My Top 10 Albums of 2010
Once again it took me a while to get to my best of 2010 list. The delay does give me a chance to see how the Grammy’s gives deserving musicians the shaft. Arcade Fire gets album of the year? Sorry folks, but “The Suburbs” is boring. Let’s face it, 2010 was not exactly a stellar year for music. Perhaps that’s why people were telling me The Black Keys’ “Bothers” and My Chemical Romance’s “Danger Days” were so great. Those aren’t bad albums, but far from deserving any great praise. Because there was so little excitement, I was about ready to pass on this. Then I realized that there still was enough good stuff released to warrant a list. So here we go…
1. Tom Jones: Praise & Blame
Tom Jones has been releasing quality music late in career for a while now, but most of it has been what you would expect from him. This is the album of his career, and my pick for best of 2010.
2. Jeff Beck: Emotion and Commotion
Mr. Beck came out of hiding about a decade ago and released three powerful, hard rocking albums. Then he stepped back again. He reemerged last year with an unexpected return to the subdued, jazzier Jeff. Oh it still rocks, but sensitivity rises to the top. Bonus, he is using vocalists again! The last three albums were really good but this one is great.
3. The Pineapple Thief: Someone Here is Missing
If you have ever wondered if you could mix indie, grunge and prog, the answer is yes. Apparently you have to be British to do it. This band writes beautifully crafted, complex songs with the edge of youthful angst. Keep it up boys. You are contenders for mainstream acceptance.
4. Stick Men: Soup
Tony Levin will probably end up playing with every musician on the planet before he dies, but he is not as well known for his own stuff. This time out he formed a trio of “stick” players (two on Chapman Stick and a drummer). Since two of these guys are also members of King Crimson, it has a similar feel. It’s experimental, melodic and wonderful.
5. Imelda May: Mayhem
Not really mayhem, just probably the most fun album of the year. The lady has pipes, and the band rocks. Mass appeal on this one too, so everybody should check it out.
6. P.F.M.: A.D. 2010 – La Buona Novella
It’s a remake of the classic 1970 album by Fabrizio De André, done in total Premiata Forneria Marconi style. It may pale a bit compared to their original works, but I doubt any other interpretation could have been better.
7. Vampire Weekend: Contra
If an indie band was supposed to have album of the year, this is it. An obvious love of Paul Simon and the Beatles combined with alternative ethos makes fertile ground. This album is full of surprises and remains exquisitely charming from start to finish.
8. Frogg Cafe: Bateless Edge
This band started out pretty solidly in classic Genesis territory. Each album has brought them closer to defining their own identity. On “Bateless Edge” Genesis has been left far behind. Avant-garde and Zeuhl influences have inspired the band to create their best album to date.
9. Spoon: Transference
This may not be Spoon’s best album, but it is very good. A little different approach this time around also makes it unique in their catalogue.
10. Hot Hot Heat: Future Breeds
The band remains as accessible as ever but somehow improved on its own art. They haven’t been this good since “Make Up the Breakdown” and may have finally found the right way to improve on the formula.
As I said, this wasn’t the best year for music. Some of my top ten wouldn’t have even come close other years. There was however quite a few very enjoyable albums. I will give honorable mention to some that fell just short of making the list, but are still worth taking note of. The albums that you should also be checking out are; Iron Maiden “The Final Frontier,” Paul Weller “Wake Up the Nation,” The Morning Benders “Big Echo,” Moon Safari “Lover’s End,” La Maschera di Cera “Petali di Fuoco,” Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman “The Living Tree,” Gorillaz “Plastic Beach” and Neil Young “Le Noise.”