So, it's almost Christmas and almost the end of the year, which can mean only one thing. Actually, maybe two, three or even lots of things, but one of the things it means is that it's time for the annual allgigs 'Top ten albums of 2010' run-down. Quite possibly even more exciting than a kiss under the mistletoe or a miss under the kameltoe...
So, in true count-down style, we start at the end in tenth place and work our way to the top spot with the album which has turned-on most allgigs reviewers this year.
10 - Hurts - Happiness. Hurts' debut album 'Happiness' is one of the many debuts to make our top ten this year. Seeing the potential for this album a while back, we even ran a competition to win a few copies just a few months back. We'll let reviewer Jane Hawkes do the rest of the talking:
Happiness is a little drop of 80s synth-pop heaven, which is exciting without sounding dated. One of the stand-out albums of the year, Hurts sound like no-one else around at the moment.
Paul Smith [Maxïmo Park]
9 - Paul Smith - Margins. It's another debut, this time from the seasoned Maxïmo Park main man Paul Smith. Released just a few months back, 'Margins' had Jane enthusing:
Beautiful, intense, inspired and perfectly artistic, this collection of songs by Maxïmo Park's front-man are raw and emotional and simply stunning.
8 - Slash - Slash . It's in eighth place, and yes, it's yet another debut, this one from axe-wielding, top hat-wearing rock legend Slash, ably assisted by the great and good of the rock world (Dave Grohl, Iggy Pop, Ozzy, Ian Astbury, Lemmy...). Over to you Phil Oddie to sum-up:
Plenty of excitement on the eve of the release of this album, but I was a little apprehensive about it, as collaborations with lots of different artists on one album rarely results in a classic, but this is tremendous. Not a poor track on the album, and plenty of signature Slash guitar and well written songs fail to disappoint.
7 - Ray Lamontagne - God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise. Seventh place belongs to Ray Lamontagne (and the Pariah Dogs) who released his/ their fourth studio album back in August. It's been a regular on the office CD player, featuring Ray's trademark plaintive, husky vocals. Kevin Stanley had this to say:
Ray and his band have created yet another record of rare and extraordinary musical accomplishment and brilliance.
6 - Gorillaz - Plastic Beach . Those cheeky monkeys, Damon Albarn's Gorillaz returned to the scene with some panache in 2010, recording their first album since 2005's 'Demon Days' and hitting the live scene with sell-out London shows. They then announced an arena tour and there was that small matter of standing-in for U2 to headline Glastonbury. Plastic Beach left Andrew Lockwood with this to say:
Oddly under-rated by some, but the more you hear, the more you get. There are some great arrangements and brilliantly creative songs on here.
5 - Arcade Fire -The Suburbs. Also returning to the live scene after a few years away were Quebec's Arcade Fire whose August album The Suburbs hit the top spot on most album charts across the world, garnering rave reviews along the way. Joel Crowley had this to say:
An anthemic and uplifting concept album based around living in a suburb, a trick that only one band could pull off.
4 - Everything Everything - Man Alive. The penultimate of our album debutants are Everything Everything who have been slowly, but surely coming to prominence with their brand of falsetto art-rock. Man Alive is a pretty strong debut album and left Paul Pledger almost almost shell-shocked:
Nothing else sounds like this. Nothing. It shouldn't mean that it's a good album. It doesn't. It's a GREAT album. Buy it. Play it. Scratch head. Play it again and again and again and again.
3 - Ellie Goulding - Lights. BBC Sound of 2010 and Brits 'Critics Choice' winner gets the bronze medal in our charts for her debut effort Lights. Lights topped the UK album charts the week after it's release, inspiring Sheryl Willis to say
Goulding proves there's still hope for new music.
2 -Laura Marling - I speak because I can. Laura Marling's second spot in our chart is indicative of the resurgence in folk over the past few years. I Speak Because I Can is Laura's third album and the second back-to-back album to receive a Mercury nomination, which is no mean feat! Gaining almost unanimously rave reviews, the album hit the top spot on the iTunes album chart, but only managed fourth place in the UK album charts. Francis Jolley had this to say:
Another Mercury prize nomination for the oldest teenager in Britain, which she should have won with this marvellously haunting record.
And in first place, it's... [drum roll, please - Ed]
1 -The National - High Violet . Almost universally loved by our reviewers was The National's fifth studio album High Violet, released in May this year and receiving amazing critical acclaim, including a five star allgigs review from Paul Pledger, who gets the last word on the album:
On the strength of this consistently rewarding album, I would certainly put a bet on this grand National favourite winning a few awards at some point.
Well, that's our top ten for another year. Have a great Christmas and a happy new year!