WPGU’s Best Albums of 2010: 25-21

WPGU has compiled our list of the best albums from 2010, and we are starting our countdown this week. Be sure to check back every day this week to see us reveal our favorites. Check out the albums that made the tail end of our list, numbers 21 through 25, below.

Vampire Weekend: Contra

25: Vampire Weekend | Contra | [XL]

What do you listen to when you’re sitting on a Spanish beach, in white, Italian loafers, and find yourself drinking horchata? You silly affluent white person! You listen to Vampire Weekend’s Contra. The band’s self-titled album was solid, but same-y—as a friend put it, “Every song sounds like something off Paul Simon’s Graceland.” Contra, on the other hand, situates itself in experimentation. Yes, there are still non-Western rhythms and melodies, but this year, the boys from Columbia University employed synths, drum machines, and auto-tune to further blur that European/non-European musical divide snooty critics just can’t shut up about. Songs like “I Think Ur A Contra” (albeit, stupid in its spelling) show that Vampire Weekend can do more than breezy fun—they can do heartfelt sadness too. If there was one album that defined 2010 for upper-class, yacht owning New York intellectuals, it was most certainly Contra. — Nick Martin

Listen: “Giving Up The Gun”

Tame Impala: Innerspeaker

24: Tame Impala | Innerspeaker | [Modular]

Good, textured psychedelic rock, combining influences from all over the map, Tame Impala is all alone this year as far as that genre goes. When I first heard the record, its difficult to not feel like these guys wanted to sound like John Lennon if he became the front-man for Pink Floyd or Cream. It is an interesting combination, but it works well. These natives of Australia put out their debut album, and with a little buzz, was picked up here stateside. Their combination of hazy stoner rock and roll with their delayed guitar licks and bass grooves make Innerspeaker possibly the best psychedelic album of the year. This isn’t an album you could pick apart easily track by track, but as a whole, this album is quite the whirlwind of sound. — Patrick Singer

Listen: “Solitude Is Bliss”

Harlem: Hippies

23: Harlem | Hippies | [Matador]

The garage rock revivalists from Austin, TX do nothing even remotely new on their first release on Matador. With that being said, they play a record full of tracks that could easily be on the next Nuggets compilation. Instead of rolling out a record full of druggy psychedelia like their first record Free Drugs 😉, Harlem grinds out an LP that’s filled with druggy garage pop that’s perfect for coming down. Also, the scummy and stoned jam “Stripper Sunset” has the best song title of the year – which is also actually an apt title for the track. — Tom Pauly

Listen: “Friendly Ghost”

Menomena: Mines

22: Menomena | Mines | [Barsuk]

One of the most consistently interesting bands of the past five years, Menomena’s 2010 release Mines takes their sound even further. The songwriting process used by the band includes the members passing around a microphone and laying down different parts into a looping program they developed themselves. On none of the previous albums does this innovative songwriting style sound as organic as it does on Mines; the music sounds more cohesively put together causing this group of three multi-instrumentalists to actually sound like the 10 member band they want to be. Even beyond this improvement to their style, Mines offers a first time listener wonderful musicianship, from some of the most creative drum parts to impeccably badass use of the barry sax. — Evan Metz

Listen: “TAOS”

Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma

21: Flying Lotus | Cosmogramma | [Warp]

Dense, noisy, avant-garde, and never going to be heard on WPGU, Flying Lotus’ Cosmogramma was one of 2010’s most ambitious albums. Bridging jazz with electronic (amongst plenty of other niche genres like IDM, drum and bass, and drone) Fly-Lo has created an instant-classic comparable to DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing… Before the one person keen to that analogy dies of a hyperbole-overdose, allow me the chance for justification. Fly-Lo covered all of his bases with this album: he utilizes amazing musicians well (his cousin, Ravi Coltrane, Thom Yorke, plenty more); he combines experimentalism, but still makes a fun listen; he recreates what it sounds like to fall into a black hole made of jazz (perhaps unintentionally). What I’m trying to say is, this is an awesome record. Take for example “Arkestry”: it starts as an experiment in white noise, builds with the pounding of a snare drum, and ends in a smooth saxophone solo. Then, segue into violin/women’s voices of “Mmhmm” and continue on to the scat vocals of “Do the Astral Plane”. Flying Lotus pushes cerebral music to its limits, but he reaches a new galaxy of genre fusion. — Nick Martin

Listen: “And The World Laughs With You (feat. Thom Yorke)”


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