Way

Sharon Jones at SxSW by 5342 Studios

"One of the world's best live performers just keeps putting out great albums. The female James Brown does it again with a soulful collection of tunes that you would have to be soulless to hate," - 5342 Studios.

"I Learned the Hard Way is a brilliant record. A performer at the top of her game. Serious best of 2010 Album Consideration for Sharon Jones. A true must-have," - Ryan Spaulding.

Web / My / Fb / Tw

A Balloon Called Moaning

The Joy Formidable - Austere

"A year after its release in the UK, we can now all finally enjoy this welsh band’s addictive debut. “A Balloon Called Moaning” has been pitched as at the cutting edge of British music, and for once the buzz is very much appropriate. Support this fledgling band, and feel you have your finger on the pulse!" - Nick Parker

"Songs so good your fans make you an unofficial "masturbation" video. Yep, this powerpop trio has put together a collection of addictive tunes. Big bass, sweet guitar, driving drums and vocals reminiscent of The Breeders," - 5342 Studios

Web / My / Fb / Tw

Dust Windows

Kingsley Flood - Just a Midnight Ride

"Ascension, you are mine! Kingsley Flood are easily one of the most talented bands on this list. Moving effortlessly through the worlds of Americana and Folk, the word is getting out on this Boston secret. Highly Recommended, one of the two best albums this year in New England," - Ryan Spaulding

Web / My / Fb / Tw

This is Happening

LCD Soundsystem - You Wanted a Hit

"With their third, and perhaps final, album you get just what you have come to expect from LCD Soundsystem. Awesome electronic music with a new wave sensibility," - 5342 Studios

"James Murphy has a gift for translation and storytelling. This is Happening is an artistic, sometimes wild, sometimes tongue-in-cheek modern tale. One, that should be experienced more than once," - Ryan Spaulding

Web / My / Fb / Tw


Liars - Scissor

"Sisterworld arrives as a reading of the LA music scene with all its dark genres. The album has the serpentine progress of Lynch's Lost Highway where strange character transfiguration points to something hidden and disturbing. Each song, whether grunge, metal or experimental work together as a cohesive whole to tell a somber story," - Mark Jenko

Web / My / Fb / Blog

Life is Sweet, Nice to Meet you

Lightspeed Champion - Marlene

"Lightspeed’s second album is as peculiar a combination of sounds as we’ve come to expect from Dev Hynes’s music. He seems to be in his own world, but it’s one you will love to explore with him," - Nick Parker

Web / My / Fb / Worst Movies

Gorilla Manner

Local Natives - Airplanes

"One of the Best New Bands in the Country right now. Local Natives are a zeitgeist act and this is an important album to the status quo. A Band's band, really, and made up of talented musicians with promising futures," - Ryan Spaulding

Web / My / Fb / Tw / Blog

Romance is Boring

Los Campesinos - There Are Listed Buildings

"Still full of wit, but also more adult than ever before, Los Campesinos have proven with this third release that they are among the best alternative bands in Britain at the moment. Their gig with Cymbals Eat Guitars (also excellent) this spring was the best live show I’ve seen in 2010," - Nick Parker

Web / My / Fb / Tw

more of the best
Letters: M - Z


www.kickedbyanangel.com said…
Thank you! You continue to introduce the world to some amazing new music.
nishajl said…
Great list! And totally agree with your album of the year - Black Keys, "Brothers" was phenomenal. Favourite tracks?


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