25. Yeasayer – Odd Blood
Experimental music done with soul, these guys craft some of the strangest, yet affective, melodies around. Normally, when you describe music as “experimental” or “risky” it’s synonymous with “imprenatrable” and that isn’t any fun. Yeasayer can move your heart and mind. It's the sound of creativity let loose. It'll be interesting to see if these guys can maintain or if they lose sight eventually.
Nugget: “Madder Red”
24. UB40 – Labour of Love IV
After over 30 years of churning out nearly the same pseudo-reggae vibe over and over again, UB40 remain one of those welcome constants in life. They never change, they always sound good, and it always feels right. Sometimes, change is overrated. Plus, they don’t sound any different with new lead singer Duncan Campbell (brother of former lead singer Ali). Do they ever sound any different? Nope. And that's goooood.
Nugget: “Bring It On Home To Me”
23. Manic Street Preachers – Postcards From A Young Man
These guys bring a level of melodic ferocity that’s unique compared to the younger practitioners of power-pop that are out there. It’s more lived-in. Earned. Considering what they’ve been through and how long they’ve been at it, they deserve respect as the elderstatesmen that they are. Politics + Pop + Power Chords = Perfection. Why are the Brits so much better at this than we are?
Nugget: "Some Kind of Nothingness"
22. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Nobody makes entire albums like Kanye. Love him or hate him, the man IS the genius he claims to be. Fantasy has topped most music critic’s Best of 2010 list, but I don’t love it as much as Late Registration. For all the creativity (and it’s massive), there are fewer hooks and singles. Still, Kanye’s music is more like wild slabs of colorful paint on a canvass than any other artist out there. Those itching to crucify him will have to keep waiting.
21. Court Yard Hounds – ST
Having never listened to or paid much attention to the Dixie Chicks, I don’t know how closely related the two bands are, since CYH are basically 2/3s of them. If the Chicks’ output is as beautifully sunny as the Hounds, then I’ve been missing out. Every track sounds like singer-songwriter folk rock of the 70s that was written and recorded in the gorgeous hills of Laurel Canyon. You know that pap Sheryl Crow keeps trying to sell you? Buy a better version here.
Nugget: "Ain’t No Son"