Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Best Albums of 2010

Yes I know we're very late, but if the Brits, the Grammys and even the Oscars can hold out this long into the new year to spill their collective beans, why can't we?

For the first time we’ve actually included a best of the best. The albums featured in our jukebox above represent our solid gold favourites, and for one reason or another stand above the rest in 2010. However in keeping with previous years, the entire 116 hand picked albums are laid out in non competitive alphabetical order and we make no distinction between them. Simply, these are our 116 favourite albums of 2010 and we recommend all of them to any discerning fan of Power Pop, Alt Country and Essential Rock music of the final year of the noughties. Recognizing that you are seeing virtually all those mentioned in our blog for the first time, we are including a few mini-reviews where we think necessary, for your added appreciation. A number of Sub-Lists follow the main album run, but first here are our Best 116 Albums of 2010:

  1. 78 Saab - Good Fortune (There are reminders of REM, Hoodoo Gurus and The Church, but these Aussie guitar drangers take you in all kinds of spaces and never leave you without a proverbial paddle. Already on their 4th album, these guys must surely break through eventually?)
  2. Aaron Fox & the Reliables - Late Too Soon (Perfect accompaniment to a day spent driving around in the car with the windows down. Songs encapsulate a yearning for times gone past. Singer Fox has the perfect voice for the mood of his introspective and infectious material)
  3. Aberfeldy - Somewhere To Jump From (Token UK Folk/Rock entry #1)
  4. Agony Aunts - Greater Miranda
  5. American Hi-Fi - Fight The Frequency
  6. Apples In Stereo - Travellers In Space & Time (Continued quirky grooviness)
  7. Autumn Defense - Once Around (In common with a number of albums this year, this evokes another time and almost seems the very antithesis of the turbulent times we live in)
  8. Backyard Tire Fire - Good to Be (Grade A+ Roots Rock)
  9. Bellowhead - Hedonism (Token UK Folk/Rock entry #2)
  10. Bellrays - Black Lightning
  11. Ben Patton - Kaboom! Wow! Summertime! I Love You! ("I Paid For My Ticket I Expect You To Rock Me" - Ben nails it!)
  12. Ben's Diapers - Up In The Mountains
  13. Biters - Hang Around (Retro punky, but with gusto)
  14. Bleu - 4
  15. Blitzen Trapper - Destroyer Of The Void
  16. Blue Giant - Blue Giant
  17. Blue Van - Love Shot
  18. Bodeans - Mr Sad Clown
  19. Broken Promise Keeper - Poptimized (Wish we'd thought of that title)
  20. Buckcherry - All Night Long
  21. Butch Walker and the Black Widows - I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart
  22. Cabinessence - Naked Friends
  23. Candle Thieves - Sunshine & Other Misfortunes
  24. Charles Jenkins And The Zhivagos - Walk This Ocean
  25. Charlie Watts Riots - Long Story Short
  26. Chatham County Line - Wildwood
  27. Chris Corney - Sans Everything (Aching mournful melodies from The Ravines front man)
  28. Contrast - God of Malfunction (A career best for this Glam/Prog/New Wave/Pop concoction)
  29. Coral - 1000 Years
  30. Coral - Butterfly House
  31. Crowded House - Intriguier (Understated grower is elegant without being earth shattering)
  32. Darker My Love - Alive As You Are
  33. Decemberists - The King Is Dead (One good reason to wait till the year actually ends before you compile a best of list. Their breakthrough album)
  34. Devo - Something For Everybody (Pleasant surprise from these hardy perennials)
  35. Dom Mariani - Rewind and Play (Requisite purchase for fans of Someloves, Stems & DM3. Stripped down, alternative takes on stand out songs from his earlier career. One of the coolest CD covers featuring a reel to reel tape deck. Both of us owned these in youth for superior quality, when we bothered about these things, before the advent of the compressed digital sound.)
  36. Doobie Brothers - World Gone Crazy (Deserved nostalgic mention for old time's sake)
  37. Doug Powell - The Apprentice's Sorcerer
  38. Drums - The Drums (Yes it's a little bit indie, but we won't hold that against it, will we? )
  39. Dwight Twilley - Green Blimp
  40. Dylan Leblanc - Paupers Field (Outstanding new talent)
  41. Edward Rogers - Sparkle Lane
  42. Eels - End Times (Phenomenally prolific, and consistently brilliant. 2 Albums this year)
  43. Elephant Stone - The Glass Box
  44. Elvis Costello - National Ransom
  45. Elvyn - The Decline (We were particularly struck by the innocence of the lyrics which recall a simpler time. These are songs that linger for quite some time after hearing)
  46. Ex Norwegian – Sketch (This is not an easy first listen and to the band's credit, the songs take time to grow. Repeated listening certainly pays dividends for this quirky eclectic bunch of tunes to fully sink in the consciousness. Strongest track is the excellent 'Seconds')
  47. Family of the Year - Songbook
  48. Farrah - Farrah ("My baby doesn't get it all"... nuff said)
