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2010 in music

If I had to choose my absolute favorite record of the year, from start to finish, it would be this one
Spoon, Transference
This record came out early into the year, and by my third listen, I was sure this would be my favorite record of the year. Something clicked in me that didn't when I heard Girls Can Tell and Kill the Moonlight. I got a sense of things with Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, and all things fell into place with Transference. A number of lyrics from the album also strongly registered with me, like certain lines from "Mystery Zone," "Trouble Comes Running," and "Got Nuffin'." Simply, it's a record that sounds like my year.

Not as great as their last record, but still a great record
The Dillinger Escape Plan, Option Paralysis
One of the best show experiences I had this year was seeing Dillinger at the Granada and walking out to fluffy snow coming onto the ground. Snow is rare here in Dallas, but when it comes, there's always a sense of joy. I felt that as Diana and I saw the mighty mathy five-piece pulverize the venue for a full hour. And as much as I enjoyed that experience (along with their Warped Tour set that summer), I can't say I love Option Paralysis as much as I love their previous record, Ire Works.

From top to bottom, Ire Works is pretty flawless to me, whereas all of their other records have to be listened in segments. Something about the intensity of the band's sound, mixed with moods that the average metal band would steer far away from, has yet to tire me. Proving that the band could really write and record a powerful record after founding drummer Chris Pennie left long ago is a great testament to the band. This is a record worth owning if you like the band, but not necessarily the one I'd suggest starting with if you've never heard them before.

Great pop rock from a band doomed for future backlash by the League of Meh
Best Coast, Crazy for You
This trio has a sound that is instantly likeable: friendly, sunny guitar pop with female vocals. Instead of sounding like another modern day version of the Jesus & Mary Chain, Crazy for You feels like an unreleased demo from the late 60s. Imagine the early Phil Spector sound on a budget and you have a good idea.

My concern about the band is that their sound is fully-formed and pretty unwavering on Crazy for You. Bands who catch the attention of those always on the hunt for something new and provocative flock to that kind of ideology, usually to dismiss the band down the road (as soon as the next album). I think there's promise with this band, but I'm not exactly sure where they could go next. Maybe they could start with having a full-time bassist?

I thank Ryan Slavinsky for this band and record
Black Mountain, Wilderness Heart
When it comes to finding new music, Ryan is always miles ahead of me. When he highly recommends something, I usually take note. We don't always see eye-to-eye, but when it sounds like a record I should hear, I at least ask if he could burn me a copy. Black Mountain was a band he raved about immensely with In the Future, so I was inclined to check out Wilderness Heart.

When we saw them play live with the Black Angels, I knew they were the real deal. The band has a great atmosphere to their sound along with very memorable tunes. Take that early Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath sound and be unafraid to wear it proud without sounding like a cheap imitation.

Way better than their last record
The Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
I'm still in the dark about why the band's previous record, Neon Bible, wasn't slaughtered by critics. Maybe if you talk about politics, war, and death you can hide the lack of immediacy in the songs? I don't know. Anyway, here is a record that is immediate and hypnotic. Not a retread per se, but a good step forward. And its lyrics are inspired by growing up in a sister suburb to my hometown, no less!

Does this band ever falter?
The New Pornographers, Together
I must freely admit how much I had lost touch with the New Pornographers. After enjoying Mass Romantic to a fault, as well as a few tracks from Challengers, I never had the desire to seek beyond that. In preparing for my interview with Carl Newman and reviewing the band's upcoming show, I wanted to hear everything they had done so far. Together makes the band four-for-four in terms of tangy indie pop, and gives them more staples in their live set.

I still don't get why hip-hop is cool with the League of Meh, but I think my enjoyment of this record will help me understand
Janelle Monae, The ArchAndroid
This is not a hip-hop record. This is not a rock record. This is beyond categorization, stylistically. The songs fly all around the map, but they don't sound uneven when you put them all together.

