Saturday, January 1, 2011

Special: Devin's Top 20 Albums of 2010

20. Les Sages- Share This
Les Sages(pronounced lay sahj) are brand new band from Seattle. This ambient pop band shows lots of promise. This is a very solid album and may have procured a higher spot on my list if it had been released earlier in the year.

19. Comeback Kid- Symptoms + Curses
This is Comeback Kid's fourth release and their second with Andrew Neufeld as lead singer. They said they wanted to make an album that is fun to play live since they usually only play stuff off their second album at shows. Neufeld also changed his vocal style on this album sounding more like he would at a live show instead of trying to sound like their old lead vocalist Scott Wade. I was surprised at just how good this album turned out. I haven't seen them play any of these songs live yet but I'm sure they're great, just as they intended them to be.

18. The Hold Steady- Heaven is Whenever
Another strong effort by The Hold Steady. This album has a more laid back feel compared to their last two but they are able to make it work quite well. The lyrics have a very nostalgic feel to it. Overall a very good effort, I was surprised that I liked this album as much as I did.

17. Foals- Total Life Forever
Another late find for me I was pleased with Foals' new album. I had never heard them before but this album surely put them on my radar as well as many other people's I'm sure. Many great songs on this album especially "Spanish Sahara" which was surely one of my favorite songs of the year. The slow emotional beginning that leads to a strong finish make the song a memorable one. A very strong album by Foals and a pleasant surprise for me this year.

16. Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
I'm realizing this year, especially the bottom of my list was full of surprises. Never would I have thought a rap album could impress me as much as Kanye's did. Rap was never really my thing but I couldn't help but bump this and eminem's new album this year. With a small army of featured artists Kanye puts together a great album without a real weak track. His rhymes flow great and the guest artists make it a very unique and refreshing album.

15. The Damned Things- Ironiclast
I waited months for this album to come out and I was not disappointed. A super group consisting of members from Fallout Boy, Anthrax and Every Time I Die. Keith Buckley is such a great vocalist in ETID but this project really showcases his vocal range showing that not only can he scream but also can sing quite well too. Most of the album has a real classic rock feeling but don't worry there's enough variety to keep you guessing and rocking out the whole way through.

14. Daughters- Daughters
Yet another big surprise this year. They are described as noisecore and I can think of no other way to describe Daughters. An assault of sound this album is not one for the faint of heart. They have been together since 2001 but this is their most accessible and standout album yet. The vocalist changed from a scream to a clean vocal and it really is a different and interesting vocal approach. It really separates them from all the other heavy bands and makes the album more interesting. You really just have to listen to it yourself to see just what it sounds like.

13. Hellogoodbye- Would It Kill You
I really don't mean to sound like a broken record but if you ever came up to me and told me I would include hellogoodbye on a top albums list I would have said you're crazy. This auto tuned kiddy-pop group completely transformed and matured with this album. It has been four years since the release of their last album and it's almost like they just forgot to release an album in 2008 that links these two albums together. Quite a change and quite a good release by hellogoodbye. Hopefully the days of auto tuning are far behind them because I much prefer their new sound and you know regular sounding vocals.

12. House of Heroes- Suburba
This album was a good find this year. I had always heard of House of Heroes but was never blown away until I heard their 2008 release The End Is Not the End. After that I was anxious to hear their 2010 release and I was not disappointed. They walk a fine line between pop/ pop punk/ rock and indie rock. Their style is not the most unique thing out there but it is refreshing especially for a christian group. This albums continues the progress they made in 2008 and includes a bunch of really good songs.

11. Cancer Bats- Bears, Mayors, Scraps and Bones
Cancer Bats was another band I had long known but never really listened to. That changed with the release of their 2010 album. They have a good driving style and lead singer Liam Cormier has a fairly unique voice. Cancer Bats is a nice change of pace in the hardcore scene. They don't do anything too crazy but they don't give into any of the gimmicks and they are who they are. Really, a good album with a surprising amount of variety to it. Having an awesome cover of "Sabotage" never hurts either.

10. Four Year Strong- Enemy of the World
Finally an album that was not a surprise by a band I've liked for awhile now. I loved Four Year Strong's last album Rise or Die Trying and I wasn't sure if they were going to be able to make another album that good. Whether this album is better is up for debate but it sure is a great one. Everything everyone loves about FYS is still here but a little more mature and with a darker feeling on this album. The breakdowns and heavy drums are still there along with the great melodies. "This Body Pays the Bill$" may have my favorite melody they have ever written. They had a lot to live up to in my eyes and they certainly did it.

9. Sleigh Bells- Treats
Sleigh Bells were a surprise to everyone this year as they exploded onto the scene. Composed of a young female pop singer and an old guitarist for an influential hardcore band this duo makes quite a unique sound. While it is composed of mostly beats and dance music the heavy influences are evident in this band. Be careful turning the bass up all the way when listening to this band or you could easily blow your speakers. With a fun, new and interesting sound there's no limit to where this duo could go.

