Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Top 50 Albums of the 2010's

Way back in 2009 we were lucky enough to help contribute to Glide Magazine's list of Best Albums of the 2000's. Hard to believe it has been ten years since we filled out that list, but it is that time again to look back at the previous decade and put together some arbitrary rankings. Since this site has been going strong the full decade we have a lot to pull from.

Here comes RtBE's picks for the top albums from the last decade, 2010-2019.

If we reviewed the album we will provide a link to that review in the title, a brief reflection on the record and a tune from it. A lot can change in ten years and a lot stays the same. Some albums were just right for their time and place, some haven't aged particularly well and others were perhaps misunderstood or even prophetic as to where the world was headed.

Just our two cents, but this decade will not be looked back at fondly when it comes to remembering music in general. Things (for the most part) are being programmed and mushed together into mellow, white bread, digestible tunes with a hip hop foundation around pop hooks, synth vibes, a few strings and nothing the least bit exciting or offensive for the majority of music out there. In an era that should be considerably ripe for protest, outrage, and individual expressionism, very little of actual substance has escaped to the masses.

Also from a practical standpoint, never before has the concept of "album" been so meaningless in our streaming/playlist curated society. While RtBE isn't completely old fashion, we still haven't bought into those ways of consuming music and the album is still our only way of listening to things, whether on vinyl or downloaded; no shuffling of singles here. This list focuses on full lengths that are played from beginning to end and deliver the goods.  


There were a ton of top notch records released over the last ten years, much more than fifty, but these are our choices. We kept our personal musical releases off the list, but feel free to listen and critique those if you would like.

As a note, Glide Magazine, the main site we contribute to, changed its rating system in the middle of the decade from 5 Stars to 10 stars, then removed it all together so if you see say #49 on our list with only 4 stars, consider it doubled to 8.

Like all of the lists RtBE have done, this is meant to start conversations, not end them. So let's kick it off...
#50 Kanye West - Yeezus 2013

This will be our longest synopsis in this whole look back as we need to explain some things. RtBE was raised up on hip hop and metal (separately) and while the 2010's were clearly a hip hop dominated decade, there were very few full length albums that we have gone back to in the genre and in turn, ranked on this list.

Most of that can be traced directly back to Kanye West's Yeezus, an art experiment which changed hip-hop for the decade, pulling out the beats, bass and well...the hop from the hip. West was just reaching the zenith of his social fame and this audacious record goes for everything with mixed results; social commentary, race relations, groupie love, to proclaiming himself god (I wonder how current Kanye feels about that track now).

Not to rehash the original review (which we think covers this record well), but Yeezus was a clear minimalist reaction to the over the top maximalist My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (which we will get to). It played as a one off creative effort, far from perfect, but interesting in it's view of bass-less and beat-less hip hop for extended stretches. Yet, its worst tendencies infected 98% of the decades mainstream hip hop which followed. Don't even bring up the "still work in progress" The Life Of Pablo which was a train wreck but somehow got a pass from fans and critics alike.

The style Yeezus employed, "having so much space that you insert your own bass/drums as you listen", was everywhere in the '10's, fueling Mumble rap and whatever the fuck 6ix9ine's "Gummo" is considered. As lesser artists followed this surprising trend; hip hop was worse for it. Some artists avoided the trap, like Kendrick Lamar, but RtBE has never warmed to him much and the other artist who dominated the decade who you won't find on this list, Drake never struck a chord either.

Perhaps RtBE will look back in five or so years and be mad we didn't include more hip hop from this decade, but the state of the genre and the lack of truly memorable full length releases lead us to a mostly rock/folk collections for the next 49 records...and unfortunately we can trace that directly back to Kanye's Yeezus. For the good and the bad and the influence it had, this album deserves to start our list


#49  Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards 2010

Jack White was everywhere on our top 50 of the 2000s and he turns up for the first time on this list with the second record from his leather clad rock outfit The Dead Weather. Playing almost as one continual song, Sea Of Cowards addresses the internet with its title as relationship issues flow throughout. A half hour of grimy, sexy rock with the bass and drums at the forefront and Alison Mosshart's howls in your ear like, on the killer effort, "The Difference Between Us".

The record breezes by and tracks "Blue Blood Blues" and "Cut Like A Buffalo" hinted at the hip hop love Jack White would mess around with at the end of the decade on Boarding House Reach. Yet it is the burning "Gasoline" which shows the true sweet spot of this gritty side project.


#48  Dr Dog - Shame Shame 2011
Dr. Dog just keep walking along, making their directly retro loving rock and roll which takes from The BeatlesThe Beach Boys and The Band, and their best release this decade came in the form of Shame, Shame.

They tried to capture their live stage presence on this album and it feels more vibrant because of it. Tracks like "I Only Wear Blue", "Mirror, Mirror" and "Jackie Wants a Black Eye" are all still concert staples and sound great. Standout ode to their hometown of Philly, "Shadow People" is the groups best tune on this solid collection.


