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The 10 Best Albums from 2010-2019

Now that I've finally published my number one album of the last ten years, here are all ten in order, with links to the full reviews. Enjoy.

1.  "High Violet" by The National 
2.  "The Nashville Sound" by Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit 3.  "In Waves" by Trivium 4.  "Lux Prima" by Karen O & Dangermouse 5.  "Back Roads & Abandoned Motels" by The Jayhawks 6.  "Wovenwar" by Wovenwar 7.  "Push The Sky Away" by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds 8.  "Hymn Of A Broken Man" by Times Of Grace 9.  "A Sailors Guide To Earth" by Sturgill Simpson
10. "In Spades" by The Afghan Whigs

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Best Albums of the 2010s: Number 1 - "High Violet" by The National

Sometimes things are just right. Sometimes you just know. Sometimes you don't need to hear it again to confirm whether or not you just heard something that cannot be improved. In that spirit I give you the 2010 masterpiece by The National. 

This is a perfect album, that somehow manages to save it's finest moment, and indeed the finest moment of their career until the very last song. I wonder if this could happen in 2020, but ten years ago streaming hadn't achieved the dominance it had now, and fortunately The National are a band with a strong enough following and reputation to still demand respect for the album as a form.
From the opening of "Terrible Love", which starts like a machine warming up and builds to a cacophonous crescendo, it grabs your attention with music that is melodic, interesting, intriguing and noisy. This album may be a classic, but it doesn't sound classic. It by turns opaque, beautiful, uplifting and heart-breaking. Unusually for an album …

Best Albums of the 2010s: Number 2 - "The Nashville Sound" by Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit

2017 produced this masterpiece from the former Drive-By Trucker. From the moment it fades in with the elegiac "Last of My Kind"to the last notes of "Something to Love" this is solid gold. Much like Gary Louris on my number five choice, the level of craft in these songs is phenomenal. Isbell's songs are so good I'd actually view him as a songwriter first and performer second. I've said many times over the years that there are two types of music fan, those who love Gram Parsons and those who haven't found him yet. Whilst I'm not comparing Isbell to Parsons as a singer, (who sits atop my list of favourite singers of all time), in terms of discerning music fans I feel the same criteria applies. If someone likes good music and they somehow haven't come across the Alabaman yet, then hand them this album or Southeastern and they will be smitten.
The whole album is practically a highlight reel, with only "Chaos and Clothes" and the aforemen…

Best Albums of the 2010s: Number 3 - "In Waves" by Trivium

My number three album of the last ten years is one which does come with a number of caveats. This is a full on metal album, an therefore those who aren't fans of the genre will struggle here. Also,unlike the two which immediately precede it, "Lux Prima" & "Back Roads & Abandoned Motels" this album does have some inessential songs, and preclude me from describing it as a perfect album , which all of the rest of my top five I would consider to be.
However, however... 

This is easily my favourite metal album of all time, and whilst it is clearly not "Master of Puppets" or "Number of The Beast" it is the metal album I would chose if I could have only one. Sure, a few tracks could easily be culled with no detriment to the album, "Dusk Dismantled", "Drowning In Slow Motion" and "Chaos Reigns" are hardly essential.

But the highs are so high they outweigh these minor quibbles. The title track has become the bands e…

Best Albums of the 2010s: Number 4 - "Lux Prima" by Karen O & Dangermouse

My album of 2019, only caution against recency bias stops this rising further. Ask me again in another ten years and it may have risen further. My review from earlier last year makes clear why I love this masterpiece so much.
Sometimes you know that something is just 'right'. There is an almost indefinable quality that is evident from the outset that continues throughout the film, book, or in this case album. It is not often that I get this feeling, but much like 2004's "Saturnalia" from The Gutter Twins or 2010's "High Violet" from The National, this new album featuring a collaboration between Karen O from Yeah Yeah Yeahs and renowned producer Brian Burton, aka Dangermouse, has 'it'.

My, oh my, this is some album. An early album of the year contender? Most definitely.

Strong words you might say, but just listen to it. Running the full gamut of styles, sometimes within the same song, from electronica, through orchestral pop, funk and soul to ro…

Best Albums of the 2010s: Number 5 - "Back Roads & Abandoned Motels " by The Jayhawks

This was my favourite album of 2018 and an edited version of my original review of appears below. Now we're into the top half we are talking about the best of the best here.

