It all started when I signed up for a lala.com account...and then I was ruined. For the last few years I have definitely been out of the loop when it came to music. Those who have young children will understand that there is little time or energy to devote to listening (or playing music). Since things have settled down with Isaiah and Jadyn (sleeping schedules) I am increasingly exchanging my obsession with sports back to music and I have a Rhapsody subscription to prove it. Here are my ramblings for the best of 2010. Thanks for taking the time to read it (all two of you). :)
10. Brandon Flowers – Flamingo
The Killers have always been a favorite on mine and the solo album by frontman (Brandon Flowers) is no exception. I remember Briahnna and I watching The Killers on a summer concert show when we first got married and thinking, “Man…these guys stink live!” They (and Brandon) have gotten considerably better and I dig Flamingo. (smile) If it wasn’t for the desert and the heat…it would make me miss Vegas. Vegas baby…Vegas!
My favorite tracks include: “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas”, “Only the Young” and “Crossfire”.
9. The Roots – How I Got Over
Recently I had a conversation with one of my neighbors about whether The Roots were sellouts for being the house band for Jimmy Fallon. All I can say is (from my own experience as a starving musician) it must be nice to get a steady paycheck to play music and (selfishly) I get a chance to see one of the tightest bands every night on TV. How I Got Over brings some great melodies (which is sadly absent from most hip-hop). Thank you “The Roots” for absolutely being the best band in late night.
My favorite tracks include: “Radio Daze”, “Now or Never”, “Right On” and “Dear God 2.0”
8. Switchfoot – Hello Hurricane
Even though it probably did not make it on many “best of” lists this year…Hello Hurricane exemplifies why I like Switchfoot so much. Strong melodies and complex-enough instrumentation keeps me interested in every track. Rhapsody.com gets it right about “the band's faith flicker[ing] just beneath the surface of every song.” They will always be one of my favorite Christian bands (or Christians in a band – however you like it). Well done boys! My favorite tracks include: “Needle and Haystack Life”, “Mess of Me” and “Enough to Let Me Go”.
7. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz
“Soof-Yahn” was already held high in my eyes but this may be his masterpiece…at least for now. The Age of Adz is a cinematic-symphonic experience and just gets better the more you listen. It is reminiscent of what OK Computer and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot did to their respective bands. With this release…he is going to make it on my list of must see live acts before I die. Brilliant.
My favorite tracks include: “Too Much”, “Now That I am Older”, and ”Vesuvius” (really it’s all good)
6. Elton John and Leon Russell – The Union
Hauntingly melancholic, The Union is one of the most complete albums I have heard in a long time. There may be many more hip choices but the songwriting is impeccable. Leon Russell’s silvery voice slips in and out the tracks with pitch perfect precision. Brings back memories of listening to Elton John cassette tapes on my walkman (before I knew what cool music was) because I wanted to play piano like him.
My favorite tracks include: “If It Wasn’t for Bad”, “There’s No Tomorrow” and “The Best Part of the Day”
5. Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid
Wow! What do you get when you combine Folk, R&B, Punk, Hip-Hop, Electronic and Indie sensibilities with an unbelievable voice? A masterful mashup of genres that deserves a listen. Janelle Monae seems to even channel James Brown and Michael Jackson on some tracks. I will most likely come back again and again to this album…it’s a gamechanger.
My favorite tracks include: “Tightrope”, “Cold War” and “Oh, Maker”
4. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
One of the most surprising albums…I was introduced to LCD Soundsystem just this year. This Is Happening is mainly on this list because when an album causes me to spontaneous throw my hands up in the air while I am washing the dishes…it must be good. I am new to the “dance” genre but I think this transcends your typical fare. Plus, whenever you can get away with singing “POW POW” and make it sound cool you are really getting somewhere.
My favorite tracks include: “Dance Yrself Clean”, “Pow Pow” and “All I Want”
3. Arcade Fire – Suburbs
Suburbs was on this list even before it was nominated for Best Album (you don’t have to believe me). To be honest…I was not a fan of Arcade Fire before I heard this album. Their previous albums did not grab me like this one did. My favorite track “Modern Man” sticks out with its syncopated rhythms and sweeping keyboard patches like a beautiful sore thumb. Almost every song is good. I’m a fan now.
My favorite tracks include: “Modern Man”, “Ready To Start” and “Suburban War”
2. Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More
Is it possible to not want to listen to an album for fear of not wanting to stop? This may not be rational but this album is so good…it makes me want to retire my guitar forever. Or at least be inspired to pick it up again. Sigh No More is on the shortlist of albums that are truly inspiring this year. So…I’ll stop drooling over my keyboard and give this one of my highest recommendations.
My favorite tracks include: “Sigh No More”, “The Cave” and “Little Lion Man” and everything else
1. Vampire Weekend – Contra
You may think this is a strange choice for my number one pick…but here is the thing. This album makes me really happy. Briahnna and I were driving the other day discussing this list and we both remarked how “Horchata” (the first song on the album) made us feel. Every song ambiguously emotes delicious melodies…and in the end isn’t that all we are asking for? And so…throw your rotten tomatoes because they are “too hip”. I will take lyrics like “I’d look psychotic in a balaclava” any day.
My favorite tracks include: ALL OF THEM!
Honorable Mentions: Beach House – Teen Dream, The National – High Violet, The Walkman - Lisbon, Julia Nunes – I Think You Know, Gorillaz – Plastic Beach, The Black Keys - Brothers, Roma di Luna – Then The Morning Came, Broken Bells (self-titled), Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown, Frightened Rabbit – The Winter Of Mixed Drinks