Year end music recap time. 2010 was weird. Felt so-so for new music, but was probably the best concert year of recent memory due to a heavy dose of nostalgia.
1. The Flood — Mason Jennings
A new album of old songs is an odd choice for the top slot, but like I said it was a weird year. Mason delivered some gems on The Flood, and “Dakota” narrowly edged out Cee Lo’s feel good hit of the summer as the most singable track of the year for me.
2. Plastic Beach — Gorillaz
Most anticipated record and concert going into the year, and both exceeded expectations.
3. Broken Bells — Broken Bells
Last.fm pegs this as my 6th most listened to album of the last 12 months, essentially one listen behind Plastic Beach. (And if you take away my wife’s obsession with Monsters of Folk / Conor Oberst / The Felice Brothers it rises to #3 on my list…) Didn’t really know what to expect going in, but Danger Mouse brings the Rick Rubin magic to everything he produces. I really want to hear a Danger Mouse / Wilco collaboration someday.
4. As I Call You Down — Fistful of Mercy
Another year, another supergroup on the year end list. Fun, folky set of songs here. “Things Go ‘Round” makes my shortlist for song of the year.
5. Volume Two — She & Him
A crowd pleaser of a record I keep drifting back to. Volume One would have been #1 on my 2008 list had I made one at the time. Can’t go wrong with most things M. Ward.
1. James @ the Music Box – October 13
Laid (the album more than the song) has always held a special place in my collection, but somewhat shamefully I’d never really dug deeper into the James catalogue for whatever reason. Could’ve/should’ve had my interest piqued a few years ago when the whole crowd was singing along to “Sit Down” before Carter USM’s first Brixton Academy reunion show, but I just paid $.99 for the single and that was that. So when I learned James was coming around it was very much a “should I stay or should I go” dilemma. We did go, and then they went and put on the best performance I’ve seen from anyone in recent memory.
2. Benji Hughes Residency @ Largo – July 8, 15, 22, 29
After a number of near misses, I finally got to see Benji Hughes this year — every Thursday for a whole month. I could cheat and rank each of these individually, but that would make for a boring top list. As I said at the time, I wish I could see Benji Hughes every Thursday for the rest of my life.
3. Rage Against the Machine @ Hollywood Palladium – July 23
My wife dragged me to this reluctantly because Conor Oberst was opening, but I figured Rage would be worth it. Were they ever. Rocked it like they never broke up and blew the doors off the Palladium. I was hoarse the next day from the scream-a-longs.
4. Pavement @ The Fox Theatre – April 15
Comeback tours are weird, hit and miss affairs. Pre-Coachella warm-up shows are weird, hit and miss affairs. Seeing Pavement live used to be a weird, hit and miss affair. Pavement absolutely nailed it in the first US show of their comeback tour with one hell of a setlist.
5. Gorillaz @ Coachella – April 18
Damon Albarn knows how to pull out all the stops for a multi-media spectacular. And I still swear I saw acrobats!