“All music is folk music” Miles Davis
I was a long time subscriber to No Depression who is still new to this online posting of opinions and verbal expositions.
I missed the ND readers poll and was disappointed because every year I do a mix cd of my favorite music of the year. Actually it is a 2 cd set with the first cd focusing on rock and soul while the second is usually songwriters and country/bluegrass/ folk. This doesn’t begin to address my love for jazz and world music, but I leave that for another day. I also have a sweet tooth for just great pure pop music. It is interesting that now that I have a 14 yr. old daughter I find myself influenced by her tastes and have tried to bend my ears to being a kid again. After all, a lot of the music I still love I discovered at her age. Anyhow, here are my notes about the choices of 2010.
2010 Disc 1:
“California Girls” by Katy Perry: Now before you turn off the rest of the cd (even my daughter thinks this song is overplayed), I think this this is just a great summer pop song. “sun kiss skin so hot will melt your popscicle” will go down as one of the greatest rock and roll lyrics ever. Plus Snoop Dog is one of the guilty pleasures of the last decade. Check out the Gourds version of Gin and Juice.
“The Sound of Sunshine” by Michael Franti and Spearhead: After all these years Michael Franti is finally showing some talent. I guess getting married and having kids showed him the light. Love the Corona commercial too.
“Fuck You” by Cee Lo: On the Colbert Report Cee Lo substituted the title lyrics with “Fox News”. The video for this song is great too.
“American Slang” by the Gaslight Anthem. The Gaslight Anthem is one of those New Jersey bands who still play small clubs and every now and then Bruce will jump on stage to jam with them. Shit happens.
“Save My Love” by Bruce Springsteen: Save My Love is a song that got left off of Darkness. The HBO special about the making of Darkness was terrific and so was this 2 cd set of outtakes.
“Down In the Bowery” by Alejandro Escovedo: One of the great shows my wife and I saw this year was at the Continental Club in Austin. Alejandro Escovedo does Tuesday nights at $10 bucks a head to test out new material. He did this album which is one of the best of the year. This song is some advice for his punk rock son who doesn’t respect the old man’s music. Ian Hunter from Mott the Hoople is on vocals adding yet another generation into the mix.
“Horchata” by Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend is a Brooklyn preppy band that mixes up Steely Dan lyrics with African highlife.
“Little Less Loneliness” by Pete Molinari: Pete Molinari is one of those teabags from England who plays American music better than most Americans. What’s that about?
“Modern Man” by Arcade Fire: Arcade Fire is from Montreal and this is one of the best albums of the year. Funeral and Neon Bible were great too.
“Tournaments of Hearts” by The Weakerthans: The Weakerthans are another Canadian band I picked up on about 8 years ago and forgot about until hearing this greatest hit collection. Nerdy rock with a lot of heart.
“Compliments” by The Band of Horses: This is another up and coming band from the south. Another Springsteen endorsed band, they have the 70’s southern cal sound without the coke and mullets.
“Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” by Bettye LaVette: Bettye LaVette was somebody I loved before her comeback 3 albums ago, and while I’m not sure this is as strong as her last two “comeback albums” it is a clever concept to make sure she is still a player on the neosoul retro bandwagon. She has a voice that sounds like
gargled razor blades and the truth.
“U N Me” by The Watson Twins” These women are just disturbing. They look like Stepford Wife robots and sound idyllic. Check out the album Rabbit Fur Coat with Jenny Lewis.
“Elizabethtown” by Matt Harlan: Elizabethtown was one of those late night finds on itunes where you are looking for something and find something else. Still it held its own to make the final cut.
“Come In Please” by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes: Edward Sharpe was such a wacky pick but I kept coming back to this album because it was such a sixties sound and they are doing something that nobody else has done for forty years and doing it better than was done back then.
“Dragon’s Song” by Blitzen Trapper is another hippie band who have that great sixties sound.
“You Are Not Alone” by Mavis Staples: What can I say? Mavis is one of the greatest voices of the last couple of centuries and this is may be the best album of the year. Bob Dylan missed his chance when he didn’t marry her.
“Better Things” by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings is the greatest force in the revitalization of funk and soul music of the last 10 years. Check out her version of Woody Guthrie’s This Land in the movie Up in the Air.
“Am I Wrong” (feat. Keb Mo and Taj Mahal) by Lee Ritenour: Lee has been a great studio guitarist for years and this cd has an allstar lineup helping out.
“You Can Have Her” by Jerry Lee Lewis: I couldn’t decide between this and Clapton’s offering. I picked this because of not only Clapton but James Burton, perhaps the greatest guitar player in rock and roll history. I also have to add my admiration to Clapton’s work on the Rhino reissue of the Delaney and Bonnie box set of their England tour from the seventies.
