Skin Back Alley’s Top Albums of 2014

SBA Top Albums Of 2014-001

Anyone who says that 2014 hasn’t been a great year for music simply isn’t looking – or listening – hard enough. In fact, with each and every year that passes, the late broadcaster John Peel’s answer to the perennial question “What has been the best year for music?” seems more and more appropriate. When asked, he would reportedly answer simply and in that instantly recognisable voice each and every year, “Last year. And the year before that.”

As the debate about digital music distribution continues, and artists and labels argue about the best way to ensure that their music reaches our ears and still makes money, the most forward thinking bands, singers and songwriters are finding their audiences by ever more direct ways and means, and fans old and new are connecting with that music in new and myriad different ways. Putting the commercial aspects of the industry to one side for a moment however, the last 12 months have seen rich pickings for those prepared to seek them out.

So, without further ado, here are the Skin Back Alley picks of the vintage that was 2014. Feast your eyes and ears, and let us know what you think.

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servers_leave_with_us1. SERVERS – Leave With Us
Eschewing the philosophy of heavy for heavy’s sake, Barnsley based kings of cult SERVERS unveiled their remarkable debut album right back at the beginning of the year. Leave With Us arrived in February, indisputably well-crafted and undeniably fully formed, delivering densely layered arrangements that exist in an abrasive rock space, but that never sacrifice melody along the way. Debut single “Universes and Supernovas (The Ride)” set out the band’s stall in its up tempo blast of squally punk attitude, bolted on to a melodic hook that is, well, supernova in size.
Later in the year “Claustrophobia” proved that SERVERS were also capable of off-kilter alternative beauty in the vein of, say, Soundgarden’s cross-over smash “Black Hole Sun.” Collaborator Mark Latham served up an astonishing video to accompany it, too. But it was Leave With Us’ central epic “Dangerous Devotion” that lingered longest in the heart and mind, building in stature through its early verse and chorus until, in one fell swoop, it knocked us off our feet with its string laden coda, melting our faces along the way.
As if that wasn’t enough, the album was meaty of lyric, too. “[Leave With Us] took a dark lyrical context from conversations in the band and an interest in the subservient nature of people, and how cults or individuals can hold such a power over certain people, to the point of killing others or themselves for a cause. It’s both fascinating and terrifying,” said SERVERS in recent interview with Skin Back Alley. Well quite. Add in their post-millennial image of dark, hooded figures lurking in the murky shadows, and SERVERS proved that they were the real deal, here to stay. As Skin Back Alley was wont to say in our album review: “Both future vision AND past nightmare, Leave With Us is a stunning debut album, and in this time of crisis creation, SERVERS are surely the UK’s finest new rock and metal hope.”
Find out more at: Serversband.co.uk

King 810 Memoirs Cover2. King 810 – Memoirs Of A Murderer
If one thing was certain during 2014, it was that everyone in the rock and metal community had an opinion about King 810’s debut, Memoirs Of A Murderer, most of them seemingly negative. It only took a few moments of searching the net to unearth vast swathes of rubbish written about the crew from Flint, Michigan, who made a heavy, groove-laden, monumental metal racket, spitting lyrics that concerned gun crime, death, the downtrodden and dispossessed, hard lives and even harder hearts.
But accusations of bravado and the glamorising of murder and guns were, to these ears, hugely wide of the mark. Memoirs… certainly does not exist to shout “Look at me! Aren’t I clever and cool with a gun in my pocket!” As Skin Back Alley noted in its piece on the LP, the album “…does not boast or beautify. No, this album is run through with dread, fear, regret, the hardening of hearts and the sure knowledge that to be prepared and carry a gun is to become something less than human at the same time as being the only way to survive.”
Frontman and chief songwriter David Gunn revealed himself to be a master poet and lyricist in his missives which were presented as if they were the recorded memoirs of the album’s title, and an expert in delivering them in shocking, vivid, venomous and brilliantly realised vignettes. If defined as something creative that gets under your skin and makes you reconsider your world view, then Memoirs Of A Murderer proved itself to be nothing short of art.
Find out more at: King810.com

Birds Of Satan3. The Birds Of Satan – The Birds Of Satan
By the time November of this year rolled around, the world of rock was all about one band. You couldn’t open a magazine, navigate to a website or switch on HBO without hearing mention of Sonic Highways, the new album (and documentary series) from Foo Fighters. But whilst Skin Back Alley remained ever so slightly underwhelmed by Grohl & Co’s eighth LP, it was his stick wielding colleague, drummer Taylor Hawkins, who delivered the real rock gold back in April.
Teaming up with guitarist Mick Murphy (of My Ruin, Neanderthal and Chevy Metal fame) and bassist Wiley Hodgden (also a Chevy Metal alumnus), The Birds Of Satan delivered a boundary-hopping, rule-breaking, category-defying rock n’ roll masterpiece.
The chemistry evident on the band’s eponymous debut was undeniable, the three men (with a little help from their friends) hopping, skipping and jumping through select styles with a vintage sound that was full of unabashed joy. Murphy’s guitar wrangling was particularly impressive, providing several of the LPs high points in the tones, textures, rhythms and solos that propel the album along.
Consistently talked about in the press as a Hawkins side-project, the album felt far more substantial than that. As Skin Back Alley noted at the time of release: “…Contrary to popular belief, the Devil doesn’t have all the best tunes. Take a stroll over to his aviary, however, and you might just find them there.”
The band remained fairly low-key for the rest of the year, with just fleeting live performances and a couple of TV spots on US talk show Last Call With Carson Daly. A new, non-album track “Be The Bird” slipped out with literally no warning in September, and all has been quiet on the Western front since. Nevertheless, even if this gem of a record proves to be a one-off, you make damn sure you acquaint yourself with it, and sooner rather than later.
Find out more at: Thebirdsofsatan.com

Matt Woods - Brushy Full Size4. Matt Woods – With Love From Brushy Mountain
In a post-modern world, notions of the ‘real’ and the ‘authentic’ fall by the wayside. Thank goodness then for Matt Woods and his album With Love From Brushy Mountain, released in the Spring. Woods’ second LP delivered a rich slab of ‘real’ Americana straight from the heart of Knoxville, Tennessee, mesmerising us in the process.
“I write what is ready to come out and try to be as honest as I can about it,” says Woods of his songs. “A lot of my songs are very much based in classic Country music while others are grounded in straight forward and greasy rock’n’roll.” Yes indeed, and they always seem to arrive with wonderful results.
“If there’s a finer example of a musician bleeding on to record, we’ve yet to hear it,” we noted in our review, and whilst there is nothing brazen or flashy about Woods’ songwriting or musicianship, there is an astonishing amount of the highest quality. You may have guessed that at Skin Back Alley we very much fell in love with With Love From Brushy Mountain.
Find out more at: Therealmattwoods.com

Then Thickens - Death Cap at Anglezarke5. Then Thickens – Deathcap At Anglezarke
On the other side of the Pennines, alternative rock magic was hard at work in the Chorley borough of Anglezarke. A sparsely populated area of Lancashire dominated by open country and a reservoir, the parish proved to be fertile ground for the imagination of Then Thickens. Their resulting debut album as a six-piece was a masterful and atmospheric slice of hazy indie-rock.
Mixing the melodic grunge stylings of the likes of Weezer with a peculiarly British sensibility, Death Cap… delivers an existential Thoreau-esque treatise on growing up in the more rural confines of contemporary England. A heady brew that takes in fuzzed-up guitar, ethereal synth, pounding drums and spectral vocals, Then Thickens’ brand of melodic, mellifluous and yet rough-hewn rock and roll stayed long in the memory.
Chief architect Jon-Lee Martin said in interview with Skin Back Alley: “The songs were kind of put together at random for the record… There wasn’t really much lineage to the choices of the songs.” And yet, serendipitously or otherwise, that overarching sense of returning to the self remained. The group have been back in the studio recently, hard at work on the follow up. We can’t wait to hear the results.
Find out more at: Facebook.com/thenthickens

Miss Shevaughn - LITW6. Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray – Lean Into The Wind
A fine collection of beautifully crafted Cosmic American Music, husband and wife duo Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray’s album Lean Into The Wind seems to inhabit the very essence of the term coined by Americana pioneer Gram Parsons.
Both emotionally and politically charged, the music on display runs the gamut from Byrdsian psychedelic jangle, through Appalachian folk textures, past a raucous garage clatter and on to greasier, rockier ground.
“Don’t you cast your eyes down,” implores Miss Shevaughn in album closer “Brush The Dust Off (Lean Into The Wind)”, “Don’t you heed what they say…. Darlin’ you need somewhere to fly. Lean into the wind, we gotta’ keep movin’.”
“It might be natural to wonder who she is singing to following a diagnosis of cervical cancer in January 2013. Is it us, or herself?” we wondered in our review. In the end it didn’t really matter, for here are artists who know what it means to follow your dreams regardless of what may be around the corner.
Find out more at: Missshevaughnyumawray.com

