10. Athletics - Why Aren't I Home?
Deep Elm Records
From one of our favourite labels of the past 12 months, Athletics' debut full-length is a radiant journey of stirring emotion that sees the New York five-piece producing a mesmerizing record. 'Why Aren't I Home?' proves to be highly consistent and concludes being one of the most overwhelming and warming records of the year. Outstanding.
9. Four Year Strong - Enemy Of The World
Decaydance/Universal Motown Records
With every release, Four Year Strong only seem to be getting better and better. From breakdowns to beatdowns, gang vocals to catchy sing-a-longs. This is everything you expect from a Four Year Strong record and more. With tracks like 'Wasting Time (Eternal Summer') filled with tons of energy, its obvious why the Worcester, Massachusetts group were one of the stand out moments at this year's Slam Dunk Festival.
8. Heartsounds - Until We Surrender
With relentless energy, the Bay Area duo Laura Nichol and Ben Murray made their mark with 'Until We Surrender' and overall saw their label (Epitaph) return to its punk rock roots, as this full-length is a refreshing blast of punk rock, that is truthful both lyrically and musically. Throughout the male-female vocal work compliment each other brilliantly well together, with the stand out track ('The Song Inside Me') being a prime example of this.
7. We Are The Ocean - Cutting Our Teeth
We Are The Ocean are living proof that the UK has some amazing talent. The Essex post-hardcore outfit have really spoiled us this year, with plenty of shows and new material (featured on the 'Cutting Out Teeth' re-release) which makes 2011 even more exciting to look forward to.
6. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Mercury Records/Merge Records
The rise of Canada's Arcade Fire is rather phenomenal; an indie rock band mixed with traditional instruments (violins, horns etc) probably shouldn't be the arena-filling, chart-topping band they are in 2010. Their look and style aren't quite conventional, however with their third album, 'The Suburbs', their progression continued to reach said status, and their ambition equalled this, as the record takes the listener on a dynamic journey. A journey that sees the band taking a nostalgic approach both lyrically (see 'We Used to Wait') and musically ('The Suburbs'), whilst tracks like 'Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)' sees the band taking a futuristic direction, as they make good use of synths and other electronic elements.
5. Snowing - I Could Do Whatever I Wanted If I Wanted
Snowing are a band who cannot be categorized into a genre. Think Pavement, Cap 'N' Jazz and Weezer all in one. The Philadelphia based four-piece have stepped away from the angst and anger of their debut EP, 'Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit' and have written a deeply personal, melodic indie-rock album. The best unsigned band of 2010 without a doubt.
4. Far - At Night We Live
Xtra Mile/Vagrant Records
After a 12 year break, Far made their return in 2010 and as a result made one of the best straight-up rock releases of the year. Its consistent ebb and flow of louder and quieter moments are well-placed throughout. With the title track being its peak; powerful vocals from Jonah Matranga mixed with a strong urgency that you can't help but be drawn into.
3. He Is We - My Forever
Universal Motown/FrameworkNY Records
'My Forever' is without question the best indie-pop record of the year. Rachel Taylor and Trevor Kelly's blend of upbeat lyrics, irresistible melodies just leave you wanting more after one listen of their ten-track debut album. Tracks like 'Forever & Ever' and 'Prove You Wrong' are warming and covered in gorgeous melodies. Keep your eyes peeled next year because 2011 will belong to He Is We.
2. Man Overboard - Real Talk
Run For Cover Records/City of Gold Records
Without a doubt 2010 saw some superb pop-punk releases, with the likes of The Wonder Years, Such Gold and Basement being some of our personal favorites. Nevertheless the one release that left us hooked for months was Man Overboard's 'Real Talk'. With a style that was reminiscent of Saves The Day and early Taking Back Sunday, it is a record that has a good understanding of the genre and sees the four-piece stay true to themselves with stand out tracks like 'Montrose', 'World Favorite' and 'Sidekick'.
1. Circa Survive - Blue Sky Noise
As far as releases go for 2010, Circa Survive really stole the show with, 'Blue Sky Noise'. Just the tracks, 'Get Out' and 'I Felt Free' deserve merit in themselves. From the gentle, immaculate chord progression of 'Spirit Of The Stairwell' to the grand closing number that is 'Dyed in the Wool', 'Blue Sky Noise' is perfect both lyrically and musically and holds no faults.
Words by Jon Ableson and Sean Reid.