Thursday, December 30, 2010

WYMA (John's) Top 20 of 2010: As Usual With Me, Guitars Rule...

I'm going to post my top 20 of 2010 (click to follow link to MySpace Playlist). When I do these things, it's always difficult to make the final cuts. The "Top 10" sort of makes itself. It's the records that I just put in the cd player and leave in there. If there's something on the record I tend to skip, it probably won't be in my Top 10. There are probably records in 10-20 that meet that criteria, too... This year, Broken Bells and Drive-by Truckers would probably fit that description. It's all pretty subjective, is what I guess I'm trying to say. I welcome, indeed I invite, your comments and your personal lists of favorites. Try to post them in the "comments" section. If that doesn't work send me an email and I'll try to create a post with all the submissions I get.

I'm posting links to the official websites (or Myspace pages if the artist doesn't appear to have an official site). If you can't find these discs in a local store (check the Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS) and Alliance of Independent Music Stores (AIMS) links -- also available on the sidebar to the right), try to buy them via the artists' website... seems like the right way to thank all these acts for all this great music they gave us in 2010.

1. Los Lobos - Tin Can Trust. This was my favorite album of 2010. Los Lobos has been making great American rock music for about 30 years, and they usually make my top 20 list, but I don't recall the last time they had my top record. It's about time, probably. David Hidalgo is as good a soul vocalist as we have nowadays, and every song is well-written and played, but what made this record jump to the top of my list is the lead guitar interplay on songs like "Bridges Burning", a composition by Cesar Rosas and Jerry Garcia's old writing partner Robert Hunter. Los Lobos Website

2. Jim Lauderdale - Patchwork River. Speaking of Robert Hunter, this is the second wonderful collection of Americana sketches by Lauderdale and Robert Hunter. Jim Lauderdale is a musical treasure in every way: as a writer, collaborator (in addition to Hunter, he's recorded two full albums with Ralph Stanley and various other acts through the years) and a great bluegrass and straight country singer. Jim Lauderdale Website

3. Retribution Gospel Choir - 2. Here's another one with great guitar playing throughout, and some moments that truly approach Crazy Horse in intensity. Alan Sparhawk (of Low) is the leader of this band, and he obviously wanted an outlet for his rock guitar tendencies. Retribution Gospel Choir Website

4. Robert Pollard - We All Got Out of the Army. The best Pollard disc of the year was released in February and it confirms his preeminence in at least three of the four P's: pop, prog and psych, with echos of some of the best GbV power pop records and precursors like David Bowie ("Faster to Babylon"). Robert Pollard Website

5. Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3 - Northern Aggression. I've always enjoyed the wild guitar playing on Wynn's work with Miracle 3, but he's channelling Verlaine and Lloyd on some of the songs here. I'm not kidding... this is an incredible rock record. Steve Wynn Website

6. Danger Mouse/Sparklehorse - Dark Night of the Soul. This is really an amazing piece of work, and I look forward to seeing the visual part of the project... just as an album, Dark Night is in my top 5. RIP Mark Linkous... he was really one of my favorites, year after year. Dark Night of the Soul Website

7. Henry Clay People - Somewhere On the Golden Coast. Only two P's (punk and pop), but a lot of fun. "Working Part Time" is so good, I don't mind them remaking a song from their first album ("This Ain't a Scene"). Probably not too many people ever got hold of that one anyway... Henry Clay People Website

8. Black Keys - Brothers. Starting from the same heavy blues base as their previous records, they expand into some soul and psych, and do it very well, as usual. Black Keys Website

9. Citay - Dream Get Together. Great, great guitar work on this record. This band makes psychedelic rock with a level of acoustic and electric guitar interplay you don't hear very often. Citay Website

10. Boston Spaceships - Our Cubehouse Still Rocks. Robert Pollard's second entry in my personal Top Ten. This, like the other Boston Spaceships discs, is very catchy and enjoyable while offering enough Pollard quirkiness to keep it interesting. Favorite song title: "John the Dwarf Wants to Become An Angel". Maybe my favorite song, too. Boston Spaceships Website

11. Tame Impala - Innerspeaker. Australian rock band, heavy on the psychedelic content, with great guitars and long songs. Tame Impala Website

12. Broken Bells - Broken Bells. Getting away from guitar-based rock just a bit, this record combined the writing and singing of James Mercer (Shins) with the backdrop of some more impeccable Dangermouse playing and production. Broken Bells Website