#47 Archie Powell & The Exports - Great Ideas In Action 2012

Some of the most engaging power pop of the decade unexpectedly arrived from this Chicago outfit whose second full length release Great Ideas In Action was chock full of catchy tracks that jangled and shook with sweet sounds and great lyrics. "Shooting Spree", "Crazy Pills", "I Need Supervision" and the title number, combine Powell's literary song writing with grooves and swelling riffs as the four piece play with a somehow tempered sense of abandon, teetering on the edge of full on chaos.

While not as well-known as others on this list, it doesn't change the fact these eleven songs still pack a power pop punch eight years removed from their release and always will going forward.


#46 Screaming Females - Ugly 2012

Screaming Females had it all when it came to blasting off live on stage to start the decade but this record was the first time things really clicked on a studio album.

Ugly shows the band doing what it does best, no frills ripping into aggressive rock with punk flairs, via powerful playing from the three piece. The band partnered with Steve Albini for the first time and they quickly hit it off. "It All Means Nothing", "Rotten Apple", "Tell Me No" kick ass, as does the mega riffing snake like "Leave It All Up To Me", but it is "Doom 84" which is RtBE's favorite, capturing the group stretching out a bit and still destroying. This is just the first time the New Brunswick, NJ trio makes the list, as they grew into one of the consistently great rock bands of the decade.


#45 Galactic - Ya-Ka-May 2010

Sometimes  records truly capture the sound of a place in time, such is the case with Galactic's 2010 release Ya-Ka-May. The band themselves played the background supporting role on their own record, yet they brought in a who's who of the New Orleans music scene at the turn of the decade and crafted a perfect sonic snapshot.

For example, Allen Toussaint leads the bubbling “Bacchus” directly before bounce “sissy rapping” stars Katey Red and Sissy Nobby do their booty shaking thang on “Katey vs. Nobby.” Just between those two cuts, which are sequenced next to each other, you span generations, genres, and cultures while bending genders and followings, showing just how diverse the NOLA music scene truly is. RtBE favorite's like The Rebirth Brass BandBig FreediaThe Morning 40 Federation and Trombone Shorty all have guest spots. Shorty's first full length release Backatown just missed this list as it was a fine debut, but Ya-Ka-May does more for the sonic structure by tossing the whole city into Galactic's gumbo.


#44 Dinosaur Jr. - I Bet On Sky 2012

The improbable reunion of Dinosaur Jr.s original lineup continues to this day and back in 2012 they may have released their best album since You're Living All Over Me with I Bet On Sky. Small flourishes like adding in twinkling piano do wonders for the patented thunder of Lou Barlow and Murph behind the airplane engine guitar pedal work from J. Masics.

"Don't Pretend You Didn't Know" uses the new piano accents wonderfully with upbeat strums while "Almost Fare" contains an odd Caribbean influence sounding down right pretty next to their woolly sonic assaults. The whole album cooks but stand out single "Watch The Corners" joins the ranks of the bands best songs. Here's hoping they keep it going into the next decade and beyond. 


#43 Shannon & the Clams - Onion 2018

While Shannon and the Clams released some top notch garage rock in the early part of the decade their pairing with producer Dan Auerbach resulted in the best album of their career, Onion. Like Screaming Females, Auerbach shows up a lot on our list with his playing and his increasingly great levels of producing through his Easy Eye Sound studio.

Using their deeply emotional connection to the Oakland Ghost Ship fire, Shannon & The Clams displayed depth and longing in their songwriting while their playing was enhanced to crisp pop levels by Auerbach's production. Tracks like "I Never Wanted Love" display their 50's surf rock on acid vibe before galloping through "I Leave Again" and drench the ear with sweet organ sounds for "Did You Love Me". The centerpiece anthem "Backstreets" has grown with the band as they continue to stay true themselves and refine their sound to a larger audience.


#42 Tom Waits - Bad As Me 2011
A very solid late career record from Tom Waits, and one which rocks more than a lot of his previous sound collages. The injection of guest spots from Keith RichardsFlea and Les Claypool for a couple of tracks helps out, but it is the core band of Casey Waits on drums, Marc Ribot strumming guitar and Clint Maedgen on sax who control the uptempo flow.

"Chicago" cooks; the slower "Everybody's Talking At The Same Time" is classic Waits while "Satisfied" growls, bangs and struts all over the place. The killer title track is a perfect theme song for the mad howler as he proclaims we are the same kind of bad as him...


#41 Jenny Lewis - The Voyager 2014
While the main producer of this album is facing major issues as the decade ends, Ryan Adams work with Jenny Lewis on the The Voyager resulted in some vintage 70's pop rock.

Dealing with relationships, and the results of one of the hardest periods of her life, Lewis dug deep for these songs. However that deep lyrical pain was mixed with straight up easy going pop rock with a capital "P". There are many hints of past sonic successes, but Lewis manages to own them with floating vocals, lush arraignments and rolling groove. Fleetwood Mac and Tom Petty's sound comes to mind, but Lewis's writing brings it even above those levels on tracks like "You Can't Outrun 'Em" and "She's Not Me". Standout single "Just One Of The Guys" produced by Beck just bounces along to a perfect groove as the excellent observational lyrics almost get lost in the sweetness.


