This list might prove to be controversial, perhaps not to the liking of every reader, but it does represent at least a contingent of Ultimate-Guitar.com members. This list has drawn heavily from forum discussions, but I must take responsibility for the final list. A variety of genres is represented here, but the albums are not listed in any specific order. There are ten to discuss, as well as all those albums which have not made the list. The albums are presented in chronological order (bear in mind varying release dates around the world), as I am not going to sow dragon's teeth by choosing my favourite album of 2010!
Gorillaz Plastic Beach
Gorillaz has been on the radar ever since 2001 and the inimitable single, Clint Eastwood. The year 2010 has proven to be no different for Gorillaz eclectically genre defying music. Everyone's favourite virtual band responded to the seemingly impossible task of improving upon the catchiness of Clint Eastwood by recording Rhinestone Eyes.
I suppose the reason that a band with such a strong hip hop and synthesizer element to it is featured in Ultimate-Guitar.com's Top 10 Albums in 2010 is that this band has developed a marked personality, much like the icons of rock n' roll have over the years. There aren't many contemporary musicians with the credence to lay claim to having become somewhat larger than life that's what the likes of the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix once did and although there isn't a clear music similarity between them and Gorillaz, Gorillaz has the attitude of a rock n' roll band in its pomp.
Plastic Beach continues the tradition of Gorillaz material that seems to be so apt for the mainstream, yet always include enough creativity and innovation to present risk to the band's record label, EMI.
Slash is by no means included due to his status on Ultimate-Guitar.com. The guitarist's solo album was initially described by UG as evidence that venturing out on one's own can actually be a wise career move' and that is a sentiment that I agree with. Slash has been instrumental in building bridges between rock and pop music, from appearances with Michael Jackson, to his extended collaboration with Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas.
Beautiful Dangerousthe collaborative effort with Fergienot only includes a great vocal by Fergie and Slash's typically warm guitar tone, but the music video takes Slash back to his Guns n' Roses days of hell-raising. If you haven't seen it, it's a must-see, with Fergie spiking Slash's drink in order to satisfy her predatory instincts!
Slash doesn't just deserve credit for the manipulation of his image that has become recognised as a brand, but also for his ability to attract praise from musicians of all generations. The album includes a terrific instrumental piece featuring Dave Grohl (drums) and Duff McKagan, which swishes from up-tempo rock drama to a more cultured, weeping guitar solo that is supported by shimmering bliss in the rhythm section. Dave Grohl apparently made the call to have this be an instrumental, after refusing to sing for Slash. It was the right call.
Further enhancing Slash's rock n' roll CV/resume is his dynamic collaboration with Lemmy of Motorhead, Dr Alibi. It's rock n' roll in the best spirit, and perhaps the best song of the album, and that's an album including collaborations with Iggy Pop and Ozzy Osbourne. Slash really pulled out the stops for this album, and if I had to choose, this might just be my album of the year.
I still remember the impact of Eminem with his 1999 release of the Slim Shady LP. He has grown up since then, matured, and even become institutionalised, perhaps best-evidenced by his collaborations with Elton John and, more pertinently, Rihanna.
Recovery feels like a natural progression from Relapse, Eminem proving his intensity is unrivalled by many in contemporary rock music. Perhaps this is why Recovery was referenced by UG members as one of the best albums of 2010. The opening track, Cold Wind Blows is as raw as one can hope for, with Eminem's instantly recognisable voice as flowing and continuous as it has ever been. He even references Elton John in the opening lines, and the ominous atmosphere of the song sets the scene for what is a dangerous album.
Eminem's talent lies in his utilization of pop sensibility and controversy. But Recovery also includes three of the coolest, relaxed guitar songs I have heard in a long time in Talkin' 2 Myself, Space Bound, and particularly Love the Way You Lie with Rihanna. It's worth looking at it as proof that rapping and guitar-orientated music doesn't have to be produced in the vein of Linkin Park. He's the one artist I most hope to see collaborate with Slash in the future.
Avenged Sevenfold Nightmare
Stop thinking like that. Much like Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold are the darlings of many music listeners, and whilst it might be okay to dislike a band, it is most certainly unacceptable to demonize a band for whatever flippant reasons one might have.
With Nightmare, Avenged Sevenfold overcame the death of their drummer and main songwriter, James Owen Sullivan, to record and perform an album full of emotional quality and poise. It might be weak in some areas, but that is to be expected when a band loses one of its members. The same is true of Metallica's rough diamond, ...And Justice for All, on which Jason Newsted's bass guitar is so low in the mix it might as well have been eliminated from the recording process altogether.
Most haunting is the tenth track, The Fiction, which features the Rev's eerie vocals; it isn't the most polished of tracks, but it gives the listener an interesting insight into the late musician's ambitious song writing credentials.
The band does surrender to some unpardonable moments of cheesiness (It's your f*ckin' nightmare), but overall the album showcases a band that has the ability to produce moments of musical genius. Let's not forget that Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance are a well-rehearsed guitar duo, and repeatedly record evidence to suggest as much. Avenged Sevenfold might not be the most universally popular band out there but, with Nightmare, they maybe have attracted a few more guilty pleasure fans than before!
