Time flies when you’re having fun, huh? The 2010s have pretty much flown by, presenting us – the listener – with so many seismic shifts in trends and technology that it’s become difficult to keep up. We’ve seen so much come and go over the last ten years, from dubstep and vaporwave to a resurgence in garage rock and a continuation of the age old “rock is dead” debate. Yet one thing has remained a constant: good music. Here at All Things Loud we’ve spent the last few months putting together a list of the decade’s 100 best albums. Today, we kick things off with the records that hold spots 100 through 81, from crushing metalcore and yacht rock through to absurd post-punk and introverted love songs.
100 Thundercat – Drunk
Los Angeles multi-instrumentalist and musical centipede Thundercat doesn’t seem to have an off button when it comes to providing music for and collaborating with renowned artists. From Childish Gambino and Erykah Badu to Mac Miller and Kamasi Washington, the Californian artist’s imprint is practically unavoidable. When it comes to his solo work, however, he’s less prolific. Drunk is his third collection of music, and it certainly serves as his best offering too. From its immaculately constructed grooves to its soulful vocals, Drunk is a defining statement by an artist whose time in the shadows greatly outweighs his time in the limelight. Furthermore, if lead single Them Changes doesn’t get you moving, then nothing else will. If you’re not familiar with Thundercat just yet, then change that as soon as you can.
99 The Strokes – Angles
Let’s get one thing out of the way before we continue: The Strokes are not what they used to be, and that’s totally fine. Julian Casablancas and co. used to be the hottest band in the world, on the tip of every indie critic tongue and top of every festival bill. And although they’re still the latter, it’s safe to say that breakthrough record Is This It is, well, untouchable. 2011’s Angles is the closest that the New Yorkers ever came to replicating their glory days, putting out a short but sweet collection of straight up, balls to the wall indie rock with enough flair and experimentalism to set them apart from the rest. Whether it be the happy-go-lucky fan favourite Gratisfaction, indie disco banger Under Cover of Darkness or rhythmic Machu Picchu, Angles felt like a breath of fresh air for both The Strokes and its long-suffering fans.
98 Viagra Boys – Street Worms
What a name, huh? Aside from having their name altered in press emails and making sure that people feel uneasy when mentioning them, Stockholm’s Viagra Boys do make some absolutely incredible music. The name, just as its origin suggests, is more than a slice of enticing bait. That’s because there aren’t many bands out there right now who are able to replicate the pure madness Viagra Boys demonstrate on their batshit debut, Street Worms. Over the course of nine borderline mental songs, the Swedes allow the listener to bathe in what sounds like the musical version of a dive bar orgy. Opener Down in the Basement instantly sets the tone, maintaining pace as frontman Sebastian Murphy wails and splutters his way through proceedings. Sports, on the other hand, reigns things in ever so slightly as Murphy loses his mind over different sports and other facets of human enjoyment. It isn’t until the ballistic Shrimp Shack, though, that Street Worms hits peak madness (“I’m surfing with your mom, in the dirt“) and Viagra Boys really come into their own. Not that this is a hard breakthrough to spot, however, as Street Worms is one hell of a trip from start to finish. If the record doesn’t leave you wondering what the hell you just listened to, then you’re doing it wrong.
97 Street Sects – End Position
The 2010s have been very kind to industrial noise rock, but that alone wasn’t enough for Street Sects. Where many will stop at noise, these Texans continue by employing the subtlest hints of grindcore, experimental metal and plunderphonics. As you’ll come to discover over the next few days, we’re suckers for albums which not only think outside of the box but which also go as far as to provoke the thoughts of the listener. End Position is one such album, and it leaves you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
96 Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues
There’s far more to Jimmy Eat World than seminal hit The Middle, even if it’s secretly still a big factor in why they remain so popular. Another reason as to why they’re still so renowned is 2016’s Integrity Blues, an album which finally cut ties between The Middle’s pop punk sensibilities and focussed primarily on some of the band’s most mature songwriting to date. It saw them do things differently, a trend which they’ve continued to follow on releases further down the line. As guitarist Tom Linton told All Things Loud three years ago, Integrity Blues is the sound whose sole aim is to “push ourselves to write the best songs that we can”.