The best record I "legally" downloaded for free this year
Angels & Airwaves, LOVE
Another instance where my research on a band for an upcoming feature leads me to a fantastic record. Released for free on their website, LOVE is a continuation of Tom DeLonge's space rock act. I still believe DeLonge is inadvertently making a modern version of Flock of Seagulls, but I've always liked that band. Too bad people remember the singer's poofy hairstyle a little more than their ace singles, "I Ran" and "Space Age Love Song."

A great Black Angels record, aka, a record where I don't feel like I'm in a trance while listening to it
The Black Angels, Phosophene Dream
I wasn't expecting to be wowed by the band's set early in the year at Nx35. I expected to hear droning rock with a sense of movement. And I hoped the sound system would give the band better clarity compared to the previous times I had seen them. Turns out, the band sounded clear and complete and they previewed a few songs from Phosophene Dream. Yes, the Austin five-piece can play with a bounce in their step and play it well.

Record that helped me understand another band's back catalog
Coheed & Cambria, Year of the Black Rainbow
The cynic in me thinks the reason why Claudio Sanchez keeps pushing this Amory Wars story in the Coheed and Cambria's albums is that musically, there is very little deviation. Continuing this five-part story will hide listeners from the music, right? I still have no interest in unlocking the secrets and meanings of the story. But I do know a rewarding record when I hear it, and Year of the Black Rainbow is one of them. I reached back into the band's catalog and got out my DVD copy of Neverender and enjoyed the hell out of it.

I would have hated this band back in 2004, but I liked this record (and their three previous ones as a result)
Motion City Soundtrack, My Dinosaur Life
MCS hides nothing: yes, they're nerdy guys who like the Get Up Kids and Weezer. When I was assigned to cover their first stop in Dallas this year (they came back two more times by year's end), I had to tune up my knowledge of their stuff. Not drastically different from what the band has done before, yet still tuneful and admirable. I think I wouldn't even give this band a listen back when I was writing POST. At that time, there were too many modern bands with rock star agendas claiming influences from bands who had no rock star agendas. Things slipped through the cracks. These guys were one of them.

Great bounce-back record
Ted Leo/Pharmacists, The Brutalist Bricks
When I saw Ted tweet about the sparsely-attended Dallas stop this year, I wished I could have been there. Given it was a weeknight and starting late, I couldn't go. Eventually I got to listen to this record and felt a bit of regret not seeing the show. I've always admired Ted for his music, stage presence, and attitude about life. I can't say his last record was his pinnacle, and I'm happy this record is more a fun, new wave kind of record.

Artists I have enjoyed for most of my life, only to realize that I love them more in 2010
Cheap Trick
Both Rush and Cheap Trick remain vital. Cheap Trick came into my life in elementary school via a song they had a lot of misgivings over. Rush was pitched to me in middle school as a great band but without any real musical description. Eventually I heard more of their stuff in high school (thanks to the Sex, America, Cheap Trick box set and the Chronicles compilation) yet factors in 2010 brought me really back into both bands. With Cheap Trick, it was a recommendation on an episode of Sound Opinions. With Rush, it was the definitive documentary on the band, Beyond the Lighted Stage. Both bands are in regular rotation and will more than likely stay with me for a long time.

Artist I didn't really care for back in college, but now greatly care for
David Garza
I wouldn't say I hated David's "Kinder" back when Best Buy promoted the hell out of This Euphoria. I think if heard "Disco Ball World" instead, I'd have a different opinion. By chance earlier this year, while over at a friend's house, I borrowed a couple of records. David's stuff was highly recommended to me, including the Strange Mess of Flowers box set. Quickly into sampling his stuff, I had to quickly get back up to steam on his stuff. Getting into Spoon definitely helped me understand.


Rj said…
Thanks for the shout out. I still need to get you into White Denim, Tame Impala, and a few others.

This year wasn't too great to me musically, as all the talked about stuff I just don't enjoy(Best Coast, Arcade Fire, Kayne West, Sufjan).

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