  49. Figgs - The Man Who Fights Himself
  50. Gay Blades - Savages
  51. Genuine Fakes - The Striped Album
  52. Gin Blossoms - No Chocolate Cake
  53. Goo Goo Dolls - Something For The Rest of Us
  54. Graham Parker - Imaginary Television (Living proof that angry young men don’t always mellow with age, they often get angrier and can continue to deliver work as good as their best and earlier success)
  55. Greg Pope - Blue Ocean Sky
  56. Grip Weeds - Strange Change Machine
  57. Guster - Easy Wonderful
  58. Hanson - Shout It Out (Ignore at your peril as this is their most assured volume to date)
  59. High Dials - Anthems For Doomed Youth
  60. Hoodoo Gurus - Purity of Essence
  61. Imperial State Electric - Imperial State Electric (Recalls glam and shouty 70's Powerpop like no one has before them and makes it theirs)
  62. Joe Reyes - Worry Row
  63. Joey Sykes - Joey Sykes
  64. John Grant - Queen of Denmark (Quite remarkable, frank, sometimes brutal, brilliant and breathtaking)
  65. John Hiatt - The Open Road
  66. John Holk & The Sequins - If You See Her (Exquisite melodies, effortless delivery with a gorgeous lustre)
  67. John Mellencamp - No Better Than This (You couldn't wish for a more authentic rootsy masterpiece - superb)
  68. JP, Chrissie and the Fairground Boys – Fidelity (The pairing of the lovers works as their voices compliment each other. Chrissie retains that sublime voice so diehard fans will be satisfied)
  69. June - Green Fields and Rain
  70. Justin Currie - The Great War
  71. Justin Townes Earle - Harlem River Blues
  72. Kula Shaker - Pilgrims Progress (As close to return to form as damn it )
  73. Len Price 3 – Pictures (Surely world domination can't be too far around the corner for these noisy Londoners on their 3rd outing?)
  74. Lloyd Cole – Broken Record (Pure Americana from this Ex-Pat Scot and here he finally finds his voice)
  75. Lovetones - Lost
  76. Magic Kids - Memphis (Don't be fooled by more than the occasional nod to Beach Boy innovation and arrangement, here beats a heart of pure nerdy dedication to multilayered pop on so many levels rewarded by repeated listens)
  77. Magnetic Fields – Realism
  78. Marc Cohn - Listening Booth 1970 (Finest covers album since Def Leppard's very different but unsurpassed 'Yeah!' in 2006)
  79. Mark Bacino - Queens English (Mark takes us on a whirlwind tour of every classic pop singer/songwriter we've grown up without stealing from any of his (or ours) idols (apart from maybe Harry Nilsson, but nobody else does and maybe should?). However Mark very much makes this his own. This almost perfect pop album only narrowly missed our Jukebox Top 16, absolute best of the 2010)
  80. Mt Desolation - Mt Desolation
  81. Neil Young - Le Noise (The shaky master returns to delight on this minimalist but satisfying offering)
  82. New Pornographers - Together (Contrary to popular opinion builds on past glories and surpasses them)
  83. Nushu - Hula (Unashamedly retro but it couldn't be any other way, could it?)
  84. OK Go - Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky (Where our Powerpop heroes breakout the straitjacket and embrace a kind of Prince meets Tommy James & The Shondells netherworld - refreshing & quite brilliantly seductive)
  85. Oranjuly - Oranjuly
  86. Outrageous Cherry - Seemingly Solid Reality
  87. Parties - Coast Guard (A Jangle indulgence par excellence)
  88. Paul Weller - Wake Up the Nation
  89. Pernice Brothers - Goodbye Killer
  90. Pete Molinari - A Train Bound For Glory (On paper it shouldn't work, but somehow it does, and wonderfully so)
  91. Posies - Blood/Candy
  92. Richard Barone - Glow (Kind of harks back to the 80's without being shameful about it)
  93. Robyn Hitchcock - Propeller Time (One of two great releases this year)
  94. Romeo Flynns - Masque of Anarchy
  95. Rooney - Eureka
  96. Sally Seltmann - Heart that's Pounding
  97. Secret Powers - Lies and Fairy Tales
  98. Seth Swirsky - Watercolor Day (Simply more greatness from Seth)
  99. Silver Seas - Chateaus Revenge (Beautiful songs and arrangements)
  100. Skeleton Staff - Solipsism (Cartoon Glam Rock, but so much more)
  101. Smash Palace - 7 (Their Seventh is our Smashie favourite to date)
  102. Solar Bears - She Was Coloured In (Somewhat sexy electronica)
  103. Summer Fiction - Summer Fiction (The best summer album we ever got to hear in December)
  104. Tame Impala - Innerspeaker
  105. Taylor Locke & The Roughs - Grain & Grape (One of 2 releases in a 12 month - phenomenal)
  106. Teenage Fanclub - Shadows
  107. Thee Wylde Oscars - Right Yeah
  108. Three Hour Tour - Looking For Tomorrow
  109. Tim Lee 3 - Raucous Americanus
  110. Trashcan Sinatras - In The Music
  111. Treefight For Sunlight - A Collection Of Vibrations For Your Skull (Demands you sit up and listen)
  112. Volebeats - The Volebeats
  113. Well Wishers - Post Modern Romantic (Echoes of an urgent primitive Shoes vibration verging on classic status)
  114. Winter Gloves - All Red
  115. Young Veins - Take A Vacation
  116. Zombie of The Stratosphere - Ordinary People