13. Avi Buffalo - Avi Buffalo. Spent the first couple of weeks I had this record trying to put two and two together regarding its influences: Shins, Wilco? Certainly I'd recommend it to anyone who's enjoyed the direction of the last couple of Wilco records. Avi Buffalo Website

14. Beach Fossils - Beach Fossils. Primitive guitar rock with partially-obscured vocals and catchy tunes. Lo-fi heaven, pretty much. Beach Fossils Myspace

15. Drive-by Truckers - The Big To-Do. DBT continue to rock hard and break your heart, sometimes at the same time. Usually at the same time. Drive-By Truckers Website

16. Steve Mason - Boys Outside. Slick Northern Soul meets high quality prog rock with electronic leanings. Mason and the members of the Aliens are former members of Beta Band, and it's one of those breakups, like Uncle Tupelo's, that yields at least two good new acts. Steve Mason Website

17. Best Coast - Crazy for You. Yeah, it sounds like the songs are all about the same stuff, but so what? This is the kind of catchy pop/rock you just find yourself enjoying and forgetting... and that's not a bad thing. Best Coast Website

18. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - I Learned the Hard Way. From horn-driven funk to sweet soul music, this band can do it all and Sharon Jones is one of the strongest bandleaders working today. Seriously, what is not to love about this band? Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings Website

19. Ty Segall - Melted. More surf rock-inspired lo-fi fun. I applaud the rise of this stuff... twisted step-grandchildren of Dick Dale? Ty Segall Myspace

20. Budos Band - Budos Band III. It's not new ground they're plowing, but somehow they keep their music sounding fresh (at least to me). The horns and the beat are the highlights, but I like the keyboards and guitars as well. If you liked old funk outfits like the Meters and the stuff uncovered by Egon on The Funky 16 Corners, definitely give these folks a try. They're making this excellent classic funk RIGHT NOW.Budos Band Website


Honorable Mentions (I really liked these a lot, and hated to leave them off a "Best of" list, so consider them #20 A through K)
Neil Young - Le Noise
Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
Cee-Lo Green - The Ladykiller
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Robert Pollard - Moses on a Snail
Wild Nothing - Gemini
Dum Dum Girls - I Will Be
Centro-matic - Eyas
(To clarify, this is on Honorable Mentions only because it's an EP of outtakes - a full Centro-Matic album is due out in early 2011)
High Dials - Anthems for Doomed Youth
Radio Dept - Clinging to a Scheme
A Viberatto - A
Agalloch - Marrow of the Spirit
Eddy Current Suppression Ring - Rush to Relax
Fresh & Onlys - Play it Strange

2009 Releases I discovered in 2010:

The Mantles - The Mantles
Bear in Heaven - Beast Rest Forth Mouth
Desolation Wildnerness - New Universe

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Paste Magazine Top 50 Albums of 2010

Is it just me or does their top 5 seem, sort of, "music critic generic"? Who am I to say, I'm not even able to tell you why I like most of the stuff I like... There's definitely some good writing in here, and they definitely survey a wide variety and large quantity of material to come up with their final lists.

Top 5:

1. LCD Soundsystem, This is Happening
2. Janell Monae, The ArchAndroid
3. Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More
4. Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
5. Titus Andronicus, The Monitor

Link: Paste Top 50 Albums of 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No Depression 2010 Poll Results: Readers' Poll and ND Blogger Favorites

Here are the final results of the various No Depression magazine polls.

Top Five in readers' poll:

1. Justin Townes Earle - Harlem River Blues
2. Alejandro Escovedo - Street Songs of Love
3. Peter Wolf - Midnight Souvenirs
4. Drive By Truckers – The Big To Do
5. John Mellencamp – No Better Than This

Explanations and lists at this link:

LINK: No Depression Polls

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Indie Surfer Top 10 of 2010

Indie Surfer is a blog I discovered this year. I think I came across it via Google Reader, and am glad it showed up. I've discovered several worthwhile new acts through posts on Indie Surfer, and am happy to post the link in the "Music Info Sites" sidebar to the right...

Top Five from their site:

1. Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
2. Titus Adronicus - The Monitor
3. Wolf Parade - EXPO 86
4. The Black Keys - Brothers
5. The National - High Violet

Here is a link to their top 10: Indie Surfer Top 10 of 2010