Top 10 Albums of 2010
First: I do not listen to the radio.
Second: I’m not fond of most of today’s “popular” music…hence you’ll find no Kanye West or Dead Weather here. Actually I kind hate of The Dead Weather.
Third: Other than Fozy Shazam being at #1, these albums are in no particular order.
Fourth: Amoeba Records, I love you.
1) Foxy Shazam- (self titled)- Completely out of left field, this one hit me. The show must go on, and under flaming guitar hero-homage, on it goes. With obvious Freddy Mercury and Justin Hawkins operatic glam worship, Eric McNally and his misfit band of mates concocted an over the top, beat heavy, piano ridden, bombastic, maniacal expression of self-doubt and self-worth. They’re pumped on their own ferocity and simply want to lovingly devour you with it. Let them .
2) Mumford & Sons- “Sigh No More”- Harmonic, rustic, foot stomping, soulful.
3) Black Rebel Motorcycle Club- “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo“- You’d never know that a band at the crossroads created this album. Thankful for the retooling of “River Styx” to sound less like “Personal Jesus” and the songs that step back into “Howl” territory. Dense and weighty in spaces (lyrically and musically) as is their MO, and razor sharp guitars make a well fleshed-out rock album.
4) The Stone Foxes- “Bears & Bulls”- Yeah they look like dirty hippies but the music is a guttural heft of classic rock/blues-fueled bravado. These bastards killed Robert Johnson and have the nerve to sing about it. If you like The Black Keys, me thinks you’ll dig these Foxes.
5) Jordan Cook- “Seven Deadly Sins”- Oh my and I mean that live and recorded. Cook is that thing that once you’ve seen/heard him live, you wonder where has he been all your musical life.
6) Hanson- “Shout It Out”- Save your snickering for later, then get your head out of your ass and reacquaint yourself with a band that’s been making great music far beyond “Mmm Bop” on their own terms for years. Good musicians? Check. Write their own songs? Check. Great live show? Check. The term “boys to men” is entirely appropriate.
7) Dirty Sweet- “American Spiritual”- An American concept album of sorts. War mongering, celebrity obsession, mental health,..it’s all here to the tune of semi- skuzzy, southern sounding rawk. Yet not one of these dudes is from the south…unless you count Southern California.
8) Fitz & the Tantrums “Picking Up The Pieces”- The retro Philly, blue-eyed soul revival continues but with way more style, flair, and kind of a lo-fi sound. Co-vocalists Fitz and Noelle Scaggs make a fine pop rocking pair over solid bass, drum, sax, and organ arrangements that will make you bust a dance move. Or get your groove on. Or both.
9) The Silent Comedy- “Common Faults”- A human frailty album of the best and the worst in all of us. The old-fashioned opening track is just a trick; what follows are guitars, banjos, harmonicas, Hammond organs, pianos, strings, and rollicking tales of prohibition, Sunday church and the gold rush, tempered with life and death reality checks.
10) Dead Confederate- “Sugar”- Very fond of the heavy bass and Jason’s drum work on this album (in Atlanta, the opening strum of Brantley’s bass nearly took an ear out). The southern psych/grunge has evolved; lyrically strong (always a plus), progressive guitars, and Hardy delivers some quality fey/fierce vocals.
More Than Honorable Mentions:
The Black Keys “Brothers”
Janelle Monae “Archandroid“- Saw this little dynamo twice this year. Afro punk/soul is alive and well within her.
Alain Johannes “Spark“- This is a dear recording of remembrance. A headphone listener.
American Bang (self titled)- Southern rockers. KOL version 2.0.