Top 100 Albums of the Decade So Far (2010-2014)

top 100 albums of the decade so far

top 100 albums of the decade so far newsom70. Joanna NewsomHave One On Me
(2010; Drag City)

Joanna Newsom’s third solo effort, a triple-album, is a flourish of excess reminiscent of the opulent lives of the characters in The Great Gatsby. Many of characters that Newsom establishes through the album’s two-hour running time are rich and miserable, but she transforms their feelings into sprawling, soaring tracks: the brilliant development of the title track from a sad ballad to a bouncing, joyous melody (even when the narrator recalls being “drunk and half-dead”), or the bright pessimism of “On A Good Day.” Like Ys before it, if not much more so, Have One on Me requires patient attention (and stamina), but also rewards it in spades. – SP

top 100 albums of the decade so far high violet69. The NationalHigh Violet
(2010; 4AD)

Following on the heels of The National’s Boxer, High Violet is a case of improving on a formula that works. Frontman Matt Berninger imbues each track with his signature passionless baritone that, in its numbness, cries to be heard. While Berninger maintains his almost stoic sound on “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” what gives him away is the roaring, wistful keys that swell around his vocals like waves, threatening to submerge them, and the choppy, full-throated drums teeming just beneath his melancholic musing. It works particularly well, raising the bar for the rest of High Violet. Despite this high bar, the rest of the album doesn’t fall short. The building, churning “Terrible Love” opens the record, followed up by the rather forlorn “Sorrow” which shimmers with pensive, dramatic lyrics like, “Cover me in rag and bone, sympathy / Cuz I don’t wanna get over you.” It’s one of the band’s best albums, and still burns as brightly almost five years after its release. – NG

Iceage Plowing Into the Field of Love68. IceagePlowing Into the Field of Love
(2014; Matador)

Copenhagen’s Iceage have got to be eligible for some sort of half-decade MVP award. Between 2011 and 2014, the punk quartet released three excellent LPs, each one more stunning than the last. The most impactful of those was Plowing Into The Field of Love a country-tinged, post-punk affair that found the band quadrupling their range, both sonically and poetically. While some were quick to slap the label of “Nick Cave Redux” on the group’s evolving sound, that jest turned out to be a little bit of a Red Herring. The 12 tracks that make up Plowing are so wide-reaching in sonic timbre that suggesting that Iceage are copy cats is almost a sincere compliment of the band’s taste and execution. What they do share with Cave is an elegant ability to drive a point home: Plowing is a fifty minute dissertation on the human ego with a message as foreboding as its brooding ambiance. – ATB

Darkside - Psychic67. DarksidePsychic
(2013; Other People/Matador)

The band’s three-track EP aside, Psychic might be the only major release we receive from Darkside for the foreseeable future: ten months after the album was released, Darkside announced that they were “coming to an end, for now.” What we’re left with, comfortingly, is one hell of an ambitious album. The music sounds like what might occur if Brian Eno tried to cover Dire Straits, providing a spacey ambience into which bluesy guitars and propulsive drums emerge. That common denominator of Psychic’s sound is surprisingly varied: there are the Talkdemonic-esque synths that define “Freak, Go Home,” or the chopped-up vocals that propel “Metatron” (and the album as a whole) to its ending. It’s a complex, fully-realized album, and even if Darkside never reunites (although here’s hoping they will), it’s enough to bestow them with an impressive legacy. – SP

titus andronicus top 100 songs of the decade so far66. Titus AndronicusThe Monitor
(2010; XL)

On paper, the concept behind The Monitor — a modern-day Civil War inside one guy’s head as he travels from New Jersey to Boston — seems like the kind of storyline that could have been ripped from a Rush album, or a bizarro version of Hüsker Dü’s Zen Arcade, or beatdown hardcore. And in a sense, Titus Andronicus’ epic concept record is a combination of them all, fired up and rollicking with punk rock abandon while adhering to a highbrow conceit, rife with a few lowbrow jokes. It’s about alienation underneath all of the layers, much like any good punk album, albeit with interludes narrated by Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. “It’s still us against them” sneers Patrick Stickles in one of the album’s climactic moments, but our narrator is proven unreliable; it’s Titus Andronicus who’s winning. – JT

Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold65. Parquet CourtsLight Up Gold
(2013; What’s Your Rupture?)

