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  1. Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy: “Music as sprawlingly messy as his life,” these songs are “hip-hop epics … full of the kind of grandiose gestures that only the foolish attempt and only the wildly talented pull off.”
  2. The Black Keys, Brothers: “Their best record yet: vivid tunes stripped bare and rubbed raw … it’s rock minimalism pushed to the max.”
  3. Elton John and Leon Russell, The Union: “Two rock giants … rekindle a friendship and make music that ranks with their best.”

Arcade Fire, The Suburbs: “An album of vast, orchestral rock that locates the battle for the human soul amid big houses and manicured lawns.” 

Jamey Johnson, The Guitar Song: “Nashville’s gruffest and grittiest star turns out to be its most reliable traditionalist, a Music Row pro who can write a song for every emotional season.”

Vampire Weekend, Contra: The band can “do just about anything: dubby, slo-mo gorgeousness, clattering pseudo-punk, African guitar riffs, choral swells, songs that rhyme ‘horchata’ with ‘Aranciata’ and ‘Masada.'”

Drake, Thank Me Later: “Sumptuous beats, airtight rhymes, and nuanced introspection.”

Robert Plant, Band of Joy: A “psychedelic exploration of blues and country” that’s “edgier and rootsier” than 2007’s Raising Sand.

Eminem, Recovery: “The post-rehab victory lap that the schlocky Relapse wasn’t.”

LCD Soundsystem, This Is Happening: “A heavy-duty breakup album.”

See the complete list, or click for more of 2010’s best (and worst).

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