Got some space on your MP3 player? Give these albums a whirl
Arcade Fire: The Suburbs
Some great stuff has come out of Canada over the years, and, as of this August, you can put these guys right up there with maple syrup, ice hockey and ...um ...the rest. While this accomplished third offering retained the sprawling, eclectic sound that won the Montreal collective an army of fans with Funeral and Neon Bible, tracks such as Month of May delivered the instant gratification needed to broaden the band’s appeal and thrust them into the mainstream. And, for once, that’s no bad thing.
Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Following his notorious stage-invading faux pas at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, many people had the career of hip hop’s most outspoken practitioner all but written off. But it seems the criticism and tabloid bile just served to focus Yeezy more than ever, resulting in the most innovative, witty and internationally applauded release of his life. For once, we’re pleased to say that Kanye’s arrogance is justified.
Grinderman: Grinderman 2
What it certainly lacks in the way
of an imaginative title, the second effort from Nick Cave and his re-badged Bad Seeds more than makes up for in its concentration of scuzzy, stomp-along rock hits. It might
take you a few listens to appreciate
its charms, but once you’re in
you’ll be bouncing your heels enthusiastically to the sinister atmosphere of tracks such as ‘Worm Tamer’ and ‘Heathen Child’, and possibly even trying out your own version of Cave’s trademark howl.
Deftones: Diamond Eyes
Having failed to produce any material of note since 2000’s White Pony – the definitive nu-metal playbook, according to some – news of the Californian rockers’ sixth and latest studio album was received with a hefty amount of disinterested sighing. But it seems the four years since Saturday Night Wrist were well spent, honing a back-to-basics sound on an album packed with meaty power chords and some of 2010’s catchiest riffs. Best enjoyed with some hairy friends and plenty of decibels.
This is Happening
In releasing their third critically adored album back in May, the
New York group simultaneously managed to confirm their status as one of the most consistent acts of the past decade. It’s perhaps a relief, then, that vocalist James Murphy has declared this to be the last album from his zeitgeist-nailing dance posse, since it means we can enjoy shouting along to infectious chart hit ‘Drunk Girls’ and nodding our heads to epic nine-minute opener Dance Yrself Clean for decades to come, without the sullying memory of a doomed-to-disappoint follow-up.
Les Savy Fav: Root for Ruin
While some acts find themselves forever struggling to recreate the magic of their early years, others seem to go from strength to strength. And with their fifth record, Les Savy Fav have confirmed their residence in the latter camp. High-energy opener ‘Appetite’ sets the tone of the album, and from there it’s a relentless 40-minute sonic romp, showcasing everything that’s made the New York sextet one of the most enjoyable, envelope-pushing rock acts of the past decade.
Vampire Weekend: Contra
In a bid to cement their place at the heart of the indie scene, Vampire Weekend kept the formula simple when putting together their crucial sophomore effort: more jangly pop hooks, more insightful lyrics and plenty more crowd-pleasing, sing-a-long choruses. The fact that they managed to deliver this without compromising their famously unique sound is perhaps Contra’s greatest achievement, with tracks such as ‘Holiday’ and ‘Cousins’ destined to appear on a greatest hits compilation 10 or so years down the line.
The National: High Violet
Lord only knows why it’s taken the world 10 years to take notice of this prolific six-piece, but the chart success of their fifth and latest LP is unquestionably long overdue. Singer Matt Berninger’s distinctive, hypnotic baritone is once again the highlight, while poetic lyrics and some rousing, stadium-worthy instrumentation
help to fire home an absolute belter
of an album.
Cee Lo Green:
The Lady Killer
With the choking fog of controversy surrounding chart-topping single ‘F**k You!’, it’s easy to forget that the Gnarls Barkley singer’s solo side-project was much more than a one-shock pony. Featuring track-after-track of bassy hip hop beats and Green’s distinctive, soulful vocals, the album can consider itself among the year’s most innovative. The fact that it also contains some of 2010’s most memorable tunes in ‘No One’s Gonna Love You’ and ‘Wildflower’ is an excellent bonus.
Hot Chip: One Life Stand
Although they’ll have to surrender the coveted title of 'TOAD’s Sweaty Jig-Inspiring Electropop Album Of The Year' to tour buddies LCD Soundsystem, the London group’s follow-up to 2008’s Made in the Dark is still an incredibly impressive record, crammed with multi-layered dance floor fillers. Slip on synth-heavy opener ‘Thieves in the Night’ in a room full of young people wearing fluorescent Ray-Bans and you’ll see exactly what we mean.