State of Mind Staff Picks for Best of 2010
Adam King
Top 5 Albums:
1. LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening
2. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
3. Dr. Dog - Shame‚ Shame
4. Caribou - Swim
5. Mice Parade - What it Means to be Left-Handed
I fucking loved this year. Dr. Dog continued to be the greatest forgotten band of our time‚ LCD threw the greatest and longest going-away-party of all time‚ and Damon Albarn proved that the fake world of Gorillaz may be one of the realest things out there. But yes‚ 2010‚ forever to be remembered as the year that dream-pop took control… of everybody. Beach House seems destined to have the longest life-span of them all‚ but no female-led duo grabbed my nuts harder than Phantogram. Hmmm‚ what else? Caribou suddenly became a must-see live act‚ Jack White continued to make the truth out of whatever he wants‚ Sleigh Bells made 'loud-as-fuck' cool again‚ Kanye is still a complete jack-ass but maybe a genius‚ Pavement came back and were unbelievable‚ Phish found the real magic again‚ the Black Keys became increasingly more necessary‚ and you're still an idiot if you don't go see Built to Spill whenever they're within 100 miles of your present location.
Julia Marino

Top 10 Albums:
1. Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
2. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
3. Jonsi - Go
4. Dr. Dog - Shame‚ Shame
5. The Black Keyes - Brothers
6. Broken Bells - Broken Bells
7. Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
8. Yeasayer - Odd Blood
9. Beach House - Teen Dream
10. Girl Talk - All Day
An eclectic year for music that helped design the soundtrack to a year of east-to-west adventuring‚ one beautiful layer of song at a time: DeerhunterArcade FireYeasayerJonsi and Sufjan Stevens were all on the bill‚ just to name a few. I experienced the sweeping strings of San Francisco's Kronos Quartet in their reinvention of Sigur Ros music. Made sweet lemonade with Nathan Moore in the back hills of Oakland. Reunited with Ohio to the distorted blues of natives The Black Keys. Glowing back patio shows with The Castanets. PRISM Index. Operation Restore Maximum Freedom. Pinback. !!! tying things together with a steamy dance a party.
J Hunter

J's Top 5 + 1 -- "He's always got to be different…"
1. Mostly Other People Do The Killing -- Forty Fort
2. Christian Scott -- Yesterday You Said Tomorrow
3. John Ellis & Double-Wide - Puppet Mischief
4. Kneebody - You Can Have Your Moment
5. Sunny Jain - Taboo
Allison Miller - Boom Tic Boom
Upon reflection‚ it's amazing Day 2 of the Solid Sound Festival wasn't the best show I've seen this year! I mean‚ seriously: WilcoMavis StaplesThe Baseball ProjectMountain ManVetiver‚ an all-day comedy festival‚ and the run of MASS MoCA? How do you top that shit?! Well‚ you drive about an hour south of Albany‚ head into the trees around Woodstock‚ and find Levon Helm's gorgeous home studio (which ain't easy)… the home of the Midnight Ramble! Cancer ravaged Helm's voice‚ but he's still one of the heaviest drummers on the planet. On this night‚ Levon led a towering big band -- featuring old friend Howard Johnson and Steely Dan frontman Donald Fagen -- through classic music from The Band and (Surprise!) the Grateful Dead. The Wood Brothers got the evening humming with a tremendous set of acoustic/electric originals that got even better when John Medeski sat in on Melodica; then the Brothers joined Helm for the triumphant show-closer "The Weight." An amazing night that was part of one of the strangest years I've ever had… but that is another story. See you in '11!
Ryan Lowell

Top 5 Albums:
1. Liars - Sisterworld
2. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
3. Dr. Dog - Shame‚ Shame
4. The National - High Violet
5. Woods - At Echo Lake
I spent a lot more money on concert tickets this year than I did on albums‚ so it's no surprise that my top 5 albums list reads less like the best studio recordings of the year‚ and more like a list of 5 mind blowing live acts who also happened to put out a new full length. My top 5 should also have an asterisk next to it‚ considering that pretty much nothing released in fall or winter was even eligible for judging. This fall my iPod was stolen two weeks before I moved from Maine to Madrid‚ and in all of the moving to a foreign country excitement‚ I've spent my time trying to replace music that I already had instead of seeking out new stuff. Thankfully‚ 2010 had a strong enough start to tide me over until the New Year.
Liars' Sisterworld came out in March‚ and its' schizophrenic teetering between subdued mood music and serial killer anthems was the gold standard that everything released after was judged against. Sisterworld is far from a perfect album‚ but Liars' live incarnation magnified all of its brutal highlights and abridged its flaws. Witnessing Angus Andrew flail‚ wail and sweat his heart out on Record Store Day night will stick with me for years to come.
I had always casually enjoyed Arcade Fire in the past‚ but never really thought they deserved the endless hipster hype machine praise. Then I saw them in their element‚ headlining their hometown Osheaga Festival. I went into Osheaga with a slight Arcade Fire grudge‚ as the band snatched the festival's headlining spot (and the extra time that comes with it) from Pavement. There were huge projectors‚ a light show‚ confetti and even fireworks‚ but watching the group switch instruments‚ singers and even languages liberally was the real spectacle. Seeing the Montreal natives play The Suburbs near the strip malls that inspired it was a moment I won't soon forget. The song that converted me into a believer was "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)‚" a lost 80s gem that took Win Butler out of the spotlight and let a deserving Regine Chassagne take the reins.
Other memorable moments this year include catching Dr. Dog for the first time in three long years‚ Wolf Parade somehow channeling another predictable album into their tightest live stuff yet‚ getting to watch Pavement utility man Bob Nastanovich jump‚ scream and dance like a madman twice‚ and finally getting a chance to hear 2pac and Snoop Dogg duet on "2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted." Who says hip hop is dead? Actually‚ 2pac probably would. Oh well‚ the recording of his voice still sounded hard as fuck. I may not have heard everything the year had to offer‚ but I still have plenty of warm‚ fuzzy 2010 memories to tuck me in at night.
Josh Potter

Top 5 Albums:
1. Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
2. Joanna Newsom - Have One on Me
3. Fang Island - Fang Island
4. Mountain Man - Made the Harbor
5. Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma