Words: David Amidon, Taylor Catalana, James Emerson, Kathryn Freund, Bryant Kitching, Doug Knickrehm, James Passarelli, Asif Siddiqi, & Ryan Waring

The following was published in the January, 2011 issue.  Numbers 50-11 include an embedment of one of our favorite tracks from each album, and Numbers 10-1 include the entire embedded album.  Each album also includes a “Buy Album” link that will direct you to an outlet from which you can purchase it.  Click on the cover for a larger image.  Tedious posting labor supplied by Patrick and James Passarelli.

Did the decade end after 2009 or 2010?  I have a friend who swears that we have all been beginning and ending our decade best lists a year too early. Let’s be real, though. Who really cares? Birds are dropping left and right. Fish are dropping north and south. Penguins are even dropping east and west. Homeless folks are the new Paris Hilton (not my call). The world will probably/definitely end before 2012. Can we take the year for what it’s worth then? 2010 is 2010, and let’s please leave it at that. So whether are not you’re anticipating a decade-long list, get real. Each month is a precious gem as we near that fateful day (12/21/12), and the fact that we’re taking the time to give you the full year in perspective should mean a lot. A LOT! So without further ado, the Inflatable Ferret’s Top 50 Albums of 2010…

50. Effi Briest – Rhizomes

The first of a handful of stunning debuts on our list, Rhizomes boasts the all-female band’s post-rock versatility.  Hazy surf rock guitars and galloping drums work surprisingly well in Rhizomes’ bleak milieu, and lead singer Kelsey Barrett’s unoiled screeches compete with her eerie instrumental surroundings in a delightful struggle. – JP

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“Long Shadow”

49. Suckers – Wild Smile

Describing Suckers’ melodies as swirling seems like just the kind of thing at which the smug mandrill that graces this album’s cover would scoff.  But I’m hard-pressed to find a more appropriate adjective.  Maybe bubbling, or jovial, or, waylaying, or, better yet, simian.  But for now, I’ll stick with swirling and accept that colorful bastard’s cold stare. – JP

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“Before Your Birthday Ends”

48. The Walkmen – Lisbon

The Walkmen followed up 2008’s inspired You & Me with the slightly dialed down and mellow Lisbon.  Tracks like “Stranded” and “When Is Shovel Snow” showed the group settling into a groove and refining their new sound. In doing so, The Walkmen emerged as one of the remaining relevant bands from the post-punk boom in the early 2000’s. – BK

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47. Chromeo – Business Casual

Montreal’s most ductile duo pandered to our deepest and most synthetic desires this year with ten different, delectable tracks ranging from nightclub romantic extravagance (“When the Night Falls”) to 80s-tinged manner manifestos (“Grow Up”).  Although, to be fair, any one of these songs belongs in a nightclub.  I might even deem it Catchiest Album of the Year if I didn’t think that would cheapen it. – JP

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“When the Night Falls”

46. Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part II

Return of the Ankh is not a revolutionary album, and in that respect, it might be a disappointment to fans of Part I. But whenever summer comes around the corner, it’s “Get MuNNY” banging out the box with the windows down, or “Strawberry Incense” winding down a long, smokey night by the fire pit that will define Part II‘s legacy. Until those sunny days come, I’ll listen anyway. This woman is by far R&B’s most consistent gold mine. – DA

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“Turn Me Away (Get MuNNY)”

45. Blitzen Trapper – Destroyer of the Void

The Portland eclectics built on the wild success of 2008’s Furr, blending hazy folk with pungent guitar riffs and playful keys.  Destroyer winds through various time changes and styles without ever really settling down.  And the brightest spot of the musical bivouackers, as usual, is Eric Earley imparting inscrutable aphorisms like “if you learn one thing from me, you better guard your tongue like your enemy.” – JP

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“The Man Who Would Speak True”

44. Seu Jorge & Almaz – Seu Jorge & Almaz

Seu Jorge released his first album with backing band Almaz just a few months after turning 40, and his maturity is wonderfully evident.  Calm, collected, spacey guitar lines mesh with lazy drum patterns form Jorge’s fresh take on samba, and his deep, earthy voice emanates with the same sultry power that earned him the role of Knockout Ned in Fernando Meirelles’ brilliant film City of God. – JP

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“Everybody Loves the Sunshine”

43. Curren$y – Pilot Talk II

The Jet founder, Curren$y, wasted no time releasing the sequel to the critically acclaimed Pilot Talk in November.   PT1 was marked by a more aggressive flow; the hot Spitta returns to his roots of “sounding best over beats that’s breezy” on PT2.  Almost every song glides through the air, usually with horns or a funky bass line like.  From beginning to end, Curren$y takes the listener high into the clouds for one of his best flights. – DK

Buy Album

“Real Estates”

42. Die Antwoord – $O$

Irreverent, disgusting, and absolutely hilarious, Die Antwoord’s $O$ is anything but boring. You may be offended by their lyrics or embrace their cheeky, “fuck you, haters” vibe. Either way, $O$ is an hour of some of the most entertaining nonsense you’ve ever heard.  In the end, it may actually have a more thoughtful message for us all, beneath its layers of glorified absurdity: stop taking life so fokken seriously.
– KF

Buy Album

“Enter the Ninja”

41. Little Women – Throat

Little Women use instruments in ways that Apollo never intended.  In seven roman numerically named movements, the Brooklyn quartet look to eliminate consonance from their musical dictionary.  Andrew Smiley’s racing guitar and Darius Jones’ and Travis Laplante’s shrill, contorting saxophones make Ornette Coleman sound like David Sanborn in the freest jazz I’ve ever heard.  Condemn this as shock-factor art jazz garbage if you will, but that won’t make me stop loving it. – JP

Buy Album

“Throat IV”

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DA: Just a little note for anyone using the “Breakfast” link to sample Pilot Talk I, that’s the original mixtape version without co-production by Ski Beatz. The album version takes the sample loop and asks a live band to replay it, as well as extending the trumpet/saxophone and bass playing across the whole verse rather than a simple 4 bar loop. Some people prefer the original version linked here, I personally prefer the remix by a whole lot. Both are great, though, and the lyrics don’t change.

Nodima added these pithy words on Jan 30 11 at 9:50 pm

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