These may not be the best albums of 2010, but they are the ones I dug the most. Remember, there’s no accounting for taste.
Kvelertak, “Kvelertak”: The debut from these hard rockin’ Scandinavian hardcore hell-raisers is all sung/bellowed in Norwegian, so we don’t know what they’re saying, but we bet it has a lot to do with pounding down liver-imploding levels of hooch, getting it on with banshees and punching strangers in the neck.
Electric Wizard, “Black Masses”: Bloody from sacrificing goats at the altar of Black Sabbath, these supremely baked Brits unleash the biggest, baddest riffs known to man beneath a cumulus cloud of bong smoke.
Joanna Newsom, “Have One On Me”: This triple album survey of blithe chamber pop, pastoral folk and jazz whimsy is unified by Newsom’s solar-powered chirp, which is so darn soft and cuddly, it’s like it was spun from the skinned hide of Snuggle the fabric softener bear.
Roky Erickson with Okkerville River, “True Love Cast Out Evil”: Erickson’s life has unspooled like a series of bad “Behind the Music” story arcs, but he gets some much deserved redemption here with, by turns, delicate and defiant rebel yells where his heart throbs like his overdriven amps used to.
The National, “High Violet”: An album full of late night drinking tunes awash in 100-proof heartache and the ghosts of lovers past who haunt these songs like the shadowy spectre that is frontman Matt Berninger’s voice.
Triptykon, “Eparistera Daimones”: This is sun swallowing doom so complete in oppressiveness, it’s like being entombed in a casket of cast-iron riffs. Tom G. Warrior of Celtic Frost fame shovels the dirt on your buried hopes and dreams.
Arcade Fire, “The Suburbs”: Suburban living often serves as a metaphor for homogeneity, but these kaleidoscopic indie rockers mine the pathos beneath those paved streets on an album that’s equally symphonic and subtle, harrowing and hopeful.
Rose’s Pawn Shop, “Dancing on the Gallows”: The fiddle wails like a drunk at last call as lots of empty bottles of bourbon get grounded to bits beneath the perpetually stompin’ feet of these Los Angeles bluegrass revisionists forever in search of salvation and/or “One Last Glass of Whiskey,” whichever comes first.
Jamey Johnson, “The Guitar Song”: Equally poignant and pissed off, the nicotine stained honky-tonk from this Yeti-shaggy Nashville anachronism is everything that country music should be and hasn’t been for about three decades now.
Kylesa, “Spiral Shadow”: This ever-evolving psych/sludge battering ram further leavens their misanthropy with melody as they continue to map the topography of heavy metal’s most far out fringes.
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at email@example.com or 702-383-0476.