Guitarist/vocalist Adam Savage and his younger drumming brother, Max, have a nice family business going with Parquet Courts. The Americana punk rockers have been practically unstoppable since Light Up Gold’s release, touring relentlessly, and no doubt adding to its fan base with every stop. And good for them because no one wants to live on a diet of Swedish Fish, roasted peanuts, and licorice. Instead of stealing from influences like Tyvek, the Feelies, Sonic Youth, and Pavement, Parquet Courts created an original lesson plan with Light Up Gold. Savage and fellow guitarist Austin Brown consistently alter their tones, jumping from one exciting melody to the next. It’s 15 songs in 34 minutes, and none of it is wasted. The most impressive part might be during “Borrowed Time,” when the clanging motor is stopped on a dime for a few seconds before the band revs back into the groove like nothing happened. We all know where Parquet Courts is now, but Light Up Gold is where it found perspective. – JJM

Pallbearer foundations of burden top 10 metal albums of 201464. PallbearerFoundations of Burden
(2014; Profound Lore)

Little Rock’s Pallbearer started off with what felt like a game changer: 2012’s Sorrow and Extinction, an album that added a much broader range of melody and intricacy to doom metal than most pagan tomb-dwellers would have previously thought possible. So it’s to their credit that its follow-up, Foundations of Burden, went so much bigger and bolder. Bassist Joseph Rowland suggested that “heavy prog” might be more accurate to describe their sound the second time around, each of their sprawling and complex arrangements taking countless different directions while their melodic core holds strong. Make no mistake, though, this is a doom metal album, and the thunderous lows of “Foundations,” the slow-motion riff cycle of “Watcher in the Dark” and the towering monolith of “The Ghost I Used to Be” are confirmation of that. An album with this much diversity, emotion and accessibility just might make us rethink the way we look at doom metal. – JT

Future Islands Singles63. Future IslandsSingles
(2014; 4AD)

I am sick and tired of seeing press coverage of Future Islands — and that’s a good thing. In my relatively short career as a writer, I can’t think of one band that’s deserved success as much as William Cashion, Samuel Herring and Gerrit Welmers. But what you’ve got to understand about that epic Late Nite performance that started it all is it wasn’t anything special for Herring & Co.: For years, Future Islands had been playing every house show, every dingy dive bar as if it were Coachella or the Super Bowl Halftime Show. And for three records, they had treated every song as if it were a single. But on Singles, high fidelity sure suits them well. They dish out some of their best material to date, ensuring that every tiny detail — a violin here, a visceral roar there — shines through on this genre-defining synth-pop record. Like New Order and Depeche Mode before them, Future Islands set a new precedent that’s going to be tough as nails for anyone else to top. – ATB

top 100 albums of the decade so far swans62. SwansThe Seer
(2012; Young God)

Swans have been around since 1982, and with this release they not only won over a new generation of listeners, but offered some strong evidence that they’re only getting better with age. Michael Gira, frontman and founding member, has guided the group throughout a few decades of experiential noise rock, and The Seer is one of the band’s longest releases, delivering two hours of terrifying beauty. There are a few moments such as “93. Ave. Blues” where the album feels like a soundtrack to an artsy horror film, but “A Piece of the Sky” and “Song for a Warrior” are rewarding in melody, with the latter featuring Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O taking over vocal duties. The final stretch and second half of the album is when the music strengthens its firm grip. Gira repeats “your life is in my hands” on “Avatar” before Thor Harris unleashes his assaulting percussion. Then the climactic close on “The Apostate” is the grand finale, with Swans flexing their instrumental muscle. The Seer evokes submission with moments of displacing dissonance and menacing noise, but the album is no question an incredible work of art worth revisiting again and again. – DP

top 100 albums of the decade so far flylo61. Flying LotusUntil the Quiet Comes
(2012; Warp)

Of the three albums that Flying Lotus has released this decade so far, Until the Quiet Comes is by far the least intense. Consistent with the album’s vaguely outlined concept (which involves dreams and astral projection, as well as the sense of a journey), the sounds here are gently spacey, with muffled drumbeats, sparkling synth accents, and the lilting, dulcet tones of Thundercat’s bass. As always, the record’s frequent guests are well-chosen; frequent collaborator Niki Randa’s voice floats through two songs like a dreamworld siren, while Thom Yorke sounds strangely threatening on “Electric Candyman.” The self-contained world that the album creates — and how much it differs from the significantly busier worlds of Cosmogramma and You’re Dead — makes Until the Quiet Comes a standout amongst Flying Lotus’s consistently brilliant discography. – SP

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View Comments (3)
  • Such bias in this list. Indie and alternative music is all right to listen to but this list is severely lacking in the genre of metal. For example listen to Mastodon’s The Hunter. True art work. Wake up because there is more out there than your hipster junk.

    • We included Baroness, Pallbearer, Converge, KEN Mode and Deafheaven. Keep in mind that we’re not exclusively a metal site, and that some of our writers are more steeped in hip-hop, electronic or what have you.

      The Hunter is a good album, though, certainly.

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