Every year I sit down to compile a list of the best albums of the year. I usually try to write a list of the top five or ten albums, but usually end up getting over my head and even writing on albums that were not released in that year. For instance, last year I released the top ten albums of 2009 and the top ten albums that I discovered in 2009. Some of the albums were the same, and I ended up writing for days on why these albums were so important to me. This year I have decided to go a different route yet again.
This year, while deciding the route I wanted to take, I figured I would write a list of my top five and that’s it. But as soon as I started thinking about all of the great music that came out this year, I knew I had to reconsider. So I decided to break it up into categories. So this year I am writing my top five albums in the following categories:
- Rock & Roll
- Hip Hop & R&B
For each of these I will list them in reverse chronological order and I will discuss each album in detail. So sit back, relax, and let me take you on a tour of what I consider the best music, the best albums of 2010.
I used to be into country a lot more than I am now. One of the reasons why I don’t listen to much country is because its really not country music. Its all turning to popular music that everyone listens to. It’s not uncommon to turn on the hit radio station here in town and hear Taylor Swift or Lady Antebellum. They are moving away from the twang that I grew up loving and writing lyrics that sell. I want lyrics about whiskey and Friday night lights.
5. Gary Allan – Get Off on the Pain
For as long as I can remember I have loved Gary Allan. I love his voice, and I love his bad boy attitude. Ever since his wife committed suicide a few years ago, his lyrics and his voice have taken a turn for the worse. But by saying they have taken a turn for the worse, I mean they have taken a turn for the better when it comes to my listening enjoyment.
I love hearing that twang that I talk about, and the passion, the power behind his voice. Tough All Over, his most recent album, was written solely for his late wife. But this album shows that the pain is still on his mind. He is trying to break past that, but the title track on this new disc shows he is still sad, still hurting over her passing. That makes for a good album if you ask me.
4. Zac Brown Band – You Get What You Give
When Zac first hit the scene, I was excited to see what he would do with his freshman album. He looks like a mountain man, sings like one too, and produced one of the best albums of the year with Foundation in 2008. I actually didn’t start listening to that disc until earlier this year, but I still find myself turning to that on a sunny afternoon.
With his latest release, You Get What You Give, he continues to impress with his lyrics and his incredible vocals, but he leaves something on the table if you ask me. Regardless, it’s still a great album. He doesn’t look a thing like he sounds, and his voice just continues to impress me. I love his tone, his passion in his lyrics just shines through. This album is not as good as Foundation, but its one of the best country albums of the year.
Did I forget to mention that my good friend Johnny Teater looks JUST like Zac Brown? No, really, he does. As a matter of fact, a few weeks ago Johnny sent me a text message and said someone had asked for his autograph. They thought he was Zac Brown!
3. Lady Antebellum – Need To Know
Ignore the fact that I know Charles personally (I actually saw him perform with his brother long before he even knew what country music was), and focus on the fact that he has joined forces with some incredible Nashville talent. Talk about hitting the ground running, I remember when these guys were just starting to flirt with their sound. All of a sudden they are headlining a tour, picked up by one of the biggest labels on the market, and winning one award after another.
It came with hard work, and they have produced some incredible tunes. But going back to what I said abut country music turning pop, they have done that and done that well. I don’t support it; country music should remain country. But they are producing some sounds that fit both worlds, and therefore are selling more records and selling more tickets to their concerts. They are great live, and I hope to see them continue on their path to greatness.
2. Kenny Chesney – Hemingway’s Whiskey
I am not sure how he does it, but every single album this man releases is great. His voice is just what I want when I think of country music, and his lyrics are so simple. I mean, he sings about those Friday night lights, he sings about beer and beaches, and he sings about things that matter. But even when he sings about things no one knows, he still makes it sound good.
His new disc is just packed with incredible lyrics and very passionate, nearly epic tunes. One of my favorite songs is The Boys of Fall. It talks about high school football and while I never played football in high school, I remember the feeling of going to the field to watch our Northview Knights perform. The team was terrible, most people went to see the band at halftime, but when he drops lines like, “in little towns like mine its all they got” it reminds me of home. This album will bring back memories, no matter where you are from.
1. Darius Rucker – Charleston, SC 1966
Oh, I love Hootie! You remember Hootie and the Blowfish, right? They were an incredible band but a few years back Darius Rucker, their lead singer, decided to do some solo country stuff. I don’t know who is in his band; it very well could be the guys from Hootie and the Blowfish. But his country stuff has caught on. I mean, just listen to his voice. He sings like an angel and I have always loved their tunes. His solo stuff isn’t bad either.
The first track on this disc is enough to hook you. It’s called This and will literally bring you to your knees. I remember seeing him and the Blowfish perform at the Indianapolis Rib America Festival one year. I didn’t get to meet him (still have not ever met him, just chatted through email), but I love him and his voice. The album is filled with hope, and his tone just carries over from one song to the next. It led me here to this!