Monday, January 03, 2011

CBR/Robot 6

My favorite albums of 2010

  1. Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Hawk

This pairing sounds like it should be a repertoire of duets. In fact Isobel Campbell writes nearly all the songs and produces the whole album then for most of the record takes a back seat and sings back up to Lanegan’s powerful lead vocal. A selfless act? Great tunes, great record.

  1. Esperanza Spalding – Chamber Music Society

Her debut album, 2008’s “Esperanza”, was simply outstanding. Her music is more traditionally rooted in jazz than my usual preference but there is just no denying her talent. From her singing, to her songwriting, to her bass playing (she was considered a prodigy within months of picking up the double bass at age 15) – she is incredible. This album while not as instantly likable as her previous collection (it is a bold move not trying to recreate past success) is equally as impressive.

  1. Foals – Total Life Forever

I only recently picked this one up so really, I’m still absorbing it. So far “Blue Blood”, “Total Life Forever” and “After Glow” are my favorite tracks. The sound is dense and dream-like.

  1. Eels – Tomorrow Morning

I’ll probably always compare E’s records to my favorite Eels record, 2009’s Hombre Lobo. He actually released 2 Eels records in 2010, this one and End Times earlier in the year. Both are fine albums (though neither as good as Hombre Lobo!) but while End Times was a bit of a downer Tomorrow Morning is more optimistic and altogether a happier record. Favorite songs on this one are “The Man” and “Baby Loves Me”.

  1. Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky

Another recent acquisition, I am just beginning to soak this one in but I like it! Known as one of the pioneering noise-rock groups, this finds Michael Gira not so much “noisy” as heavy and atmospheric. Surprisingly, this album occasionally reminds one of Nick Cave – another plus in my book.

  1. BRMC – Beat The Devil’s Tattoo

This album has been seen as a kind of return to form… really I think it’s kind of compromise between the more acoustic sound of their (best) album Howl (2005) and their more Jesus & Mary Chain rock sound. Both of these sides of the band are well represented on the album. Favorite songs include the title track, “Bad Blood” and “Sweet Feeling”. Great record, their best since Howl.

  1. Hotrats – Turn Ons

More than a simple covers album, Turn Ons finds the singer/guitarist and the drummer from Supergrass (occasionally joined by Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich on fuzz bass) interpreting a dozen of some of my favorite songs. Velvet Underground (they give a hooky groove to “I Can’t Stand It”), The Kinks (a fantastic “Big Sky”), The Doors, Beastie Boys, Gang Of Four, Roxy Music, Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, Elvis Costello & the Attractions, The Cure, Bowie (a rocking “Queen Bitch”), Sex Pistols (“E.M.I.”, an acoustic take that improves on the original!), and Squeeze (“Up the Junction”, my favorite Squeeze song slowed down for full lyrical effect). Now that Supergrass is sadly no more I’m hoping Hotrats will continue – with original material next time!

  1. Darker My Love – Alive As You Are (Pretty Things-like)

This album has entirely abandoned their previous debt to the Jesus and Mary Chain and instead sounds like a San Francisco band circa 1970. There is often a similar vibe as the Dead’s American Beauty and Working Man’s Dead yet they simultaneously remind me of my favorite should-have-been-huge 60s UK band The Pretty Things. I loved their previous JMC sound and while this is a quieter album, it is just as good. Favorite tracks include “Backseat”, “Rain Party”, and “Trail the Line”.

  1. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

The third great album by The Arcade Fire. When they first came out a few years ago, I held them with a certain amount of suspicion because of what I initially perceived as hype. Once I gave them a chance I realized that I genuinely like their material. I think they owe a huge debt to Echo & The Bunnymen, but then I love the Bunnymen! Anyway, great record! Favorites include “The Suburbs”, “Rococo”, “Modern Man”, “Suburban War” and the highlight “We Used To Wait”.

  1. Grinderman - Grinderman 2

Grinderman kicks ass! (Have I complained recently that not enough modern groups ROCK?!?) Great material played to the hilt. My favorites include, “Mickey Mouse and The Goodbye Man”, “Worm Tamer”, “Heathen Child”, “Kitchenette” and “Bellringer Blues”. I was lucky enough to see them live a few weeks ago and it was easily the best show of the year for me. At this point, Nick Cave is second only to Iggy Pop as far as raw and mesmerizing live performance.