Best Of 2010: Prefix’s Top 40 (20-11)


    20 The Roots: How I Got Over

    How I Got Over was an unexpected gift from the Roots. Rising Down was a fitting would-be swan song, given that life, as The Empire Strikes Back taught us, is a series of down endings. The band then took a left turn, signing on with Jimmy Fallon. Something about the gig clicked. Black Thought and Questlove returned in style with a spare, melodic set that voiced the anxiety about the first two years of the Obama administration. ~Mike Burr






    19 Janelle Monae: The ArchAndroid

    In 2010, Janelle Monáe proved herself the perfect post-modern diva. Her songs are an amalgamation of soul and R&B tropes from a variety of eras, her clothing is a stylish, compelling mishmash of trends, and her sound perfectly blends irony and sincerity. It’s no wonder The ArchAndroid showed she can compellingly collaborate with everyone from Kevin Barnes to Big Boi. ArchAndroid is ambitious, replete with overtures and a complicated story arc, but the elaborate framework rarely drags or seems ill-advised. Instead, these high-concept trappings provide excellent structure for some seriously good pop songs about love, betrayal, survival, and other universal sentiments. ~Susannah Young




    18 The Walkmen: Lisbon

    On Lisbon, Walkmen frontman Hamilton Leithauser’s deliberate howl has never sounded so crazily urgent — and that’s saying something. The Walkmen have quietly been making an art out of deconstructing rock music for 10 years now, and never has that art been as strikingly satisfying or as curiously off-putting as it is on Lisbon. Following suit with past successes, the album garners strength from its strong foundation, but comes alive through its sly textures. From the disarming minimalism to the swirling crescendos of noise and fuzz, Lisbon has all of the passion and sloppy emotion of a truly, brilliantly flawed masterpiece. ~Daniel Rivera




    17 Surfer Blood: Astro Coast

    Surfer Blood is the best ’90s band working today. Astro Coast, the band’s debut album, was almost overwhelmed by its incredibly hooky single “Swim,” but included enough craft with the straight-ahead jams to make the album more than a passing fancy. It remains to be seen if Surfer Blood will be able to repeat the performance, but Astro Coast is the kind of debut that predicts good things ahead. ~Mike Burr







    16 Sufjan Stevens: The Age Of Adz

    Sufjan Stevens shouts the phrase, “I’m not fucking around” several times during The Age’s of Adz’s apocalyptic electro track, “I Want to Be Well.” At first blush, it’s droll to hear such language from an almost-deified indie darling, but his recent exploits bear out that declaration. He turned a major corner in his career with Adz, where he wonderfully coagulates A Sun Came’s madcap experimentation with genetic material from his twitchy electronic LP, Enjoy Your Rabbit. Many of his musical signatures from 2005’s Illinois are eschewed for vitalizing artistic risks. The gamble paid off and heralds a vivid future. ~Kyle Lemmon




    15 Das Racist: Shut Up, Dude/Sit Down, Man

    Forget post-race; Das Racist are post-“Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.” Anyone who initially turned up their nose to this hip-hop duo should take notice. Once you start taking a scalpel to their free-mixtape double serving, you’ll realize they’re beyond inane blog earworms. With mainstream hip-hop on life support, it’s these zany, pop-culture-as-IV releases that push true experimentation. The polarizing crew knows how to make their tongue-twisted, flagrantly alert rhymes have a long shelf life. This is hip-hop the way Slick Rick, Black Sheep, and The Beastie Boys knew it back during the golden age. Sit down, and listen. ~Kyle Lemmon




    14 Best Coast: Crazy For You

    Crazy For You doesn’t break any new ground — songs about boyfriends, girlfriends and the beach are about as old as pop music itself. But when it sounds as lovely and dreamy as this, it doesn’t really have to. Bethany Cosentino’s lyrics capture both the longing of Gladys Knight and the innocence of Jonathan Richman, creating something of a carbon copy of every summer love song you’ve ever heard. The worst criticism of Best Coast is that it’s just a couple of stoned out wannabe-Ramones singing love songs on the beach. That’s also its finest compliment. ~Julian Hattem




    13 Joanna Newsom: Have One On Me

    When Joanna Newsom titled her two-hour triple-album Have One On Me, was she attempting to downplay the monumentality of this incredibly ambitious effort, or was she simply displaying a wry sense of humor? Was it both? Was it a way of distancing herself from a collection of extremely personal songs, songs full of intimate details like whether a shirt will be tucked or left loose in “Go Long” or the contents of Newsom’s closet as she packs her belongings in “Does Not Suffice”? Whatever the reasoning behind the title, one simply isn’t enough. I’ll take them all. ~Wolcott Katzenbach




    12 Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti: Before Today

    People have been praising Ariel Pink’s demented lo-fi genius for years now, but never before has he managed to sustain and focus his vision to such a satisfying degree. Maybe focus isn’t quite the right word, since Before Today is delightfully scattershot. Ariel Pink doesn’t linger for too long on any one idea, animating the album with a thrillingly unpredictable quality somewhat at odds with its compositional complexity. But for some reason, Before Today marks the first time Ariel Pink has produced something that feels like an album, not just a collection of songs. And it’s a really good one. ~Wolcott Katzenbach




    11 Twin Shadow: Forget 

    In Forget, Brooklyn’s George Lewis, Jr. makes a play for infinity. As Twin Shadow, he’s made a record that straddles the line between bedroom pop, goth dance rock, post-decadence David Bowie (Lodger, Low, “Sound and Vision”) and any number of another obscure pop devotions. It’s a record to shuffle around and dance to. It’s a record to furiously make out to. It’s a record to have on while you cook dinner, or get ready to go out. It’s obliging of your attention span: You can sit on the couch in the dark and listen to it straight through and have as meaningful of an experience as if you half-listen to it on your iPod as you try to figure out how to tell your boss you forgot to e-mail that report.–Chris Chafin




    Prefix’s Top 40 Albums Of 2010: Staff / 40-31 / 30-21 / 20-11 / 10-1



    Prefix’s Best Of 2010: 

    Best Albums / Reader’s Best Albums / Staff Best Albums / Best Guest Appearances / Albums From 2009 We’re Still Listening To / Top 10 Mixtapes & Free Rap Albums / Best Reissues / Rap Verses / Worst Album Covers / Best Album Covers