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

Friday, December 24, 2010

Bucketfull of Brains Top 10 (or so)

Brought to my attention by the great JD... thanks, and you're right this is well-written and tasteful.

Top Five:

John Grant: Queen of Denmark
Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3: Northern Aggression
Black Mountain: Wildnerness Heart
Colorama: Box
Roky Erikson with Okkervil River: True Love Cast Out All Evil

LINK: Bucketfull of Brains Top 10 of 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Grimey's Staff Picks for 2010

Great folks at Grimey's, and they have helped me discover so much great music over the last dozen or so years... As with all such lists, it's fun to see who you're in line with, then look for other records on that person's list that you might not know about but want to check out.

Top Five by Mike "Grimey" Grimes, co-owner (and the only staff member who ranked his records):

1. Black Keys 'Brothers'
2. Metallica 'Live At Grimey's'
3. Avi Buffalo
4. Beach House 'Teen Dream'
5. Silver Seas 'Chateau Revenge'

LINK: Grimey's Staff 2010 Picks

Did your local independent record store publish their staff's 2010 picks? Please tell me about it in the comments. I think keeping these folks in business is one of the best things we can do for the future of independent music and musicians.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Metacritic Listing of Critics' Top Tens with Links...

Metacritic scans reviews of music, movies, TV shows, games, etc and assigns a relative score to the reviews that don't give scores, and translates scores (like three out of five stars) to a 1-100 scale, then collects them and gives an average on that scale.

This link is to the individual critics' top tens. The bias is toward "published" critics (i.e., newspaper and recognized media outlets) so there is definitely more representation of big records like Kanye West, but maybe all these people really like that record that much and listen to it all the time. Maybe.

The scorecard which indicates what most of these people liked the most:

1. Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
2. Arcade Fire: The Suburbs
3. LCD Soundsystem: This is Happening
4. Janell Monae: The ArchAndroid
5. The National: High Violet

My best use of these things is usually to try to find someone who likes what I like, and see if there's anything on their list I haven't heard yet. Enjoy, explore and feel free to discuss...

LINK: Music Critic 2010 Top Ten Lists

All Music Loves 2010: Reviewers' 2010 Lists

Have usually found at least a few reviewers I could get in sync with (Erlewine was one of them, but his 2010 list is kinda... interesting). There's probably something for everybody, but like the best of these kinds of things, they are combinations of longtime favorites and "Hey look at this cool thing I heard this year!" that I like on year end lists...

Here is the overall list, I suppose a compendium or distillation of all the individual lists:

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Beach House – Teen Dream
Best Coast – Crazy for You
Betty and the Werewolves – Teatime Favourites
Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles (II)
Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Rush to Relax
Field Music – Field Music (Measure)
Glasser – Ring
Grass Widow – Past Time
Happy Birthday – Happy Birthday
Harlem – Hippies
Zach Hill – Face Tat
How to Dress Well – Love Remains
Kisses – The Heart of the Nightlife
LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
Liars – Sisterworld
The LimiƱanas – The LimiƱanas
LoneLady – Nerve Up
Magic Kids – Memphis
Male Bonding – Nothing Hurts
MGMT – Congratulations
Mi Ami – Steal Your Face
The Morning Benders – Big Echo
Octopus Project – Hexadecagon
Of Montreal – False Priest
Perfume Genius – Learning
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today
The Radio Dept. – Clinging to a Scheme
Reporter – Time Incredible
Frankie Rose and the Outs – Frankie Rose and the Outs
The School – Loveless Unbeliever
School of Seven Bells – Disconnect from Desire
The Secret History – The World That Never Was
The Soft Pack – The Soft Pack
Sleigh Bells – Treats
Spoon – Transference
Marnie Stern – Marnie Stern
The Strange Boys – Be Brave
Tame Impala – Innerspeaker
Twin Shadow – Forget
Vampire Weekend – Contra
The Walkmen – Lisbon

And here's the link to the blog entry containing all the individual reviewers' lists.

LINK: AllMusic Loves 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

KEXP DJ's Top 10 Lists

Discovered a lot of good new stuff listening to their "Music That Matters" and Song of the Day podcasts, and see a lot of familiar names on these lists. Funny how popular Tame Impala's Innerspeaker is with these folks and the folks at KCRW, but it didn't appear on the magazine lists...

LINK: KEXP DJ Top 10's

KCRW DJ's 2010 Top 10 Lists

KCRW has some good podcasts, and their DJ's have some interesting year end lists. Follow the link to see the individual lists...j

I don't see an overall Top 10 or 20, but if there is one, surely Black Keys, Arcade Fire and Tame Impala will be on it. I really like what I've heard of that Tame Impala disc, too...

