The taint-tickling reviewers on this site were asked to submit their top ten music-related obsessions for 2010. Below you will find lists of the records (old and new), shows, books, and documentaries that captivated us this past year.
Top CDs of 2010.
1. The Heavy – The House That Dirt Built (2009). I know this came out last year, but this band is amazing. They have a throwback 50’s/60’s sound with amazingly catchy rhythms. They can also float from genre to genre so easily – great musicianship. Everyone I’ve turned on to this CD has ended up loving it! I keep playing it too!
The rest are in no particular order – they all get 5 out of 5 smears!
2. The Black Angels – Phosphene Dream (2010).
3. Sa Dingding – Harmony (2010). If you haven’t heard of her, look her stuff up immediately. She will rule the world one day and you should be familiar with your leader.
4. Dan Sartain – Lives (2010). This guy sneaks up on you and before you know it, you are smitten. I’ll be reviewing this CD soon – it’s great and you must get it!
5. Groove Armada – Black Light (2010). Rhythms that move and get you moving, featuring a few different vocalists. Notably a velvety smooth appearance by Bryan Ferry. He sounds as good as the Avalon days! This is a great CD to listen to if you are getting ready to go out, are out, or, just got back from being out! Great stuff!
6. Beach House – Teen Dream (2010). Floaty and dreamy. The kind of CD that, when you are playing it, people inquire about it.
7. Grinderman – 2 (2010). See review on this blog.
8. The Swimmers – People Are Soft (2009). Unsuspecting pop gem that will hit you over the head and leave you clamoring to punch the repeat button.
9. Jaill – That’s How We Burn (2010). Fucking awesome! “She’s My Baby” should be song of the year!
10. Unkle – Where Did the Night Fall (2010). Awesome stuff…different vocalists (including the Black Angels), different sounds. Uber-good!
11. Wintersleep – New Inheritors (2010). Pop genius. You’ll be singing it over and over! Ear worm good!
12. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (2010). The live show was as brilliant as this CD. Lyrically, it’s a sign of the times. If you aren’t familiar, google the lyrics and start reading; then youtube some videos. This group is important and incredibly adept at capturing modern society and it’s many ills into toe-tapping, body moving ditties.
13. Band of Horses – Infinite Arms (2010). If I had a dollar for every time I listened to “Dilly,” I’d be a lucky smear! This CD is perfect.
14. Blitzen Trapper – Destroyer of the Void (2010). This band can do it all and has some great song writing to back it up. I look for them to do big things.
15. Massive Attack – Heliogoland (2010). I am of the belief that anything these guys do is brilliant and perfect. Enough said.
16. Yeasayer – Odd Blood (2010). The first time through this CD, I was a neasayer about Yeasayer. After another listen, I am a HUGE YEASAYER about YEASAYER. This is a great CD and has some of my fav musical moments of the year. Listened to this a lot….
17. I wanted to put The Black Keys, Brothers (2010) on here. And I did cuz it’s a great CD…. But I still am really in love with Dan Auerbach’s Keep It Hid (2009) release. I don’t leave home without it.
18. The Vaselines – Sex With An Ex (2010). Not a throw away in the bunch!
Song: “Alice’s Theme” (2010), Danny Elfman – brilliant.
Danger Mouse/Sparklehorse – Dark Night of the Soul (2010).
Turbo Fruits – Echo Kid (2009). These guys are great and deserve a mention!
Little Black Bottles – Werewolf of Moncton (2010, EP). Great tunes including, “The Devil Takes a Girl.”
The Dead Weather – Sea of Cowards (2010). Awesome!
Echo & The Bunnymen – The Fountain (2009). This is a great release by one of my fav bands…they are a band that definitely provided some tunes on the soundtrack of my life. But this CD is solid – from the song writing to the many catchy tunes – impressive.
The Features – Some Kind of Salvation (2009). Again, a 2009 nod but great CD!
Sleigh Bells – Treats (2010).
Laurie Anderson – Homeland (2010). If you haven’t caught her live show, do try to catch it!
These are the albums that I have listened to the most this past year. Unfortunately, there are no new albums in this list. I wish it were not so. These albums are in no particular order.
