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“What really matters is what you like, not what you are like… Books, records, films — these things matter.”
— High Fidelity

Etcetera

Best Albums of the 2010s

This was the decade I finally reached music saturation, and realized that the albums at the lower rungs of this list, let alone the ones that did not make it, were records I barely listened to. Only the top 20 or so truly had a huge impact on me in the past 10 years, mostly being ones to which I can attach memories and moods.

The 2010s were also a decade defined by a handful of artists, whom all appear here more than once: Sharon Van Etten, Thao Nguyen, Matt Berninger, Katie Crutchfield and her sister Allison, Kristian Matsson, Jenn Wasner, Phil Cook, and Justin Vernon. It is no coincident that most of these artists are friends and collaborators, many of them united around the nexus of Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver and others) and Bryce Dessner (of The National and others).

In countless ways, those two bands, Bon Iver and The National, whom I fell in love with in the previous decade, have shaped my musical taste in the years since. From attending Eaux Claires festival to catching each of them live closer to home whenever I could, they have become my north stars, not just for the music, but for the way they go about their business, building a community of collaborators and friends out of shared principles and desires.

As I age, this sort of thing, seemingly ancillary to the enjoyment of a record, has come to the forefront, and those records to which I respond with the most emotion are those which stick with me. Sometimes it’s just about an e•mo•tion if you know what I mean, but for the most part, these records definitely sound like something a thoughtful, (gasp) now-40-something dude would be listening to.


  1. The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs

    The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs


    Wye Oak


    Merge, 2018


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs”, “Symmetry”



  2. Future Me Hates Me

    Future Me Hates Me


    The Beths


    Carpark, 2018


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Future Me Hates Me”, “Not Running”



  3. Face Your Fear

    Face Your Fear


    Curtis Harding


    Anti-, 2017


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “On and On”, “Need Your Love”



  4. Need to Feel Your Love

    Need to Feel Your Love


    Sheer Mag


    Sheer Mag, 2017


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Need to Feel Your Love”, “Can’t Play It Cool”



  5. Dark Bird Is Home

    Dark Bird Is Home


    The Tallest Man on Earth


    Dead Oceans, 2015


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Sagres”, “Timothy”



  6. No Time for Dreaming

    No Time for Dreaming


    Charles Bradley


    Daptone, 2011


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Why Is It So Hard”, “No Time for Dreaming”



  7. Saint Bartlett

    Saint Bartlett


    Damien Jurado


    Secretly Canadian, 2010


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Kalama”, “Arkansas”



  8. We the Common

    We the Common


    Thao & The Get Down Stay Down


    Ribbon Music, 2013


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Every Body”, “Holly Roller”



  9. The Road From Memphis

    The Road From Memphis


    Booker T. Jones


    Anti-, 2011



    Choice Cuts: “Progress”, “Representing Memphis”



  10. Naomi

    Naomi


    The Cave Singers


    Jagjaguwar, 2013


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Have to Pretend”, “Northern Lights”



  11. Return to the Moon

    Return to the Moon


    EL VY


    4AD, 2015


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Return to the Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloome to Sing, with Crescendo)”, “I’m the Man to Be”



  12. The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us

    The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us


    Beach Slang


    Polyvinyl, 2015


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Hard Luck Kid”, “Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas”



  13. Heretofore

    Heretofore


    Megafaun


    Hometapes, 2010


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Volunteers”, “Carolina Days”



  14. Woman

    Woman


    Rhye


    Republic, 2013


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Major Minor Love”, “3 Days”



  15. Double EP

    Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas


    Courtney Barnett


    House Anxiety, 2013


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Avant Gardener”, “History Eraser”



  16. Sorry Is Gone

    Sorry Is Gone


    Jessica Lea Mayfield


    ATO, 2017


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Sorry Is Gone”, “World Won’t Stop”



  17. Pedestrian Verse

    Pedestrian Verse


    Frightened Rabbit


    Atlantic, 2013


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “The Oil Slick”, “The Woodpile”



  18. A Man Alive

    A Man Alive


    Thao & The Get Down Stay Down


    ??, 2016


    Read Notes

    Choice Cuts: “Astonished Man”, “Nobody Dies”



