Entertainment & Arts

The best albums you missed in 2010

Music writers, broadcasters and bloggers have named the gems that did not get the recognition they deserved in 2010.

Some 130 tastemakers each named the release that was, in their view, the most underrated album of 2010. Below, you can discover a range of the recordings that were recommended the greatest number of times.

The tastemakers were among those who also took part in compiling the BBC Sound of 2011 list by naming their favourite new artists. That list aims to showcase some of the most exciting rising stars for the coming year and one act from the top five will be revealed every day next week.

Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid

The Kansas-born sci-fi starlet's first full album won rave reviews, but only reached number 51 in the UK charts.

Inspired by Fritz Lang's classic film Metropolis, it tells the story of Cindi Mayweather, a messianic android sent from a futuristic world to unite and emancipate androids in the present day.

But you can ignore that and concentrate on the exhilarating blend of R&B, funk and pop that has seen her likened to Prince and OutKast.

Alison Howe, producer, Later... with Jools Holland:

"Janelle's album was unlike any other for me this year. A proper rollercoaster musically and Tightrope and Faster were among my songs of the year.

"Yes there is a mad Metropolis-style concept at the heart of it, but that shouldn't put you off. It's packed full of great tunes and its android star is surely one of the next generation of innovative and exciting pop stars."

These New Puritans - Hidden

The Southend quartet's ambitious, brooding work of art-rock was NME's album of the year.

Giving it a five-star review, The Observer described it as courageous, pretentious and self-consciously intellectual, while The Daily Telegraph called it a "magically bleak, fantastically original" record (five stars again).

Jack Barnett, one of the band's identical twins, declared he wanted it to combine the sounds of composer Benjamin Britten and Britney Spears.

Krissi Murison, NME editor:

"Lots of people were surprised when Hidden topped NME's end of year poll, but I was more surprised it didn't feature higher in everyone else's.

"It's everything a record should be in 2010: bold, ambitious, unpredictable and completely unshackled to any notion of what a guitar band is supposed to sound like. It's the kind of album that will still be influencing artists in years to come."

Gonjasufi - A Sufi and A Killer

Sumach Ecks - a singer, rapper and yoga teacher who lives in the Nevada desert - made one of the year's most eccentric, genre-busting, strangely captivating releases.

A face on the San Diego hip-hop scene since the 1990s, he has found his voice and was described by The Guardian as "the electro Hendrix".

The album was co-produced by Warp Records labelmate and Thom Yorke collaborator Flying Lotus.

Larry Ryan, The Independent:

"On first inspection this record might seem a little too all over the place, but you'll return for its soulful blending of those disparate parts: laid-back beats and sounds dug from the far side of the record collection. Eastern psych rock and acid folk. A dash of pop and a hint of blues. All underpinned by the strangely seductive vocal croak of the mystical Gonjasufi."

I Am Arrows - Sun Comes Up Again

Who would have thought that the former drummer from Razorlight would have made one of the albums of the year?

Andy Burrows played every instrument on this charming solo release and reveals himself to be a gifted singer and songwriter.

It is acoustic pop wrapped in warm harmonies and inventive instrumentation, with a sparkle that recalls Phoenix or The Wannadies.

Stuart Waterman, My Chemical Toilet blog:

"An album of conspicuously bombast-free modern pop, its honeyed harmonies and insistent melodies manage to make summertime heartbreak sound much more warming than a boring old successful relationship.

"None of the songs last longer than four minutes, which means you're consistently left wanting more of its poignant goodness."

Steve Mason - Boys Outside

The former frontman with 1990s cult heroes The Beta Band has re-emerged with new musical maturity and impetus.

It is personal and poignant yet never maudlin, and was given an electro-pop polish by producer Richard X, who is better known for working with Sugababes and Liberty X.

Paul Rees, Q magazine editor:

"Boys Outside documents Mason's battles with depression, suicidal yearnings and the breakdown of a relationship.

"But here was a record as lovely as it was touching: with Mason's spectral voice, sparing guitar and piano coated in a warm electronic blanket by Richard X, his songs haunted and soared in a way they haven't since his former band's peak. A treasure."

Mount Kimbie - Crooks and Lovers

Dominic Maker and Kai Campos, AKA Mount Kimbie, are among those leading dubstep into new territory.

The scene is known for sparse, spleen-shaking bass and brittle beats, but these south London-based university friends have created something more intricate and subtle, with depth and soul.

William McGillivray, MTV UK music programming manager:

"Saturated by melody, memory and tricks of the light, Mount Kimbie's debut is a pitch-(im)perfect take on the dubbed-out, low-end innovations pioneered by Burial, Gold Panda, Four-Tet and James Blake, revelling in a pastoral, organic approach to its dancefloor-oriented grooves.

"Whilst drawing influences from UK bass music's more experimental stragglers and strays, it still managed to sound completely unique and out there, dancing contentedly to its own malfunctioning laptop grooves with a euphoric, dazed look in its eye."

Playlists

Listen to and watch tracks by these artists in playlists: MySpace (6 tracks), YouTube (6 tracks), Spotify (6 tracks, registration & application download required, only available in UK, Sweden, Norway, Finland, France, Spain) & We7 (5 tracks). Tracks may not be available outside the UK.

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