#40 Bombino - Azel 2016

RtBE first caught Bombino back in 2011 and were hooked. He was the first artist we were exposed to with the Turareg sound and we eagerly reviewed all his albums this decade. Azel was our favorite of the bunch as producer Dave Longstreth seemed to be the perfect match for the guitarist and band, bringing out a brightness that had not been present before.

Mixing acoustic/electric and showcasing his Dire Straits love as well as his cultural desert based blues, the record flows wonderfully. Tracks like "Naqqim Dagh Timshar (We Are Left In This Abandoned Place)" and "Igmayagh Dum (My Lover)" show off the crazy strumming style. "Iyat Ninhay/Jaguar (A Great Desert I Saw)" is the best of the bunch, and whether you gravitate towards other Bombino releases or different Turareg players altogether it certainly was a good decade for that group of musicians.


#39 Graveyard Lovers - Dreamers 2013
A local band that we found randomly online, then met randomly in a bar, Graveyard Lovers, Dreamers is a positive blast of blues rock with New Orleans tendencies and New York grit; a perfect combo for RtBE.

“Love and Hunger” displays Tricia Purvis’s powerful drumming while tracks like the title effort and "Dreamers" allow singer/guitar player Zach Reynolds to deliver heartfelt screeds with jangling appeal, just listen to the soaring "You and Me". Each tune is rock solid as the band bangs and strums with aggression, looseness and emotion, a record that still sounds really damn good starting off with the directly stated "Manifesto".



#38 Drive-By Truckers - American Band 2016

This is most certainly a time and place record. A timely and (unfortunately timeless) album from a band that saw the darkness on the horizon while dealing with the shattering effects of gun violence and depression. A perfectly fitting album for fall 2016, leading up to a historic election, DBT summed up feelings well while raging against the proverbial machine.

Not the most joyous album to go back to listen to as tracks like "Ramon Casiano" and "Guns of Umpqua" are frustrating and heartbreaking, but an album that was needed. The most locked in American band during the last twenty years; this album was their most political, their most prophetic and one of their best.


#37 Margo Price - All American Made 2017

While Midwest Farmers Daughter was Margo Price's excellent breakthrough, her follow-up was even better and broadened her sound. Price still had the country and sawdust dripping off her boots, but her and the band had flashes of more Americana/rock/soul than strictly country and it worked for her.

What worked best though was the strength of her songwriting. "Weakness" is an all-time Nashville classic waiting to age, "A Little Pain" ramps up the soul feelings while "Heart of America" is a direct country weeper. Her struggles as a female artist and female in general come to the forefront in the fantastic "Pay Gap" which details blatant inadequacies in a lighthearted Mexcali way, nailing the point. This is all before her stunning duet with Willie Nelson, hell of a record.


#36 Burna Boy - African Giant 2019
Exploring modern sounds with style and nuance, Burna Boy's African Giant is an excellent collection of modern R&B, Reggae, Afro-Beat, Hip Hop and more as Damini Ogulu blends genres throughout this dynamite full length.

He has some guests helping out (ZlatanSkillrexDamian Marley and Angelique Kidjo) but the show is all his as he uses yacht rock sax, flamenco guitars and more to build sonic bridges before his lyrics move from historical tales of injustice to get down sex joints and huge bragging with equal ease. "Dangote", "Destiny" and "Anybody" and the rest are all great as Ogulu manages to sound super cool among the heat of African Giant.


#35 Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty 2010

When this was released way back in 2010 it felt like a natural extension of Big Boi's talents, but also that he was playing it a bit safe, staying close to his Outkast style. In retrospect it is one of the strongest hip hop releases this decade as the genre morphed more than any other over the last ten years and this album sounds better than ever.

On Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty things are good right from the first beats of "Daddy Fat Sax". "Shutterbug" gets down for the Instagram crowd while "General Patton" contains RtBE favorite samples and beats of the decade. Turns out more Outkast flavored hip hop was exactly what was needed...and still is.


#34 Becky Warren - Undesirable 2018
Becky Warren released two rock solid Americana records this decade with both War Surplus and Undesirable, proving she is a songwriter to reckon with and more importantly, listened too.

Personally RtBE loved her more recent release more as she focused on Nashville's homeless and wrote a record inspired by them, but not tied solely to them, as her songs are affecting to anyone who hears a few notes and her powerful voice. From opener "We're All We Got", a fantastic country rocked up ride to the sweet sashaying "Carmen" to the heartbreaking closing duo "Valentine" and "The Drake Motel" Warren delivers on every front. An artist who will hopefully continue and become better known in future decades.


#33 Brittany Howard - Jaime 2019

The Alabama Shakes arrived at the beginning of the decade and seemed like a throwback roots rock band fronted by a powerful singer. The group morphed with some flashes of outer space funk on their second release and then that powerful singer broke out on her own when Brittany Howard released Jaime this year.

