Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ten Best Albums of 2010

Here are my picks for best albums of 2010. I've done it a few years now, but this year my primary goal was to have a list where Kanye West's waaaaaaaay overrated album isn't on it.

(Here are my lists from 2007, 2008, and 2009.)

10. Yeasayer- Odd Blood

Delightfully weird. This is the sort of music Lady Gaga dresses like she wants to make.

I Remember


9. Aloe Blacc- Good Things

Snubbed by many "best of" lists, Aloe Blacc put out the best R&B album of the year and barely got noticed.

Femme Fatale


8. Dan Mangan- Nice, Nice, Very Nice

This dude can write. But the album isn't the just the stereotypical singer/songwriter guitar and microphone act (not that there's anything wrong with that). It is actually quite funky as well.

Road Regrets


7. Sufjan Stevens- Age of Adz

I was able to see Sufjan while he toured in support of this album. I thought the album just the right mix of electronica and folk-rock. (The show was amazing by the way.)

Now That I'm Older


6. Joanna Newsom- Have One On Me

Joanna Newsom doesn't write songs; she writes epic stories. I recommend getting lost in this one.

Baby Birch


5. Sam Amidon- I See The Sign

Sam likes to take old folk songs and give them new life with lavish string arrangements and crisp production. He did that with the beautiful All Is Well, and now again with his latest album.

Johanna The Row-di


4. Mumford And Sons- Sigh No More

For some reason critics love to hate this band. Is it because they wear their heart on their sleeve a bit too much? Possibly. And perhaps they do. But I buy every word of it. And you've got to be tone deaf to not think this album is catchy as all hell.

The Cave


3. Arcade Fire- Suburbs

This album cements their status as one of the world's elite bands. I was fortunate enough to see them while they were touring for this album as well.

Ready To Start


2. The National- High Violet

This is smart rock and roll for grown ups. It isn't quite as bad now as in the 90s, but it seems like rock has been dominated for such a long time by people trying to be scary or people who are in their mid-thirties lamenting about relationships at a junior high level of complexity. The National are a hit single away from being one of the biggest bands in the United States. And they more than deserve it.

Lemon World


1. The Walkmen- Lisbon

The Walkmen are underrated. Every album I think "this is the one," but yet I still can go see them play shows with a couple hundred people. Cool for me, but I'd like to see them get more attention. An ode to a place, or most likely a woman at that place, I get completely enveloped by this album. These dudes are cool. Like Roy Orbison cool. And, friends, it don't get no cooler than that.

Blue As Your Blood

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Abe

No matter what, everyone has a level of pride they must keep. This is needed to care not just about themselves, but about anything, or anyone. Abe knew this. It’s that same sting that makes a dancer cover herself while picking up the currency hurled her way when she was stark naked only moments before. Without it, we wouldn’t even get out of bed. We wouldn’t even clean ourselves. What’s the point?

Some days Abe had to remind himself he still cared. It was strange. And a bit grandiose. Most people don’t have to sit and wonder if they care. Not about any particular issue, but about anything and everything. This worried him. As I suppose it should.

Just like you and I, Abe was born somewhere. And it was somewhere to a tee. It wasn’t anywhere that needs anymore description than that. To make things even more familiar, Abe didn’t much like his father. We’ve heard this story before. Abe set out on his own. Not so groundbreaking. And not with high ambitions, but with a humming timidity that had a lingering danger in its lull; like a revolver had been fired right next to his head not too long ago. This humming noise would never leave him. Not even as Abe lay dying. Actually, that’s when it was the loudest.

What do average people do when they want to be greater than average? Or, perhaps more accurately, perceived as greater than average? On good days, Abe would fancy himself average. He entertained the idea of joining the armed forces. Nothing says “I care” like a distinguished career shoving the butt of a gun in someone’s face. But then, as is today, only the worst of the worst scoundrel would dare make a career out of being a bully. Abe decided to hit the books. Information is powerful. And, as it turns out, there is a lot of information out there available to someone who simply takes the time to sit down and look it up. The entire judicial system is a vast network of precedents and interpretations that allows someone from somewhere to have a say in the fate of everything and anything from a piece of jewelry to whether or not another someone should live or die. This is good. Abe was thinking.

Sometimes Abe would dream about replacing every mirror in the entire world with one of those distorted fun house mirrors. How long, Abe wondered more than once, would it take for everyone to consider a long warped chin and an indented nose the height of beauty? Or would that become too normal? Who decides who is ugly? Is it our bathroom mirror or our neighbor? Would we convince ourselves we looked like our false reflection, even if others saw us differently? If only such power was available. Abe would take it. There is nothing wrong with using power, Abe thought. In fact, without using it, or at least maintaining the threat of its usage, power would, by definition, cease to exist. The only people who want that are liars.

A lawyer and a politician walk into a bar. Every everyman has a short temper for such careers. That, of course, is until one or the other is needed. Problems are easy to solve when they aren’t your responsibility. Monday morning quarterbacks only throw touchdowns. Back seat drivers never get into accidents. Nobody’s hindsight needs bifocals. Abe loved the high. The debate team is often more competitive than any sports team. The power made people forget. And forgetfulness makes life possible.

“The ambassador is here to see you Mr. President.”

Abe heard a familiar voice wrap around the door.

“Send him in please.”

Abe ran his fingers through his soon to be iconic beard and wiped away an embarrassing amount of liquid from just under his eyes.