3hree Things: My 9 Favorite Albums Of 2010, Vol. 1 of 3

Watch out for 3hree Things every Tuesday, where Riley Breckenridge, drummer of Orange County's favorite local alt-rock band Thrice, gives his take on life in Southern California as an OC native.

I've been writing and publishing “Best/Favorite Of…” lists for music sites and/or blogs for several years, and while it's never all that easy, I found this year to be particularly tough.

As I mentioned in my very first 3hree Things column, my favorite releases in the month of May alone (The Black Keys, The National, Broken Social Scene, Band Of Horses, Sleigh Bells, Deftones) were almost enough to make me feel like I could have filled out most of my less than halfway through the year. 

Usually, I take the easy way out and include a “in no particular
order” disclaimer at the top of my lists because, a) I am a pretty
noncommittal wuss (especially when picking my “favorite” things, and b)
I've never really been able to find a comfortable criteria for ranking
albums. If I were forced to rewrite this list in a month, the albums
might be the same, but the rankings might be pretty different. Perhaps
few of my favorites that didn't make this list; Frightened Rabbit's The Winter Of Mixed Drinks, Aloha's Home Acres, Periphery's Periphery (Instrumental Version), The Dig's Electric Toys, The National's High Violet, and Kyle Kinane's standup comedy album Death Of The Party might find a way to sneak their way on the list.

the next three weeks, I'll attempt to list my 9 Favorite Albums of
2010, knowing full well that as I post Volumes 2 and 3 in the coming
weeks, that I'll probably wish I could rearrange the previous week's
orders. Oh well. I tried to base my rankings on the current number of
total plays and potential replay value. (A criteria I'm still not fully
comfortable with. This is me being noncommittal again.)
So, without further adieu, here's Volume 1 of My Favorite Albums of 2010. 

9) The Black Keys – Brothers
Favorite Track: “Too Afraid To Love You”
I'd always appreciated The Black Keys, but none of their records really captivated me like Brothers has. It's full of hooks, whether they come in the form of vocals, riffs, beats, or production value. The record's catchy as hell, without being base or dopey. (A feat that seems to have become increasingly difficult to achieve.) Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure The Black Keys are catching the usual flack from music snobs that equate success with compromised integrity, suggesting that since they're getting their music featured in commercials, that they've somehow lost something, but I beg to differ. The songs on this record are just straight-up good
and I think their success is a byproduct of that, naysayers be damned.  

8) S. Carey – All We Grow
Favorite Track: “We Fell”
I wrote a little bit about S. Carey in September's “3hree Things: Concert-Goers That I Could Happily Do Without,” but didn't really dig into just how much I love the debut record from Bon Iver's touring drummer. It's a mesmerizing collection of lushly arranged and hauntingly atmospheric songs; the kind of record that you can get absolutely lost in while listening to it on headphones. I did just that, every single night on our Fall tour in Europe and the UK. And since then, I've found myself going back to it over and over when I need an audio escape. Coincidentally, the last record that affected in such a manner was Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago.  

7) Eluvium – Similies

Favorite Track: “The Motion Makes Me Last”

This album was featured in October's “3hree Things: Essential Rainy Day Albums“, and rather than totally rehash what I wrote back then, I'll just reiterate that since its release in February, it's been in heavy rotation regardless of the weather. While some might not consider Similies Matthew Cooper's best work (2004's Lambent Material seems to be regarded as such) it's still an undeniably powerful collection of ambient pieces of music. The piano line in the track above is a testament to the power and beauty of simplicity, and the album is teeming with moments like it; emotive, fairly simple compositions that can either be uplifting or have the power to reduce me to tears, depending on my mood.

Next week, Vol. 2… 

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