We Create Music Blog
July 15, 2011

ASCAP's Top 10 Albums, etc. of 2010

It might surprise you to know that ASCAP staffers don't just sit around silently and count your money all day. We listen to music too (some of us even make it in our spare time), and while of course we all support the act of music creation in general, we do have our favorites. And based on this year's selection of Top 10 Lists from ASCAP employees, it's clear that there's some dissension in the ranks! Many of us adored the new Sufjan Stevens album, while at least one of our responders found it highly overrated. Some lists were stacked high with hip-hop and R&B, others were indie rock top to bottom, and still others were speckled with the heaviest of metal. Most of us reached across the aisle, risking our jobs by including some non-ASCAP music. The nerve!

Here are the Top 10 lists from 10 of our favorite ASCAP staffers. Feel free to duke it out in the comments section with any agreements, disagreements or additions, but remember ye this: the kind of ASCAP staffer willing to take a break from his or her incredibly important job to write a Top 10 list is probably willing to go to bat for his or her choices!

 

Jon Bahr – Director of Marketing

Top 10 Albums of 2010:
1. Aloe Blacc - Good Things A fantastic soul record and a great guy.)
2. The National - High Violet (Yet another top notch record from this band).
3. Deer Tick - The Black Dirt Sessions (Reason #216 that I'm proud to be from Rhode Island).
4. Josh Ritter - So Runs the World Away (Great songwriting and my wife's #1 record of the year).
5. The Barr Brothers - The Barr Brothers (New project - with a harp player - still the best musicians/songwriters I know).
6. The Walkmen – Lisbon (Always dynamic, moody and with a perfect tone - another great set of songs).
7. Marco Benevento - Between the Needles & the Nightfall (The leading avant rock-jazz-electronic composer and player out there).

8. Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More
(It would be a great thing if these guys win Best New Artist at the Grammys).
9. Kings of Leon - Come Around Sundown
(Since the first EP, they've been putting out consistent records. A career band...already five albums in and many to go).
10. Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
(Who else is composing music like him? This time he's veered a little electronic to great results).

Top Musical Moments of 2010:

-Broken Social Scene at Music Hall of Williamsburg (I can't see this band enough and this was a great smaller room to see them in).
-Big Light's SXSW Late Night Show at the Hilton Hotel (I can't believe they pulled it off...for over an hour).
-2010 ASCAP "I Create Music" EXPO (It is a ton of work to produce, but a musical, professional and inspirational highlight of each of the past 5 years).

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Jonathan Berger – Marketing Department

1. Justin Townes Earle - Harlem River Blues

2. John Langford & Skull Orchard - Old Devils

3. Gidon Kremer - Kremerata Baltica, De Profundis

4. Glasser - Ring

5. The Antibodies - Live Fast, Die Old School

6. Quasi -  American Gong

7. Killing Joke - Absolute Dissent

8. Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid

9. She & Him - Volume 2

10. Shakira Ft. Freshlyground – “Wakka Wakka (This Time for Africa)”

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Josh Briggs – Director, Pop/Rock

1. Yeasayer - Odd Blood

2. Vampire Weekend - Contra

3. Band of Horses - Infinite Arms

4. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

5. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening

6. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

7. Rick Ross - Teflon Don

8. Fitz & the Tantrums - Pickin' Up the Pieces

9. The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang

10. Surfer Blood - Astro Coast

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DeDe Burns – Manager, Strategic Services


Burns Family Top 10 Albums of 2010:

1. Tame Impala – Innerspeaker

2. Caribou – Swim

3. The Black Keys – Brothers

4. Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record

5. Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma

6. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz

7. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today

8. Jaga Jazzist – One-Armed Bandit

9. Beach House – Teen Dream

10. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

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Brandon Kitchen - Associate Director of Membership, Rhythm & Soul

1. Drake - Thank Me Later

2. Rick Ross - Teflon Don

3. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

4. Bun B - Trill O.G

5. Eminem - Recovery

6. B.O.B - The Adventures of Bobby Ray

7. Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III)

8. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot, The Son of Chico Dusty

9. Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday

10. Sade - Soldier of Love

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Eric Lense – Legal Department

1. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz

2. The National - High Violet

3. Broken Bells - Broken Bells

4. B.o.B. - The Adventures of Bobby Ray

5. Ray LaMontagne - God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise

6. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

7. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

8. Band of Horses - Infinite Arms

9. Freelance Whales - Weathervanes

10. The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang

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Sean O’ Malley – Director, Strategic Services

 

In alphabetical order by artist:

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

Band of Horses - Infinite Arms

Beach House - Teen Dream

Hans Zimmer - Inception (score)

Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz & All Delighted People EP

Surfer Blood - Astro Coast

The Black Keys - Brothers

Titus Andronicus – The Monitor

Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network (score)

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Erik Philbrook - Editor in Chief, Playback Magazine

This was an incredible year for the craft of music. It took all the time and energy I could muster to keep up with the sheer volume and quality of music that flowed from all quarters in 2010. Here are ten musical highlights (albums, performances, videos) that moved, thrilled or captivated me this year. If I was asked for a Top 20 or even a Top 30 list, I would have no trouble delivering the goods. But since this is a Top 10 list, I would have to include (in no particular order):

 

1. The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

Third time’s the charm for me. This album is cinematic, dark and uplifting all at the same time. A world-class band on a world-class roll.

2. Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More

Turn up the banjo! The best British export I’ve heard in ages. They almost outdo Americana better than most American bands. Can’t stop listening.

