The Best Albums of 2010
1. Odd Blood, Yeasayer - While the album as a whole is inconsistent, the high water mark set by the best of Odd Blood is within reach of few bands making music these days. The standout songs are the most emotionally evocative and resonant songs of the year. Even when gloriously enveloped in shiny barrages of synth, danceable backbeats, and intricately layered percussion, I never felt further than arms reach from Chris Keating and Anand Wilder’s whacked out pop sensibilities as they delivered some of the most haunting and/or brilliant vocal performances of recent memory. Giving away the scorching Live at Ancienne Belgique at the exact moment I decided to finally craft this list didn’t hurt either.
2. Cracked Maps and Blue Reports, Rotary Downs - It’s hard to find a single momentary misstep - let alone a low point - on Cracked Maps and Blue Reports, an album that evokes the early work of The Band (band) in the way it seems to exist in its own awesome vacuum, an environment unfettered by the passing fads momentarily sweeping through the musical universe. Rotary Downs eschew any de rigueur smoke and mirrors in favor of immaculate instrumental performance and good old fashioned songcraft. Calling Cracked Maps and Blue Reports “perfect” would be pretentious, so I will instead call it a remarkable collection of moody power pop and dazzling, spooky indie rock; a mind-blowing tour de force that makes you continuously wonder how “Rotary Downs” is not a household name.
3. The Brutalist Bricks, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - The most common criticism I hear about Ted Leo and the Pharmacists seems to have something to do with the unprecedented consistency and overall quality of their catalog, spoken like an uninterrupted procession of albums replete with golden-throat vocals and shredding guitars is some sort of black mark against an artist or band. While I would certainly argue the merits of that general position, I will concede that Ted Leo has made few major tweaks to his approach to music making. It’s a good thing, then, that his approach to music making involves a preternatural knack for creating perfectly hook-y, high-energy, new wave punk. And his output has evolved, but subtle and considerate adaptation can be lost on a general public used to jarring and/or superfluous detours (see Congratulations, MGMT or Maya, M.I.A.). Ted Leo’s genius comes with a uncanny air of dependability, and after a listen to the laser-focused, stripped down powder keg that is The Brutalist Bricks, it should be clear that is far from a bad thing.
Furlong Family Reunion, 2010/12/21
December 21, 2010 - The Rusty Nail - New Orleans, LA
Take Your Mama [Scissor Sisters], Roses Are Free [Ween], Sad And Lonely [Secret Machines], AC/DC Bag [Phish]
Furlong Family Reunion, 2010/12/07
December 07, 2010 - The Rusty Nail - New Orleans, LA
Tea For The Tillerman [Cat Stevens], You’re Gonna Change (Or I’m Gonna Leave) [Hank Williams], Get Out! [Sublime]
The Real World: Back to New Orleans, Episode 08
“I used to work for the phone company.” - Ryan
While not as dramatically charged as the presence of narcotics in the home of a recovering pillhead, one of this season’s important subplots is the continued and curious absence of Eric. Ashlee isn’t exactly getting a lot of press earlier, but what is going on with Eric is more confusing. Ashlee is trying to get her licks in - she drives the roommates around, is quick to sit by the computer and offer her judgmental two cents, and has no problem loaning a hoodie to a roommate who is too lazy/tired/drunk to put on some g-ddamn clothes already - but I just can’t bring myself to give a rip about anything she says or does.
The situation with Eric is different. Other than a few minutes chronicling his topical, boring and ultimately unsuccessful courtship with Sahar, he has been almost completely absent through eight hour-long episodes. Obviously pissbrush-gate and white-boy-virginity-gate and I-don’t-know-how-to-work-or-keep-track-of-this-audio-recorder-gate gave the producers plenty of celluose with which to work, but one has to believe that there is something else to blame for his lack of screen time. And is it a coincidence that the last time we saw something like this - a character truly falling off the face The Real World - was the last time the show was set in the Crescent City?