Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Top 20 Albums (New and newly discovered) in 2010

End of year lists are kind of like a big left-overs meal where you sift through everything you've collected up over the year and pick out what you liked well enough to have more. I decided to add the “new to me” caveat to the list because, frankly, I have a life and unlike when I was in high school and college, I can’t devote all of my time to chasing down the next new thing.


20. Falcon – The Courteeners

I first heard The Courteeners when they opened for Morrissey, and was really impressed. A seemingly under-rated, unknown band, (at least in the US) which is disappointing for their amount of talent.

19. Witching Hour - Ladytron

This album by Ladytron came out late last year, but didn't show up on my radar until early this year; I have since been hooked. This year has just seen the release of singles and remixes, but hopefully they are just teasers for 2011 .

18. The Best of the Undertones- The Undertones

This re-release of the classic Undertones ranks high for me. I first discovered The Undertones in a backwards sort of way. I first heard "Teenage Kicks" as a cover by Thee Headcoatees, then traced it back to a cover by The Vibrators and eventually to legendary band, The Undertones. That was a lot of work pre-internet. A great primer album for those learning their music history and a must-have for collectors.

17. Sherlocks Daughter- Sherlocks Daughter

Like an Australian version of Sigur Ros, Sherlocks Daughter is sure to impress.

16. There is No Enemy- Built to Spill

This one came out late last year, but I didn't pick it up until January. I did, however get to go see Built to Spill play again a few months ago. Having seen Built to Spill play more times in my life than any other band, I never pay more than $5 to see them, but no matter whether I seem them play for free at a neighborhood street fair in Boise or headlining a Festival halfway across the country, they never disappoint.

15. Trans-continental Shuffle- Gogol Bordello

I really wish I had listened to Gogol Bordello more BEFORE I saw them at Lollapalooza. It's always refreshing to hear bands that come up with a completely new sound and identity. On the flip side, I hope they have enough to say to outlast this current bright shining star they are riding. The band has the message and energy to be the new political band of the decade, like Rage Against the Machine in the 90s or REM in the 80s, but lack the angry passion of youth to push them forward. Fantastic album, but a bit skeptical about their future.

14. Idyll Intangible- Navvy

Every year I seem to get hooked on something kooky. Two years ago it was Art Brut, last year the Aquabats, this year it’s Navvy.

13. Sister Kinderhook – Rasputina

Thanks to Guy Magnificent for the introduction to Rasputina. Now if only I hadn't missed their concert….

12. Music for Men- The Gossip

The Gossip create such marvelous dance tracks. Another band I am looking forward to hearing more from.

11. A Guide to Love, Loss and DesperationThe Wombats

The Wombats put out my favorite workout album of the year. Probably not a conventional "workout" album, but it helps me get started taking those first steps on the treadmill like none other. Also a “late arrival”.

10. High Violet - The National

This album was the first I had heard of The National, but I love it. I need to spend some time with their archives.

9. Senior-Royksöpp

Royksöpp is simply delicious.

8. Crossing the Rubicon - The Sounds

The Sounds are my favorite new girl-lead band.

7. Sleep Forever – The Crocodiles

The Crocodiles are like having Jesus and Mary Chain’s musical twins putting out new music.

6. Smart Accessories – The Cute Lepers

The Cute Lepers had better keep putting out new music, and not break up again (they used to be the Briefs) or I will be very put out.

5. Under the Great White Northern Lights - The White Stripes

This is one of those albums that no one seems to agree upon when exactly it was released since the tour pre-dates the print date and release dates. Anyhow, I say it counts for this year. I usually only buy older music on vinyl, stuff I want to sit around and savor, but this was a only a slight deviation from that norm. The music is old and familiar to White Stripes fans, but the live performance was the new element. I plunked down 35 clams from my stash of "un-mommy money" at Reckless Records in Chicago for two heavy pieces of vinyl and it is worth every copper penny. The combination of favorites like "Iky Thump", "Little Ghost", "Blue Orchid" and "Seven Nation Army" combined with gems like the cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene", Meg and Jack make this a must have for music collectors.

4. The Resistance- Muse

Yet another late arrival. Apparently one of the casualties of living in Turkey was I didn’t discover Muse earlier. Sheer musical genius.

3. A Brief History of Love- The Big Pink

Just can’t get enough of The Big Pink. This band has "it", that non-pinpointable thing I search for in music, a combination of smart lyrics, unique rhythms, clarity and distortion, beauty and elegance with a heaping dose of dark human grit. It doesn't hurt their cause having AkikoMatsuura, the coolest female drummer on the planet (tied right next to Meg White of course). Very high on my watch list to see live and crossing my eyes, fingers and toes for more from them this next year.

2. Peghead & Friendly Dog Salad & The Last Polka- Black Happy

Technically these Black Happy albums are re-issues that have been out of print for at least 15 years, but I have brand new 20th anniversary copies, AND they are now available on Napster and iTunes. There is nothing like a 20th anniversary edition of anything to make you simultaneously feel old and young in the same instant.

1. Foxy Shazam – Foxy Shazam

In my mind nothing has come as close to musical perfection this year as Foxy Shazam. They are the whole musical package. Seeing them play live 3 times and getting to know them a bit hasn't hurt either. But even if that hadn't been the case I would still stand by this year’s number 1 choice as the very best new thing out, and they have made the biggest impact on my musical tastebuds this year.

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