While not a perfect record, Jaime is the exhilarating sound of an artist shaking off any expectations, recording and living free in the moment. Prince, P-Funk, the blues, Racism, God, all wrapped up in 2019's modern times. Tracks like "Georgia", "History Repeats" and "Stay High" show off her funky style while "Short and Sweet" brings acoustic intimacy, all backed by her stunning vocal prowess. If your tastes lean towards her first band, we won't quibble, but to RtBE's ears Jaime was Howard's most exciting release this decade.


#32 The Black Keys - El Camino 2011
Dan Auerbach's Easy Eye Studios in Nashville saw a lot of good music written, recorded and produced there. El Camino was the first album Auerbach recorded and produced in the studio and it only went on to sell 1.4 million copies. This record was everywhere in 2011, and lead to bar conversations like, are The Black Keys the biggest band in the world?

At the time it sure felt like it as songs such as "Lonely Boy", "Gold On the Ceiling" and the biggest Led Zeppelin rip ever,  "Little Black Submarines" were featured in every commercial, pre-game show and radio lead in. Truth is, the album went platinum because the songs were relate-able, catchy and the band worked their asses off to get there.


#31 Noun - Holy Hell 2010
While Jack White was all over our 2000's top 50 albums of the decade, Marissa Paternoster is all over this decade as her main act, Screaming Females landed quite a few records on the list, and here is her first solo effort as NounRtBE was lucky enough to interview her when Holy Hell was released in 2010 and it remains one of those records we just kept going back to over and over again as the decade progressed.

Tracks like "Outerspace" "Pearly Gates" and the fantastic "Call Earth" soar, while her lyrics seem less cryptic than those written for Screaming Females, she is more direct such as on the fantastic title track. Support comes from Angie Boylan and Miranda Taylor on drums as well as her SF band mates, but it is the freedom of a solo album which allows Paternoster to add pianos, multi track her guitar work, harmonize with herself and generally break down the punk walls her main band built. Screaming Females would incorporate this sound more as the decade progressed as well but on Holy Hell Paternosters imagery, piano playing, guitar ripping and singing are all top notch.



#30 The War On Drugs - A Deeper Understanding 2018

The War On Drugs are focused around Adam Granduciel's quest for that perfect sound and he delves directly into mid-80's AOR pop with loving homage. While other releases played to mixed results in these ears, A Deeper Understanding was a winner through and through as Granduciel dug into his emotions more with his lyrical work, crafting personal and affecting tunes.

"Up All Night" calls to mind Bruce HornsbyDire Straits and other successful pop bands from the radio day of the mid 80’s, but the whole record sounds glorious and hits hard. Standout "Strangest Thing" recalls the strongest efforts from Bob Dylan around his Infidels/Shot of Love era and moves along gloriously.


#29 Jason Isbell Something More Than Free 2015

One of the best singer/songwriters/all-around artists to emerge into his own this decade, Jason Isbell did so after being thrown out of his favorite band to end the last decade getting sober and finding his true voice. Quite a journey as his song writing style continues to stretch and grow.

Something More Than Free continues Isbell path of moving away from writing solely about his struggles towards story songs and larger landscapes. Reminiscent of a southern Bruce Springsteen with tunes like "24 Frames", "If It Takes A Lifetime" and "Speed Trap Town" which are all scenic, emotional and real, but it is the dynamic title track that puts this collection over the top. Writing about the every man with conviction, amazing vocals, robust songs, ripping guitar, Isbell has it all and continues to be one of the best around.


#28 Leyla McCalla - The Capitalist Blues 2019

Leyla McCalla's excellent The Capitalist Blues shines brightly juxtaposing the gloomy modern day forecast with hope. Music from the Caribbean, classical influences and of course New Orleans flows through it with modern defiance. McCalla manages to capture the 2019 zeitgeist but also stretch back through generations and musical influences delivering a timely and timeless record. 

The title track and "Money Is King" set the tone of rebelling against greed and money driven society while McCalla just as easily sings about (more valuable) emotional connection on "Me and My Baby" and "Oh My Love". Credit must also be given to producer Jimmy Horn and his full King James and The Special Men players who support on the record but this is McCalla's announcement of her solo career in a confident direction.

#27 Gateway District - Perfects Gonna Fail 2011
There is something about this poppy punk record that kept finding its way into our ear buds over the last nine years...it is probably the fact that it rules. Twelve songs, none crossing the three minute mark, each having the ability to worm its way into your brain for days. Minnesota based Gateway District really knocked it out of the park on this album.

While not the most well-known punk band on this list, they certainly are one of the catchiest, as tracks like "Run Away", "Macy" and especially "Leaving Me Behind" all kick major ass, are melodic and have a rock solid spine of bass and drums. Perfects Gonna Fail is a master class in pop punk and an album RtBE will always go back to, very reminiscent of Guitar Romantic by The Exploding Hearts.


#26 Bop English - Constant Bop  2015
James Petralli released a lot of good music this decade with his main band White Denim, but to RtBE ears nothing topped his solo record under the moniker Bop English. It was immediately catchy and delightful topping our list of favorites for 2015.

Each song is joyful pop rock with flashes of 70's glam, 60's folk, '10's modern beats and production, the record is an upbeat winner with songs like "Struck Matches" and "Sentimental Wilderness" bumping forward, propelled by a great bass line. An album that was long in the making for Petralli it was worth the hours put in, as the music flowing out is fantastic.