Marmozets Cover7. Marmozets – The Weird & Wonderful Marmozets
The sheer breadth and depth of talent bursting out of Yorkshire and rampaging across the globe this year was phenomenal. In at the heavier end of the vibrant spectrum were Marmozets. Weird & Wonderful? You can count on it. The band’s debut album, released via Roadrunner later in the year, was rightly seized upon by the major music press as a remarkable slab of molten maths metal, rife with huge, crackling stop-start riffs and the agile stylings of frontwoman Becca McIntyre, who proved perfectly capable of shifting between splenetic rage one moment and soaring melody the next.
If anyone had anything contrary to say about the LP it was that it seemed ever so slightly more tame than Marmozets’ legendary live shows that they had been laying on for years prior to being scooped up by a major. But to these ears that mattered not one jot, as it simply refined their sound and showed that the northern upstarts were capable of painting a broad and complex canvas that fired the imagination as much as the heart and hips.
Find out more at: Marmozets.co.uk

Cloud Atlas Beyond The Vale Cover8. Cloud Atlas – Beyond The Vale
Far from being a long extinct dinosaur from a forgotten age, progressive rock proved that in 2014 it is alive, well and still exploring music’s fantastic and expansive outer reaches in fine style. Proof of the fact came in the debut album from Cloud Atlas, the York based band that rose like the proverbial Phoenix from the ashes of previous outfit Stolen Earth.
Questing to realise her singular vision with her own band, head honcho Heidi Widdop set her controls for the heart of the sun, delivering an epic set of songs that tackled subjects metaphorical and philosophical, set against a backdrop of sublime instrumentation from guitarist Martin Ledger, Dave Randall on keys, Stuart Carver on bass and Neil Scott on percussion.
At the forefront of all this was Widdop herself, her astonishing vocals holding the whole thing together like a female version of Soundagarden’s Chris Cornell: all guttural and gritty power combined with exquisite and expert control. Elegantly simple in sound but achingly complex in scope, Beyond The Vale was a real highlight of the latter part of the year.
Find out more at: Cloudatlas.org.uk

Machine Head Bloodstone and Diamonds9. Machine Head – Bloodstone & Diamonds
Alarm bells began to ring earlier this year when Bay Area veterans Machine Head announced that they were cancelling tour dates in order to spend more time in the studio refining their new album. Mainman Robb Flynn talked in terms of knowing that the band had something special and wanting to ensure that it got the attention it deserved. Nevertheless, journos and public alike were wont to wonder.
As it transpired, doubters needn’t have worried. On its release, Bloodstone & Diamonds proved to be something of a mainstream metal instant classic, bringing together everything that Machine Head have done so well for over two decades.
Punishing riffs and gargantuan grooves abounded across the album’s running time, alongside more experimental touches and textures, combining to deliver an immensely satisfying whole that deserved every plaudit it received.
“This is the finest mainstream metal album of 2014 by a huge margin” wrote seasoned metal scribe Dom Lawson in his Guardian review. Agreed, Dominic. Agreed.
Find out more at: Machinehead1.com

Acrania-Totalitarian-Dystopia10. Acrania – Totalitarian Dystopia
“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever” wrote George Orwell in his literary classic, Nineteen Eighty-Four. And now, thanks to the UK’s extreme metal crew Acrania, you know what that future sounds like.
Not for the faint of heart, Totalitarian Dystopia does exactly what it says on the tin, tackling head-on the theme of a totalitarian state endlessly and needlessly crushing the individuality and freedom out of every human soul with unimpeded impunity.
As loud as an erupting volcano, as heavy as a planet and as dense as a black hole, anyone who listened was likely left a gibbering wreck, but the ride proved as thrilling as it did bruising. For those with a taste for the far reaching extremes of heavy music, there was no finer example released this year.
Find out more at: Facebook.com/acraniauk

