Wednesday, December 22, 2010

This Is Important! Best Albums of 2010

Spin, Rolling Stone, MTV, NPR, they all feel it important to dictate what is best for us at the end of each year with their "best albums" lists. I hate lists. I hate 'em cuz I'm a sucker for them. Only problem is that I don't like their lists. So here's my one and only "best albums of 2010" that I will ever make (yes, I meant what I said). And instead the afore mentioned media outlets tell you what to think, I'm gonna tell you what is best for you this year.

#1 Foxy Shazam- Foxy Shazam
All year, it has been my goal to shove Foxy Shazam into the ear hole of any willing victim. Why do I love Foxy Shazam so much? Perhaps it is because they don't fall into one genre. Perhaps their live show is most awesome-est show in the world right now. However, they are also extremely versatile and talented. They do Soul, Punk, Gospel, Glam, Hard Rock, you name it. Lead singer Eric Nally explains it like this: "When I listen to a Foxy Shazam record I think of Evel Knievel, Bruce Springsteen, my childhood, Van Morrison, my old friends from high school I don't talk to anymore, Elton John, the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s and beyond, Iggy Pop and my first kiss." Kapish?
What some people miss is the surprising candid and sincere lyrical content. Most are often caught up in their live shows (again, one of the best I've ever seen) and miss that Nally is singing about fear of success, dispensing advice to his son, life's struggles, trying to the right thing, and bits of blown up bodies flying through the air.
I admit that, for some, it is hard to appreciate or even comprehend Foxy Shazam unless you've seen them live. So, when you do give Foxy Shazam a try, simply follow Eric Nally's advice: "When you listen to our record, think of your favorite things and it'll make sense to you as well. Foxy Shazam is not concerned with what category it falls into".

#2 Jonsi- Go
Jonsi, lead singer of Icelandic super group Sigur Ros, gave us the most brilliant solo album in 2010. If my beloved Amber had made this list, it would've been number one. So I'm making it a close second.
When we saw Jonsi live a couple of months ago, one spectator I talked to afterward nailed Jonsi's effort when she said "Sigur Ros can be an almost spiritual experience. However, Jonsi's album was total exhilaration." In a society where most people still prefer a painting of some dogs playing poker at a card table, Jonsi is our lone Monet'. He literally creates and paints landscapes and events with his music. This is clearly evident in songs like "Tornado", "Boy Lilikoi", and "Kolnidur". This album puts my mind in a good place every time I listen to it with pictures of Icelandic glaciers and cool volcano beaches helping me cope with being stuck in the suffocating heat of Arizona.
Jonsi, is not for everyone, but he should be. His falsetto is a little too much for some and the fact that some of the songs are in Icelandic creates a hurdle for others. Like Sigur Ros, his style is an acquired taste. But that style is "exhilarating" if you give his music a fair shot.

#3 The White Stipes- Under Great White Northern Lights
Does anyone rock as thoroughly as Jack White? Nope. Technically, this is a recording of their tour of Canada in 2007. But the album came out in March of this year. After watching the rock-u-mentary feature Jack White, Jimmy Page, and U2's the Edge, no one can deny what a mad genius Jack White is and UGWNL only reaffirms this.
Listen to their cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene". Dolly's original version was a sweet naive plea to a woman to not steal her man. The White Stripes take the song and make it a heart-wrenching cry for mercy. One of my favorite songs of the year.
The White Strips gain a lot of points in my book for sounding better live than their engineered studio recordings. UGWNL captures the genius of Jack White, the loving relationship between he and Meg White, all the brilliant improvisations, and all out good ol' Detroit Rock 'n' Roll. This is precisely the type of album that inspires a kid to pick up a guitar and learn how to play.
#4 Alkaline Trio- This Addiction

I'm a long time Trio fan, so there is no revelation that this album fell on this list. Alkaline Trio has been churning out straight up simple goth-punk for years with little variation. Some claim this album resembles their efforts from their early years. I don't care. It might be a little more introspective leaving out some of their typical horror show themes, but its still all good fun to me. Songs like "Dine, Dine My Darling" (clearly a Misfits reference) , "Draculina", and "This Addiction" are all the types of songs you crank up in your car and sing along to.

#5 Les Savy Fav- Root for Ruin

Part of the post-hardcore movement, Les Savy Fav is what Fugazi would sound like if Fugazi didn't take themselves so seriously. Apparently they've been around for years, but I only found out about them this summer. I'm cool like that.
Remember that over-weight balding guy with a beard that has lived in your dorm for the past eight years cuz he' s not keen on graduating and getting a job? That would be Les Savy Fav. This is the type of band you could find playing in the basement of an old Masonic temple for five bucks per kid. Their album "Root for Ruin" reminds me of all the fantastic bands in the mid 90's in the Northwest that were overshadowed by the grunge movement. I guess that is why I'm drawn to it.
This is a simple, unpolished, and unapologetic rock album (or post-hardcore if you need to be specific). Very raw and deliberate, it has a Stooges quality to it. Highly recommended for those who are tired with the polished saccharin crap kids are force fed these days.
There you go. That's my small list. Enjoy.

1 comment:

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