#25 Dan Auerbach - Waiting on a Song 2017
Another immensely catchy solo album from part of a better known group, Dan Auerbach's Waiting on a Song feels like his first truly Nashville based record, even though he had recorded a few before this at his Easy Eye Sound studios.

Every song has roots and there are links to be heard in each here, but every track also stands up to the lasting test of time. The title is a gem, as is "King Of A One Horse Town". "Never In My Wildest Dreams" incorporates the brass lines and while the homage line gets blurred at times there is no doubting Auerbach was on a tear with his second solo album Waiting On A Song.


#24 Father John Misty - God's Favorite Customer 2018
Josh Tillman found a new alter ego with Father John Misty at the beginning of the decade and crafted some of the most grandiose sing-songwriter tunes in the vein of Harry Nilsson. Bordering on self-parody at times and either a way to be brutally honest or smilingly smug, there is no doubting Tillman's Misty is a must hear going forward.

God's Favorite Customer is his best sounding record, lots of simple acoustic guitar based songs, enhanced with lush arraignments and excellent production. It was much more relatable and a better listen than Pure Comedy (which was a drag) with tracks like the heart wrenching "Please Don't Die", the direct title offering and "Date Night". Misty is at his sharpest when self-examining and he does that from pillar to post on God's Favorite Customer, even when he is in the "poem zone".


#23 Benjamin Booker Benjamin Booker 2014

The raw first release from Benjamin Booker was a jolting dose of retro garage rock with New Orleans grime around the edges. Breathy vocals from Booker, dealing with the city and its odd inhabitants is the back bone of this self-titled release, but the manic playing is the overall lasting draw.

It could have been titled "Violent Shiver" as that is what it delivers. “Wicked Waters”, “Old Hearts” and especially “Have You Seen My Son?” are rambunctious offerings that could ramble off the tracks at any moment, but pull it all back home at the correct time. Driven by pounding drums and heavy guitar strumming, all the tunes are ripping examples of his talent.


#22 Ex Hex - Rips 2014

A cool as hell dose of 60's fuzz garage rock, 80's glam attitude, and power pop that grabs you and won't let go. Rips is a hell of debut record from Ex Hex (Mary Timony – guitar, vocals Betsy Wright – bass guitar and Laura Harris – drums) as the trio deliver the goods on every song.

This is the perfect summer soundtrack as tunes like "Don't Want To Lose", "New Kid" and especially "Radio On" yearn to be shouted out loud from a speeding convertible. A fun rock and roll record from a decade that simply put didn't have enough of them.


#21 Screaming Females - All At Once 2018
The best power trio going, Screaming Females took major song writing and studio recording steps as this decade progressed. All At Once is one of their best as the band flush out spacey rock, heavy beats and ripping arena ready solos around enhanced production and more nuance than they've ever displayed before.

Marissa Paternoster is a superstar on guitar and vocals while Mike Abbate's bass and Jared Dougherty's drums lay the foundation. There are lots of great tunes on this record such as "Agnes Martin" "Soft Domination", "I'll Make You Sorry", "Glass House", "Chamber For Sleep I" and "Chamber For Sleep II" all proving that this band has grown by leaps and bounds, but still retain that DIY ethic which made them so engaging the first time we caught them over ten years ago.


#20 Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 2010
As the decade began Kanye West delivered his magnum opus, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which indulges in all of his best bombastic habits as a track like "Runaway" sums up his life to that moment. He brought in heavyweights like Jay-ZRaekwonRick Ross, producers Mike Dean and RZA and helped elevate/launch the careers of Kid CudiPusha T and Nicki Minaj.

Overloaded, braggadocios, and most importantly delivering incredible songs like "Power", "All The Lights", and the diabolical "Monster". He displayed artistic urges by getting Black Sabbath hopped up on filthy beats during "Hell Of A Life", and sampling everyone from Smokey Robinson to King Crimson, West was never more expressive and successfully wide ranging.


#19 Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah - The Centennial Trilogy 2017
This was RtBEs favorite jazz release from a decade which saw the genre come back into popular listening world more so than any time since the fusion of the 70's. We first came across Scott with his Stretch Music release but The Centennial Trilogy is a bigger and better ball of bad ass.

The three parts are not equal, we enjoy Ruler Rebel and The Emancipation Procrastination much more than the middle Diaspora album, but taken as a whole it is some of the most adventurous and coolest jazz RtBE has ever come across. Written to celebrate 100 years of jazz coming from his hometown of New Orleans, CSaA lived up to the lofty task by combining modern and old school jazz styles with trap drums, hip hop, R&B. Getting some help from the excellent Elena Pinderhughes on flute and Braxton Cook sax work helped elevate the triple album as it is a wonder and worth returning to often.


#18 High on Fire - Electric Messiah 2018

High on Fire released three great metal albums this decade, Electric MessiahLuminiferous and De Vermis Mysteriis (which just missed this list), but Electric Messiah overtook them all. Things are just more moving on the bands full album tribute to Lemmy as tracks like “Spewn from the Earth” and "Freebooter" are speed freak monsters.

