It's been another busy year here at R13 towers and like every year, when we're not knee deep in cds to review we have been out and about at gigs and festivals, seeing some old faces and discovering plenty of new talent for your discerning ears.

We asked some of our writers which bands had blown their socks off in the last 12 months and to put together a list of their best gigs and cd reviews from 2010:

Best CD's

Check out our favourites on our best of 2010 Spotify playlist

Ross Pike

Self Preserved While The Bodies Float Up
A new Oceansize record is always a treat but this one took a little more work to sink in than previous works. The band's signifiers are all there but there is a different shape to the familiar components. Slowly the album reveals itself to be one of the band's best. A word for the packing as well, in the age of the mp3 it's a nice touch to produce such a well put together record package. Oh, and they truly do have the best song titles this side of Mogwai: 'Build Us A Rocket Then...' and 'It's My Tail and I'll Chase It If I Want To' being particular favourites.

Black Mountain
Wilderness Heart
"Wilderness Heart" was a bit of a throw back to the more immediate sounds of the band's eponymous debut after the more proggy "In the Future" set. That is no gripe as the songs on the record were at turns engaging and beguiling and the more expansive palette of sounds unleashed on their second set have been retained. Like their contemporaries the Black Angels, Black Mountain refute their retro tagging critics by writing simply great songs worthy of their illustrious forebears.

Goonies Never Say Die
No Words To Voice Our Hopes and Fears
Sometimes post-rock can bore the arse off the listener but on occasion (not that many these days by the way) a band can blow the cobwebs off the old structures and remind you why you like this music in the first place. Goonies Never Say Die was that band for me and their superlative record 'No Words...' was an fiery amalgam of later-period Mogwai, Isis and Explosions In The Sky. This was the best thing to come out of Blackpool this year except for Ian Holloway of course.

Lucy Sanderson

I hadn't heard of Delorean until I stumbled across single 'Stay Close' near the start of the Summer. It was like gnawing on a nugget of sunshine and I was instantly in love. As I'm not a particular fan of heavily dance-influenced music, it came as quite a surprise how much I adored this album. Every track is as exciting as a trip to see the Candy Man (The one from Willy Wonka not the one who you call for in the mirror three times then attacks you.) I've had it lifting my mood constantly since discovering it and it can do the same for you.

Becoming A Jackal
This record is simply beautiful. It feels like something from a theatrical score; smoulderingly intense, dark, twisting but with a real sense of emotion and vulnerability running throughout.

Magic Chairs
It's music like this that can restore your faith in the world. Instrumentally stunning, vocally beautiful, it has everything you need to make your soul feel lovely and toasty. It's fresh as a cool breeze and gets better with every listen. I can't wait to see them on their live tour next year.

Emma Gould

Mourning Golden Morning
The album as a whole is exhilarating and beautiful, the way that these tunes are uplifting rather than melancholic is such a breath of fresh air, you feel that the classic post-rock formula has been given a make-over; Ef inject light and airy melodies and delicate, intricate sections through rushes of guitar and percussion noise so you never feel weighed down by the emotion of it all.

The National
High Violet
The quality of the record means that picking out tracks is difficult with not a bad one amongst the eleven offered; overall it is excellent and you know right from the start that this is a band at their creative best. This should be the album that makes them huge.

Rory Cargill

John Grant
"Queen Of Denmark"
After struggling to get into his music, I decided to give ex-Czars frontman John Grant's debut solo album another chance, having read a moving article on his struggle with sexuality and drugs in The Guardian. I knew the lyrics were coming from somewhere real this time and this sombre and poignant album is a beautiful portrait of the difficulties in Grant's life. The sometimes blunt and unusual lyrics used perfectly sum up the angst and mixes of emotion each intellect feels, one of my favourite's being "I wish I had no self-awareness like the guys I know, float right through their lives without a thought". My relationship with the music of Tim Buckley was all thanks to The Czar's cover of 'Song To The Siren' and Grant's album, produced by the excellent band Midlake, is lyrically worthy of Buckley himself - undoubtedly a favourite discovery of the year.

"Odd Blood"
Yeasayer's psychedelic brand of indie rock puts them in a league of their own. This album is hit after hit after hit of experimental yet catchy-pop songs that no other band can imitate. Their second album, "Odd Blood" is slightly less trippy than the debut "All Hour Symbols" but each song is a new classic and I can't wait to see what they come up with in the future. 'O.N.E' is undoubtedly track of the year; lyrical, funky, unusual and beautiful.

