Monday, 20 April 2015

Top Ten Albums of the Decade - So Far

With this decade being half over, it seems appropriate to create a list of the top ten albums of the 2010s so far. The albums on this list are ones that have certain qualities that set them apart from the countless other indie/alternative albums that come out every year. So far, the decade has brought music lovers many stunning, experimental debuts, sophomore efforts, and expanding discographies, and the world can only hope to see more as the 2010s draw to a close.

10. The Black Keys – Turn Blue (2014)
Must-Listen: “Turn Blue”
The first album on this list is The Black Keys’ Turn Blue. The Black Keys are no strangers to the music scene; Turn Blue is the duo’s eighth studio album, giving them an experienced edge. One of the more intriguing aspects of The Black Keys’ music is their skilled guitar riffs, and the album is full of them. Though their newest LP maintains the band’s signature, slightly bluesy vibe, Turn Blue has a slower, psychedelic, almost groovy feel to it that is relatively unexpected. Their most recent LP shows that the twosome will never stop surprising their fans, no matter how many albums they release.
9. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence (2014)
Must-Listen: “Brooklyn Baby”  
Lana Del Rey has been given a hard time ever since her debut under her current moniker was released in 2012. Critics harshly wrote that she couldn’t sing, calling her debut, Born to Die, dull. However, that didn’t stop her from being nominated for a Grammy. A few years later, she returned with her sophomore effort that had critics eating their words; her beautiful, sultry voice takes centre stage on Ultraviolence, which is darker and more emotional than her previous album, and this impressive growth is why Ultraviolence has earned a spot on this list.
8. PUP – PUP (2013)
Must-Listen: “Guilt Trip"
“PUNK’S NOT DEAD!” some dude yells as he discovers this band for the first time, and he is absolutely correct; the existence of Canadian punk band PUP proves that the beloved scene is still alive and kicking. Their self-titled debut is angry, with screaming guitar riffs and barking vocals. Full of head banging and sweat, PUP is everything that a punk album should be, and then some.

7. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City (2013)
Must-Listen: “Hannah Hunt”
Winning a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album, the New York foursome’s impressive third LP is an outstanding one at that.  The members of Vampire Weekend are known for their quirky style and even quirkier lyrics, which have only become more polished in Modern Vampires of the City. Eccentric and unexpected, the fact that the album won a Grammy truly says it all.

6. Arctic Monkeys – AM (2013)
Must-Listen: “Arabella”
The Sheffield foursome are known for their sexy swagger, and they brought every bit of sex appeal they had for their fifth studio album. Dripping with black liquor and red lipstick, AM is the sexiest album out there. From the seductive lyrics to the ripping, sultry guitar solos, singer Alex Turner croons about sex, women, and more women. With every single LP that the Arctic Monkeys produce, they show a growth in style and maturity, and AM is no different.

5. M83: Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (2011)
Must-Listen: “Reunion”
The French band’s sixth studio album bears a closer resemblance to a book or a movie than it does to an album; Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming tells a fantastical tale full of nostalgia, love, and regret. M83’s music is magnificent, from the lyrics to the instrumentation: their sound transports listeners to another world, which is why their most recent LP lands a spot in the middle of this list.

4. Passion Pit – Gossamer (2012)
Must-Listen: “Constant Conversations"
Passion Pit is certainly unconventional, from their lyrics to their instrumentation. Using the voices of children in a few tracks that are coupled with the singer’s falsetto, the band brings a certain quirkiness that is quite refreshing. Passion Pit’s sophomore album Gossamer is absolutely delicate and beautiful, as it completely reflects the struggles that singer Michael Angelakos has battled his way through. Gossamer disguises its darker meanings by burying deeper lyrics in a light, poppy synthesiser sound. The album gives fans a look into the raw emotions of the band, providing a personal connection between the two that has never been seen before; fans are able to relate to and find solace within the hardships so beautifully represented through the band’s lyricism at a deeper level, which is what makes this album so special.

3. Haim – Days are Gone (2013)
Must-Listen: “Falling”
 Taking third place is Haim’s badass debut album. Very few things are better than a band made up of three kick-ass, musically-inclined sisters. Haim, with their long hair and high-waisted shorts, brought the world a fantastic debut that turned more than just a few heads: Days are Gone is full of gorgeous harmonies and lyrics that young adults will have painted on their walls or tattooed on their wrists. Haim’s debut is the perfect summer album (not to mention the perfect breakup album), alternating between sugary, sweet tracks and complete badass stomp-alongs. The band brings the California sunshine with them on this debut, and a sophomore effort is highly anticipated; Haim is one of the greatest musical discoveries of the decade.

2. Foster the People – Torches (2011)
Must-Listen: “Houdini”
The runner-up is the Los Angeles natives’ stunning debut album. Even though Torches is packed full of poppy synthesizer melodies and ridiculously catchy beats, it is the singer Mark Foster’s impressive falsetto that is the album’s main strength (or at least it’s the aspect of Foster the People’s music that gathers the most amount of attention). Foster stretches his vocal chops all throughout the album, and his voice combined with the band’s inventive lyricism makes Torches a great standalone effort of 2011.
1. Tokyo Police Club – Champ (2010)
Must-Listen: “Breakneck Speed”
Topping the list is Tokyo Police Club’s impressive sophomore album, released in 2010. Dripping with a child-like nostalgia, this album truly feels like home, whether it’s someone’s second listen or one hundredth listen. Champ really is the best of Tokyo Police Club: with excellent lyrics and quirky guitar solos, TPC stuck to what they know best with Champ, but made it more polished. Champ shows off a growth within the Canadian skinny-jean clad quartet, displaying a maturity within their musicianship that had never been seen by fans before. Champ is a truly astounding LP that puts an end to the notion that Canadian music sucks.

Honourable Mentions:
Not quite making it onto the top ten list, these two albums are still worth a listen.
 The Zolas – Ancient Mars (2012)
Must-Listen: “Strange Girl”
The Canadian band’s sophomore album is surprising in the way that it is completely different from their debut, Tic Toc Tic, but The Zolas are no strangers to getting a complete musical facelift every few years. The most interesting thing about the band is that every time they release a new single or LP, it is always unexpected and unpredictable, and this album is no different.

Alt-J: An Awesome Wave (2012)
Must-Listen: “Breezeblocks”
The only word to describe Alt-J's An Awesome Wave is “bizarre”. Alt-J is definitely not a band for everyone, but the English quartet is so unique that the risks they take with their music can only be admired.   

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