I was talking to one of my friends down at Looney Tunes the other day and I was saying what a good year it was for music, maybe not the popular hit crap, but music in general. John went so far as to say that the past few years have made the past decade one of the best ever. Being an Oldrockr from back in the day I don’t know if I can go that far, but these past years have seen some great music being released, predominantly by independent labels and artists.
I love putting together these year end lists. Like any true music geek I am constantly arranging lists in my mind. Those characters in Hi Fidelity are just composites of all of us and our idiosyncrasies. We organize and we make lists. So here goes my year end Best of 2010 list. These are in no particular order but all have become staples on the turntable or in my iPod. Sorry record labels I don’t even want CD’s anymore. So for better or worse here we go….
Joe Pug – Messenger
A great album of modern folk by one of the up and coming young singer songwriters. He reminds me a bit of Bob Dylan in the vocal department but there are worse comparisons that one can make. I’ve been playing this quite often lately Not So Sure, The Sharpest Crown and Bury Me Far (From My Uniform) are several standouts among many.
Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
Young English guys pick up assorted Americana instruments and make a great big wonderful sound. The album sounds so familiar and at the same time fresh and exciting. Little Lion Man may be the “hit” but the rest of the album, especially Caves, is just as good. Banjos, mandolins, and acoustic guitars haven’t sounded this good in years.
The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang
The older I get the more bored I am by the Rock & Roll that is being released. These boys from Jersey have made a classic. A great album to crank up in the car from start to finish. I hear the Springsteen influences (a good thing) but this is so much more. I can’t recommend it enough.
Mat D. – Plank Road Drag
The internet has become the place for me to find new music. I saw a video of Mat D singing Forty Watt Moon (one of favorite songs of the year) on another blog and immediately tracked down this album. I think it was $1.88 on Aimie Street (I miss this site) and I would easily pay 10 times that. A great, great record.
The SteelDrivers – Reckless
This is not only the best bluegrass release of 2010, it might be the best album of the year. You can check my review out here.
The Fox Hunt – Long Way To Go
The Infamous Stringdusters – Things That Fly
Modern bluegrass has stretched the genre far beyond the traditional sounds. This may piss off the traditionalists but it works so well for me. I hope to see both of these acts at Grey Fox in July!
Otis Gibbs – Joe Hill’s Ashes
For the second year in a row Otis Gibbs lands on my year end best of list. Think Billy Bragg if he came from the midwest.
Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings – I Learned The Hard Way
Real soul music that sounds just like it should. A fine update for a genre that doesn’t often fire me up. This one does.
Randy Rogers Band – Burning the Day
The best country music isn’t coming out of Nashville folks. Texas is a might fine place to start looking for some quality country and the Randy Rogers Band delivers the goods once again.
Peter Wolf – Midnight Souvenirs
If this was only a 45 with the excellent Tragedy (featuring Shelby Lynne) it would be on this list. Lucky for you and me it is so much more than that. An excellent album by an oft overlooked talent.
Mavis Staples – You Are Not Alone
Working with alt-country pioneer and Wilco front man Jeff Tweedy, Mavis Staples makes on of the best recordings of her career. A unique voice and true talent.
Black Country Communion – Black Country Communion
All the excess of the 70’s hard rock scene which in this case is a good thing. Killer guitars, pounding drums and some great vocals. I hate me for liking it but I can’t help myself.
Kid Rock – Born Free
Kid Rock finally ditches his old persona and releases his inner Bob Seger. Pure 70’s retro good time music. I love it. Hipsters need not apply. As for me I’ll be playing this one all summer long…
Bruce Springsteen – The Promise
Bruce released the right album in 1978. Darkness on the Edge of Town is his best work. Period. That said most artists would kill to release this much good music in the career. And these are leftovers! Buy the box set, it’s worth it.
Best release of new versions of old songs: The Black Crowes – Croweology
Best Concert: Sam Bush (BB Kings) and The Subdudes (BB Kings) a tie!
Best Box Set: Bruce Springsteen – The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story
Best Reissue: The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street
Here’s to a Happy and Healthy 2011 that brings us all more great music!