Paul Gilbert Fuzz Universe
In the past year, releases from guitar virtuosos such as Joe Satriani, Buckethead, and Yngwie Malmsteen have all garnered attention from the guitar community. Paul Gilbert's instrumental Fuzz Universe supersedes the aforementioned albums primarily because it not only invites the listener to Fuzz Universe, but because it immerses the listener in Fuzz Universe.
The opening song, Fuzz Universe is a pop music delight. This might be technical guitar work, but my biggest beef with Paul is that he doesn't get a singer of similarly prodigious skill to do justice to his excellent song writing ability. Unlike Yngwie's self-indulgent repetitive efforts, Gilbert presents a new challenge to his audience with every album.
Gilbert pushes the Doors' sound with his Touch Me-inspired Count Juan Chutrifo, but alerts the classical musicians to his interpretation of Bach's Partita in Dm. Gilbert is a tasteful guitarist above all, so there are plenty of snippets and passages for less accomplished guitarists to learn here. One would be hard pressed to say the same thing about an Yngwie Malmsteen record.
Iron Maiden The Final Frontier
Iron Maiden is the metal genre's Olympic Torch carriers. An English band, Maiden should perhaps be asked to carry the Olympic Torch come 2012, given how admirably the band has served the metal genre over the years.
The Final Frontier represents a band not quite at the top of its game, but certainly refusing to go away. Indeed, Maiden still has a lot to say, evidence by The Final Frontier being the band's longest album to date!
The meat of the album is arguably the most successful section, including Coming Home and The Alchemist, each song reflecting the adrenalin rush of an Iron Maiden song. It's not all adrenalin rush, and Maiden exhibits an adherence to reflective, technical songs such as The Talisman.
The lyrics are up to scratch too, the band's intelligence and sense of fantasy still rivalling the creativity of younger metal bands out there today. The choice to feature Maiden's new album is based much upon the band's personality and sound, which still comes to the fore on The Final Frontier. Iron Maiden is a brand as much as a band and it would be a disservice not to feature The Final Frontier in this list.
Alter Bridge III
A loose concept album based upon losing one's faith, Alter Bridge have written and recorded an excellent album. Myles Kennedy's voice is one of the talking points of rock music. Often imitated, rarely emulated, Kennedy's voice is a paradigm of rock music. The emotion of his delivery, often in unison with Mark Tremonti's inspired guitar work is simply the greatest achievement of Alter Bridge.
Alter Bridge transcends the boundaries of the typical 2010 album, insofar as Mark Tremonti and Myles Kennedy trade in on vocal and guitar duties with growing prominence. The band has long been derided as a cheap imitation of Creed, but let's gets over that: embrace this band.
Cee Lo Green The Lady Killer
Cee Lo Green represents the soulful guitar music that deserves the acclaim of music listeners everywhere. The production on this album is excellent, and doesn't suffer from poor mastering, and there is a very smooth, lucid approach to these songs. Everybody has heard F*ck You, or Forget You, as the censors have dictated, but there are several gems included on this album.
F--k You includes a lot of real' music, provided by a conventional band and backing vocalists. The Lady Killer is an ambitious album, free from the processed sound of the mainstream world, full of Cee Lo Green's smiling talent.
On one count, I can't wait for track sevenSatisfiedto be picked up on by the film industry, while The Lady Killer Theme, both Intro and Outro present the purists with guitar work (noticeably the solo on the outro) to work on.
Having reviewed this album for Ultimate-Guitar.com, I found myself converted to liking Underoath's approach to music. I'm no metalcore fanboy, and the last time I checked I wasn't into screamo, so perhaps it is time for more people to give Underoath a chance.
It must be acknowledged that Underoath no longer includes any of its founding members, but the departure of original memberdrummerAaron Gillespiecannot have been easy for the band to deal with, particularly due to his dominating of the song writing duties.
As I noted on the original album review, the band reacted to Gillespie's departure with ease, only pausing to miss the delivery of Gillespie's clean vocals.
The intensity of Disambiguation is a welcome contrast to a lot of the music paraded in the current climate, Vacant Mouth being the album's most riveting track. Spencer Chamberlain is the new big mouth of rock, and I'm simply alluding to the delivery of his screams and bellows.
My Chemical Romance Danger Days
My Chemical Romance released Danger Day late enough for me to end this article on a controversial album. For that I thank them. So much has been written about this band, but like I have written before, Danger Days represents the best change of creative direction in a band that I have heard in a long time. My Chemical Romance might be accused of alienating a lot of their fan base in the process, but the more I listen to songs like Sing, the more I think that this band deserves respect for trying something new to them. Gerard Way still manages to pen songs that could be anthems for teenagers seeking purpose everywhere, and he even manages to reference Iggy Pop's I Wanna Be Your Dog on the terrifically well enunciated Vampire Money a two fingers up to the Twilight film saga'.
Let the discussions commence!
By Samuel Agini