What music was I impressed by this year?
I thought: “Hey, it’s Christmas. It’s the end of the year. I have no time to be creative – I’ll do a top-whatever list for poops and giggles”.
(pardon the bodily function references – I’ve been home with the kids for a week already…)
I started looking through my iTunes library to see what I’ve acquired this past year. It’s quite a list – my music library is well over 100Gb. There are definitely some “why-did-I-pay-money-for-this?” albums (perhaps another list post if I get bored), but there are some gems that I seem to be going back to regularly).
Not all of these artists/albums were released in 2010 – I just happened on them during the past year. So here it goes:
- No More Kings “No More Kings” – kind of has a Jason Mraz feel, but there are some really cool variations and the band doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously although, they’re definitely tight and know what they’re doing.
- Plain White T’s “Wonders of the Younger” – just a fun album to listen to. Well produced and a lot of ear candy / variety between and within each song.
- Rev Theory “Light It Up” – plain and simple, straight up rock with some blemishes. Some Alice and Chains influence in here, and probably what Nickleback would sound like if they actually could write something good.
- Dandy Warhols “The Capitol Years 1995-2007” – this is one of those bands that you keep hearing the name of over the years and kind of forgetting to check out. I finally checked them out and was very impressed! Can’t really put my finger on the style, but a mix of Alt Rock with some synth and good production.
- Cee Lo Green “Stray Bullets Mix Tape” – This is actually kind of hard to get these days (well, unless you venture into the company of those who utter “argh matey!”). It was released a while back for free download. I’ll admit, I started looking around for Cee Lo stuff when he started releasing “F*#k You” on YouTube. His Lady Killer album wasn’t out yet, but I found this and liked the humour and variety he’s got. The track that I love is a remix of Soko’s “I’ll Kill Her” where he’s transformed the song into a “conversation” between himself and a neurotic girlfriend.
- Celldweller “Soundtrack for the Voices in My Head Vol. 1” – if Dream Theater and NIN got together to do a film soundtrack, this is probably what it would sound like.
- Black Mountain “Wilderness Heart” – Now, this is rock recorded with all the blemishes and warts. It’s refreshing to hear something that’s not edited and produced to heck. It’s also refreshing to hear a female singer in this kind of rock who doesn’t sound like Hayley Williams of Paramore.
- Linkin Park “A Thousand Suns” – Totally over-produced band, unlike Black Mountain, but there’s a lot of variety on the album. LP is one of those bands that I have, but usually pass over. I’ve found that I’ve come back to this album more than once and been pleasantly surprised.
- The Roots “How I Got Over” – Everyone seems to be doing collaboration albums – this one is so cool. Got that downtempo hip-hop feel that just keeps your toe tapping.
- Operator “Soulcrusher” – the singer is Chris Cornell fan. Actually, the band has a re-incarnated sound of Soundgarden. Definitely some good, hard, rock here.
- Stars “The Five Ghosts” – Yeah, a definite adult contemporary alternative band, but I keep finding this a great album to keep coming back to – some catchy tunes, well produced and the male/female singer dynamic is quite cool.
- Gaslight Anthem “American Slang” – don’t know why, but this band keep reminding me of a mix between Bruce Springsteen and John Cougar, but they don’t … not really. Very nice main-stream rock. The singer has a touch of grit and some solid songwriting.
- Devo “Something for Everybody” – Finally! A band from my teenage era that released a new album that was actually quite good (i.e. didn’t suck)! I’ve been a sucker for all the albums of my teenage heros and gotten disappointed so many times. This has been spun quite a bit at our house.
- Friendly Fires “Friendly Fires” – This guys’ voice reminds me of David Byrne for some reason. The band is what I think a funky Talking Heads would be like … with some dance beats.
- Two Door Cinema Club “Tourist History” – this was one of those gems that I came across (don’t remember how) that I found playing over and over again. Catchy songs and well produced, although, the drums seem to be over-compressed (to distortion sometimes) – kind of adds to the excitement though.
- Marina and the Diamonds “The Family Jewels” – This is one of those fence-sitter albums. There are definitely some jems in here where I think Marina could be the next in line of Kate Bush, Tori Amos, etc…, but it seems as though there’s a bit of over-produced-ness where her songs have been shoe-horned into pop-tunes. It’s a good listen though, lots of character. I just hope that she gets a new producer next time.
- The Dead Weather “Sea of Cowards” – I’m definitely not one of the Jack White band-wagontypes, but I actually quite liked this album and find myself pulling it up every so often. The lo-fi”ness” of some of the recordings and less-than pristine vintage sound is quite refreshing.
- Frightened Rabbit “The Winter of Mixed Drinks” – I think it was the combination of the band name and album title that got me at first, but it’s a solid album. I’d say a solid alternative title – can’t really put it in a category … perhaps in the same bin as Arcade Fire, but a bit more mainstream sounding.