HoF keeps it's stoner sound intact as well with “Steps of the Ziggurat / House of Enlil” as it marches and pounds the earth along with other album highlights "God of the Godless" and the killer title track. The last album for the band with drummer Des Kensel and he is the true MVP throughout, wrapping up his High on Fire career with his best playing; one of the most satisfying metal albums of the decade.


#17 Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse 2013
The world lost a hell of a songwriter when Scott Hutchinson passed away in 2018. One of RtBE's biggest regrets for our contribution to the best of 2000's list ten years ago was not putting Frightened Rabbit's Midnight Organ Fight on the list, which is rectified this decade as Pedestrian Verse is a hell of a complete record.

Hutchinson said that it was the bands best album and it is hard to argue as songs like "Backyard Skulls", "Oil Slick", "Acts of Man" and "Holy" are all fantastic as the group became more democratic in their writing process for this record. "Woodpile" is a massive tune that explodes with confidence as this band was at the peak of their powers.


#16 Screaming Females - Rose Mountain 2015
Rose Mountain signaled a change in direction for Screaming Females and it was a positive one. 2012's Ugly seemed to take their raw live sound as far as the studio would allow so the band shifted gears, and producers, working with Matt Bayles who gave them a slightly more metal and polished sound.

The bigger shift was in songwriting though, Marissa Paternoster was dealing with a horrible mono sickness and wrote directly to the experience. In doing so the song writing, lyrics and singing all seemed to fall into place around the strong bass and damn foundation of Mike Abbate and Jarrett Dougherty. Things got somehow prettier with the pain and clicked for the trio. They continued their success on All at Once, but Rose Mountain's half hour plus of ten direct songs (including the excellent "Burning Car", "Empty Head", title track and "Wishing Well") is a tighter example of their slightly updated sound. The band made zero bad albums this decade but Rose Mountain was the peak to RtBE's ears.


#15 Jack White - Lazzaretto 2014
Jack White dismissed hip hop when he was with the White Stripes, but it was only a matter of time that the blues obsessive found his way to the art form. With The Dead Weather he beat on the drums exploring the low end, Lazaretto was his first solo album where the beats were as important (or more so) than the riffs and lyrics.

The title track and "Black Bat Lyrics" are good examples of this shift but White also kicked open the door and wrote successful stripped down numbers ("Want and Able") ripping instrumentals ("High Ball Stepper") country influenced ditties ("Temporary Ground") and dramatic swelling tunes ("Would You Fight For My Love"). White was, and still is, an artist on the move and Lazaretto opened up his sonic palette even wider.


#14 Dr John - Locked Down 2012
A late career gem from Dr. John, who unfortunately passed away earlier this year, Locked Down was one of the best full length releases of his entire recording career. Producer Dan Auerbach got the most of the legend who returned to his original swampy voodoo but also added a post Katrina rage and powerful musical backing.

"Revolution" comes out over a brutally funky baritone saxophone and snapping drums while closer "God's So Good" rejoices in the gospel vibe as Auerbach flashes an Allman Brothers guitar line before backup singers praise the Lord and Dr. John's funky keys flash pure salvation, ending the triumphant album on a joyous note; this release sure is blessed.


#13 Sleater Kinney - No Cities to Love 2015
This was an unexpected comeback from the Northwest trio and a damn great addition to their catalog. No Cities to Love proved Sleater-Kinney had more to say and could do so in exhilarating fashion.

No filler here just great song after great song as "Price Tag", "Fade", "Bury Our Friends", "New Wave", "Hey Darling" and more are all pulsating with energy and classic SK tension. For a band as potent as SK a comeback could be tricky (their follow-up record wasn't as strong to these ears) but on No Cities to Love one of the best American bands of all-time returned triumphantly.


#12 Thurston Moore - Rock N Roll Consciousness 2017

Thurston Moore's long time act imploded at the end of the last decade, but with Sonic Youth's demise he tried a bunch of different avenues (Chelsea Light Movingsolo work etc) with the most successful being his expanded, psychedelic influenced release 2017's Rock N Roll Consciousness.

It is his most relaxed, free ranging, rock and roll work; he and his band just lock in perfectly. The record stretches out over it's five songs, each a joy to listen to (all highlights, but "Turn On" is a personal favorite) as it recalls Moore's best past melodic efforts but also a possible future where these tunes can go on and on forever....which he kind of went for with "Alice Moki & Jane" but that is a different album all together...


#11 Father John Misty - I Love You, Honey Bear! 2015
The breakthrough for Josh Tillman aka Father John Misty, found Tillman blurring the line between raw honesty, humor and pain, all describing his quest for love. Musically the album takes some risks and most work out as Misty/Tillman describes the struggles of relationships large and small.

"Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)" is an amazing tune and fits into the overall thematic structure of the album. The closing run of "Bored In The USA", "Holy Shit" and "I Went to the Store One Day" pulls out for macro then micro, looking at love and modern life with great wit and charm. The fine line between artist, honest person and smug asshole keeps Tillman interesting and makes I Love You, Honey Bear! his most engaging, complete album.


