Pop artists like Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Ke$ha and Rihanna dominated the charts in 2010. For us rock fans, though, this year was equally huge. There were countless bands reuniting, going out on anniversary tours, playing massive festivals and releasing new material.
In no particular order, here are some of the best rock albums released this year!
My Chemical Romance – Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys
Those of us who are diehard My Chemical Romance fans were awaiting the band’s fifth studio album with nervous excitement and eager anticipation. We hoped it would live up to the all the hype, but we were also completely unsure of what style the band would try on this time around, as each release has been vastly different from the last. Luckily, MCR delivered a beautifully bright, energetic and well-produced record that shows a freshly polished sound that includes everything from punk to disco. Check out our full review of the record here!
Recommended track: “DESTROYA”
Pierce the Veil – Selfish Machines
San Diego post-hardcore group Pierce the Veil released their sophomore LP, Selfish Machines, back in June. In the first moments of opening track “Besitos,” this album grabs your attention with hand claps, guitar picking, layers of harmonizing vocals and a Latin-influenced beat. PTV ramped up everything on this release, from Vic Fuentes’ unmistakable tenor shrieking to heavy breakdowns and impressive guitar solos. But these rockers can pull off the ballads as well, with the slow number “Stay Away from My Friends” being one of the strongest tracks on the record.
Recommended track: “Caraphernelia” (feat. Jeremy McKinnon of A Day to Remember)
Automatic Loveletter – Truth or Dare
Charismatic singer-songwriter Juliet Simms of Automatic Loveletter has not been an overnight success story. As she recounts on the track “Story of My Life,” she moved from Florida to LA at fifteen after being offered a record deal from Epic. As the label struggled, Juliet wasn’t dropped, but wasn’t supported either. Armed with her DIY attitude, Simms sold handmade copies of her record and feather hair clips to help support her band out on tour. All the hard work paid off, and Simms became one of the most sought-after guest vocalists, having provided her instantly recognizable raspy pipes to albums from All Time Low, Secondhand Serenade, Cartel and more . On the band’s major label debut, Juliet’s simple acoustic songwriting is taken to new heights, with stadium-ready choruses and charging electric guitars mixed with soft, piano-based ballads.
Recommended track: “Let it Ride”
Envy On the Coast – Lowcountry
Long Island, NY natives Envy on the Coast released the impressive Lowcountry in March. With creative lyrics, daring and experimental musical choices and stellar vocals from frontman Ryan Hunter, this record stands out among its peers as having some of the most original songwriting of the year. Equal parts Incubus, Circa Survive and The Dear Hunter, Envy on the Coast unfortunately called it quits this year as well. Be on the lookout for Hunter’s and guitarist Brian Byrne’s new project, North Korea, which also features Dilinger Escape Plan drummer Billy Ryan.
Recommended track: “The Great American T-Shirt Racket”
Chiodos – Illuminaudio
When post-hardcore outfit Chiodos kicked out founding member and frontman Craig Owens, many fans were outraged. With his dynamic voice and inspiring stage presence, Owens was not only the band’s most charismatic and well-known member, but also a staple in the modern rock scene. Thousands were sure that this decision was the nail in Chiodos’ coffin, but the release of Illuminaudio showed that this band could carry on, and release one hell of a record. New vocalist Brandon Bolmer not only matches Owens’ range, but he also shows a flair for the dramatic on his lyrics, which was one of Owens’ strongest facets. The band members stepped up their game as well, adding more technical parts to each instrument and keeping the orchestral touches that made 2007’s Bone Palace Ballet a masterpiece in its own right. The breakdowns are heavy, the instrumentation is tight, the vocals are spot-on, so it’s clear Chiodos aren’t going anywhere.
Recommended track: “Those Who Slay Together, Stay Together”
VersaEmerge – Fixed at Zero
Due to the success of Paramore, there are now hundreds of identical young female-fronted pop bands trying to find their place in the spotlight. But make no mistake, that doesn’t include Tampa, Florida natives VersaEmerge. Fronted by the electrifying 20-year-old Sierra Kusterbeck, Versa take pop rock to a new level, adding in complex electronic arrangements (courtesy of guitarist Blake Harnage), tightly layered harmonies and wonderfully honest lyrics about Kusterbeck’s own inner conflicts. The band’s first LP, Fixed at Zero, was released this summer and has catapulted the band to buzzworthy status, aided by a full-episode on MTV’s The World of Jenks and placement on the entire 2010 Vans Warped Tour.
Recommended track: “Fixed at Zero”
The Deftones – Diamond Eyes
When The Deftones‘ bassist Chi Cheng was involved in a horrible car accident that left him in a coma, the band shelved their near-completed album, Eros. A year later, they decided to return to the studio (with Sergio Vega of Quicksand filling in for Chi) and wrote what would become Diamond Eyes. The record is mercilessly heavy, verging on metal at times, but also has some slower numbers that add depth and atmosphere to the record. Vocalist Chino Moreno keeps up with the band’s flawlessly-executed prog rock with his high-intensity screams, which can quickly morph into soft and soulful melodies. If you’re looking for a record to rock out to, Diamond Eyes is definitely a front runner this year.
Recommended track: “Rocket Skates”
Ludo – Prepare the Preparations
Few lyricists today have the incredible imagination of Ludo‘s Andrew Volpe. Anyone who needs proof need look no further than 2006’s jaw-dropping five-song rock opera, Broken Bride, which is about a man who mistakenly time travels between the Pre Historic Era and a future apocalypse to save his dead wife. Though Broken Bride is brilliant and beautifully written, it’s going to be tough for Ludo to ever top it. That being said, Prepare the Preparations is an eccentric and quirky pop record, with lyrics that cover everything from robots to dancing skeletons to leprechauns. The songwriting is creative and more experimental than in the past, as Ludo covers everything from acoustic to electronic pop to straight up showtunes.
Recommended track: “Too Tired to Wink”
Foxy Shazam – Foxy Shazam
As we learned in our Q&A with Eric Nally of Foxy Shazam, it’s very difficult to categorize this outrageous and energetic rock group….and that’s the way they like it. Pieces of punk, soul, funk and indie rock make their way into the band’s self-titled record, which dropped in April. This isn’t a record that you’ll listen to and have to wonder if the group is just as fun live, as Foxy are well known for their off-the-wall theatrical performances. They may be an acquired taste, but either way, you have to give Foxy Shazam props for being genuinely original.
Recommended track: “Count Me Out”
Isles & Glaciers- The Hearts of Lonely People
Since Pierce the Veil and Chiodos were both on our list, it makes sense that a supergroup including PTV’s vocalist Vic Fuentes and his brother, drummer Mike Fuentes, as well as Chiodos bassist Matt Goddard would also be included. Isles & Glaciers also includes (ex-Chiodos, now D.R.U.G.S.) vocalist Craig Owens, Emarosa/Dance Gavin Dance vocalist and solo artist Jonny Craig, Underminded/D.R.U.G.S. guitarist Nick Martin and ex-Boys Night Out/The Receiving End of Sirens‘ Brian Southall on keyboard and guitar. After many months of pushing back the release, their debut EP The Hearts of Lonely People was released in 2010. Different than any of the members’ past or present bands, Hearts is a mash-up of post-hardcore, electronica and pop rock. The three vocalists here, especially Jonny Craig, really steal the show.
Recommended track: “Hills Like White Elephants”
Leave us a comment below and let us know what your favorite rock album of 2010 were…then check back next week for our list of most anticipated rock albums for 2011!