WHEN archaeologists look back on the musical year of 2010 it will probably be a bit of sorry sight.
After all, what does a year dominated by the likes of Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Ke$ha and Taylor Swift say about the state of American music today?
Fortunately there was much more to music in 2010 than just the mega-sellers pop stars. The ARIA awards acknowledged this by handing out most of its gongs to the rising and indie stars of the scene, such as Angus & Julia Stone, Sia, Dan Sultan and Washington.
We asked some local music fans and musicians to tell us about their favourite albums of 2010.
Brady Jones (Red Eagle)
Brothers - The Black Keys
It's almost as if they discovered the awesomeness of bass. All the songs are really funky but still Black Keys enough to be true to their past. It's 15 songs and all 15 songs are gutsy - you don't spend any time skipping. It's a lot like Dan Auerbach's solo stuff, but there's a bit of soul and really fuzzy guitar all the way through it. Brothers is up there with Rubber Factory as one of their best.
Honourable mentions: Wilderness Heart - Black Mountain, Wolf - Cash Savage & The Last Drinks, The Soft Pack - The Soft Pack, Sea Of Cowards - The Dead Weather.
Richard Tankard (Tank Dilemma, Blue Heat)
Intriguer - Crowded House
Great albums often reveal themselves over several listens and Intriguer is the perfect example. Their sixth album is their least commercial but most layered, where wobbly yearning sounds meet trademark Finn lyric and melody. The 'Mark 2' of the band sounds totally worked in and Neil's wife Sharon Finn makes a memorable vocal contribution. While radio yearns for their first and third records, nothing rewards more than their last. The layers are still unfolding.
Honourable mentions: Wake Up The Nation - Paul Weller, Church Of The Open Sky - The Break, Tracks - The Dingoes, You Am I - You Am I.
Shane Fowles (The Standard chief of staff, former radio presenter)
Halcyon Digest - Deerhunter
Intricate, intimate and instantly memorable, Halcyon Digest is awash in a reverb-filled tension that is brilliantly layered, evoking dreams and nightmares, desire and desperation, optimism and paranoia in equal measure. A perfect bedroom or headphones album, this was one of the few releases this year that sustained me from start to finish, and made me feel euphoric and melancholic at the same time. Given I'd only heard one song from the album before a snap purchase, it was also the biggest and most welcome surprise.
Honourable mentions: The Age of Adz - Sufjan Stevens, The Suburbs - Arcade Fire, Odd Blood - Yeasayer, Forgiveness Rock Record - Broken Social Scene.
Jackson McLaren (solo artist)
Grinderman 2 - Grinderman
It's humourous, it's ferocious, it's terrifying, and kind of tender all at the same time. It basically sounds like guys approaching their mid-50s and having a lot of fun, in that it's probably a bit more light-hearted than the previous Grinderman album. It seemed like the first one was pretty full-on lyrically, but this one has more more space for the music. Some of it's straight rock and roll with this weird, dark, Nick Cave thing going on but it's also got this weird psychedelic warble behind it as well. This album made me feel excited - and it's always exciting to hear what Nick Cave puts out next.
Honourable mentions: Dan Kelly's Dream - Dan Kelly, Glimjack - Glenn Richards, Exile On Main Street (reissue) - The Rolling Stones, Supermodified - Dave Graney
Matt Neal (The Standard, The 80 Aces)
Dan Kelly's Dream - Dan Kelly
FROM its opening tale of a khaki-clad eco-terrorist who steals some explosives to blow up a power station, it's obvious Dan Kelly's Dream is not your average pop album. In between his greenie leanings, he casts a Kinks-ian eye over the minutiae of existence but no matter whether Kelly is looking at the big picture or the small details, he's always doing it with huge dollops of wit, a surplus of uplifting melodies, dribbles of psychedelia, dashes of rock, and a welcome amount of intelligence not seen often enough in modern music.
Honourable mentions: Mondo Cane - Mike Patton, You Am I - You Am I, Lucille - The Vasco Era, Contra - Vampire Weekend.
Adam B Metal (The Departed)
Diamond Eyes - Deftones
This album sees the return of that Deftones sound and songwriting I fell in love with back in 1998 (when they put out Around The Fur) but it also has enough new flavour to its sound to separate it from that era. Diamond Eyes has got great production, Chino Moreno's vocals are creative, and it's got huge guitar riffs, all of which combine to make it my album of the year.
Honourable mentions: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - Kanye West, The Social Network OST - Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, Periphery - Periphery, How To Destroy Angels - How To Destroy Angels.