1. Tom Robinson Band - Power in the Darkness (1978)
2. Blyth Power - Alnwick and Tyne (1990)
3. Judas Priest - Sad Wings of Destiny (1975)
4. Nick Lowe - Jesus of Cool (1978) and Labour of Lust (1979)
5. Diamond Head - Lightning to the Nations (1981)
6. Omen - Battle Cry (1984)
7. Ramones - Ramones (1976) (always and forever in my top ten)
8. Flight of the Conchords - I Told You I Was Freaky (2009) (almost current!)
9. Songs from Thomas the Tank Engine (courtesy of the little Warrior)
10. RICK SPRINGFIELD - Working Class Dog (1981)
Here is my list of favorite stuff this year in the realm of music.
1- Keelhaul - Triumphant Return to Obscurity (2009)
2- BBC documentary Prog Rock Britannia (2009)
3- Egg- Polite Force (1971)
4- No Means No, North by Northwest performance
5- Kayo Dot- Blue Lambency Downward (2008)
6- Jesu- Opiate Sun (2009)
7- OFF!- First 4 EPs (2010)
8- KARP- Self-Titled (1997)
9- Dillinger Escape Plan- Option Paralysis (2010)
10- Generally being an antisocial prick
Jimmy (Explosive Diarrehea) B.:
Top eleven records.
The Mars Volta – Frances the Mute (2005)
Virgin Steel – The Black Light Bacchanalia (2010)
Tarantula AD – Book of Sand (2005)
US Christmas – Run Thick in the Night (2010)
Blotted Science – The Machinations of Dementia (2007)
Zodiak – Sermons (2008)
Budgie – Squawk (1972)
Neil Young – Live at Massey Hall (2007)
Nomeansno – All Roads Lead to Ausfahrt (2006)
Sweep the Leg Johnny – Tomorrow We Will Run Faster (1999)
The Pack AD- We Kill Computers (2010)
1. Venom - Welcome to Hell (1981)
2. Bonnie “Prince” Billy - I See A Darkness (1999)
3. Johnny Cash - American VI: Ain’t No Grave (2010)
4. Fred Eaglesmith show in South Haven, MN
5. Overkill Killfest show in St. Paul, MN
6. Iron Maiden show in Denver, CO
7. Testament show in Minneapolis, MN (oh yeah, and Megadeth and Slayer were there too)
8. Death Angel - Relentless Retribution (2010)
9. Jimi Hendrix - Valleys Of Neptune (2010)
10. Overkill - Ironbound (2010)
1. Oasis brake -up
(See Grievances of 2010, enough said.)
2. Alice in Chains - Black Gives Way To Blue (Virgin 2009)
Although this album came out in 2009, I didn’t pick it up until this year. I thought I would like a few tracks on it. Much to my surprise, I have almost worn the damn thing out. I simply could not stop listening to the beautiful dreary vocal harmonies and the slow burn.
3. Iron Maiden Live
Good friends, good music, and lots of new tunes. I never thought I would see this day. I sang along like there was no tomorrow.
4. Susan Enan - Plainsong (Feast 2009)
Susan Enan is a British singer-songwriter that made a super mellow album of incredible beauty. It is a little like the Alice In Chains record: Dark and slow but somehow beautiful. Is she an angel that no longer believes in eternity? I cherish this record. Like a drink of cold water, it always feels good. I fear that in a few years she could be the new-overproduced-nightmare that Sarah MacLauchlan became. But for now we have the sorrowful sweetness of Plainsong, an album that ends with an ode to the finality of the grave. You can only get this album from her website
5. Bob Dylan - The Complete Mono Recordings
The classic first 8 LPs siphoned through a single channel. Fucking awesome.
6. The Beatles & John Lennon Catalog re-masters
I love the Beatles when I don’t want to kill them. It all depends on what side of the bed I roll out of on any particular day. The Beatles re-masters actually came out in 2009 but when one attempts to listen to all the Beatles albums in order, one gets the inclination to put a gun to one’s head. It took me time to get through all the albums again. They sound great. Then, the Lennon records came out and I realized, yet again, what an incredible impact his solo albums had on my first years of high school and many continue to bare a weight…“boy, you’re gonna carry that weight a long time.”
