I would like to preface this list by saying that I have not yet listened to Cee-Lo Green's new album nor Kanye West's latest - which everyone and their mother is telling me is a freaking masterpiece. So a more apt title of this list might be "The Top 10 albums of the year that I got around to."
1. Foxy Shazam: Foxy Shazam
If I had my way this list would have one album. That's right, this album is so good that it is actually the 10 best albums of the year. Hell, it's the 20 best albums of the year, and the five best albums of 2009. Foxy Shazam aren't just a band; they are a force of nature that will kick your ass, steal your lunch money and make sweet love to you all at the same time. “Count Me Out,” “Bye Bye Symphony,” “Bombs Away,” the list just goes on and on, every song on this album could be a Top 10 single. Yet somehow none of them have been. America, you're letting me down even more than usual. There is no greater band on the planet than Foxy Shazam. They are here to take over the world and be the biggest rock stars since the Beatles. So if you all could just accept that already and buy this album now, that would be great.
2. Goldfrapp: Head First
Most artists who try to recreate that classic '80s dance sound usually crash and burn, sounding more like a parody of the music they're trying to replicate (Owl City springs to mind) than the real deal. But Goldfrapp pulled it off with this release, channeling the soundtrack to "Flashdance" and Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" (in a good way!) on instantly danceable tracks like “Rocket” and “Alive.”
3. The Sword: Warp Riders
There are not enough metal bands making concept albums about intergalactic space battles. Thankfully the Sword realized this, and updated their mythology-based themes for the 21st century, changing their focus on medieval wizards and warriors to space-faring heroes and transcendental beings who traverse space and time. The fist-pounding metal that accompanies the far out narrative is pretty damn good as well.
4. Coheed & Cambria: Year of the Black Rainbow
Okay, maybe there are other bands creating concept albums about intergalactic space battles. But while the Sword is like "Aliens," direct and to the point, Coheed & Cambria's conclusion to their epic Armory Wars saga is like "Star Trek," "Star Wars" and Rush's 2112 all rolled into one incredibly overblown and bombastic delight.
5. Sleigh Bells: Treats
What is it about Brooklyn and male/female electronic duos? First Matt & Kim, and now these two. But while Matt & Kim delivered the audio equivalent of a big hug with Sidewalks, Sleigh Bells' Treats is like a sonic punch in the face, a bizarre combination of industrial, punk and straight-up noise that is louder and more original than any other record this year.
6. Matt & Kim: Sidewalks
Not everyone seems to be jamming on this, the third release release by the Brooklyn duo. But why not? Sure, they opened up their sound a bit and don't have the same lo-fi charm they had on their first two albums, but with fun-beyond-fun tracks like the opener “Block After Block” and “AM/FM Sound,” who cares? The funnest record to come out this year.
7. Nitzer Ebb: Industrial Complex
This has been out in some form since late 2009, but it didn't get a wide release until this year, so it counts. Besides, it would be a shame not to shine further light on this shockingly stellar reunion record. Before this, Nitzer Ebb hadn't been in the studio in 15 years, and they hadn't been making music worth listening to for even longer. How the hell the could reform after all that time and not only make a good record, but a great record that stands up next to their best, is a welcome surprise.
8. The Orb Featuring David Gilmour: Metallic Spheres
The Orb are well known for creating soundscapes that take their listener's a trip that is best traveled while on drugs. Taking that into account, its amazing that it took this long for them to team up with someone from Pink Floyd. A trip so deep that you might not even needs heavy medication to appreciate it.
9. Girl Talk: All Day
Opening Feed the Animals with a mash-up of UGK's “International Player's Anthem (I Choose You)” and the Spencer Davis Group's “Gimme Some Lovin” was smart. But the opening notes of All Day, which mix together Black Sabbath's “War Pigs” and Ludacris' “Move Bitch,” are pure pop genius. Girl Talk didn't do anything new with his latest all-illegal release - he just did what did before, masterfully mixing together dozens of songs all at one, better than he ever has before.
10. Diskjokke: En Fin Tid
I like Tangerine Dream, okay? There, I said it. And this Norwegian DJ and producer made the best Tangerine Dream album since 1979 with this minimalistic and beautiful collection of downbeat but cheerful-sounding dance songs. Not for everyone, obviously, but it was almost tailor-made for me.