Albums from 2010 (so far)
I have the feeling that 2010 is going to have a crowded field of strong albums, but here are six excellent albums I’m sure are going to stay with me, in alphabetical order.
1. Broken Bells – Broken Bells. I had it on serious replay for a while. It came out of nowhere, and as a collaboration between Shins lead singer/songwriter and Danger Mouse, I was intrigued but not desperate to hear it. And then I heard it and was shocked by how much I really liked it. Songs: “Citizen” “The High Road”
2. Clem Snide – The Meat of Life. I’ve always liked Clem Snide, and this album certainly doesn’t disappoint. It’s less interested in instrumentation than Clem Snide usually is, and ends up sounding a bit tighter, and somehow more sincere. Songs: “Denver” “Forgive Me, Love” “With Nothing to Show for It”
3. Dr. Dog – Shame Shame. I wasn’t as interested in their last album, Fate, as I’d hoped I’d be, but this album has me back in the fold. There’s a larger idea at work here, a more mature sensibility in the lyrics that goes well with their tendency to get lush in a low-fi way. This time it works very well. Songs: “Unberable Why” “Jackie Wants a Black Eye” “Shame, Shame”
4. Eels – End Times. The Eels last album, Hombre Lobo was excellent and overlooked by many, and I expect this year’s End Times, which is at least as good, to be equally overlooked. I hope to be proved wrong. Songs: “In My Younger Days” “Paradise Blues” “A Line in the Dirt”
5. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening. A wonderful combination of late 70s Bowie and early 80s Talking Heads, plus all sorts of electronic and alt and punky things. “Pow Pow” “You Wanted a Hit” “Home” “Dance Yrself Clean”
6. The National – High Violet. This is going to be on my list of the top ten albums of the year, and right now it holds the top spot. I have nothing negative to say about it. It’s absolutely perfect. Songs: “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” “Terrible Love” “Bloodbuzz Ohio” “England”
Other Albums of Various Levels of Interest
Band of Horses - Infinite Arms. I’ve heard two songs from the upcoming Band of Horses album, and neither has interested me as much as their previous work. Still, I’m keeping my fingers crossed about the album.
Bill Callahan – Rough Travel for a Rare Thing. It’s a live album, and it’s good. I feel bad for missing his album from last year, which I didn’t come across until this year, Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle. It’s excellent. If you don’t know his work (or his work as Smog) especially from the last few years, the live album is a good place to start, as an overview of sorts.
The Bird and the Bee’s new album playing songs from Hall and Oates? People seem to like it. I listened to it and doubt I’ll be listening again.
Peter Gabriel – Scratch My Back. A doubtful idea: an album of covers done with strings, and the album, in total is better than I expected, but still not excellent. It’s interesting.
Cornershop – Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast. Interesting. A little too much of a roll-the-dice version of production. It makes it sound a little too pretend for me.
David Bowie – A Reality Tour. It’s fine and all, but it’s not a very important thing to have around.
Drink Up Buttercup – Born and Thrown on a Hook. It’s a fascinating combination of thought-out bits and over the top, off the cuff, bits, but it gets tiresome by the end.
Drive-By Truckers – The Big To Do. Good. I’ve never been a big DBT fan, so this one sounds pretty much like all their other things to me.
Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be. People are liking this. I didn’t.
Josh Ritter – So Runs The World Away. This might be an excellent album. I’ve only heard two tracks so far, and they’re both excellent: “Change of Time” “Rattling Locks”
MGMT – Congratulations. Eh. It’s not as bad as some are saying, but nothing really to get excited about either. Songs: “Flash Delirium” “Congratulations”
Rogue Wave – Permalight. OK. It’s a little easy sounding and slight for my taste.
She & Him – Volume II. I grew very tired of it by the halfway point. I love the idea of She & Him much more than the actuality.