2010 has been a year of electronic loss: The hard drive in the laptop fried out, while little music was not backed up, many photographs, folders and slide shows vanished. The CD player in the car gave up the ghost as well, and local radio does not cut it, making me a sad driver. Yet, as the year ends, we have endured another twelve months of watching the world go crazy.
It's an international cast this year as two thirds of this list is from outside of the United States. An unprecedented two bands from Columbus have made the cut. It was almost three with Scott Woods barely sliding out of contention. Frightened Rabbit was also not good enough to make it through to the final twenty one. Almost put an unreleased track from the Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street record on, but that would have been cheeky of me. I owe Janelle Monae an apology. Disappointments include Arcade Fire, who gave me no inspiration, and Rufus Wainwright - I should have known better to purchase that one. There's a festive blend of old geezers, legends and up and comers who I hope have long careers ahead of them; all complied for your listening pleasure.
The link to download these songs is at the end of this post, if you don't care to read my musings. Not sure what order they are in, but the obsessive liner notes below is the tracking that, after many hours of testing, I have come up with. You, of course, may listen to these songs in any order you wish. As always in this day of the MP3, it's not about the album, but the songs.
1) Sakert - Dansa, Fastan. Also known here as Hello Saferide, Annika Norlin has made her second project as Sakert. This was a tough record to find as getting an MP3 of Facit was forbidden from the amazon.co.uk website but my google-fu prevailed and Swedish Pop won the night. I'm always impressed by the ache in Ms. Norlin's voice even though I have no idea what she's singing about.
2) Jonsi - Boy Lilikoi. Taking the solo route while Sigur Ros is on hiatus has lead singer Jonsi edging toward Jon Anderson territory, but thankfully not going all there way there. This song was almost the lead track until Sakert pushed it down a notch.
3) Robert Plant - House of Cards. Robert Plant takes it back to pre-Zeppelin days by resurrecting the Band of Joy moniker. Replacing foil Alison Krauss with Patti Griffin was a move that added some grit to the vocals as did putting Buddy Miller on guitars and in the production seat. Plant once again finds some well chosen covers, including this one from Richard and Linda Thompson to make my favorite album of the year. I do worry he's going to the cover well too often though, how about some originals next time? Here's the Band of Joy on Jools Holland.
4) Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - Money. I like the sass of this Brooklyn band. I like that they record to tape. I'm not impressed with the lack of bass in the mix though.
5) Nick Tolford & Company - I Kissed Her. A Columbus band that is doing a lot of things right. Soulful lead singer, competent musicians and decent songs. Plus, this record was recorded live. No overdubs. I bought this a Spoonful Records and got the download code with the vinyl. That's how you do it record industry, listen to the indies!
6) Cee-Lo Green - Fuck You. If you have not heard this you have been in a cave most of the year.
7) Cypress Hill - Amada Latina. Not a band I usually listen to but I heard the CSN&Y riff to Suite Judy Blue Eyes and I got sucked in by the hook. Why this was not a bigger hit is beyond me.
8) Gil Scott-Heron - Me and the Devil. After a sixteen year absence that saw him imprisoned and seeing some hard times it was a relief to hear that Gil Scott-Heron's working again. His voice now a guttural rasp, but it still has the power. Useless trivia I did not know until this year - his father, Giles, was the first black player to play for the Scottish Premier League team Glasgow Celtic in the 1950's, where he was known as "The Black Arrow." The record is called "I'm New Here."
9) Tom Jones - Burning Hell. Seventy years old and still has his chops. Working with Ethan Johns as producer gave him vitality. "Praise and Blame" was recorded live in the studio. A hot selection of gospel and blues that puts to shame singers of half the Welshman's age. Here's Tom on Jools Holland.
10) Drew Grow and The Preachers Wives - Bootstraps. I found these group through the "I Am Fuel, You are Friends" blog. Grow's out of Portland, Oregon and this song is hypnotic. Very primal, swampy, it got in my head. Grow's parents are ministers and he's got the ability to testify. A band to watch for.
11) Admiral Fallow - Squealing Pigs. From Glasgow comes one of my favorite songs of the year. That damn accent pulled me in, combined with the female backup then that wacky coronet solo. Good stuff. This video was recorded at T in the Park.
12) Kid Canaveral - Good Morning. Another Scottish band, this one from St. Andrews. Some straight forward pop/rock with decent melodies you can shout along with.
13) Cours Lapin - Cache Cache. Producers of Danish movie soundtracks find a girl singer, write their songs in French. Happens every day, right?
14) Super Desserts - Funeral. For the first time, two bands from Columbus are on the list. I'm charmed by this seven or nine piece group who put out two record this year. One is Banjo Forever, the other, Twee as Folk. Both are gentle, quirky and possess a rare charm.
15) Belle & Sebastian - I Want the World to Stop. This record has been growing on me. As long as I forget the mistake of a Norah Jones duet, this is one of my favorite records of the year. What I am very pleased with is the emergence of Sarah Martin in the band's songwriting and arrangement dynamic. The progress she has made is a marvel.
16) Furland - Quiero Ser Un Color. This was culled from the Music Alliance Pact. An earnest young man from Mexico. Great little song that battled all year to make the final list. I think it was that George Harrison slide guitar that did it.
17) Broken Records - A Leaving Song. They've been here two years in a row now. This Edinburgh band released their first full length record, Let Me Come Home, a couple of months back. They've become less of an Arcade Fire type ensemble and more of a rock group. This is a good thing. They're coming to the U.S. early next year, sadly, nowhere near Columbus. See this band in the clubs before they become too big for them.
18) Paul Weller - No Tears to Cry. The geezer is still relevant. Anyone who tells me otherwise is itching for a fight.
19) Mynabirds - Numbers Don't Lie. This song's been in my head all year. A fantastic song with mega girl group influence. It's the creation of Laura Burhenn. What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood is the name of the record. Here's the band at SXSW.
20) Divine Comedy - I Like You. Neil Hannon made another record that no one in the states really heard. Bang Goes the Knighthood was not even released here. Thanks to Amazon.co.uk for shipping it here! This is one wacky video.
21) Mumford & Sons - Winter Winds. These guys penetrated my soul this year. Absolutely went nuts off their debut record and they met all expectations when I saw them at the Wexner Center for only $12 in May. You'll never see them again in a small venue and forget about paying that price to see them. They're huge now. Hell, I have Sigh No More on vinyl. Thank you Spoonful Records!
The link for the songs is HERE.
Click on 2010songs.zip.