95 The Avalanches – Wildflower
There’s so much going on throughout Wildflower that it’s impossible to mention even half of it. With every listen of the record, you’re bound to discover new samples and hidden layers which you never knew existed, such as children’s choir renditions of Beatles tracks, Bee Gees fan favourites or little hints of a Queens of the Stone Age classic. This is exactly what makes The Avalanches so special, because there really is no-one out there who even slightly resembles their sound. Sure, they’ve now added live vocals to some tracks, but the pure essence of what The Avalanches are all about is still well and truly alive. Album number three when?
94 Biffy Clyro – Opposites
There’s always a lot riding on double albums, which is probably why you don’t see an awful lot of them anymore. It’s a hit or miss situation: on the one hand you’ve got the chance to go down in history with a record which ultimately becomes a classic, but on the other hand it could be a load of rubbish which goes on for far too long. Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro took the leap into double album territory back in 2013 for the larger than life Opposites, a double disc which surpasses everything they’ve ever done. Opener Different People sets the tone for a whirlwind journey that touches upon finessed stadium rock, Mariachi rhythms, bagpipe solos, pit-ready riffs and so much more. And despite the ambitiousness of it all, it works. A fantastic double album is hard to come by, but Biffy Clyro had absolutely no trouble in exceeding expectations.
93 Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
Is there anything on this planet bigger than Joshua Tillman’s ego? In short: no. But boy do we love it when he strokes that ego under his Father John Misty moniker to produce an album as memorable as I Love You, Honeybear. If this record was a meal, it’d be a fine red wine with a handful of grapes and some cheese on the side. Faux sophistication at its best, if you will. The opening title track is an instant standout moment, helping piece everything else together and setting the bar high for a career which has remained as fruitful as it was to begin with.
92 Breton – War Room Stories
Despite War Room Stories bearing significant sonic differences to their debut album Other People’s Problems, Breton still managed to retain the exact core elements which made them one of Britain’s most exciting breakthrough bands. A mixture of experimental beats, summer-ready melodies and pounding rhythms served as the backbone for an album which made Roman Rappak and co. hot shots in the first place. It’s a shame that a follow-up to War Room Stories never arrived, because it was definitely the start of something special for a band who had managed to refine their sound and look forward.
91 The Voidz – Tyranny
On the surface, The Voidz’s debut record Tyranny is filled with absurd sonic outbursts which are unsettling at best, but once you pick apart the chaos you’ll notice that it’s one of Julian Casablancas’ finest works to date. The Voidz serves as one of his more intriguing projects, one which is a world away from The Strokes’ polished indie rock. Tyranny’s twelve experimental pieces are a mesh of styles that shouldn’t fit on paper but somehow work wonders, from lo-fi thrash metal (M.Utally A.Ssured D.Estruction) to ethereal autotune balladry (Human Sadness) and everything else under the unconventional sun. Album highlight Dare I Care is a mish mash of shapeshifting rhythms, murmured vocals and sudden disco, with Crunch Punch dedicating a good portion of its intense finale to old American radio samples. We imagine that the modus operandi on Tyranny was a bit like this: if it’s unconventional, we’re doing it. And guess what? It’s great. Look beyond the noise, and discover the beauty.
90 twenty one pilots – Blurryface
On Blurryface, twenty one pilots proved themselves to be an incendiary, unstoppable force. It switches between so many different styles and genres at such a rapid pace that it’s sometimes hard to keep up, and it will definitely take you plenty of listens before you can begin to tear apart all its layers and intricacies. Blurryface has already hit the #1 spot in America dozens of times over since its release, and as predicted the rest of the world swiftly followed suit. Whatever do they next is sure to be the continuation of something very unique.