3. Band of Horses – Infinite Arms

Gorgeous harmonies, impeccable melodies. I’m going out on a limb here, but it reminds of a modern-day Air Supply with soul, intelligence and deep emotion.

4. Vampire Weekend - Contra

Proving once again that it is hip to be square. Who knew polyrhythms could be so much fun? These guys did and are making some of the most effervescent music around.

5. Revenge of the female pop superstar video. A three way tie: 

Katy Perry ‘s “Firework” video...

Janelle Monae’s “Tightrope” video...

and Florence and the Machine’s  “Dog Days Are Over”  video.

 

6. Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival at Mass MoCa in North Adams, Mass.

Remember the “bee girl” from Blind Melon’s “No Rain” video. That’s how I felt at this 3-day music and arts festival held at Mass MoCa’s old-mill-turned-gallery space, curated by Wilco, and featuring performances by Wilco and each individual band member’s side projects, Autumn Defense, Nels Cline Singers, Pronto and hand-picked other bands such as The Books. One of the most enjoyable live music experiences I’ve ever had from top to bottom. Great food and great coffee, too.

7. Mike Viola and Kelly Jones EP Melon

A musical haiku – five songs from two of my favorite singer-songwriters. Just two guitars, two vocals, recorded in a church. Includes a cover of one of the greatest below-the-radar pop songs of all time – “Throw Your Arms Around Me,” originally recorded by Australia’s Hunters & Collectors.

8. Carolina Chocolate Drops – Genuine Negro Jig

They brought the house down at ASCAP’s SXSW Quiet on the Set showcase at SXSW this year. An old-time string band from Durham, NC, this band is entertaining and educational. You just feel good listening to them.

9. The Hold Steady – Heaven is Whenever

The thinking-man’s bar band who continue to reach for the stars. Epic.

10. Robert Plant – Band of Joy

This rock god has impeccable taste in songs and musicians. A case study in how to make great music timeless.

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Etan Rosenbloom – Membership/Marketing Associate and Blog Coordinator

1) Ludicra - The Tenant

2) Knut - Wonder

3) Intronaut - Valley of Smoke

4) The Mynabirds - What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood

5) Celeste - Morte(s) Nee(s)

6) Lantlos - .neon

7) Contaigeon - Death at the Gates of Delerium

8) My Disco - Little Joy

9) Immolation - Majesty & Decay

10) Sailors with Wax Wings - s/t

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Andrew Sparkler – Director, Legal Corporate

Odd year (musically and otherwise).  Lots of great singles, but not as many stand-out albums from top to bottom.  The list below represents my 10 favorite, arranged alphabetically.  Also tossed in my top singles, arranged not at all, and some other goodies. Hope you all are doing well and have a great holiday.

~MC Neon

 

Top 10 Albums

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs. Exceptional songwriting and beautiful arrangements.  Must be hard to keep making such an awesome product.

Jakob Dylan - Women and Country. No, I didn't just choose this because Neko Case sings breathy back-up. Although it doesn't hurt.

Four Tet - There Is Love in You. If you like whimsical electro-folk, this is for you.

Joy Formidable - A Balloon Called Moaning (EP Of The Year). Loud guitars, but with pop sensibilities and cool vocals.  Full album comes out in early 2011.

LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening. Really hope this isn't their last trip to the studio, but if so, it's some glorious exit music.

 Mogwai - Special Moves (Live Album of the Year). Heavy on the later material, but does a remarkable job of capturing their live set.

Mumford and Sons - Sigh No More. Win Keeley suggested I check out these guys. Earth crashes into sun.

Joanna Newsom - Have One on Me. Unusual that a 3 CD, 2+ hour journey revolving around harp-based elfin-music would make this list, but there you go. 

The National - High Violet. Probably the album that had the most plays in our house this year.  Almost every song is memorable.

Ninja Tune - XX Volumes 1-3 (Compilation of the Year). If you like the label, you need these discs.  If you think "Ninja Tune" is a Saturday morning cartoon, then you can probably skip it.

 

Top 10 Singles:

“We Used To Wait” - Arcade Fire. Nifty make-your-own-video.

“Home” - LCD Soundsystem. An ode to many things, but probably owes the biggest debt to "This Must Be The Place."

“Whirring” - Joy Formidable

“Monster” - Kanye West. Nicki Minaj.  Best verse of the year.  

“Everlasting Light” - Black Keys. Listen to song. Smile. Repeat.  

“Harlem River Blues” - Justin Townes Earle. Steve Earle's son makes some good faux-gospel music.

“Good Intentions Paving Company” - Joanna Newsom

“Blood” - Middle East

“Not In Love” - Crystal Castles (featuring Robert Smith). Robert Smith returns!  His vocals actually make Crystal Castles accessible to people outside of the eat-mushrooms-and-play-Nintendo set.

 “Love The Way You Lie” - Eminem (featuring Rihanna)

 

10 Other Great Singles

“Daisy” - Fang Island

“The Orchard” - Ra Ra Riot (live version was all I could find)

“The Spirit of Jazz” - Gaslight Anthem

“I Feel Better” - Hot Chip (Best video of 2010)

“White Flag” - Gorillaz

“She Just Likes to Fight” - Four Tet

“Go Do” - Jonsi

“World Sick” - Broken Social Scene

“Bite out of My Bed” - New Pornographers

“F**k You” - Cee Lo


Best Live Show

LCD Soundsystem - April 8, 2010. Music Hall of Williamsburg. Usually, a band's first show on a tour is forgettable, especially after a 3 year hiatus.  But these guys embraced their flaws and produced the perfect party, warts and all.  

 

Best Album Not From 2010 That I Discovered This Year

Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster

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