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Honourable mentions need to go to those albums that have been sitting just outside of our Top 10, but have nevertheless made a significant impression over the past 12 months and spent a great deal of time on the Skin Back Alley stereo:

Distorted Harmony and their brilliant LP Chain Reaction have kept us in contemporary prog rapture for a large part of the year; Amaranthe delivered the best album of their career in Massive Addictive, which did exactly what it said on the tin; Sanctorum’s new full length Old Ghosts/New Wars served up a thrashtastic slice of metal that got its full roadtest on tour with My Ruin in August; Million Empire’s new EP The Lion Tamer proved to be a brilliant slice of alt-rock from Brum; Christina Rubino crafted a life-affirming work of singer-songwriter genius in her (A)Live From The Scrapheap LP which will be the subject of a future article here at SBA; Gandalf’s Fist created Jim Henson’s Labyrinth in prog-rock form with their woodland fantasy A Forest Of Fey; Matty Rockville harked back to prime-era 90’s REM with his gem of a record Chestnut Ave; Sister Sin’s fifth studio album Black Lotus had us pumping fists and playing air guitar like we were in Skid Row; Black Veil Brides’ self titled new release had us praising their songcraft and Bob Rock’s production to all who would listen; Nikki Lane’s All Or Nothin’, John Kilzer’s Hide Away and M.Lockwood Porter’s 27 had us drinking at the well of Americana that somehow never seems to dry up; and finally Panic Room’s new album Incarnate had us soaring on the wings of Anne Marie Helder’s wonderful voice and new guitarist Adam O’Sullivan’s extraordinary solos.

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Bruce Springsteen’s albums from worst to best

Springsteen Portrait 2012 V2

To commemorate 30 years since the release of Born In The USA, the UK’s Telegraph music critic, author and pundit, Neil McCormick has pulled together a list of Bruce Springsteen’s albums, ranking them all from worst to best.

As McCormick acknowledges in his article, all things Springsteen are relative: The Boss’ worst are often better than others’ best. As declared devotees of Springsteen’s music here at Skin Back Alley, we’d take exception with some of McCormick’s ordering (Wrecking Ball at No.3? Really?!) but would definitely agree with his No.1 choice.

As the Telegraph’s intro editorial notes about Born In The USA: “…its mix of anthemic socio-political rock and songs of personal struggle, bolstered with snappy pop melodies and dynamic production, helped to make it the biggest selling album in the world in the year of its release. With more than 30 million satisfied customers to date, it remains the biggest selling of his long career. But is it really his best ever?”

McCormick clearly doesn’t think so. He ranks all 18 of the New Jersey-ites albums as follows:

18: Human Touch (1992)
17: High Hopes (2014)
16: Lucky Town (1992)
15: Working On A Dream (2009)
14: Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ (1973)
13: Devils & Dust (2005)
12: Magic (2007)
11: We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (2006)
10: The Ghost Of Tom Joad (1995)
09: The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle (1973)
08: Tunnel Of Love (1987)
07: The River (1980)
06: Nebraska (1982)
05: The Rising (2002)
04: Born In the USA (1984)
03: Wrecking Ball (2012)
02: Born To Run (1975)
01: Darkness On The Edge Of Town (1978)

Says McCormick of his choice of Darkness On The Edge Of Town as The Boss’ best work: “It’s a kind of concept album of American failure, life in the “Badlands”, where “Adam Raised A Cain”, where wasted youth are “Racing In The Streets”, staging failed escapes in search of “Something In The Night”… It is his first great work of maturity. Everything that Springsteen has achieved since is signposted on this masterful collection.”

Read McCormick’s thoughts on each and every album here. What do you think of his rankings? Comment below or send us an e-mail and let us know!

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Skin Back Alley’s Top Albums of 2013

2013 has been a fine year for music. It started with a bang in January, when David Bowie surprised everyone on the planet by releasing a new single – and then album – without having made any prior announcements. Beyonce pulled off the same trick just last week, proving that’s she’s not averse to pinching ideas with pride. But rather than huge pop releases from the likes of Katy Perry or Lady GaGa, it has felt as though the real gold has been found around the fringes, away from the monumental marketing budgets, proving that the death of the music ‘business’ certainly doesn’t mean the death of great music. Below you’ll find our favourites from the past year. As ever, let us know what you think, and which artists and albums have been tuning you in and turning you on.

