I didn’t buy many albums that came out in 2010, but that didn’t mean I didn’t get 40+ new CDs in 2010. Here are my best of and worst of lists. Listen to my suggestions, they’re awesome.
7. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band – Open Up: Whatcha Gonna Do for the Rest of Your Life: This was a random purchase for $.50 at Grassroots. It’s some good Louisiana blues arranged and played by local musicians (as far as I can tell.) I holds up better if you hear a few songs on random than if you just plug through the whole album, but it’s got some really interesting tunes.
6. Various Artists – Bluegrass Roots: I purchased this album online because it was the only inexpensive way I could find to purchase the version of “I’ll Fly Away” that’s actually featured in O Brother Where Art Thou? (as opposed to the one that comes on the soundtrack.) The inclusion of other Kossoy Sisters songs is what makes this album so good – many of the other tracks seem like instrumental fillers, but it’s worth the purchase if it can be found cheap.
5. Jellyfish – Spilt Milk: This band has apparently been labelled power pop, but I don’t know that I agree with it. In the first track, it harkens to Imogen Heap, the second to Queen, and the third to Beach Boys, though it’s from ~1993. The band didn’t last long, having only put out one other album, but this one is fun enough to get you by. Good upbeat melodies, fun harmonies, and songs that won’t make you think too hard.
4. Glenn Miller Orchestra – In the Christmas Mood, Vol. 1: Every year, I try to get more Christmas music so that we have an alternative to stores which only seem to have 7 different Christmas songs. Combining it with my love of big band music and this album is a no-brainer. The worst song on the album is probably the “original” song, In the Christmas Mood. Some of their renditions of classics are themselves classics.
3. The Nevada Bachelors – Hello Jupiter: I found this band by accident in 2009 and found several of their melodies and chord progressions to be quite revolutionary. I purchased this, their other album, and it is much of the same. For anyone who likes music that you can’t predict the melody on each track, pick it up.
2. Joe Henry – Scar: It’s hard to quantify what type of music Joe Henry plays. He’s listed as country in a few places, and his earlier stuff have some country roots. But by the time Scar came out, at least, he had moved over to a very swanky, jazzy, bluesy sound. His voice isn’t the greatest, but I listen to him for the vibe that I get from listening to his music. It seems like I need to sit in a room with a few candles lit and just stare at something. And not in a bad way.
1. Tripod – Entire collection: Okay, I’m cheating. I managed to grab basically all of this Australian comedy trios music this year, mainly because I found a place that actually offered it all. Being from Australia, their music is hard to come by. I like alot of comedy music, but much of it finds a funny concept then writes a song about it. What sets Tripod apart (particularly live) is that often it IS the composition of the song itself that makes it funny. After all, this is the same band that has written dozens of songs as challenges in an hour. Definitely worth a buy if you can find them.
5. Various Artists – Timeless Christmas Classics: I suppose I can’t fault this album for it’s title, or at least the descriptor ‘timeless’. That’s because nearly every version of these famous Christmas songs is either much too fast or much too slow. Believe me, I like Silent Night done slowly as much as the next guy, but I also like it to finish the first verse before I have to shave again.
4. Various Artists – Guitar Heroes: Ash had seen this as a special at Best Buy and we hopped right on it, figuring it was songs from the video game. It wasn’t. That was a strike against it. But then I saw that it was labelled as new versions of classics recorded by the original artists. Okay, that should be a decent substitute. Problem is they are nearly all live recordings, and many of them not of high quality. We both feel bamboozled by this cheap ploy to make money. (edit: I just noticed that one of the songs they included, Sentimental Avenue by Night Ranger, has no guitar – in fact, no other instruments besides piano and voice – awesome.)
3. John Cale – Walking on Locusts: I had had a Cale song or two on my computer from various compilations, and thought they were decent, so when I found this one for $1, I picked it up. It is not decent. It is pretty personalityless. Maybe it’s all in the lyrics, but the music (and to a lesser extent his voice) won’t permit me to listen to the album long enough to find out.
2. Grateful Dead – Infrared Roses: I think I am more mad at myself for this album and not the Dead, per se. I vaguely remember hearing that my brothers didn’t like this album, but seeing it for $.50, I couldn’t pass up to get a Dead album I didn’t have. I forgot (and didn’t bother to read) that this wasn’t an album of tunes, but the “best of” their live jams Drums & Space. Saying these are the best is sorta like being the tallest midget, no?
1. The Phylum Chordata – A Sequential Proportion of Line and Mass Intended Mostly for My Muse: If you’re like me, you’d look at this album and think it is something nerdy and pretty cool. You, like me, would have been very wrong. This makes last year’s worst album, The Flaming Lips Embryonic, sound like Vivaldi. These “songs” are more experiments with synthesizes and voice modulators. It’s not often that I delete an album from my computer, but this will be one of the first to go.