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The Best Albums of 2010: James Skinner and Daniel Ross

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Mike Diver Mike Diver | 12:57 UK time, Friday, 17 December 2010

A double-header of (ranked!) top fives today, from esteemed BBC Music critics James Skinner and Daniel Ross. Young bucks compared to some of the review team's more senior figures, these two are names to watch over the coming years - both can already be found contributing to other sites and publications including DrownedinSound.com and The Fly. Both were long-listed in the Record Reviewer of the Year category at 2010's Record of the Day Awards, too, so you know they're on the ball. On the BBC Music Blog in the coming days: top five lists from writers including Jude Rogers, Lloyd Bradley and Robin Denselow, and DJs including Huw Stephens.

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James Skinner (reviewed albums)

1
Shearwater - The Golden Archipelago
Shearwater's latest took in weighty themes - the havoc we wreak on the environment; solitude; the furthest-flung corners of our planet - but the band sounded more accessible, more beautiful and warmer than ever before. A magnificent, benevolent work that only becomes more enticing with each listen.
Read the BBC review and listen to previews

2
Anaïs Mitchell - Hadestown
A modern-day retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth featuring Mitchell and Bon Iver's Justin Vernon as the doomed lovers, Hadestown is a massive, ambitious, beautifully scored, genre-hopping work that pretty much consumed me this spring.
Read the BBC review and listen to previews

3
Titus Andronicus - The Monitor
Just the most enormously fun, literate, scrappy, loud, anguished, wonderful, endlessly re-playable LP, and further proof that 'concept' albums needn't be joyless, highbrow affairs.
Read the BBC review and listen to previews

4
The National - High Violet
Is it as good as Alligator? Better than Boxer? Ask me again in a couple of years. It is absolutely brilliant, either way, exhibiting a bruised, nuanced majesty all its own.
Read the BBC review and listen to previews

5
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - I Learned the Hard Way
The latest from Sharon Jones is more soulful, more tuneful and even more brilliant than her and the Daptones' previous records, if such a thing is possible.
Read the BBC review and listen to previews

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Daniel Ross (reviewed albums)

1
John Grant - Queen Of Denmark
The wonderful Midlake provide a glorious soft-rock background to John Grant's songs of relations, prejudices and science fiction - the whole is not overbearing, but perfectly judged semi-baroque brilliance. It won't so much make you laugh and cry as it will make you howl and sob.
Read the BBC review and listen to previews

2
Avi Buffalo - Avi Buffalo
The brainchild of one precocious, bumbling guitarist very much in his youth (he's not even 20), this is an incredible debut. The lead single, What's In It For, is easily the pop song of the year, but the rest of the record shows as much compositional ingenuity and flair as records by people three times Avi's age.
Read the BBC review and listen to previews

3
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today
It's been said before that Ariel Pink had a classic pop album in him somewhere, hiding underneath layers of stormy feedback and sun-soaked scuzz. Before Today is that classic pop album, and then some - beaten pop-punk, full-blooded soul and basslines so pointed you could stub your toe on them.
Read the BBC review and listen to previews

4
Women - Public Strain
Canada's Women are now officially on hiatus after a reported altercation on stage, but hopefully that won't detract from what a superb album Public Strain is. They balance noise and melody artfully and carefully, taking care not to stray too far into either territory, the result being a blissfully visceral experience from incomprehensible start to thrashing finish.
Read the BBC review and listen to previews

5
Gayngs - Relayted
The term 'indie supergroup' has been bandied about rather too liberally with this 23-strong Canadian bunch, which has detracted from what a special record they've made. Relayted is as gloopy as they come, menacingly distant and street-sounding, but it never loses sight of the finished product - a slick, dark hybrid of soul, soft-rock and pure pop.
Read the BBC review and listen to previews
Read our Album Reviews Q&A with Gayngs

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The Best Albums of 2010 - all content (including top fives from Steve Lamacq and Gideon Coe)

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