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Best of 2010: ENS Contributors: Dave Tobias

Filed in Best Of 2010 6 comments

Another day, another best of albums list. Today, ENS contributor Dave Tobias checks in with his favorite albums of 2010.

1. The National – High Violet
The ambassadors of the Cincinnati music scene crafted not only the best record in their catalogue, highviolet Best of 2010: ENS Contributors: Dave Tobiasbut the best of 2010. Adding harmonies and horns to their repertoire, the Dessner brothers constructed each song, and the album as a whole, with musical climax at the forefront of their minds. Matt Berninger added some his most uplifting, painful, and immediately disturbing lyrics yet. And the whole became a masterpiece of musical precision. At some point this year, each and every song from High Violet took a turn as my favorite. When you listen to it as many times as I have, that’s bound to happen.

2. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
To craft a record around a topic as broad and heavy as suburban life would seem a near impossiblesuburbs Best of 2010: ENS Contributors: Dave Tobias task. Luckily, to a band as audacious as Arcade Fire, it’s all in a day’s work. The 16-song landscape that is The Suburbs stands as a testimony to the last two decades of American life. Twenty years from now, listeners will be able to gather context and meaning from this record like no other released this year.

3. Menomena – Mines
menomena Best of 2010: ENS Contributors: Dave Tobias
The record that surprised me most this year. With every listen, the men from Menomena reveal new complexities in arrangement and composition. The only band, fairly or unfairly, to compare them to in terms of rock experimentation is Radiohead, and Mines holds up to the test. That’s saying something.

4. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
The live act of the year didn’t disappoint on record either. James Murphy brought an emotional lcd Best of 2010: ENS Contributors: Dave Tobiasdepth that minimally surfaced on his prior works, and packaged it in the dancy rhythms listeners have grown accustomed to. No, James, making hits is what you do.

5. The War on Drugs – Future Weather EP
warondrugs Best of 2010: ENS Contributors: Dave Tobias
A short, but enticing, offering from The War on Drugs, aka Adam Granduciel. Free of his ties with other artists, including Kurt Vile, Granduciel channeled obscure Dylan and gave a promising peak into the direction of this project. Future Weather is the vinyl release of the year for me.

6. The Walkmen – Lisbon
Picking up where You and Me left off, Lisbon is The Walkmen at their finest. Simply put, these are walkmen Best of 2010: ENS Contributors: Dave Tobiassome of the most immediately catchy tunes in their catalogue, and Hamilton Leithauser’s melodies are the best they’ve ever been.

blackkeys Best of 2010: ENS Contributors: Dave Tobias7. The Black Keys – Brothers
Welcome to your lesson in the Blues, vol. 2010. The Black Keys return to top form by unabashedly weaving pop soundscapes with blues riffs.

8. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
Bradford Cox and company know how to use atmospherics better than most, and Halcyon Digest deerhunter Best of 2010: ENS Contributors: Dave Tobiasprovides just the right amount of warmth to suck in the listener. Easily their most accessible work to date, Deerhunter gave us another treat in 2010.

9. Sufjan Stevens – All Delighted People EP/The Age of Adz
adz Best of 2010: ENS Contributors: Dave Tobias
Stevens released All Delighted People, much to the ‘delight’ of his legions of fans, and then threw them a major curveball with the electronically-influenced The Age of Adz, his first proper full-length release since 2005’s masterpiece Illinois. Both stand on their own, and both are excellent experiments from Brooklyn’s wonderboy.

10. Vampire Weekend – Contravampire1 Best of 2010: ENS Contributors: Dave Tobias
By expanding their Afro-influenced sound ever-so-slightly, Vampire Weekend hit #1 on the charts and proved that not all bands have a sophomore slump.

11. Surfer Blood – Astro Coast
The windows-down album of the year for me, Astro Coast mixed fuzzy production with Weezer-riffs surfer Best of 2010: ENS Contributors: Dave Tobiasto produce a unique, phenomenal debut from these South Floridians. High expectations are in store for Surfer Blood.

12. Josh Ritter – So Runs the World Away
Some called this a return to form for Ritter, but it really acts as a greatest hits of sorts. Combining individual songs that could have fit on each of his last three records, Ritter gave us the variety we always asked for, and the songwriting to back it up.

13. Forest Swords – Dagger Paths EP
The best background music of 2010 belongs to Matthew Barnes’ Dagger Paths release as Forest Swords. But to only listen to this as background music would be a major mistake. The layers, guitarwork, and haunting moodiness push music forward like few others did this year.

14. Band of Horses – Infinite Arms
Ben Bridwell and company fully embraced their love of country and western that had only peaked through on prior works. While lyrically challenged at times, the overall results are a catchy immediacy that was lacking on their last effort.

15. Yeasayer – Odd Blood
I wrote Odd Blood off, only to come back to it later and realize that Yeasayer is still doing fantastic work on their sophomore effort. Maybe the production is too clean, but the songwriting is still excellent and they’re still finding ways of sounding new in a congested Brooklyn scene.

16. The Black Angels – Phosphene Dream
Dialing down the Velvet Underground and adding The Animals and The Doors, Phosphene Dream is a revelation of a third album for The Black Angels. They’re retreading classic rock without a hint of staleness.

17. Wolf Parade – Expo 86
While their first two albums were immediate favorites for me, Wolf Parade’s Expo 86 took several listens in a row for me to get it. Working more seamlessly as a band than ever before on Expo 86, Wolf Parade’s latest definitely won’t disappoint.

18. Local Natives – Gorilla Manor
Dubbed the West Coast Grizzly Bear, Local Natives rely heavily on their harmonies to carry the load on Gorilla Manor. Luckily their voices are fantastic, and they work seamlessly with catchy piano and guitar to envelope the listener in a world of goodness.

19. Girl Talk – All Day
PARTY! Gregg Gillis is back with another party-starting, 80-minute mashup. Wait, didn’t I say that about the last one? Oh yeah, I did. And it still works better than anyone else. And he still finds unique ways to make the listener smile.

20. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
Bruce Springsteen acolytes mixing in some raw punk energy, Titus Andronicus created the song of the year for me with Monitor opener, “A More Perfect Union.” The rest of the album thrusts, pulls, and shimmies through one energetic riff after another.

 Best of 2010: ENS Contributors: Dave Tobias


Joe started ENS in 2003 after most people he wanted to talk to about music were worn thin by his ramblings. The outlet this site provided helped out, and somehow is still going 9 years later. After a four year stint as a WOXY DJ, Joe returned to Cincinnati and continues to pioneer ENS. In addition to the overall look and feel of the site, Joe provides regular reviews, and kinda makes sure this whole thing stays afloat.

Posted by Joe Long   @   13 December 2010 6 comments


Dec 13, 2010
11:06 am
#1 Mike :

Nice list Dave– can’t argue with your #1, and definitely a few on there that made a case for inclusion on my list (Menomena, Sufjan, Girl Talk, Titus), but I was really unimpressed with Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem. I have tried to go back to Arcade Fire and still it didn’t really speak to me, but I should give LCD another shot I guess. Overall, though, good list.

Dec 14, 2010
9:37 am
#2 DT :

I liked both the LCD and Arcade Fire albums, but they would both be further down on my list as well. The tracks on the LCD album are pretty hit-or-miss, while The Suburbs is much too long. Wasn’t a big fan of Sufjan Stevens’ latest either.

Dec 29, 2010
8:54 pm
#3 nate :

Local Natives’ Gorilla Manor came out in 2009.

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