  19. Nashville Obsolete

    Nashville Obsolete


    Dave Rawlings Machine


    Acony, 2015


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Pilgrim (You Can’t Go Home)”, “Candy”



  20. Black Hours

    Black Hours


    Hamilton Leithauser


    Ribbon Music, 2014


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “11 O’Clock Friday Night”, “I Don’t Need Anyone”



  21. Metals

    Metals


    Feist


    Cherry Tree, 2011


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “The Circle Married the Line”, “The Bad in Each Other”



  22. Tramp

    Tramp


    Sharon Van Etten


    Jagjaguwar, 2012


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “We Are Fine”, “Serpents”



  23. B’lieve I’m Goin’ Down

    b’lieve i’m goin’ down


    Kurt Vile


    Matador, 2015


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Wild Imagination”, “Pretty Pimpin”



  24. Fake Sugar

    Fake Sugar


    Beth Ditto


    Virgin, 2017


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Oo La La”, “Fire”



  25. Impersonator

    Impersonator


    Majical Cloudz


    Matador, 2013


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Turns Turns Turns”, “Bugs Don’t Buzz”



  26. Big Wheel and Others

    Big Wheel and Others


    Cass McCombs


    Domino, 2013


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “There Can Be Only One”, “Home on the Range”, “Aeon of Aquarius Blues”



  27. I Love You. It's a Fever Dream.

    I Love You. It’s a Fever Dream.


    The Tallest Man on Earth


    Dead Oceans, 2019


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “I’m a Stranger Now”, “Waiting for My Ghost”



  28. Collapse Into Now

    Collapse Into Now


    R.E.M.


    Warner Bros., 2011


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Überlin”, “It Happened Today”



  29. Hanging Gardens

    Hanging Gardens


    Classixx


    Innovative Leisure, 2013


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Holding On”, “I’ll Get You”



  30. Yes Lawd!

    Yes Lawd!


    NxWorries


    Stones Throw, 2016


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Lyk Dis”, “Sidepiece”



  31. Love’s Crushing Diamond

    Love’s Crushing Diamond


    Mutual Benefit


    Soft Eyes, 2013


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Advanced Falconry”, “Golden Wake”



  32. Currents

    Currents


    Tame Impala


    Interscope, 2015


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Cause I’m a Man”, “Let It Happen”



  33. Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son

    Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son


    Damien Jurado


    Secretly Canadian, 2014


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Metallic Cloud”, “Plains to Crash”



  34. The Worse Things Get

    The Worse Things Get…


    Neko Case


    Anti-, 2013


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Night Still Comes”, “Local Girl”



  35. If You See Me, Say Yes

    If You See Me, Say Yes


    Flock of Dimes


    Merge, 2016


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Everything Is Happening Today”, “Semaphore”



  36. Over and Even

    Over and Even


    Joan Shelley


    No Quarter, 2015


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Over and Even”, “No More Shelter”



  37. Everybody Works

    Everybody Works


    Jay Som


    Polyvinyl, 2017


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Baybee”, “The Bus Song”



  38. Freetown Sound

    Freetown Sound


    Blood Orange


    Domino, 2016


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Best to You”, “But You”



  39. Epic

    Epic


    Sharon Van Etten


    ??, 2010


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Love More”, “Peace Signs”



  40. case/lang/veirs

    case / lang / veirs


    case / lang / veirs


    Anti-, 2016


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Atomic Number”, “Best Kept Secret”



  41. Morning Phase

    Morning Phase


    Beck


    Capitol, 2014


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Blue Moon”, “Country Down”



  42. Crazy for You

    Crazy for You


    Best Coast


    Mexican Summer, 2015


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “When I’m With You”, “Summer Mood”



  43. The French Press

    The French Press


    Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever


    Sub Pop, 2017


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Julie’s Place”, “French Press”



  44. Golden Sings That Have Been Sung

    Golden Sings That Have Been Sung


    Ryley Walker


    ??, 2016


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “The Roundabout”, “Sullen Mind”



  45. We got it from here

    We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service


    A Tribe Called Quest


    Epic, 2017


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “The Space Program”, “We the People…”, “Movin Backwards”



