Top 5 albums of the year (thus far)

It’s that time of again, kiddies!

Time for all sorts of “best of” lists to start popping up all over the place. You know, the ones that wrap up the year and give you a chance to check out some truly spectacular tunes, films, etc. that you may have missed out on.

With that, I give you the countdown of 2010’s top five albums (thus far).

5. Maroon 5’s “Hands All Over,” released on Sept. 21, 2010

Don’t even try and tell me that Maroon 5 isn’t cool anymore. Have you heard their new album? I can honestly say I was completely sick of Adam Levine and company after hearing “She Will Be Loved” every second of every day of my life for approximately five years, but this album is seriously magic. If you haven’t yet, check out the saucy video for their first single, “Misery.” However, if you’re only going to take the time to listen to three tracks, please let them be “Stutter,” “Never Gonna Leave This Bed” and “Just a Feeling.” This album is so good that after talking about it, I’m going to have to stop writing this list and go listen to this bad boy in its entirety before I continue…

4. Robyn’s “Body Talk, Pt. 2,” released on Sept. 7, 2010

If you’re unfamiliar with Swedish pop singer Robyn, you need to change that. She has released three, count ’em, three, albums in 2010. Her “Body Talk” trilogy is awesome, but part deux is by far the best. Check out my review of “Body Talk Pt. 2” on Spartanedge and if nothing else, be sure to watch the video below. Robyn is like an electro-pop explosion of talent, a.k.a. Sweden’s version of Lady Gaga. Kind of.

3. She & Him’s “Volume Two,” released on March 23, 2010

Zooey Deschanel (she) and M. Ward (him) are easily one of the most talented male-female duos in music today. Put their record on, close your eyes and you could easily find yourself being transported back to the 1960s. Their sound is heavily influenced by an old fashioned, sun-kissed sound, yet this album is a brand of folk unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. Deschanel is able to maintain her sunny disposition even on songs like “I’m Gonna Make It Better” and “Gonna Get Along Without You Now.” The highlight of the album is definitely their cover of NRBQ’s “Ridin’ In My Car.” Don’t even get me started on how good it sounds on vinyl…

2. Wakey!Wakey!’s “Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You,” released on Feb. 2, 2010

In terms of pure musical ability, Mike Grubbs is one of the best I’ve ever heard. He can play the piano like no other, and on his band’s debut full-length album, he does not disappoint. Each song goes seamlessly from one to the next, and the only problem with this album is that it ends. “Dance So Good” is the album’s best track, and songs like “Light Outside,” “Car Crash” and “Feral Love” all top contenders as well. This Brooklyn band isn’t very well known, so be sure to tell your friends and spread the word. Also, don’t forget to check out my interview with Grubbs via Spartanedge.

1. Mumford & Sons’ “Sigh No More,” released on Feb. 16, 2010

This English folk-rock band has just about the most unique sound I’ve heard in a while. Electric banjo, anyone? Chances are if you’ve heard any of their stuff, you’ve heard “Little Lion Man.” However, if that’s their only song you are familiar with, I pity you. Seriously, stop reading this, go to amazon.com and buy the album. Immediately. Beginning to end, “Sigh No More” is nothing but deliciously heartfelt music backed with actual talent, something that is rare to come by in the “music” industry these days. “The Cave,” “White Blank Page” and “Winter Winds” are the best of the bunch, but this is one of few albums that I can listen to all the way through and not skip a single song.

Honorable mention: Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dog’s “God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise,” released on Aug. 17, 2010

There’s no way for me to not mention this album. I may be biased because I can sit and listen to Ray LaMontagne for hours on end, but this album is pure brilliance. Don’t believe me? On Dec. 1, LaMontagne was nominated for three Grammy’s for this album including Song of the Year for “Beg, Steal or Borrow” and Best Contemporary Folk Album.

There you have it. If you’re not satisfied with my picks, let me know what you think I should have chosen instead!

December’s 100 albums for $5 (twice!)

Each month, amazon.com offers 100 albums for five bucks a pop. ‘Tis the season, so this month they’re being extra generous. In addition to the regular “100 albums for $5” deal, there’s an extra 100 Christmas albums being offered for $5 as well.

This means you can choose from the usual slew of pop, rock and R&B albums in addition to some festive holiday ones.

Mumford & Sons’ “Sigh No More,” She & Him’s “Volume Two” and Radiohead‘s “Kid A” are my recommendations this month.

As for the holiday department, they’re offering everything from Josh Groban to Frank Sinatra to Harry Connick Jr.

Don’t forget to check out the full list of 100 Christmas albums for $5 here.