7. Bad Religion Live & New Album - The Dissent of Man (Epitaph 2010)
Great new album. I had seen Bad Religion live several times but it had been a few years since my last live encounter with them. There I was, front and center again; we are all a little bit older but this band remains as tight as a snare drum and they continue to pull at my heart and brain strings. Cathartic. If you ever go to see them, get there early and stake a claim at the front of the stage. Hang on to the railing, make sure you know all the words, and prepare to be blown away. I wish I had front and center seats for Maiden.
8. Kris Drever, John McCusker, Roddy Woomble - Before the Ruin (Navigator 2008)
There is a great Scottish rock band called Idlewild. I fucking love them. Their lead singer, Roddy Woomble, teamed up with two other Scottish folk musicians and made one of the greatest albums I have ever heard. Though it came out in 2008, it is only available as an import (like many Idlewild related releases) so I was a little behind on this one. Let me put it this way, the track “The Poorest Company” will be played at my funeral. This album is full of brilliant lyrics and timeless, haunting melodies. Roddy Woomble also put out a great solo album in 2007. Rod Jones, Idlewild’s guitarist, put out a solo album (also import only) this year as well, which is great…and…
9. Idlewild - Post Electric Blues (Cooking Vinyl 2009 - domestic release 2010)
I couldn’t wait for the domestic release, so I bought the import. This band never lets me down. Great rock and wonderful ballads with mysterious poetic lyrics that often, ironically, border on the very specific heart wrenching moments of modern life. Great.
10. Joy Division (The Miriam Collection) Documentary Film (2008)
Finally, an intelligent and thoughtful documentary on this fantastic band that almost does them justice. It does not romanticize Ian Curtis’s suicide and yet it touches on the social impact and content of both the sound and lyrical content of the band.
In no particular order.
Exciter - Heavy Metal Maniac (1983)
Anthrax - Spreading the Disease (1985)
BG - The Congratulations (2002)
Schlong - Tumours (1995)
Chicken Farm - Chicken Farm (1994)
Teen Cthulhu - Ride the Blade (2003)
Corrosion Of Conformity - Eye For An Eye (1984)
Iconoclast - Groundlessness of Belief (1994)
Wynona Riders - Artificial Intelligence (1997)
Youth Against... - La Revolucion De Los De Abajo (1999)
Below, in no particular order, is my top ten for the year—including new albums, older albums I was really digging in 2010, and other music related stuff. I should mention that there are two missing albums I would have otherwise included: Addicted by The Devin Townsend Band and The Obsidian Conspiracy by Nevermore. But since I already reviewed both of them for all you taint-ticklers out there, I’m leaving these two (awesome) albums aside. Also, I would have included Agalloch’s latest, Marrow of the Spirit, but that just came out recently and I haven’t had the time to really digest it. On the first couple of listens, though, it’s as good as anything they’ve released, which is to say, it fucking rules. Anyway:
1. The Big To-Do, Drive-By Truckers. A fantastic release by a band at the top of their game. I would say these guys (and gal) are getting better and better, and maybe in some ways they are. But I’d rather say they’re just consistently so fucking good, album after album. “Birthday Boy,” “This Fucking Job,” and “After the Scene Dies” are standout tracks. I’m looking forward to ringing in the New Year with them in NYC.
2. Supporting Caste, Propagandhi. Their newest LP, released in 2009. I listened the shit out of this album this year. There’s a proggy edge here (they mention fellow Canadians Voivod and Rush in the liner notes), and the lyrics are often brilliant and moving (and occasionally pretty funny). Check out “Dear Coach’s Corner” for the best song about hockey since Warren Zevon’s “Hit Somebody!”
3. Coal, Kathy Mattea. An entire album about coal—or, really, people whose lives are shaped by the coal mining industry. Mattea—once a big country hit maker and now working in a more traditional, stripped down style—approaches these songs with reverence but isn’t afraid to really inhabit them and make them her own. It’s a passionate album, and political in the best, most powerful—and most human—sense. When I’m listening to this and her version of Darrell Scott’s “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” comes on, I need to stop whatever I’m doing and just listen.
4. Life’ll Kill Ya, Warren Zevon. I’ve slowly been making my way through Zevon’s catalog, and this album might be his best (I’ve heard so far). Great humor mixed with excellent songwriting and intelligence. The album takes on additional meaning now that Zevon himself is gone, and it’s a shame that we won’t hear any new material from this totally unique songwriter. But like the man said, “Life’ll kill ya, and then you’ll be dead,” so might as well enjoy this stuff while we can.
