1. Brothers by The Black Keys
-The Black Keys make music. Just a drummer (Patrick Carney) and a guitarist (Dan Auerbach) who built their reputation on a strong live repertoire like a real band should. Their previous work, while excellent, was raw, guitar-driven rock, the stuff that you just don't hear being produced in quality anymore. Forget the White Stripes, TBK are the best guitar/drummer duo in the world. Brothers is a more honed, fully-realized sound while still maintaining the beauty and blues that is attributable to their trademark sound. Even though singles "Tighten Up" and "Howlin for You" got most of the mainstream attention, its songs like "You're the Only One" and "I'm Not the One", which no other band in the world could pull off, that really make TBK stand out. With Brothers, TBK added various percussion to drums and guitar to create a greater sound, which lends to the idea that the greatest band in the world are just getting started.
2. Recovery by Eminem
-While Kanye and Big Boi made two beautifully sounding rap albums in 2010, neither of them can compare to Eminem lyrically. Recovery has to be celebrated as one of the greatest comeback albums of all time. Eminem had fallen as far as one can fall. Following his 2004 effort Encore, the worst of his career, Eminem went on a musical hiatus in which he battled with addiction to prescription drugs and nearly died of an overdose. He got back into the game with Relapse in 2009, but with Recovery, Em set out to talk about why he had dropped out of the music scene and why fans have every reason to believe that he is back in full form. Recovery succeeds on every level, a well-produced and lyrically brilliant introspective look into the life of Marshall Mathers. Eminem uses his music not only to make amends with fans, but also to exercise the personal demons he'd been dealing with for five years. It was the most important album of 2010 in that the music industry got its go to album-seller back and it also may have saved the life of one of the greatest artists of his generation.
3. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West
-Kanye West is an asshole. The whole world can agree on this. But as crazy as it may sound, his arrogance is actually a necessary contributor to his music. Who in their right mind would put a Bon Iver sample, an Elton John piano solo, or a nine-minute long epic of sorrow on a rap album? But that's what Fantasy is all about; things that shouldn't work, but do. The album is a culmination of West's four previous works; an weave of the soul of College Dropout, the symphony of Late Registration, the gloss of Graduation, and the melancholy of 808's and Heartbreak. It scored hits with "Power", "Monster", and "Runaway", but more importantly cemented West as the most successfully creative producer of rap music in the game today. It was a comeback of a different sort, in that it brought West back to the top, but in doing so, shined a light on his dark and twisted fall.
4. Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty by Big Boi
-Critics and fans have rewarded lesser rappers like Drake and Rick Ross for their work in 2010, but the real praise deserves to go to Big Boi, who with Left Foot proved that the massive success of Outkast was not the result of the often thought "one-man Andre 3000 show". This is the closest thing we've had to the real Outkast since 2003 (forget Idlewild). Big Boi features a variety of artists (from Jamie Foxx to George Clinton) and when Andre 3000 sound-a-like B.o.B. raps on "Night Night", you think you're listening to a track on Stankonia. But most of all, the Outkast trademarked originality of sound that was so prevalent on their early 2000's work comes through in full here, proving again that Big Boi can transcend music to a higher level.
5. The Suburbs by Arcade Fire
-Arcade Fire seems to have developed a pattern over the past decade. They release a mind-blowing epic of sound that leaves critics gushing and the music world stunned, then quietly disappear for three years and work on their next indie masterpiece. The Suburbs, their best work since their 2004 debut The Funeral, was a slight change of pace in that it debuted at number one in Ireland, Great Britain, Canada, and the United States. The rest of the world seemed to wake up to the fact that this is one of the greatest bands alive, but for seasoned fans of Arcade Fire, The Suburbs was great, but nothing new.