“Everything About You: by Solomon Burke: What can I say? RIP Solomon. You crossed every boundary and always preached love. I got to shake your hand at the Jazz Heritage Festival back in 94 and haven’t washed it sinced.
Ok I’m on 2010 Disc 2.
“California” is by Shawn Mullins who had a great album a few years ago called 9th Ward Picking Party. This album is just as good. While the previous album was steeped in New Awlins where it was recorded, this one has Hotel California all over it. This song sounds like something that Tom Petty would kill to claim his own.
“Don’t Mind Me” by Red Horse: Aa folk super group of John Gorka, Lucy Kaplansky, and Eliza Gilkyson. Check them out, they are
all fantastic individually. Gorka and Kaplansky are from the northeast, while Eliza is home mostly at Austin. Her father was a
songwriter for Disney and did Bare Necessities for the Jungle Book. Her live shows are inspirational.
“Double Knots” by The Living Sisters is the type of song that just sticks in your head. I’m partial to three part harmony, especially when one of them is Inara George, daughter of Little Feat’s Lowell.
“Tragedy” by Peter Wolf: This ex-frontman has been putting out great solo albums for a number years after leaving the J. Geils band. His previous album had a great duet with Jagger on Nothing But the Wheel. This album has some great moments with Neko Case and this duet is with Shelby Lynne, one of my favorite reincarnations of Dusty Springfield.
“You Can’t buy My Love” is another Robert Plant classic in his new Americana mode.
I saw Robert and Alison Krause at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (America’s Greatest Music Festival) a couple years ago and it was one
of the best shows of my life. This album features two of my favorites, Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller.
“Valentino” is by Diana Burch who I discovered through a review in Mojo. She sounds like a southern Laura Nyro. The whole album is worth downloading.
“Ridin’ in My Car” by She and Him is just a great Al Anderson song from NRBQ and Zoey Deschannel has that voice you that makes you wish she was your girlfriend in high school… Sexy and nostalgic.
“Come A Rain” by Kevin Welch is that stream of consciousness song that doesn’t make any sense but makes total sense. Another regular
at HSB who always delivers.
“Mixtape” is by Tift Merritt who I saw open for Ryan Adams back in 2000. She has consistently released great songs with great vocals. Whoever thought of creating a mixtape to map their emotional journey?
“Like Rock and Roll Radio” is by my favorite Maine crooner, Ray LaMontagne. Here he has a new producer but still those scratchy compelling vocals and asking the eternal question “are we strangers now, like rock and roll and the radio?”
“Big Love” was my favorite song by Little Village, the super group that couldn’t, so I love this version by Carrie Rodriguez.
Carrie is classically trained and made her name with Chip Taylor down in Austin. Her sound now is more Brooklyn, but she has great taste and chops on violin.
Josh Ritter’s “Change of Time” is just another great offering from a songwriter who I think is the leading contender for the “next Leonard Cohen”.
“No One But You” by Doug Paisley is another discovery through Mojo. Again, a track chosen based on the quality of the whole album.
“Christchurch Woman” is by Steve’s son Justin Townes. Although he has his own rehab problems, he has emerged as a talent on
his own terms. A better singer than his father and almost as good a songwriter. Another contender for album of the year.
“Old Enough” is a great Rickie Lee Jones comeback. Enough said.
“New Speedway Boogie” is another example of how I am a sucker for a good Dead cover. Cohen’s concept album of
great songs from 1970 offers some solid interpretations and the inclusion of Jim Lauderdale helps since I had to bump off his Patchwork Quilt offerings. Good argument for the 70’s being the greatest decade for music.
“Sex and Candy by Keller Williams & the Keels: Keller Williams has done some fantastic stuff since leaving Leftover Salmon, including his Dead Grass concert at Madison Square Garden. This album of covers is so sweet that that it is almost like sex and candy.
“Gotta Sing High” by Kenny White is a song I heard on one of my favorite syndicated radio shows “Midnight Special” out of Chicago.
I’m a sucker for a humorous debunker of music business craft.
“Love Is Strange/Stay” by Jackson Browne and David Lindley: The partnership of David Lindley and Jackson Browne has provided some great songs and this is a great reprise to Running on Empty. And if anybody has gotta sing high, its David Lindley.
Special kudos to those who missed the cut including Jamey Johnson (best country album of the year), Jimmy Webb (great duet with Lucinda on Galveston), Sheryl Crow, Stephanie Finch, Galactica, Reckless Kelly, Clapton, Dr. John, Toots, Grace Potter, Sierra Leone’s Refugee Allstars, King Sunny Ade, and the Drive By Truckers, and all the others I won’t discover till next year. Cheers.