The Best Mini LP/ EP / Singles of 2010

Always a strange one, when is it a bit more than a single or slighty longer than an EP? What constitutes a Mini-Album, how long is a piece of string? Anyway, as it turns out the following also delighted but are in some way shorter in length than a recognisable LP duration.

  1. 88 - No One Here (EP)
  2. Blackpool Lights - Okie Baroque (EP)
  3. Elephant Stone - The Glass Box (Mini Album)
  4. Fountains of Wayne - Song Of The Passaic (Single trackd download)
  5. Hives - Tarred and Feathered (EP) (What happened to promised album?)
  6. Jackdaw4 - Retrospectacles (EP) (For the title alone!)
  7. Jim Noir - Zooper Dooper (Mini Album)
  8. Jonny - Gloria (Free EP)
  9. Kyle Andrews - Kangaroo (EP)
  10. Luxury Liners - Believe (EP)
  11. Pierces - Love You More (EP)
  12. Parnetheon Huxley & Kyle Vincent -Dirty Girl (single)
  13. Thea Gilmore - Teach Me To Be Bad EP (Title track is sheer bliss)
  14. Two Wounded Birds - My Lonesome (single)
  15. Winterpills - Tuxedo of Ashes (Mini Album)

The Best Reissue/Remasters of 2010 (must include new material to warrant mention)
  1. Tom Petty - Damn The Torpedoes [2 CD Deluxe Edition] (1979)
  2. Riley - Grandma's Roadhouse (1971) (Never got proper release at the time, blindingly, brilliant, crunchy, choogling and unpretentious Country Rock from the peak period)
  3. Badfinger - The Apple Remasters (1969-73)
  4. Monkees - Head (1968) (Deluxe)
  5. Louie & The Lovers - The Complete Recordings (1970) (Released perhaps last year, but a fine archaeological discovery in any year, particularly 40 years ago when it first trickled out)
  6. I See Hawks In L.A. - Shoulda Been Gold 2001-2009 (Packed with enough new material to entice even the biggest fan, from, along with Jayhawks, the best Country Rock band of last 2 decades)
  7. Tommy Keene - You Hear Me: a retrospective 1983-2009
  8. Church - Deep in the Shallows (30th Anniversary Singles Collection)
  9. Black Crowes - Croweology (In fact more essential than the plugged in stuff)