Omar Soliman

Vampire Weekend
For some bands, the pressure of 'second album syndrome' can be heard almost as poignantly as the rushed verses and hurried lyrics. By straying from their debut release, Vampire Weekend find themselves on familiar territory with another spiritedly assured album. Even drummer Christopher Tomson has admitted that "We sound more like Vampire Weekend than we did on the first record", which bizarrely makes sense. Whilst bristling with new ideas and influences, the album itself is a fresh but instantly familiar listen.

She & Him
Volume Two
"Volume Two" is a trip through longing, a trip through memories and misfortune. It's a portrait of heartbreak and being completely in love. It's a difficult album to listen to and give your full attention to at times, especially as the tone of the album is alike throughout; but "Volume Two" deserves your attention and She & Him do their best at demanding it.

Earth Vs The Pipettes
You will not be able to deny the movement of your feel or the motion of your lips as the impulse to sing and dance swarms over you. These guys create a sensationally tremendous second album.

Neil Richardson

For me 2010 has been a good year in the music world, probably topped off with seeing King Of Conspiracy at SXSW and the pleasure of them finally getting some recognition for their amazing music with being invited to play Rock En Seine. Not bad considering there were only about 10 people at their first ever UK gig a couple of years ago. However, they have not released an album this year so are not included in the list of my top 3 favourite albums.
All 3 of the albums are officially debut albums, although I still dispute that Semi Precious Weapons "You Love You" is their debut. Two of them are from Brooklyn, USA and one is from right here in good old blighty. In alphabetical order only we start at letter S:

Savoir Adore
In The Wooded Forest
For a band to be not so rocky, they have to be pretty good to impress and Brooklyn's Savoir Adore do just that. A beautiful mix of eclectic tunes, 14 of them to be precise, makes this album a pure joy. The perfect feel good album of the summer months, which is just as great now as we all freeze. We were lucky enough to get a few dates from Deidre and Paul over here in the summer, let's hope more follow in 2011.

Semi Precious Weapons
You Love You
We mentioned these guys after accidently crossing paths at SXSW in 2007. It has been so pleasurable watching them grow and finally get the break they deserved when Lady Gaga asked them to support her on her monster of a world tour. This album is full of amazing rock n roll riffs that leave you feeling dirty and wanting more. If you ever get the chance to see Semi Precious Weapons live, do not pass up on the opportunity, their live shows are extravagant, exciting and will leave you with a smile on your face for many days after (especially if you are lucky enough to get a kiss from the lead singer, Justin Tranter).

Hollow Realm
A late entry as "Hollow Realm" is released in December but blow me, what an awesome album. At 40 minutes it is not an epic in time wise but the tracks themselves make for epic listening. 6 musicians and no one singing would worry most but this works, works beyond all realms of possibilities. Hailing from Hereford, Talons will dig their claws into you and you will love every minute. Quite possibly the best debut album I have heard in an exceedingly long time.

Jenni Wallace

Colours of One
Bad News Makes Big Noise EP
Storming out of Bridgend, Colours of One produced an EP filled with heavy pop/alternative rock sensibilities blended with some hard rock riffs and topped off by smooth deep lyrical vocals.

The Pretty Reckless
Light Me Up
Filled with appealing rock songs with the slightest hint of pop, fronted by Taylor Momsen's strong gravelly voice, The Pretty Reckless nails the post grunge sound.
Don't let the fact that Momsen is still in her teens and an actress put you off, the talent on this album is unmistakable. Each song on "Light Me Up" is strong in it's own right and the album is superbly crafted.

Andy Latham

Pure Reason Revolution
Hammer and Anvil
A return to form after a patchy second album, PRR blend electronica and prog in a totally contemporary way. Groovy? Oh yes.

Max Raptor
Only their second single but they are already shaping up to be a major contender. High energy but with melody and riffs dominating every song, one to watch!