#10 Spoon - They Want My Soul 2014

One of the consistently great rock bands going, Spoon put out an album that ranks up their with their career best as They Want My Soul displays strong song after strong song. Britt Daniel and crew just keep doing what they do best.

From opener "Rent I Pay" until closer "New York Kiss" there isn't a miss among the tracks. "Do You" nails the bass, "Inside Out" amps the keyboards and the strutting "Let Me Be Mine" are top level catchy pop rock. Joe Chiccarelli & especially David Friedman's production should also be noted as he gets extra fuzz, sheen or silence when needed, elevating the whole album. Every record Spoon releases is worth checking out and with They Want My Soul, they compiled one of their greatest.


#9 Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 2 2014

RtBEs favorite hip hop album of the decade came from the duo of Killer Mike and El-P as Run The Jewels. Their second album was a blast of inventive modern beats, unique rhymes and a mixing technical skills, serious social matters and god damn fun tunes.

 "Blockbuster Night Part 1", "Lie, Cheat, Steal", "Crown" and a guest spot from Zack De La Rocha on "Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)" are all dynamite and prove that RTJ were at their creative peak on 2, each song bangs and makes the listener think; a great combo.


#8 Beyonce - Lemonade 2016
The biggest artist of the decade who turned the internet on her ear by releasing albums at a moment's notice, playing over-sized and over analyzed shows, and touring with her slightly less famous husband (twice), Beyonce had a top notch decade. Lemonade is her high water mark; it's the most complete full length and her most personal work to date.

The album came about after B decided to not break up with Jay-Z revolving around tabloid fodder and elevator fights; that passion flows into the songs execution elevating Lemonade. It is a pop/tabloid version of Blood on the Tracks for 2019 but without the finality of divorce. Songs like "Hold Up", "Sorry", "Hurt Yourself" all rage, while more diverse offerings like "Daddy Lessons" gets personal. For a pop artist Beyonce made a compelling full length release that is worth returning to; witness the power of the Queen B.


#7 Jason Isbell - Southeastern 2013
The struggle with sobriety is everywhere in society but when a talented artist cleans up and focuses on his craft it can create something truly special.  Such is the case with Jason Isbell's Southeastern which announced to the world that he was one of the best songwriters alive.

"Cover Me Up" is one of the top songs of the decade and "Elephant" just may be even better as he describes a cancer patient and friend deteriorating. If anything this classic album has grown since its release, as has Isbell's status. Southeastern remains his strongest work from top to bottom, and it is the best Americana/country based albums of the decade.


#6 Titus Andronicus - The Monitor 2010
Patrick Stickles wrote a whole heaping lot during the decade including a triple album rock opera and other records but nothing was a successful as his Civil War meets modern day New Jersey fears and ramblings, titled The Monitor.

The album broke Titus Andronicus onto a national scene with poetic quotes from Walt Whitman and President Lincoln inter-cut with overloaded punk rock/arena ready songs like "A More Perfect Union" and "Too Old Friends and New". The tracks routinely ran longer than eight minutes and crashed into each other producing a messy and exciting full length experience. The titanic closer "The Battle of Hampton Roads" spells out ills and pains with screaming ferocity as it closes a truly stunning record; the enemy is still everywhere.


#5 Japandroids - Celebration Rock 2012
Opening up with fireworks the perfectly titled Celebration Rock was made by the Japandroids with the express purpose of playing exhilarating, upbeat, life affirming, live rock and roll across the globe. The Canadian duo just wanted to make sure they captured their live show spirit and they certainly did by writing the best songs of their career.

Only 8 tunes long but each original glistens with vitality. Opener (post fireworks) "The Night of Wine and Roses", Tom Petty like "Evils Sway", the bombastic "The House That Heaven Built" and really every other song that Brian King and David Prowse wrote works wonderfully. "Younger Us" captures that wild spirit of being young (and fighting to stay young) perfectly, isn't that what the best rock and roll is all about?


#4 Ryan Scully Rough Seven - Give Up Your Dreams 2010
Passionate, that is the term for rock and roll music produced by Ryan Scully and the Rough Seven on their debut Give Up Your Dreams. Having moved on from the drunken bar band Morning 40 Federation, the New Orleans singer songwriter recruited 6 other members to form a psychedelic, noise gospel group.

The results are stunning as Give Up Your Dreams rings with truth, beauty and some ripping tunes. Backup singers Meschiya Lake and Erica Lewis are dynamite on the title track, lead guitarist Rob Cambre rips through "Meltdown" and the aching lyrics and singing from Scully on the finale "Good Outweighs the Bad" is heartbreaking in it's rawness. A personal desert island record for RtBE that somehow combines the best parts of late night yearnings, Sunday morning holiness, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, hope/despair and a constant quest to always get better inside and out; what an album from an outstanding band who should be more well known.