89 The Black Keys – El Camino
Ah, The Black Keys. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney worked their way into the planet’s collective consciousness by means of their raw blues rock, eventually breaking the world record for ‘most car commercial soundtracks’ on the release of career highlight El Camino. It’s the kind of album which makes you yearn for a time where everything was so simple, where life didn’t choke you with struggle and strife. Do you remember where you were the first time you saw Lonely Boy’s iconic video? Or heard Gold on the Ceiling? Because both songs are undoubted cornerstones of a decade in which rock fought a losing battle against rap, hip hop and urban. Will El Camino stand the test of time? Absolutely. Will The Black Key also stand the test of time? No, but at least they gave the world El Camino.
88 Connan Mockasin – Jassbusters
According to a press release, Connan Mockasin’s Jassbusters was written and recorded over the course of one week in Paris, the city of love. It should thus come as no surprise that the record’s eight songs (which accompanied a short film) were as laid back as they were romantic, almost as though lifted out of a mid-1970s jam session. From opener Charlotte’s Thong to finale Les Be Honest (and via highlight B’nd), Jassbusters is the perfect album for plenty of occasions, but most specifically lovemaking. If sex were music, it would be Jassbusters; sultry enough to keep you turned on, but with the necessary restraint to keep you excited. No one likes an early finisher, right?
87 Drug Church – Cheer
Drug Church’s third album Cheer sounds like it was born out of a beer keg in a New York hardcore bar. The ten-track collection is a grimy exercise in hardcore punk and grunge, often blending the two to create an intriguing sonic fusion fit for more than just moshing to with your mates at an illegal house party. And even if that’s all you did with it, Drug Church would probably be proud of you. Let’s all crack open a cold one and lose our minds to bangers like Strong References, Weed Pin and, of course, Conflict Minded. Because that’s what Cheers was made for.
86 Architects – Holy Hell
Grief is a concept made up of so many intertwining elements, and it is by far one of the toughest things any human being will ever learn to grasp in a lifetime. It affects us all, and no two people will ever deal with it in the same way. From acceptance and mourning all the way through to the inevitably emotional act of moving on, grief is never easy. On Holy Hell, Architects dealt with the 2016 death of guitarist Tom Searle in spine-tingling fashion. This collection of eleven songs is comprised largely of Searle’s unfinished demos, ranging from discarded riffs and sonic ambience to fully-fledged songs and lyrical passages. Together with new guitarist Josh Middleton, the remaining members of Architects (in particular drummer and Tom’s brother, Dan Searle) put together an album which is without a shadow of a doubt the most powerful and emotive collection of music they’ll ever share with the world. Over the course of eleven hard-hitting and technically intricate songs, frontman Sam Carter and co. managed to carve out a true masterpiece filled to the brim with Tom Searle’s lasting influence. Album opener Death Is Not Defeat sets the tone instantly, taking the listener on a ruthless journey whilst bombarding them with gut-wrenchingly emotive vocals, crushing riffs and pounding rhythms. There is not one moment on Holy Hell where Architects reign it in; in fact, the album only hits harder as it progresses. Mortal After All is a visceral missive, with Damnation adding grandeur in its use of programmed strings. The one-two of Royal Beggars and Modern Misery makes for a massive highpoint, with The Seventh Circle turning things up a few notches and allowing Architects to quite literally unleash their inner beasts. The wonderful thing about Holy Hell is that there are essentially no words which could come out of these fingers to describe its sheer power whilst doing the music justice. The album tackles and overcomes every single facet of grief processed by the band (frontman Carter, drummer Dan Searle, guitarists Adam Christianson and Josh Middleton, and bassist Ali Dean) with such intricacy on both a musical and personal level that it’s impossible to pass meaningful criticism. You have to take Holy Hell for what it is: an album which will go down as the jewel in Architects’ crown; their undoubted magnum opus.