My Ruin The Sacred Mood1. My Ruin – The Sacred Mood
In recent years My Ruin have had one hell of a ride. Hugely promising beginnings, great albums, ups, downs, mistreatment at the hands of music labels and near death experiences. All of which makes it even more extraordinary that they are still here, let alone that 2013 saw them release the finest album of their career. With The Sacred Mood, My Ruin delivered a slab of molten metal that sounded like a band well and truly in control of their craft. Here were artists creating something recognisably their own, but with new depths and textures previously uncharted. Mick Murphy’s guitar is dextrous and deadly, inventive and involving, ably augmented by Luciano Ferrea’s heavy bass workouts. And Tairrie B has never sounded more beguiling. Her trademark mix of honeyed spoken word and splintering metal screams delivered a dark poetry that touched on themes of death, rebirth, stamina and survival. If ever there was a metal band deserving of wider recognition, then My Ruin are it. We wait with baited breath to see how they take on 2014.
Buy it at: Amazon or iTunes | Read our 5/5 album review: here

BATINTE2. Baby Animals – This Is Not The End
Survival and triumphant return were also themes of Baby Animals’ first album of new material in 20 years, the aptly titled This Is Not The End. Suze DeMarchi and co. were well on their way to global domination in the 1990s before circumstances intervened and the band seemed to go out with a whisper rather than a scream. Never fear, for May saw the release of a barnstorming new album packed to the rafters with just the sort of high-octane rock n’ roll that the band’s supporters have been longing to hear. DeMarchi’s pipes sounded as strong as they ever have, and Dave Leslie’s guitar work was in rude health too. In Invisible Dreamer they reached dynamic new heights in their song-craft, carving out an epic centre that pinned together a quality collection. The imminent release of a new live DVD should have fans around the world baying for more.
Buy it at: Social Family Records | Read more about our love for Baby Animals: here

HWTH3. Holly Williams – The Highway
Column inches about Holly Williams have tended to focus on her family history. Perhaps understandably, as in the firmament of American music they don’t come any more prestigious than Hanks Jr or Sr. But in 2013 it was the sound of Holly’s album, The Highway, that had us enthralled. As her soulful, smoky voice navigated the terrain of relationships gone awry, the emotional push and pull of the heart and yes – how she explores and interprets her own heritage as part of American music royalty – the hairs on the back of our necks stood on end as they realised this was the sound of an extraordinary talent all of its own. Vivid stories and a wonderful way with a melody cemented The Highway as one of the highlights of the year.
Buy it at: Amazon or iTunes

LGIYW4. London Grammar – If You Wait
Those who were inclined to be skeptical about ‘the next big thing’ were forced to eat their words upon the release of London Grammar’s eagerly anticipated debut album. If You Wait presented a very fine brand of intimate and minimal pop over which Hannah Reid’s voice soared like the proverbial eagle. At once sounding both classic and yet utterly contemporary, the overall effect was bewitching, and in single Strong, the band had created a heart-stopping beauty of a song that was enough to make anyone forget the world around them for 3 minutes at a time. The trio rounded out the year with a series of shows that had all in thrall. Highly recommended.
Buy it at: Amazon or iTunes

TJWH5. Tony Joe White – Hoodoo
Tony Joe White proved in 2013 that if you spend all your time paying attention to nothing but the newcomers, you’ll miss some of the finest music being made. In Hoodoo, the septuagenarian guitarist and singer released a never less than engaging swampy, atmospheric album of blues numbers featuring plenty of his trademark guitar fluidity and Louisiana drawl. There were also touches of gospel and country, and lyrics concerned with big themes of darkness, danger and spiritual ambiguity. Recorded largely in first takes, live and direct to tape, the album was proof that you don’t need to work in the digital domain to create moody, affecting masterpieces. Although perhaps 50 odd years of writing and recording experience helps.
Buy it at: Amazon or iTunes

Honourable mentions for: Anna Calvi’s One Breath, Lindi Ortega’s Tin Star, Fuck Buttons’ Slow Focus, Savages’ Silence Yourself, Kurt Vile’s Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze, Alter Bridge’s Fortress and David Bowie’s The Next Day.

25 Best Albums of 2010

It’s funny how your perception of the music released during any given period of time can change from moment to moment. 2009 seemed like a bumper year for music. There were many new bands to discover and other that simply hadn’t been listened to before. At the end of the year there were spoils aplenty to choose from.

