This is not a list of albums that came out in 2010, but bands and albums I discovered (or in some cases re-discovered) this past year. Check them out, see which ones float your boat. If you like the artists, support them by buying their music.
What would make your list? What from my list are especially digging? Or not digging? Share your take. You might just help us all discover some new, old band for next years “Best of” lists.
If you’ve seen the Kettle One Vodka commercial – the one with all the dudes in “dressed-up-but-now-I’m-casual” sitting in a bar, having drinks and a good time just being themselves – then you’ve heard B.R.M.C. Their song “Spread Your Love” is playing in the background. All around great band, and great album. I first heard them on the “New Moon” Soundtrack (thanks to Maggie) with their song “Done All Wrong”, and it is by far the best song on any of the Twilight Saga movies/soundtracks.
Imagine hearing some of your favorite songs, by some of your favorite artists, covered by a children’s choir. And not like mandatory public school kids choir. I’m talking, on par with the Vienna Boys Choir. Only this is a Belgian girls’ choir. That’s Scala & Kolacny Brothers. Hearing “Wake Up Dead Man” (U2) sung by this group, along with Radiohead’s “Creep” (for the Social Network movie trailer) were truly new musical experiences for me.
Ok, so while not an album, I think this one single track is worth lumping into the mix for best albums. This is a cover of the Neil Young classic, “Hey Hey, My My (Out of the Blue). This was the perfect song to play the last few minutes of the Sons of Anarchy season finale. Her voice singing a Neil Young classic, mesmerizing. It was like it was permanently burned into my brain. If you take a chance on nothing else on this list, take it on this (But you’ll probably also like some of the others, especially The Arcade Fire and The Black Angels).
When I first heard the first track, “Young Men Dead“, I knew I found a new personal favorite band. Then when I heard this song featured on the Fable III video game commercial, I recognized that it was a perfect fit. These guys flat out rock. I created a sub-genre when I moved to New Mexico – “Southwest-Rock-with-Spiritualized-Undertones”. These guys, along with B.R.M.C. and Wovenhand were constantly playing on my iPod, in the car, at work…everywhere, really.
David Eugene Edwards and company are phenomenal to see live! They came to Santa Fe, so me and a friend got to check them out El Corazon. I also know that David is an unabashed believer in Jesus. He’s not ashamed either to sing, sometimes blatantly about that either. And yet, there were a couple hundred people, in a club, on a Saturday night in Santa Fe, NM, riveted by this music. I guess what I’m trying to say is, this is what Christians making music is supposed to sound like. Its great art, fabulous musicianship, and authentic gutsi-ness. As opposed to most other Christian music that just simply sucks. Highlighted tracks: “A Holy Measure” and “His Rest“, and “Singing Grass“.
“Radioactive” got me hooked. “The End” solidified the album for me. These guys have a way of making something that can play on pop radio, yet still have enough uniqueness and edge to not be a typical, pre-fabricated musical cop-out. Few bands can pull that off.
7. Jonsi, Go
This is the breakout album from the Sigur Ros frontman, Jonsi. Incredible stuff (just like Sigur Ros). I heard Rob Bell use one of his songs in a sermon illustration. He had someone in the audience listen to a song, and while listening, attempt to describe it to someone else. The description included, “New Age-y”, “dreamy”, and “I could run to it”. That was Jonsi’s song, “Animal Arithmetic“. I couldn’t have described better myself. The rest of the album is great. For me, its part of my Study Mix on iTunes.
I was introduced to these guys two years ago. Their 2010 album, Brothers, re-introduced me to the sublime delight it is to have overdriven guitars, laden with bluesy riffs, melodies and lyrical plot, in a popular but still not Pop package. That is my best summary of The Black Keys. Check out the songs “She’s Long Gone“, “Sinister Kid” and “Next Girl“.
My old church back in St. Louis put out an album this year, and at the helm of the project was my friend Jon Yerby. You’ll notice that there aren’t any other overtly Christian artists or albums on this list, because I frankly think alot of it is dribble. This is not. “Common Place” is incredible, and the rendition of “And Can it Be” has thoroughly ruined any other version of that old hymn for me. I can’t sing it any other way now. Thanks Jon Yerby for being a great artist, worship leader and friend.
And the single best album of the year…
Hands down, my favorite album of 2010. This was on constant rotation for at least three weeks after it came out. Incredible music, telling a story through songs, instead of the usual putting random songs onto an album. Get this if you haven’t already, and listen, from start to finish, and then repeat. You won’t regret it. “Rococo” might just be the best critique of hipster culture, from a hipster favorite. It’s also my favorite track. And “Half Light I“ is a close second.
This is not an Official Arcade Fire video, but I think it captures both the beauty of what should be, with the sobering reality that things are not as they should be, being set to someone’s trip through my wife’s home country (of sorts), the Balkans. This captures the beauty and the ache that is life, just like the song Half Light.