James Stant

Soundtrack of My Life
Filled with great melodic hooks, this has turned out to be my favourite album of 2010

I Am Forever
The Tragic Tale of Jonny Pumpkinhead
An extremely promising mini-album with a great sound

Hearts Under Fire
Letters EP
The 2010 Red Bull Bedroom Jam finalists displayed their fiery attitude with this great release

Live Performances of the Year

Lucy Sanderson

This is in my list under the influence of extreme bias. They have been one of my favourite bands for some time and this year's tour didn't disappoint. They are consistently astonishing to witness live. The energy and passion that goes into performing every track even after nearly ten years together as a band makes an Alexisonfire show very special. They never look tired or disinterested and I left that show in quite a swoon.
Winter Tour Review

I know it nearly happened a few times over the course of the weekend, but during the Foals set on Saturday evening in the NME/Radio 1 Tent, I did feel my heart actually stop. Don't worry, it did start again. This review isn't being written from another realm. It was a set to knock the breath out of you, as well as being one of those times where you stand there knowing that you are witnessing something of incomprehensible and mind blowing talent.
Leeds Festival Review

We Are Scientists
I saw them on their Winter tour but never got a review written... but what Omar wrote about them at Leeds pretty much sums up how I felt.
It's taken a few years for me to finally get round to seeing We Are Scientists. I adore them. They are yet to release a single bad album and they are ridiculously charming gents. Watching them on stage makes you pine to become 'BFF' with them. Effortlessly charming and charismatic and armed with a catalogue of killer tunes that inspire you to sing along with every word, they were on top form with their live dates this year.
Leeds Festival Review

Omar Soliman

SXSW, Texas
The most overblown, ambitious stadium rock... in a downtown bar's backyard. With lasers.
SXSW Review

Arcade Fire
On a cold night, their set provided a warm hug of the most ethereal, jubilant power pop.
Leeds Festival Review

Even lead singer James Cook could be forgiven a proud smile as he soaked up the applause though the question has to be asked; how can Delphic be defined. Heirs to the Madchester throne or guitar rave geniuses to rival the likes of Chemical Brothers? You have to wonder what they will come up with next year.
Leeds Festival Review

Rory Cargill

Just incredible showmen. Absolutely made sure the crowds got their moneys worth and for the whole show I was 'feeling it', no distractions from sore backs or taller people blocking my view. One of those sets you don't want to end and can enjoy as it's happening rather than wanting it to end so you can enjoy it in hindsight. Incredible atmosphere and community feel among the crowds, that's what makes a good show.
Reading Festival Review

Jenni Wallace

Colours Of One
A captivating set of pure unadulterated hard rock at London's Underworld. I predict we'll hear big things from them in the near future.
London Underworld Review

The Blackout
2010 has seen the boys from Merthyr continue to grow as a band and perfect their live set.
Being rated 13/13 for their support set at The Q Awards Show, their cheeky charm and passionate energy had the room going crazy. Their set was worthy of a headliner - but as they weren't, they made it the perfect support slot and left the crowd amped up for the main act. They followed that with some top notch festival sets at Download and Guilfest.
Q Awards Show Review
Download Festival Review
Guilfest Review

Voodoo Hussy
Only just making it in for consideration this year; Voodoo Hussy are well deserving of my gig of the year. They're a band that are completely connected to one another, super tight live and undeniably passionate about what they do. They set The Relentless Garage alight with their addictive punky rock.
Relentless Garage Review

Andy Latham

Cars On Fire
A blistering performance of melodic hardcore that just oozed aggression and energy.
Guilfest Review

Max Raptor
Great tunes, high energy and the perfect tonic to liven up a wet afternoon.
Download Festival Review

Their first performance at Download and they totally owned it in front of a packed crowd. Past it? Not a bit of it.
Download Festival Review

Napalm Death
Probably the set of the whole weekend from a band that has been going 30 years! Just blistering in every respect and totally blowing away the rest of the bill.
Download Festival Review

James Stant

Rage Against the Machine
This appearance may have been overshadowed by the preceding free gig at Finsbury Park, but this was still a superb set and a highlight of the festival
Download Festival Review

Boys Like Girls
They have to fend off a large amount of similar competition, but with potential like this it should be no problem
November 2010 Tour Review

Bowling for Soup
The Texan musicians returned with another great evening of drunken entertainment, this time with a true sense of occasion and intimacy
April Acoustic Tour Review

So there it is, another year nearly done. We're off for a few beers, to stuff our faces and to crash on the sofa with bulging bellies, farting our way through to the New Year! (Speak for yourself! - Ed)