On initial reflection, great music in 2010 has seemed a little harder to come by. The year certainly hadn’t felt like the series of epiphanies experienced in 2009. Nevertheless, a trawl through the memory banks demonstrates that there is still plenty that is worthy of note.

So although a little later than your favourite music magazines, sites and blogs, here are Skin Back Alley’s favourites in all their glory. No voting system. No points scoring. Just a list of our most listened to albums of 2010.

1. Flamingo, Brandon Flowers
2. Heaven Is Whenever, The Hold Steady
3. Treats, Sleigh Bells
4. American Slang, The Gaslight Anthem
5. Have One On Me, Joanna Newsom
6. Acolyte, Delphic
7. The Final Frontier, Iron Maiden
8. Archandroid, Janelle Monae
9. The Drums, The Drums
10. Lights, Ellie Goulding
11. The Boxer, Kele
12. Li(f)e, Sage Francis
13. Loud, Rihanna
14. Infinite Arms, Band Of Horses
15. Sea Of Cowards, The Dead Weather
16. Plastic Beach, Gorillaz
17. Surfing The Void, Klaxons
18. Hidden, These New Puritans
19. Crystal Castles, Crystal Castles
20. The Optimist, New Young Pony Club
21. Are The Roaring Night, The Besnard Lakes
22. Odd Blood, Yeasayer
23. High Violet, The National
24. Quarantine The Past, Pavement
25. Come Around Sundown, Kings Of Leon

Those who know the prejudices of this site well will be asking “What? In a year when Bruce Springsteen released an album it doesn’t feature in your favourites?” Well, no. It doesn’t. The Promise may have been the mother load for fans, but it didn’t completely capture the imagination this year. But there is much to admire therein.

Honourable mentions must also go to Relayted by Gayngs and This Is Happening by LCD Soundsystem that find themselves just outside of the top 25. Others have been enjoyed but haven’t lodged themselves in the consciousness in quite the same way.

Disagree with us? Want to mention your own favourite or list of loved albums? Let us know what you’re thinking by commenting or getting in touch via e-mail. 2011 is shaping up nicely. See you here this time next year.

Buy the Skin Back Alley top 25 of 2010 at the SBA Music Store.

The Best of 2010 so far…



It seems that music journalists are increasingly turning to creating ‘halfway’ lists of their favourite music released during the year so far. Perhaps it is seen as a way of offering something different to the traditional end of year roundup. Perhaps they just like creating lists. Either way, here are three of them with – it has to be said – very little consensus:

NMEs 50 best albums of the year so far:

  1. I Speak Because I Can, Laura Marling
  2. I’m New Here, Gil Scott-Heron
  3. Relayted, Gayngs
  4. Total Life Forever, Foals
  5. Cosmogramma, Flying Lotus
  6. Field Music: Measure, Field Music
  7. Diamond Eyes, Deftones
  8. There Is No Enemy, Built To Spill
  9. Becoming A Jackal, Villagers
  10. Infinite Arms, Band of Horses

And you can see the next 40 albums in the list here at NME.

John Mulvey’s (of Uncut magazine) 2010 Half Time Report:

  1. Avi Buffalo, Avi Buffalo
  2. Destroyer Of The Void, Blitzen Trapper
  3. The Wonder Show Of The World, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & the Cairo Gang
  4. Rough Travel For A Rare Thing, Bill Callahan
  5. Pass It On, Carlton Melton
  6. Ali & Toumani, Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate
  7. Fool’s Gold, Fool’s Gold
  8. There Is Love In You, Four Tet
  9. Root Work, Hiss Golden Messenger
  10. One Life Stand, Hot Chip

And you can see the next 20 albums on the list here at Uncut.

Metacritics Midyear Report, The Best Reviewed Albums of 2010 so far:

  1. Archandroid, Janelle Monae
  2. Ali & Toumani, Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate
  3. Homeland, Laurie Anderson
  4. Assume Crash Position, Konono No.1
  5. Cosmogramma, Flying Lotus
  6. Have One On Me, Joanna Newsom
  7. How I Got Over, The Roots
  8. Wake Up The Nation, Paul Weller
  9. Option Paralysis, The Dillinger Escape Plan
  10. Before Today, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

And you can read the remainder of the list here at Metacritic.

You can buy the albums featured in this article from The Skin Back Alley Music Store.