With the benefit of time I'd like to add that the sheer level of craft on display here is staggering. That these songs were written over a period of time rather than specifically for this album maybe helps that, but nonetheless this is songwriting of the highest quality with performances and production to match.
My only sadness is that they've not found it viable to tour over here since the 2016 tour to support the also very good "Paging Mr Proust". I was fortunate enough to see them at the Art School in Glasgow on that run,(solo acoustic guitar version of "Broken Harpoon"!), my fourth time overall, and sincerely hope that won't be the last. Arriving just over two years after 2016’s “Paging Mr Proust”, the new album from Minnesota’s finest is a departure, in that most but not all o…

Best Albums of the 2010s: Number 6 - "Wovenwar" by Wovenwar

The 2014 debut from the band that rose phoenix-like from the ashes of As I Lay Dying  is the next in my list of the best albums of the last decade.

Surveying the mess left behind in the wake of Tim Lambesis' arrest and imprisonment for attempted murder, the remaining members of As I Lay Dying teamed up with Shane Blay of Oh Sleeper to create what is almost the best metal album of the last ten years.

Retaining the power of their former band, whilst vastly more melodic this became an instant classic in my collection and deserves a far larger audience that in achieved.
Using the classic moody instrumental introduction before firing into the staggeringly good 1-2 punch of "All Rise" and "Death to Rights" this is punch the air stuff.
Breath is drawn during "The Tempest" although the liquid guitar work of Nick Hipa & Phil Sgrosso still shines.
The heights are climbed again with "Movin' Up" and especially "Sight of Shore", possibly the…

The Unraveling by Drive-By Truckers: Album Review

If you thought Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley were angry on 2016's excellent "American Band" then wait until you get your ears around their latest album, "The Unraveling". 
Never a band afraid to call it as they see it, you'll have no issues deciding the targets of their ire. "Murmur" this is not.

Easing us in gently with "Rosemary with a Bible and a Gun", they bring the energy with the high octane "Armageddon's Back In Town".  This one rocks hard, and that energy continues when Mike Cooley takes over for the catchy "Slow Ride Argument".
The music may be calmer and even jolly, but the lyrics of "Thoughts and Prayers" are an utterly coruscating assault on the all too typical response of many in power to gun violence. Hear, hear I say. The tragedy is that this song will be appropriate many times every year. 
The political commentary continues with "21st Century USA", the inequality of the American Dr…

Ian Noe Live at St. Luke's in Glasgow: A Little Ain't Enough

I first discovered Ian Noe's music in May last year with the release of "Letter To Madeline", a tale of a bank robbery gone wrong, which fits into a long line of country songs about desperate men and women who still end up holding the short end of the stick. Think "Long Black Veil". 
The timeless quality of this single song had me highly anticipating his debut album, "Between The Country" and it did not disappoint, just missing out on the top spot in my best albums of 2019. Consequently when I heard he would be playing in Glasgow as part of Celtic Connections, I had to be there. 
It was somewhat appropriate then that he opened with the aforementioned "Letter To Madeline". Unaccompanied on acoustic guitar, the sparseness of the arrangement allowed the quality of both the songs and his voice to cut through in the former church.
"Junktown", "Irene (Ravin' Bomb)", "Dead on the River (Rolling Down)" and "If Tod…

Sturgill Simpson Live At The Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow: Plenty of Fury With Some Sound

Appearing as part of the annual Celtic Connections city wide festival, Sturgill Simpson the producer of not only one of the ten best albums of last year, "Sound & Fury" (full review here), but one of the best albums of the last decade, "A Sailor's Guide To Earth" (full review here), had my interest was piqued as to what kind of show my first time seeing the Grammy winning artist would bring.
The band came out on stage at 9:25pm, (5 minutes early!) with Simpson saying "we've got a hard 11:30 curfew and a 2 & 1/2 hour set so we not gonna talk that much". Fine by me, let the music do the talking I thought. For the first hour they tore through "Sound & Fury" in no-nonsense style, although Simpson was clearly having monitor issues.

An elongated "Brace For Impact(Live A Little)" that morphed into a 10 minute Zeppelin-esque jam, with Sturgill giving it his best Jimmy Page brought the first half of the show to a hard rocking …