Best Albums of 2010 … and a little more

The National - High VioletI had the honor and pleasure of submitting my picks for the Best Albums of 2010 for the Stinkweeds Records annual publication. Do yourself a favor if you live in the Phoenix area and stop by the store to pick one up, they are free! There are some great picks by all the people who contributed, hopefully you will agree with some of mine.

Here are my picks. Get the book to read what I thought of each. However, if you see the name of any of the albums in this post hyperlinked, click that to read the review I did of the disc on the Stinkweeds website.

  1. The NationalHigh Violet
  2. Mother/FatherPhysical Heaven
  3. We Were Promised JetpacksThe Last Place You’ll Look
  4. The FoalsTotal Life Forever
  5. The Joy FormidableA Balloon Called Moaning
  6. Frightened RabbitThe Winter of Mixed Drinks
  7. Nada SurfIf I Had a Hi-Fi
  8. The PosiesBlood/Candy
  9. Band of HorsesInfinite Arms
  10. Jukebox the GhostEverything Under the Sun

There were plenty of other great albums and singles that came out this year, including some wonderful reissues. I thought I would include a list of recordings that did not make the top ten list. Please understand, I could not rationalize including a reissue for the Stinkweeds list, although all three here definitely should have. Also, I could not very well include anything that was released before 2010, but I came across some killer older material this year, particularly from some local artists, that were big highlights for me. So, in alphabetical, rather than numerical order:

  • Catherine WheelFerment reissue
  • ElbowAsleep in the Back reissue
  • Jimmy Eat World – “Coffee and Cigarettes” – My favorite single from Jimmy Eat World’s latest album Invented, the song has pop hooks all over the place and a dynamite vocal duo throughout with guest vocals from Courtney Marie Andrews.
  • One eskimO – “Astronauts” – This song is close to being my favorite single released this year. A haunting, beautiful tune, “Astronauts” features one of the best vocal deliveries of 2010. At least I think so.
  • REMFables of the Reconstruction reissue
  • Snake! Snake! Snakes! – “The Mountain Fire” – Closing out a stellar first EP from one of Phoenix’s top indie bands, “The Mountain Fire” features stellar work from the rhythm section on the bass and drums, as well as guitars that shimmer.
  • Source VictoriaThe Fast Escape – The next two bands should kick me for taking so long to notice them, particularly being bands right here in the Valley of the Sun. I saw Source Victoria for the first time almost a year ago at the Rogue in Scottsdale when they opened for Adam Franklin. I was blown away with their style of indie and Britpop. This disc was released in 2007 and it is a beautiful piece of work! The tempo varies from the subdued to the mid-tempo, but what never changes is the delicate power on each track. The Fast Escape in reality is one of my Best Albums of 2010. Prepare for a new album in 2011, and from what the band has been playing live it is sure to be one of my faves for 2011.
  • The Other 49A Cold Open – Another band that was not on my radar, I finally saw them for the first time spring of 2010. What is frightening is The Other 49 may have been my greatest find of this year! A Cold Open features seven tracks of truly epic, indie rock. The best description I could come up with is a combination of all the best moments of Juno and The Appleseed Cast. The vocal delivery is incredible, the rhythm section absolutely thunderous and those guitars … my goodness, what an incredible EP! The disc was released in August 2009, so I could not include it in my Stinkweeds contribution. It easily would have made that list. Sadly, this band is no more. I have been kicking myself since then because I never had enough opportunities to see them since I was so late getting on the train..
  • The Pixies – live recording of the September 24, 2010 concert at Mesa Amphitheatre – The Pixies brought the Doolittle tour to Arizona this year. I saw them years ago during their original run and they were terrible live. Not on this night! Playing all of their watershed second full-length album, as well as the B-sides from that disc, The Pixies delivered a mind-blowing set on that evening. The band produced the best piece of merchandise on this tour, a live recording that was mixed during the show and ready for purchase a mere 15 minutes later. How cool it was to listen to the show driving home that night!
  • Tokyo Police Club – “Favorite Food” – Champ, the second full-length album from Tokyo Police Club, was a bit of a disappointment for me. I loved their debut EP and first full-length album. However, “Favorite Food” the lead track from Champ, is classic Tokyo Police Club! Starting off with soft-spoken vocals backed by an acoustic guitar, the song builds and builds to a thundering climax. The album may have been a let-down, but this song was one of the highlights of the year. Absolutely amazing!

That is 2010 in a nutshell my friends! Some great moments on disc and vinyl, and 2011 promises even more. The Father Figures will be releasing their debut Lesson Number One on January 29. Be sure to be at the release party at Rips that evening! Trust me folks, I had the privilege of a sneak preview and it is a stunning piece of work, post-punk at its finest and already a definite for inclusion in my Best Albums of 2011! Source Victoria will have new material to unleash this year and CAKE has their sixth full-length studio album Showroom of Compassion coming out January 11.

I will leave you with the Best Song of 2010, the alternate version of “Terrible Love” from The National. Go get the reissue of High Violet if you do not already own it. This song is the lead track on the bonus disc, worth the price of the entire double-album.

Cheers,
Frank

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