Overlooked from 2009 (Not heard till 2010)
  1. Plasticsoul - Peacock Swagger (A favourite amongst the cognoscenti but did not hit our collective eardrums till 2010, yes, now we know what the fuss was about)
  2. Train - Save Me, San Francisco (Golden Gate Edition) (Not sure when this appeared but this band have been consistently excellent since their first appearance - this contribution is no exception)
  3. David Nail - I'm About To Come Alive (Alt Country excellence)
  4. Dog Eared Moonlight - Milk & Honey Band (Sometimes slight but completely engaging songs really hit the mark.The album seems to have reached a new level of maturity that earlier Milk & Honey Band records do not possess)
  5. White Buffalo - Hogtied Revisited (Privately released, easy to miss, but impossible to ignore when once heard - brilliant)
  6. Terry Adams - Holy Tweet (NRBQ Driving Force, delivers his best solo to date - superb songwriting, but what do you expect?)
  7. The Pines - Tremelo (Understated, and quietly beautiful)
  8. Luke Jackson - And The Some... (Luke Jackson rocks... but gently - Luke's 3rd & best to date is a collaborative and not unformidable effort between the man himself and his beloved Swedes Christoffer Lundquist and Robert Kirby (string arr). These gorgeous arrangements, the interplay and sumptuous dressing is never too lavish and beds in nicely especially in the more gentle tracks - and it's here where I feel Luke excels. Best songs are stunning opener 'Come Tomorrow', would be McCartney/Brian Wilson instrumental '1970s Kids TV Show', and my fave 'A Little Voice'.)

Honourable Mentions

  1. Willie Nile - The Innocent Ones (Almost great)
  2. Steve Miller Band - Bingo (A guilty pleasure in 2010?)
  3. Brothers Streep - Suitable For The Whole Family (We mentioned them last year and their album delivers the promise we heard in their 'off the wall 'Anna Paquin' single we loved from back then.)
  4. Jason Falkner - I'm OK, You're OK (Of course it's Jason and, we love you, it's brilliant, but this really dates from 2007, so why these erratic releases and odd territory restrictions?)


Kings of Leon
- Come Around Sundown (Faves who have let us down. Touring with U2 seems to have produced an unnecessary merging of KOL with the aforementioned band's anthemic stadium blandness to produce something we already have and don't require any more of thank you.)

Ali Campbell
- Great British Songs (A great voice undermined by a karaoke wander through the classics, shouts desperation.)

The End Rant
We may publish very infrequently, but that's not to say we don't spend a lot of time and put a lot into what we do choose to put here. This article hasn't appeared till the last day of February 2011 but a good solid four months has gone into its preparation.

The main intention of this year’s best of list is not to simply demonstrate our impeccable taste in music, and this fact whilst unavoidably true ;-), we are happy to reveal that our primary purpose is that in parading a cavalcade of interesting and perhaps new titles into your radar, is the hope that you might be sufficiently motivated to investigate further, both those you may already know and those less familiar in the pursuit of something new and excitingly different. Today's music industry is in a horrible mess, we don't have to tell you that, you know, and if what we laughingly used to call The Majors (although nobody selling records in the first 100 years of its existence, still is doing so today) aren't gonna do it any favours then it's up to you and us to support the artists we love by supporting them directly by buying their music through their own websites, and the likes of Reverbnation, eMusic, CD Baby and independent record retailers (whatever's left of them).

Some bands even ask their fans to help fund their next recording venture by pledging their support in advance for some exclusive kick-back on the records eventual release, such is the difficulty of the cashflow situation in some rock 'n' roll camps. However if this works and can help to keep your faves afloat, why not?

In addition to direct support you might want to add your muscle to the few remaining music magazines that are still in existence. Big Takeover always turns out a quite remarkable review and article laden magazine, several times a year. We recently discovered a UK magazine 'Shindig' that focuses primarily on garage rock which we both quite appreciate.The magazine reminiscent of the short lived and now much defunct 'Strange Things Are Happening' has the same deluxe feel and attention to detail and presentation.

Lastly, as well as purchasing the music and magazines we highly recommend joining the recent music network for veteran rockers: Rock and Roll Tribe If you value intelligent discussions that take in all manner of genres and occasional fun leading questions, then this site should interest you. There are now over 1,200 members from all kind of backgrounds including some musicians themselves, industry shakers and mere mortals like ourselves.

This finale piece to our Best of 2010 has been a bit of a rant, and I imagine
we are mainly just preaching to the converted, but you know that we simply care about the continuation and the further exploits of this thing we all love, so take heed and put your money on the nose of the music we adore.