Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2010 In Review - Music

Another year has blown by.  Why does time seem to go quicker the older we get?  My eldest will be in middle school next year.  I don’t feel old enough to have a kid in middle school!  I’m certainly not mature enough. 

While I can’t stop the flow of time, I can revel in what it provides.  2010, if nothing else, gave us some great music.  I dare say it was one of the best years for tunes in a while. 

Without further ado, my favorite music from the year winding down.  These are in no order if you’re wondering.  I’m never that organized.


Arcade Fire – The Suburbs:  When 2020 rolls around this will make many Best of the Decade lists.  I don’t care how many artists release great albums over the next ten years; it’s going to be nearly impossible to top this one.  A cohesive release from a band hitting their creative and musical stride.  Not a bad song to be found. 

Buy it for:  Just freakin' buy it already.  

The National – High Violet:  I’ve never been a huge fan of these guys until I heard ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ and Pacing the Cage posted one of their live videos on his blog.  Their earlier stuff was always a bit dull to my ears.  Not this one.  They still adopt a minimalist bent, but by no means is this boring.  They also provide the most wryly hilarious lyric of the year with ‘I’m a confident liar – I’ll have my head in the oven so you’ll know where I’ll be’. 

Buy it for:  ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’

Keep it for:  ‘Little Faith’; ‘Conversation 16’; hell - take your pick…

Male Bonding – Year’s Not Long:  Raw, energetic, while being shockingly melodic.  It sometimes seems the band is playing one song while the lead singer is singing another.  Somehow the pieces fit together in a fun, 1990 college radio way.  Yes, that’s a compliment. 

Buy it for:  ‘Crooked Scene’

Keep it for:  ‘All Things This Way’; ‘Weird Feelings’

Bad Religion – The Dissent of Man:  The veteran punk band comes back to show this generation’s young posers exactly how it’s done.  The energy and sound has barely changed, which, in this case is a very good thing. 

Buy it for:  ‘Turn Your Back On Me’

Keep it for:  ‘Devil in Stitches’; ‘I Won’t Say Anything’, ‘Ad Hominem’

Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart:  Shades of classic Black Sabbath, Cream and a host of other classic rock bands influence – but never over shadow - this release.  There is something inherently sexy about a woman’s voice singing over hard charging, aggressive rock music.  I have no idea what the co-lead singer looks like, but I’m in love. 

Buy it for:  ‘Let Spirits Ride’

Keep it for:  ‘The Hair Song’; ‘Old Fangs; ‘Buried by the Blues’

The Black Keys – Brothers:  Yet, another old fashioned, yet never stale, rock/blues hybrid from a bad that deserves more recognition then they are receiving.  Considering the already impressive amount of quality music these guys have put out it is well past time to pay attention. 

Buy it for:  ‘I’m Not The One’

Keep it for:  ‘Everlasting Light’; ‘Tighten Up’; ‘Howlin’ For You’

The Black Pacific – The Black Pacific:  Black is apparently the color for 2010.  I have no information on these guys or where they came from.   I can only tell you they tear through their instruments like Metallica while singing like Smash Mouth.  On paper it sounds strange; to my ears it sounds like nirvana. 

Buy it for:  ‘The System’

Keep…   At your own risk. 

These New Puritans – Hidden:  Beautiful, haunting, slightly deranged, and could be the start of a beautiful relationship between us.   While I’m no musical expert, I keep being drawn back to this over and over.  It could be the soundtrack to my dreams if I ever remembered them. 

Buy it for:  ‘Attack Music’

Keep it for:  ‘Orion’; ‘Canticle’; ‘We Want War’

Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History:  Take a large scoop of Phoenix, add a dash of Vampire Weekend, sprinkle in some Bloc Party and you have created a heaping pile of toe tapping, addictive awesomeness.

Buy it for:  ‘Cigarettes in the Theatre’

Keep it for:  ‘Undercover Martyn’; ‘I Can Talk’; ‘What You Know’

Ray Wylie Hubbard – A: Enlightenment B. Endarkment…:  More rock then country but more blues than rock.  Whatever the fuck you want to call it, just know it’s a musician forging his own damaged legacy as we listen and enjoy. 

Buy it for:  The same reason you will listen to it over and over - every song on here. 

Menomena- Mines:  Quirky, off beat, yet highly accessible.  What I would imagine The National would have been if they injested massive doses of LSD. 

Buy it for:  ‘Queen Black Acid’

Keep it for:  ’Intil’; ‘Killemall’; ‘Five Little Rooms’

Killing Joke – Absolute Dissent:  Classic, metal rock sound that adds moodiness and some electronic elements while retaining an angry edge.  I just picked this up last week and can’t stop listening to it.