5. Roadhouse Sun, Ryan Bingham. He put out an album in 2010, and this ain’t it (that album, Junky Star, is solid, though). Roadhouse Sun came out last year, and for whatever reason, it just didn’t click with me. Bingham doesn’t have a very wide-ranging style—many of his songs sound pretty similar, his just-gargled-a-pack-of-Marlboro-reds voice hardly changes, and he uses a lot of the same vocal melodies. So, I knew I liked it, I enjoyed listening to it, but nothing stuck. I put it aside for a couple of months, and brought it out again sometime this year—and man, this album is fucking great. Not perfect by any means, but once the songs become familiar, they feel very familiar, like you’ve been listening to them for years.
6. Faith No More reunion concert. I wanted to include a show on here, but choosing which one was difficult. I think I went to more great shows this year than any time I can remember. But, in the end, I have to give it to Faith No More, who reunited and played in Brooklyn on the waterfront over the summer. Here are a few reasons: 1) I love FNM but they were beyond anything I expected; the energy was so high and the crowd was so into it (and surprisingly rowdy) that the songs took on a totally different character, like hearing them all over again for the first time. 2) A beautiful outdoor venue, right on the bank of the East River with the NY skyline rising up on the other side. 3) It was the band’s first East Coast show since the late nineties. 4) The great Neil Hamburger was the opening act (and if you don’t know who he is, look him up). 5) There was a guy wandering around with Mastodon shoes (I shit you not, available wherever Mastodon merchandise is sold: http://nogoodforme.filmstills.org/images/mastodonvans.jpg) AND a life-size cardboard cutout of Vince Neil. Next: a new album? We can only hope.
7. Young, Loud, and Snotty, Dead Boys. A classic album that I finally bought and ended up listening to quite a lot. This band is a bunch of assholes: moronic, offensive, crude, sleazy. I mean, “Caught with the Meat in Your Mouth”? Jesus. They have none of the charm of the Ramones and none of the artistry (or social message) of The Clash. But when you’re pissed off (especially for no reason), this is exactly what you want to fucking hear. And it’s catchy, too!
8. Bruce Springsteen: Two Hearts, the Story by Dave Marsh. I grew up in New Jersey at the height of Brucemania, so of course I hated that motherfucker. He was like some patriotic (and patriarchal?) authority figure we were all “supposed” to love, and he played corny oldies music. Ok, I’m being harsh, but I resisted Bruce for a while until I realized I was being irrational, and that I really did like his music. So I gave him a shot … and it all made sense to me. These days I’m a total Bruce convert, lamenting my sinful past, crying “Broooooooce” into the New Jersey night sky and begging for forgiveness (I went through a similar process with Bob Dylan). Anyway, this book is the definitive bio written by an astute critic (and close friend of Bruce, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). Anyone who even sorta likes Bruce should read this book—it’s engrossing but very sharp in its analysis (and the author’s politics, while subtle, are radical, so he’s more than up to the task of addressing the social meaning of Bruce’s work). I’m not even done with it yet and it’s going up on the top ten.
9. After, Ihsahn. A new solo album from the main force behind the mighty Emperor. His last solo album, AngL, blew me away, especially the duet with Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth, “Unhealer,” so I had high expectations. Ihsahn not only met them—he threw in a fucking saxophone! That’s right, just check this out and wait for the sax solo, around 30 seconds and again around 1 minute in: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ0vYjrefO4. Is Ihsahn the Bruce of black metal? I suspect he is. This whole album smokes—totally mesmerizing.
10. Elvis (in general). I never really took Elvis seriously—I mean, who really listens to Elvis? (A lot of people, as it turns out.) So I finally bought a 2-disc greatest hits, figuring that any self-respecting music fan should at least have some Elvis in their collection. And man, I never looked back. There are things to dislike about Elvis—the man, the music—but there’s way more to enjoy. I still have trouble taking certain songs seriously (“Jailhouse Rock” and a few of the other early hits feel like novelties at this point in their pop-cultural institutionalization), but goddamnit isn’t “Can’t Help Falling in Love” one of the greatest songs ever written? Not that Elvis wrote it, of course, but that’s all part of the Elvis contradiction. This was probably my most unexpected musical moment of 2010, but I’m glad it happened.
