#2. The National
Welcome to the Backstage Pass year-end countdown. Happy holidays! This week, we'll be counting down the best albums of 2010 and next week we'll tackle the singles.
5. Black Keys, "Brothers” (Nonesuch): The Black Keys bets its well-deserved blues-rock reputation on the ambitious, wide-ranging “Brothers” and wins big, as the Danger Mouse-produced “Tighten Up” and Dan Auerbach’s soulful falsetto on “Everlasting Light” introduces the Akron, Ohio, duo to all sorts of adoring new fans.
4. Gaslight Anthem, “American Slang” (Side One Dummy): Brian Fallon’s Springsteenish growl perfectly embodies the struggles of the of the working man, especially in the inspirational "Bring It On," with its "Born to Run" heroics and Ronettes sweetness. But it’s the punishing drums of “Orphans,” paired with Replacements-inspired guitars, that propels Gaslight Anthem to the next level of its promising career.
3. My Chemical Romance, “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys” (Reprise): The comic-book collision of revved-up glam and a superhero story cycle is irresistible, even when the band embraces its dance-pop side (“Planetary”) and its love of U2-ish drama (“Sing”). And nothing can kill the joy of the careening rock thrill ride “Na Na Na” or the stomping “Vampire Money.”
2. The National, “High Violet” (4AD): The indie rockers show the power of subtlety. Singer Matt Berninger is low-key with his complaints and rallying cries, while the rest of the band surrounds him with all sorts of acoustic and orchestral loveliness, from the U2-influenced “Lemonworld” to the infectious “Bloodbuzz Ohio.”