  46. Bark Your Head Off, Dog

    Bark Your Head Off, Dog


    Hop Along


    Saddle Creek, 2018


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “How Simple”, “Not Abel”



  47. The Lion’s Roar

    The Lion’s Roar


    First Aid Kit


    Wichita, 2012


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “King of the World”, “Emmylou”



  48. Ivy Tripp

    Ivy Tripp


    Waxahatchee


    Merge, 2015


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “La Loose”, “Breathless”, “Air”



  49. Carrie & Lowell

    Carrie & Lowell


    Sufjan Stevens


    Asthmatic Kitty, 2015


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “The Only Thing”, “All of Me Wants All of You”



  50. Lonesome Dreams

    Lonesome Dreams


    Lord Huron


    I Am Sound, 2012


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Time to Run”, “The Man Who Lives Forever”



  51. People Are My Drug

    People Are My Drug


    Phil Cook


    Thirty Tigers, 2018


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Miles Away”, “Now That I Know”



  52. D

    D


    White Denim


    Downtown, 2011


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Street Joy”, “Drug”



  53. Good Grief

    Good Grief


    Lucius


    Mom + Pop, 2016


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Madness”, “Born Again Teen”



  54. Are We There

    Are We There


    Sharon Van Etten


    Jagjaguwar, 2014


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Tarifa”, “Every Time the Sun Comes Up”



  55. Fast Moving Clouds

    Fast Moving Clouds


    Sarah Bethe Nelson


    Burger, 2015


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Every Other Sunday”, “Fast Moving Clouds”



  56. Remind Me Tomorrow

    Remind Me Tomorrow


    Sharon Van Etten


    Jagjaguwar, 2019


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Seventeen”, “Comeback Kid”



  57. Near to the Wild Heart of Life

    Near to the Wild Heart of Life


    Japandroids


    Anti-, 2017


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Midnight to Morning”, “Near to the Wild Heart of Life”



  58. Sometimes I Sit

    Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit


    Courtney Barnett


    Mom + Pop, 2015


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Depreston”, “Pedestrian at Best”



  59. Lost in the Dream

    A Deeper Understanding


    The War on Drugs


    Atlantic, 2017


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Up All Night”, “Strangest Thing”



  60. The King Is Dead

    The King Is Dead


    The Decemberists


    Columbia, 2011


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “This Is Why We Fight”, “Down by the Water”



  61. Mines

    Mines


    Menomena


    Barsuk, 2010


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Dirty Cartoons”, “TAOS”



  62. Short Movie

    Short Movie


    Laura Marling


    Ribbon Music, 2015


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Don’t Let Me Bring You Down”, “I Feel Your Love”



  63. Black Messiah

    Black Messiah


    D’Angelo


    RCA, 2014


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Till It’s Done (Tutu)”, “Really Love”



  64. American Weekend

    American Weekend


    Waxahatchee


    Don Giovanni, 2012


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Be Good”, “Grass Stain”



  65. Multi-Love

    Multi-Love


    Unknown Mortal Orchestra


    Jagjaguwar, 2015


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone”, “Multi-Love”



  66. If I Was

    If I Was


    The Staves


    Nonesuch, 2015


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Steady”, “Make It Holy”



  67. The King of Limbs

    The King of Limbs


    Radiohead


    XL Recordings, 2011


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Give Up the Ghost”, “Separator”, “Codex”



  68. Blue Wave

    Blue Wave


    Operators


    Last Gang, 2016


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Cold Light”, “Blue Wave”



  69. They Want My Soul

    They Want My Soul


    Spoon


    Loma Vista, 2014


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Inside Out”, “Do You”



  70. The Order of Time

    The Order of Time


    Valerie June


    Concord, 2017


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Astral Plane”, “Shakedown”



  71. Product 3

    Product 3


    Beat Connection


    Anti-, 2015


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Another Go Round”, “Hesitation”



  72. Lemonade

    Lemonade


    Beyoncé


    Parkwood, 2016


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Freedom”, “Sorry”



  73. Hope Downs

    Hope Downs


    Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever


    Sub Pop, 2018


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Talking Straight”, “Mainland”, “The Hammer”