Making a list of my top ten for the year was a difficult task. My initial list included twenty-plus items. But I managed to trim the list down to the following, which I present in no particular order.
Gaslight Anthem – American Slang (2010). This summer I was in a record store in Boulder, Colorado. A promotional copy of this record was being played. I loved it. The band has received a ton of attention this year. It is well deserved. Gaslight Anthem has released several great rock records that sound classic and contemporary at the same time. “Old Haunts,” “Orphans,” “American Slang, and “We Did It When We Were Young” are outstanding songs.
June Star – Lower Your Arms (2010). June Star is an awesome Americana band from Baltimore, Maryland that I first learned about from Miles of Music many years ago. They have put out many great records. Their new record consists mostly of songs that Andrew Grimm released on solo records over the last several years. Here, the songs get the full band treatment. Andrew has a great voice and is an outstanding songwriter. When I put this record on the stereo, I have to listen to it at three times in a row. I can’t get enough of it. Almost every track is awesome. Check out “Wolves,” “Breakdown,” and “If You Leave.” For now, this is all I want to say about the record. Support this hard-working band.
Idlewild (their entire catalog). For years, I looked at Idlewild records, but never bought one. I had no idea what they sounded like. Null sent me some of their CDs, and I was completely hooked. I love the ongoing development of this band. Their records are filled with songs that one minute break your heart and the next that rock the fuck out and make you dance around the room. When I play any of their records, I stop everything that I am doing to just listen to the voice, the sound, the structure of the songs. Their record Post Electric Blues was released stateside this year. It is a fuckin’ good record, and I spent a month listening to almost only this band. Damn, I think I will go listen to them now.
Iron Maiden – Final Frontier (2010). I grew up loving Iron Maiden. Obviously, they are a classic band. Yes, the early records are awesome, but so are their recent records. The last four records, including the most recent one, are incredible. While this may be blasphemous to many, I think Iron Maiden keeps getting better. They are creating epic records, but these releases demand that listeners actually devote time to listening to them. For me, the new record really starts rolling from the third song on. I love the range of songs here, as well as the dynamic play within each song. By the time, the closing eleven minute song, “When the Wild Wind Blows” ends, I am already reaching for the remote to push play again. I cannot get enough of this record.
Band of Annuals – Ep (2008) and Let Me Live (2007). Band of Annuals are a great Americana band from Salt Lake City. Check out their myspace page, or their website. Listen to the song “Echo” on the Ep. Order the record it from CD Baby. Do it.
Sam Quinn – Fake that Sunk a Thousand Ships (2010). I already reviewed this record. Sam kicks ass. Can’t wait for the next record.
Phosphorescent – Here’s to Taking it Easy (2010). I have been picking up the various Phosphorescent records since 2003. I liked the previous records, but I rarely listened to them. But Here’s to Taking it Easy really caught my attention. This record is mostly mellow, alternative country-rock that sounds rough around the edges. “Nothing Was Stolen” and “Tell Me Baby” are great tracks on this record.
Leatherface – Stormy Petrel (2010). I reviewed this record this past year—great punk rock record and awesome band. I would love to see them live.
Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage DVD (2010). I have liked Rush since I was a child, but as the years pass my love for this band only increases. Jimmy (Explosive Diarrehea) B and I saw them play a few years ago in Vancouver, Washington. This documentary is absolutely wonderful. My partner, who dislikes Rush, even liked this film. I enjoyed hearing other musicians talk about their connections to Rush. The interviews with the three guys in Rush were fascinating, revealing their friendship, humor, and development. Of course, I wish the documentary covered more ground, focused on additional records and periods of the band, and was longer. Nevertheless, Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen have made another great rock documentary.
Iron Maiden concert, Denver, Colorado (2010). This past summer I was finally able to see Iron Maiden. A group of close friends, including fellow reviewers (Kloghole and Null) on this blog, met in Colorado to spend several days together and to attend this show. Iron Maiden mostly played songs from the recent records, which I thought was great. This band still kicks ass and puts on an awesome show.
Fuck it, here are a few more musical obsessions this year:
Tinariwen - Aman Iman: Water Is Life (2007)
The Black Angels – Phosphene Dream (2010)
Blue Öyster Cult – Secret Treaties (1974)
Band of Horses – Infinite Arms (2010)