85 Sun Kil Moon – Benji
Since 2010, Mark Kozelek has released seven studio albums under the Sun Kil Moon moniker. His strongest offering, though, came in 2014 on the minimal and emotionally tense Benji, an eleven song collection which touches on topics of loss, human nature and love. “You don’t just raise two kids and take out your trash and die” he sings on the haunting opener Carissa, a song in memory of his second cousin who died in a freak fire. It’s one of many bare-all glimpse’s into the mind of a then 47 year old Kozelek, a man unafraid to let everyone come take a look inside his mind. The entire record is littered with these heartfelt musings, coming to a close on standout track Ben’s My Friend. It’s the best example of Kozelek’s ability to paint an intensely vivid (and in this case uplifting) picture through words, and it will forever serve as the jewel in Mark Kozelek’s crown.
84 Metronomy – The English Riviera
Have you ever wondered what the musical equivalent of sitting by the seaside with an ice cream as seagulls hovered would be? Well look no further, because that album is Metronomy’s iconic The English Riviera. Built on intimate simplicity, the record flitters between laid back surf pop and festival-ready synth bangers, something most notable on highlights The Look and The Bay. Whilst the former is all about unwinding at the seaside, the latter is more interested in throwing you onto the dance floor. It’s a trend which presents itself throughout The English Riviera, hitting a sunset peak on the beautiful Some Written.
83 Jungle – Jungle
Jungle are far removed from all of the mystery which surrounded them upon the release of their self-titled debut album back in 2014, but sometimes it would be nice to go back to a time where the London duo were still cloaked in uncertainty. As the hype for Jungle’s debut built in the first half of 2014, all we could think of was that their mixture of dance-centric music videos and overflowing funk were a cornerstone for the future of British music. We were sort of right, even if Jungle ended up carving out a very special niche for themselves on 2018’s For Ever. The debut, however, will always stand the test of time: from the super funk on singles The Heat, Busy Earnin’ and Time to Drops and Lucky I Got What I Want’s subtlety, Jungle provided the world with album perfect for all occasions.
82 Rammstein – RAMMSTEIN
With only one album to their name this decade, Rammstein’s studio return had been a long time coming. The self-titled record’s eleven songs are a perfect example of why – after two decades in the business – Till Lindemann and co. are still one of the strongest metal bands to ever walk this earth. Opening on the thought provokingly controversial DEUTSCHLAND (which we analysed in-depth here), Rammstein set the scene with ease for another mammoth sonic journey. Its caterwauling riffs, paired with Lindemann’s commanding tone, are a monstrous force to be reckoned with. This continues on following tracks RADIO, ZEIG DICH, AUSLÄNDER and SEX, all of which – together with DEUTSCHLAND – make for the most impressive opening salvo of heavy music in quite some time. It’s all killer riffs, pounding rhythms and that oh-so-appealing Lindemann snarl. There’s something very special about the ferocity at which Rammstein hit listeners during these five tracks, and it doesn’t end there. PUPPE and DIAMANT tug at your heartstrings, whilst the one-two of closing tracks TATTOO and HALLOMANN make things a whole lot darker. It may have taken Rammstein ten years to properly return, but the wait is most definitely more than worth it.
81 Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
You’d be forgiven for forgetting that Sufjan Stevens still exists given his tendency to stay under the radar. He seldom plays live (four times since March 2016), and when he does it’s more often than not an extremely understated affair. Despite that, though, he’s become one of this generation’s most significant singer-songwriters. It’s not hard to see why after one spin of the highly emotional Carrie & Lowell, an album which thrives on simplicity yet exudes beauty. Just as with some of Bon Ive and Mount Eerie’s finest works, it’s a set of songs which make you get in touch with your inner self and reflect on life – the good, as well as the bad (and even the ugly). The album’s eleven songs are a pretty mix of heartfelt indie folk spearheaded by Steven’s lilting harmonies and minimal guitar lines. A timeless album, without a doubt.
Check back tomorrow for part two of our countdown, featuring albums 80 through 61.