Albums to watch

The ADM half-year report 2010

The ADM half-year report 2010

If the ADM summary of the most critically-acclaimed albums of the first six months of 2010 tells us anything, it is that, as far as reviewers are concerned, the most accomplished music being made today falls some way outside the realm of rock, in its mainstream forms.


If we put to one side 65daysofstatic, who operate in the experimental post-rock field and whose sound owes more to techno and electronica, then only two artists representing rock feature in the top 10 rated albums of the year thus far, and both are at the foot of the chart.

Neither of them could even remotely be termed ground-breaking, albeit their latest efforts have been widely appreciated. Paul Weller is 52 and has been doing his thing for three decades and more. The National established their heartfelt indie rock credentials at the start of the Noughties, and have rarely strayed from that path.

Perhaps the biggest surprise at this halfway point is that one American folk singer-songwriter has been superseded by another. Like everyone else, we confidently expect to see Joanna Newsom's triple CD holding sway when the best-of-2010 lists are compiled. We did not expect it to be gazumped at the top by a folk opera reworking of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice set in post-apocalyptic America, from a hitherto relatively unknown Vermont singer and guitarist.

It should be stressed that Mitchell's album has been less widely reviewed than Newsom's but nevertheless only one review has deemed it anything less than exceptional (the BBC, who went only as far as "memorable") and four or five declare it a masterpiece.

And thus to another soul-bearing American singer-songwriter. Mike Hadreas's piano-accompanied minimal songs of personal torment as Perfume Genius fits very neatly alongside Mitchell and Newsom.     

The remainder of the top-rated albums can be filed under electronica, world, experimental hip hop and futuristic pop. White boys with guitars are few and far between.

Whether this signals a long-term trend remains to be seen. Regardless, it is already a shift away from the best-reviewed albums of 2009, more than half of which could be filed under rock in one guise or another.

* We excluded albums with fewer than eight reviews from the chart. The average number of reviews received is 20.

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9.17

Anais Mitchell

Hadestown

That it works so brilliantly well, that in under an hour it creates a world you'll want to return to time and time again, that it is a glittering model of the form - of collaboration itself - is nothing short of awe-inspiring

Drowned in Sound

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8.66

Joanna Newsom

Have One On Me

Please, buy this album. Don't download it, buy it on a physical CD, hell, buy it on vinyl. Get rid of outside distractions, remove any white noise and give Have One On Me the full attention it deserves as one of the finest albums of this, or any, year

No Ripcord

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8.56

Perfume Genius

Learning

Already, it is easy to tell that this has all the hallmarks of a timeless piece

Culture Deluxe

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8.43

Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate

Ali And Toumani

There is a sense of both immense space and telepathic closeness on this beautiful album, with the superb recording putting the listener right in the middle of the action

Daily Telegraph

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8.22

65daysofstatic

We Were Exploding Anyway

It's an album that flows superbly ... there isn't one track that you'd replace here for any other

The Line Of Best Fit

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8.18

Flying Lotus

Cosmogramma

Flying Lotus is poised to be not only a name to watch in the next decade, but a guiding light and bridge to the next big things

Pop Matters

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8.16

Caribou

Swim

This is blissed-out electronica, that puts human warmth on a par with electronic experimentalism to create something entirely new to listen to

Independent On Sunday

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8.14

Janelle Monáe

The ArchAndroid

An album destined, surely, to take its place among the classics of its age

music OMH

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8.13

Paul Weller

Wake Up The Nation

The sheer conviction with which it's performed carries you along despite yourself, wearing the astonished expression almost all of Wake Up the Nation provokes

The Guardian

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8.12

The National

High Violet

This is what music must do, this is what music means. Anything else is froth. A masterpiece

The Sunday Times

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