LINK: KCRW DJ 2010 Top 20 Lists

MAGNET Magazine Top 20 of 2010

Magnet does a nice job with indie and power pop (note the inclusion of Superchunk and Teenage Fanclub, hardly critics' darlings at this late date, but still popular with music fans like the Magnet staff for their tuneful, consistent approach to rock music). I have a weakness for them because they'll still include something by the Fading Captain on their year end list (this year it's the Boston Spaceships' Our Cubehouse Still Rocks).

Top Five:

1. Beach House: Teen Dream
2. Arcade Fire: Suburbs
3. The National: High Violet
4. Broken Bells: Broken Bells
5. Superchunk: Majesty Shredding

LINK: MAGNET Magazine Top 20 of 2010

Crawdaddy Magazine: Top 50 of 2010

Crawdaddy, the venerable music magazine, has apparently revived itself online. This looks like a great source of information and reviews, and it's connected with Wolfgang's Vault and the amazing session site Daytrotter.

All in all, a very good list although I must admit I just don't "get" The National:

Top five:

1. The National: High Violet
2. Future Islands: In Evening Air
3. Beach House: Teen Dream
4. Arcade Fire: Suburbs
5. Beach Fossils: Beach Fossils

Link: Crawdaddy Top 50 of 2010

NPR Listeners' Poll: Top 100 of 2010

NPR's All Songs Considered Poll is a huge affair, encompassing tens of thousands of votes and every genre (but clearly tending toward indie or college rock). Top five:

Arcade Fire: The Suburbs
Black Keys: Brothers
The National: High Violet
Mumford & Son: Sigh No More
Broken Bells: Broken Bells

Here's a link to the list, with one song per disc available for listen, of the final top 100:

LINK: NPR Listeners' Top 100

And here's a link to their total year end coverage, which gets into the critics' lists and various genres:

LINK: NPR All Songs Considered 2010 Year End Coverage

No Depression 2010 Readers' Poll

One of the things I like about year end polls is discovering discs I might have overlooked. The No Depression poll always yields an interesting list. No Depression has always billed itself as the magazine for "Alt Country (Whatever That Is)", so the readership tends toward folk-based music and has always really favored certain artists: Peter Case, Alejandro Escovedo, Dave Gleason for example... but the readers also have varied tastes, so you'll see a Teenage Fanclub, Guided by Voices, or other tuneful pop/rock from time to time.

You can vote if you want, just have to sign up for an account. You can log in with your Google or Facebook accounts if you want. They've been through the initial submission round. This list consists of everything that got more than three mentions in that round.

LINK: No Depression Readers Poll

Monday, December 20, 2010

They Are Coming to Nashville... GbV, "My Kind of Soldier"

Yes, GbV is coming to Nashville on their (fortunately extended) Reunion Tour: January 14. Thank you, Bob!

...maybe Beatle Bob will make the trek from St. Louis...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Retribution Gospel Choir: "Your Bird" from RGC 2

I'm slowly but surely putting together a top 20 list, and this may top the list. It's at worst top 5... an amazing record. Using "Crazy Horse-like" as an adjective is the surest way to get me to check out some music, if it is for you as well, then check this thing out. Maybe the best guitars I have heard on a record this year.

Website: Retribution Gospel Choir

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Centro-matic: "Patience for the Ride"

From Fort Recovery:

Will recently did a guest editor spot with (looks like they stopped publishing, but there's a lot of good stuff on their website):
Will Johnson Guest Editor on Magnet Magazine and they also have a Q&A with him: Will Johnson Q&A at Magnet Magazine.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Frankie Rose and the Outs: "Candy"

From the self-titled album released in September... this is real good, it's going on my lo-fi garage pop playlist with Best Coast, Mantles, Ty Segall, Wavves, Beach Fossils...

Website: Frankie Rose Myspace

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Grass Widow: "Fried Egg"

Nice punk and pop with harmony vocals. Album is Past Time, apparently came out in late summer...

Website: Grass Widow on killrockstars

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tame Impala: "Solitude is Bliss" from Innerspeaker

Good psych rock from Australian band Tame Impala. Currently on tour in the Western US (website link below).

Daytrotter session: Tame Impala on Daytrotter

Band website: Tame Impala

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bear in Heaven: "You Do You"

Got this on a recommendation, like it very much. Here's a live clip of a song from their most recent disc, Beast Rest Forth Mouth. Recommended. A double disc with remixes was recently released, you should be able to find it at your local music store or at the website below...

Website: Bear in Heaven