Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 5 Albums of 2010

As we put a cap on the empty bottle of 2010 it’s time to look back on the best things that the year had to offer. In other words it is time for the end-of-the-year-best-of lists!

Much to the chagrin of those who think that all of the great music comes from the past, 2010 was an excellent year for new music. The hardest part for me in compiling this list wasn’t knowing which records were going to be on the list but knowing that there were records that I wasn’t able to get and thus not consider. This year saw new releases by Kevin Seconds, Street Dogs, Superchunk, and The Riversales, none of which I got to hear and thus couldn’t consider for this list (come tax time though I plan a major shopping spree down at Guestroom Records in Norman so those albums may end up on my new-to-me-best-of 2011 list). That all having been said, creating this list was fairly easy—especially the record that I consider the best of the year—the top four records have been pretty secure in my mind for a few months now, the only one that took some extra thought was number five but in the end I’m pretty confident in that selection and this list in general.

Music is something that is exceptionally important to me. Outside of my family, music has had more of an impact on my life than anything else in the world. I don’t just listen to music. I absorb it. It becomes a part of me and my person. I, almost neurotically, follow the exploits of my favorite bands and their side projects. I read their interviews and devour the liner notes on their CDs. I guess you could call me a musical junkie, hence all of the posts that I devote to the topic. Music has defined so many different aspects of my life and these records, especially the first four, are really what, for me, 2010 was all about.

1. Title: The Seven Degrees of Stephen Egerton (Paper & Plastic, Amazon, InterPunk, iTunes)
Artist: Stephen Egerton (Official, MySpace, Facebook, Wikipedia)

More than anything The Seven Degrees of Stephen Egerton defined 2010 for me. Top to bottom this is a stellar album. I hesitate to call it a pop punk record because I don’t want to pigeonhole it into one little genre. Yes overall this is a pop punk record—it’s Stephen Egerton for Pete’s sake—but it’s more than that. These are songs that are classics. Fans of everything from alt country to emo to post hardcore to pop punk will find something to love on this record. But beyond that, these are songs that—if there was musical justice in the world—would be gigantic hits. There is no reason at all why songs like “Cut Me Down to Size” or “She’s Got Everything” shouldn’t have been played all summer right next to “California Gurls” on nearly every radio station across the country. These songs are catchy, fun, and full of heart and soul and deserve to be played and played loud. For those of you who missed out, I can’t recommend this album highly enough. For those who didn’t, you know what I’m talking about. 2010 will always be the year of Stephen Egerton to me. You can read my original review here.


2. Title: Things I Can’t Control (BandCamp, Amazon)
Artist: John Moreland & the Black Gold Band (MySpace, Facebook, BandCamp, Last.fm)

I first heard John Moreland on the Stephen Egerton record and was blown away by his voice. Then I tracked down a copy of his CD Endless Oklahoma Sky and was hooked. Then I heard “Bastards of the Highway” on The Spy and all I can say is wow. I rushed out and downloaded the entire Things I Can’t Control album and was blown away. This Tulsa native knows how to write and sing some truly great rock ‘n’ roll music. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next! You can read my original review here.

3. Title: I’m Having Fun Now (Amazon)
Artist: Jenny & Johnny (Official, MySpace, Facebook, Last.fm, Wikipedia)

I first heard Jenny Lewis when I got a copy of her debut solo album Rabbit Fur Coat and have been a fan ever since. I’m Having Fun Now is the debut for the project that Lewis has put together with her boyfriend Johnathan Rice. The songs collected herein are indie pop gems that are as witty and intelligent as they are catchy. This is a great record for fans of Lewis’ previous work and bands like She & Him. You can read my original review here.

4. Title: This Addiction (Epitaph, Amazon)
Artist: Alkaline Trio (Official, MySpace, Last.fm, Wikipedia)

This Addiction is probably the best Alkaline Trio album that I have ever heard. I first heard the band years ago when I received one of their early EPs to review for my zine Caught Off Guard. I liked what I heard at the time but for whatever reason failed to follow the band after that. A few years ago I found a few of their CDs at the library and decided to give them a whirl. Some of it I like and some I didn’t. But I did like it enough to check out their latest record when it came out earlier this year and boy am I glad that I did. Top to bottom This Addiction is an excellent pop punk / emo album. The songs are super catchy and a little dark, but not so dark to induce thoughts of suicide in those who may be prone to such things. With this album, Alkaline Trio has hit their stride and found that perfect balance in their music. I can’t wait to see what comes next. You can read my original review here.


5. Title: American Slang (Amazon, Interpunk, Wikipedia)
Artist: The Gaslight Anthem (Official, MySpace, Wikipedia)

The Gaslight Anthem have done something seemingly impossible in modern music, they have created a sound that is familiar and unique all at the same time. You can hear hints of everything from Otis Redding to Hot Water Music to Bruce Springsteen in American Slang creating a melting pot of sounds that dares you to nail it down to one genre. You can read my original review here.


Honorable Mentions –
Personal Life by The Thermals
Spinning In Circles Is A Gateway Drug by Red City Radio
White Crosses by Against Me!
Untitled 21: A Juvenile Tribute to Swingin’ Utters by Various Artists

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