#3 The Black Keys - Brothers 2010
This is a recording that added lyrical weight, musicality and a larger sense of what was possible for The Black Keys at a time when the band was ready to call it quits. Brothers solidified the duo's commitment to each other and propelled them to super-stardom because of the simple fact that it is a great album. The lead single "Tighten Up" had production help from Danger Mouse; however Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach developed Brothers more on their own then past albums and the raw honesty shows.

Efforts like "Everlasting Light", "These Days", "Next Girl" and "Too Afraid To Love You" deal with lose and love in deeper ways than the duo had ever took on before. Life events like divorce and deaths lead hardships to flow through the lyrics. However, they also could still rage with efforts like "Howlin' For You" while they injected a much need dose of bass on songs like "Sinister Kid". The increased instrumentation on the album was vital, as is the flushed out songwriting, making Brothers one of the best rock and roll records released in the last ten years. 

The first solo record from Jack White allowed him to break out of his self-imposed restrictions from his White Stripes days and the results were exhilarating.

Working with artists he hired, White crafted the songs (sometimes writing on the spot) while the lyrics certainly were influenced by his amicable divorce. The end of relationships love and pain are all central lyrical focuses on tracks like "Freedom at 21", "Love Interruption", "Missing Pieces" and the title offering. Musically White was stretching out a bit, but he still rocked with lead guitar lines, pianos and drums and was just starting to move in larger direction.

A cover of Willie Toombs "I'm Shakin'" kicks off with a rockabilly blast, "Hypocritical Kiss" bumps with great bass while album closer puts it all in the mix as "Take Me With You When You Go" sums up the record. The various players all color the record, but this is White's Blue Black and White outing, solidifying him as a major artist no matter what name/band/collection he releases records under.


#1 Arctic Monkey's - AM 2013
The sexiest rock and roll to arrive in eons, the Arctic Monkeys reinvented their sound with this groove heavy collection of amazing tunes. Moving away from their driving guitar pub punk of their earlier successes the group evolved into this late night get down collection of tunes that bumps and grinds wonderfully.

From the killer cover art, to the opening bass and drum hits of "Do I Wanna Know?" until the closing poetic ramblings by Alex Turner quoting John Cooper Clarke on "I Wanna Be Yours" the band is just completely locked in. From the strutting "Mad Sounds" to the slamming drums of "R U Mine?" to the slinky "Why'd You Always Call Me When You're High" to the piano solo shift up mid album "No.1 Party Anthem" the great tunes just keep coming.

Inspired by David BowieThe Velvet UndergroundBlack SabbathDr. Dre, the Arctic Monkeys AM infuses their inspirations but remains a gorgeous slice of late night, get down, grooving rock and roll from the Sheffield quartet.






How'd we do? Agree? Disagree?  Feel free to let us know in the comment section and as always thanks for reading.

Our full list is below with links to the original reviews:

#50 Kanye West - Yeezus 2013
#49  Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards 2010
#48  Dr Dog - Shame Shame 2011
#47 Archie Powell & The Exports - Great Ideas In Action 2012
#46 Screaming Females - Ugly 2012
#45 Galactic - Ya-Ka-May 2010
#44 Dinosaur Jr. - I Bet On Sky 2012
#43 Shannon & the Clams - Onion 2018
#42 Tom Waits - Bad As Me 2011
#41 Jenny Lewis - The Voyager 2014
#40 Bombino - Azel 2016
#39 Graveyard Lovers - Dreamers 2013
#38 Drive-By Truckers - American Band 2016
#37 Margo Price - All American Made 2017
#36 Burna Boy - African Giant 2019
#35 Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty 2010
#34 Becky Warren - Undesirable 2018
#33 Brittany Howard - Jaime 2019
#32 The Black Keys - El Camino 2011
#31 Noun - Holy Hell 2010
#30 The War On Drugs - A Deeper Understanding 2018
#29 Jason Isbell Something More Than Free 2015
#28 Leyla McCalla - The Capitalist Blues 2019
#27 Gateway District - Perfects Gonna Fail 2011
#26 Bop English - Constant Bop  2015
#25 Dan Auerbach - Waiting on a Song 2017
#24 Father John Misty - God's Favorite Customer 2018
#23 Benjamin Booker Benjamin Booker 2014
#22 Ex Hex - Rips 2014
#21 Screaming Females - All At Once 2018
#20 Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 2010
#19 Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah - The Centennial Trilogy 2017
#18 High on Fire - Electric Messiah 2018
#17 Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse 2013
#16 Screaming Females - Rose Mountain 2015
#15 Jack White - Lazzaretto 2014
#14 Dr John - Locked Down 2012
#13 Sleater Kinney - No Cities to Love 2015
#12 Thurston Moore - Rock N Roll Consciousness 2017
#11 Father John Misty - I Love You, Honey Bear! 2015
#10 Spoon - They Want My Soul 2014
#9 Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 2 2014
#8 Beyonce - Lemonade 2016
#7 Jason Isbell - Southeastern 2013
#6 Titus Andronicus - The Monitor 2010
#5 Japandroids - Celebration Rock 201
#4 Ryan Scully Rough Seven - Give Up Your Dreams 2010
#3 The Black Keys - Brothers 2010
#1 Arctic Monkey's - AM 2013

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