Buy it for:  ‘Endgame’

Keep it for:  ‘Honour The Fire’; ‘Here Comes The Singularity’; ‘The Great Cull’

The Flatliners – The Calming Collection:  This has been on constant rotation since I bought it back in June.  Nothing fancy here – just straight ahead rock and roll from Canadians who seem much too angry to actually be from Canada.  Don't be fooled by the title, there is nothing calming about this.  For adrenaline junkies only. 

Buy it for:  ‘Count Your Bruises’

Keep it for:  ‘New Year’s Resolutions’; ‘He Was A Jazzman’; ‘Monumental’


Local Natives - Gorilla Manor:  Indy rock at it's finest.  A bit rough in spots, but can't wait to see what they do next.  

Citay - Dream Get Together:  A modern take on Fleetwood Mac laced with trippy California feel good vibes.  

A Day To Remember - What Separates Me From You:  Whoever fucked these guys up should be very afraid.  Combines hard core metal with pop punk with surprisingly strong results.  

Fang Island - Fang Island:  Instrumentally, these guys kick some ass while trying to make themselves accessible to the masses.  

Far - At Night We Live:  Veteran band that influenced Thursday and Blink 182 (among others) returns to prove age doesn't matter if you're still pissed off at the world.  Also contains the best cover of the year.  

Guster - Easy Wonderful:  Another band that gets little fan fare despite their consistently strong body of work. 

Fitz and The Tantrums - Pickin' Up The Pieces:  Throw back to the Motown days with modern sensibilities to give it that push towards originality. 


Kings of Leon - Come Around Sundown:  Why does this always happen?  A band hits it big with a song then tries to recreate that same song over and over again in a lame attempt to recapture that magic.  Of all bands, I thought for sure the Kings of Leon would avoid that trap.  Sadly, no.  Even they can't escape their own success.  


Stone Sour - Audio Secrecy:  Slipknot members without their masks as far as I can tell.  What amazes me is they nearly pull this off.  'Say You'll Haunt Me', 'Unfinished' and 'The Bitter End' kick ass.  But missteps like 'Hesitate' where they explore their sensitive, power ballad side sound forced.  Not terrible by any means, but they should stick with what they do best.  


Idlewild - Post Electric Blues:  I had completely given up on this band after they ditched what made them great ('The Remote Part' is still one of my favorite albums of all time) and tried to jump into the mainstream.  Members have left and others added and they turned offensively bland.  So imagine my surprise when they emerge with yet another new lineup and crank out their strongest material in nearly a decade.  Welcome back.  


Owl City - Fireflies:  For the life of me, I can't figure out how songs like this get constant radio play.  I hate this song with everything I am and will ever be.  If someone ever figures out time travel, I will risk my life to go back in time and stop this song from ever being recorded.  

BEST DISCOVERY  A strictly MP3 download site that charges about a buck an album and takes power away from iTunes.  It's a bit cluttered (although a recent upgrade has made things much more pleasant) and you need to know what you're looking for, but it's constantly adding to the library.  Even better the site will track your purchases so if you ever have your hard drive wiped out you can go back, login and re-download all the music you've bought through them.  How has iTunes never considered this?  Once again, a simple, convenient, customer friendly aspect from a competitor makes me realize how suck ass Apple really is.  

Sadly, I'm sure I missed something.  It happens every year.  I hit that Publish Post button and immediately realized I forgot a great album.  Apologies in advance.  


Rob said...

My homework has officially been assigned by Beachbum! I am only familiar with a handful of these bands, so it's off to YouTube. And, thanks for the tip about Promising.

Rob said...

Whoa! I'm now a member of I downloaded Male Bonding for $1.17. And, two songs from Black Mountain for a grand total of $0.18. You should have let people know how to give you credit for turning them on to becaus they have a kick-ass bonus program. If I had been brave enough to put $100 in my account, they would have given me 500 free songs, or was it 5,000? Something crazy. I think for referring someone you get 100 free songs.

BeachBum said...

What? Damn, I knew nothing about this. I plopped 50 bucks down and got 30 free songs when I first signed up. I still haven't used all the money.

kos said...

Great work on putting Killing Joke on the list! I love that album. I'm actually really digging the new Stone Sour. I got the extended version from itunes and the song Hate Not Gone is ridiculous.

Jum said...

Yup, like Rob said, my homework is officially set. Youtubing now.

BeachBum said...

I suppose it would make sense for me to link to samples of the music in here, huh? I'll remember that for next year if I'm still around.

Kos, when all is said and done Killing Joke could wind up being my favorite release this year. After researching them it looks like they've been around for nearly 30 years, too. Amazing they can sound that fresh after all this time.

Agree with Stone Sour, as well. Some really strong material in there.

Hope you all find something to enjoy!