  74. Days Are Gone

    Days Are Gone


    Haim


    Columbia, 2013


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Honey & I”, “The Wire”



  75. High Violet

    High Violet


    The National


    4AD, 2010


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Afraid of Everyone”, “Conversation 16”, “Terrible Love”



  76. This Is Happening

    This Is Happening


    LCD Soundsystem


    Virgin, 2010


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Dance Yrself Clean”, “Home”, “I Can Change”



  77. Wildewoman

    Wildewoman


    Lucius


    Mom + Pop, 2013


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Until We Get There”, “Two of Us on the Run”



  78. Just Give In / Never Going Home

    Just Give In / Never Going Home


    Hazel English


    ??, 2017


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Make It Better”, “Never Going Home”



  79. Seeds

    Seeds


    TV on the Radio


    ??, 2014


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Trouble”, “Happy Idiot”, “Ride”



  80. Good Thing

    Good Thing


    Leon Bridges


    Columbia, 2018


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Beyond”, “Bad Bad News”



  81. Tourist in This Town

    Tourist in This Town


    Allison Crutchfield


    Merge, 2017


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Mile Away”, “I Don’t Ever Wanna Leave California”



  82. Out in the Storm

    Out in the Storm


    Waxahatchee


    Merge, 2017


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Recite Remorse”, “Never Been Wrong”



  83. Megafaun

    Megafaun


    Megafaun


    Hometapes, 2011


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Hope You Know”, “Resurrection”



  84. Random Access Memories

    Random Access Memories


    Daft Punk


    Columbia, 2013


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Get Lucky”, “Fragments of Time”, “Touch”



  85. The Suburbs

    The Suburbs


    Arcade Fire


    Merge, 2010


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “We Used to Wait”, “Ready to Start”, “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”



  86. The Idler Wheel

    The Idler Wheel


    Fiona Apple


    Epic, 2012


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Hot Knife”, “Every Single Night”



  87. E•MO•TION

    E•MO•TION


    Carly Ray Jepsen


    Interscope, 2015


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Run Away With Me”, “I Really Like You”



  88. boygenius

    boygenius


    boygenius


    Matador, 2018


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Souvenir”, “Me & My Dog”



  89. Love & Hate

    Love & Hate


    Michael Kiwanuka


    Polydor, 2016


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “One More Night”, “Black Man in a White World”



  90. Celebration Rock

    Celebration Rock


    Japandroids


    Polyvinyl, 2011


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “The House That Heaven Built”, “Younger Us”



  91. Eyes on the Lines

    Eyes on the Lines


    Steve Gunn


    Matador, 2016


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Heavy Sails”, “Ancient Jules”



  92. Seasons of Your Day

    Seasons of Your Day


    Mazzy Star


    Rhymes of an Hour, 2013


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “In the Kingdom”, “Common Burn”



  93. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

    My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy


    Kanye West


    ??, 2010


    Read Notes



    Choice Cuts: “Power”, “Lost in the World”, “Blame Game”



  94. Tied to a Star

    Tied to a Star


    J. Mascis


    Sub Pop, 2014


    Read Notes




    Choice Cuts: “Wide Awake”, “Drifter”



  95. Camp Cope

    Camp Cope


    Camp Cope


    Poison City, 2016


    Read Notes




    Choice Cuts: “Lost (Season One)”



  96. The Wild Hunt

    The Wild Hunt


    The Tallest Man on Earth


    Dead Oceans, 2010


    Read Notes




    Choice Cuts: “Love Is All”, “King of Spain”



  97. Malibu

    Malibu


    Anderson .Paak


    OBE, 2016


    Read Notes




    Choice Cuts: “Am I Wrong”, “Room in Here”



  98. Repave

    Repave


    Volcano Choir


    Jagjaguwar, 2013


    Read Notes




    Choice Cuts: “Byegone”, “Dancepack”



  99. Bon Iver

    Bon Iver


    Bon Iver


    Jagjaguwar, 2011


    Read Notes




    Choice Cuts: “Michicant”, “Perth”, “Holocene”



  100. What Now

    What Now


    Sylvan Esso


    Loma Vista, 2017


    Read Notes




    Choice Cuts: “Die Young”, “Just Dancing”, “Rewind”