8. Limousines- Get Sharp
Still known by very few people the Limousines are a new band with a great sound. This band has been together since 2007 but hasn't released a full album until now. They are often compared to Passion Pit but they have a little more variety and edgier lyrics to them. Their vocalist is also the ex-vocalist of the band Strata. Along with being a fun poppy album with many different sounding songs the lyrics to this album are also great. Ranging from songs like "Very Busy People" which has funny goofy lyrics to "The Future" which has an optimistic view of our lives and a motto to live by this album has very good lyrics especially for being as poppy as it is. The Limousines are sure to make it big in 2011 with this release.

7. Norma Jean- Meridional
Norma Jean promised their heaviest album yet with this release. While that could be debated they certainly brought it with this release. Every song builds and has a brutal ending even some of the more melodic songs on the album. After their last album was more experimental and different I think Norma Jean really wanted to show they can still rock hard with this album. Every song is strong and the album moves very nicely. Songs like "Anthem of the Angry Brides" and "Bastardizer" are especially strong and leave you pumped up at the end. Whether or not you think this is their heaviest or best album Norma Jean really brought it with this one.

6. Vampire Weekend- Contra
This year was big for Vampire Weekend as they really exploded all over the music scene. Just goes to show how much one year can change a band. This album was yet another surprise to me since I hadn't heard this band before this year. They have an interesting sound that makes a very nice sounding album. Every track is good and has you singing along. Vampire Weekend has been getting a lot of attention especially their song "Holiday" that was all over commercials this holiday season. I don't think we've seen the top I think Vampire Weekend will continue to blossom in 2011.

5. The Wonder Years- The Upsides
Easily one of the best pop punk bands out there is The Wonder Years. They aren't fooling around anymore (or sad anymore) with this release. They lost the synth, breakdowns and cheesy lyrics of their past releases. This is just raw lyrics playing off real life problems, feelings and experiences. This album was more mature and The Wonder Years spent more time on this one than their release Get Stoked On It. There really is not a bad track on the album except if you liked the gimmicks from the last album. In which case you're out of luck. But if you're looking for raw stripped down real pop punk you have come to the right place.

4. Anberlin- Dark is the Way, Light is a Place
This is a band that has always frustrated me because I love them but their albums always take some getting used to. I always listen to their new releases expecting to be blown away first listen but it never happens. Luckily I never gave up on this album because it is gold. This band really does seem to get better and better. This album does seem to have a more mature and controlled feelings that their previous albums have not had. Even the lyrics are more mature and no longer taken from childhood experiences. This album really is a great release but give it a few listens. Anberlin really went all out and explored what they can really do on this one.

3. The Dillinger Escape Plan- Option Paralysis
Another new band to me this year The Dillinger Escape Plan really blew me away. Their music is so technically sound but yeah so crazy, fast and chaotic. Some people have called it controlled chaos. They're a band that takes getting used to but it's well worth it. This release was a very good one by Dillinger. They have really explored what they can do with their sound with songs like "Widower." They also did not lose many of the new things that worked on Ire Works. One difference on this album though is that each song is more complete. Each song takes you on a full ride of Dillinger instead of short choppy songs. Overall a very good album with many strong tracks and plenty surprises.

2. Bring Me The Horizon- There is a Hell, Believe Me I've Seen It. There is a Heaven, Let's Keep It a Secret
I was very pleased with this release by BMTH. They have always been tagged as an immature band that did not have a lot of talent and just consisted of string of breakdowns glued together. This album certainly silenced many of those critics. This is by far their most mature album to date. The songs are much more controlled and is no longer just breakdown after breakdown. There still are plenty of heavy parts but there is so much more to this album. There are softer parts, heavier parts and many parts that build to a very epicness. They also effectively use guest vocals to add to the epicness of the album. Also the lyrics are much more mature on this album and almost have a repentful feel to them instead of being about partying all the time.

1. As I Lay Dying- The Powerless Rise
In a year full of surprises my top album of the year was not at all. The first release from my favorite band in three years of course it's going to be awesome. Fans were anxiously awaiting this album and AILD did not disappoint. They did not lose the progression they gained in the last album, they only built upon it. The vocals were much better on this album since they had more time to work on them. Tim shows more range and sounds more like he would in a live show and Josh's clean vocals sound much better as he explores more of his range and had more time on this album to get them right. Tim Lambesis is also a great lyricist and this album certainly follows suit. They are christians but they have very deep lyrics that deal with many issues and struggles that anyone can relate to. I'm glad that As I Lay Dying has not lost any of their step and this album shows it. That have the most solid lineup they have ever had and I'm excited to see what the future holds for them.