Monday, December 27, 2010

Best Albums of 2010: Prelude

As always, this is my opinion. I'm entitled to it, and you must be interested or something similar, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this internet weblog.

Anyshways, this is the prelude to my TOP 10 OF 2010!
These are the the EPs that can't count as full albums, albums that aren't technically original, and the WTFs... Enjoy.

Five EPs worth listening to.

1.) Sufjan Stevens - "All Delighted People EP" - I don't care what anyone else says. This EP is better than his full length release, "The Age of Adz." Both are fantastic musically, lyrically, vocally, everything, but this album is more of the Sufjan that I personally want to hear more of. I'm not big on synthetic sounds, and when I think Sufjan Stevens, I don't think of dance music. Ergo, this hour-long EP (!!!) is epic and beautiful, lush and intricate with emotion. The best song is the EP opener, "All Delighted People (Original Version)."

2.) A Billion Ernies - "A Billion Ernies/ Informant Split" - Only really a fan of A Billion Ernies, so I only rotate their side of the EP (not fair, I know). From these few songs, I am reminded why I came to love them. This band puts out sonically charged and pounding songs of revolution, hope, and God's a Jesus-loving RX Bandits. Crashing drums, strange twists in time signatures, on-point brass, and scathing vocals bring it all together to make ABE one of Community Records's best. "Won't Take Sides" is my favorite, criticizing the hurt and division throughout humanity and the church when Jesus taught unity and peace.

3.) Mae - "(e)vening" - The final release from the series of three EPs from Mae, "(e)vening" is breathtakingly beautiful. While the songs are fairly classic Mae in their piano driven rock, this EP grabs my attention because of the solo piano tracks, "Season i, ii, and iii." No vocals here, just heartfelt piano playing, telling a story without saying a word. When my day ends in stress, these three songs bring peace to my soul. "Bloom" is also very good, ending with the lines, "Love will find a way to bloom!" After their uninspired album "Singularity," I'm glad Mae went back to the drawing board to find some passion all over again.

4.) Bradley Hathaway - "A Thousand Angry Panthers" - Hathaway comes off 2009's "A Mouth Full of Dust" with some stamina to record a sweet little four track EP. And it is packed. In these four songs, he refines the best parts of "AMFOD" into something solid and lovely. From the opening folk guitar and violin of "She was Raised by a Man with a Sickness," I get wrapped into his verses, rhyming the heartbreaking stories of broken people seeking salvation and love and belonging. EP closer "The World Is Screaming" is the icing on the cake, and Hathaway gets angsty and frustrated with a marching rhythm and pulsing strings.

5.) Geology - "Three Birds EP" - Greg Jehanian comes back on the scene with his bedroom recordings on this five song EP. Known mostly for his bass playing for the rock outfit mewithoutYou, Jehanian holds his own on this his second solo release under the Geology moniker. And like his self-titled debut, this EP brims with folk indie ditties and lyrics about nature, living things, and God. It is simple and meaningful and quaint. The recording quality isn't top-notch, but for me, that adds to the pastoral appeal of Geology. I particularly enjoy the retelling of the biblical Road to Emmaus story found in "Why Look For The Living Among The Dead?"


Brandon Boyd - "The Wild Trapeze" - Sorry to say it, but this disjointed solo album by Incubus front man Brandon Boyd is weak and unappealing. The musical talent of the one man leaves something much to be desired while the lyrics are rather dull and unoriginal. Maybe my expectations were too high, as I revel in most of Incubus's discography. But, stick with Incubus, my friend. Mike, Jose, Ben, and Kil won't steer you wrong.

Arcade Fire - "The Suburbs" - 11th on Pitchfork's Albums of 2010?! Topping or ranking highly on MANY other music bloggers' lists for best music of the year?! WTF. I know I'll get plenty of guff for this, but are we listening to the same record??? I feel like this is one of those bandwagon records where someone says it's awesome and then other critics buy into it and become sheep to the music. Secretly no one really likes it, but just says it at risk of being shunned into the sixth realm of hipster hell. And yes, I have listened to it several times through, giving it time to seep in, hoping it would change my mind. It hasn't. It's boring. I'm gonna go listen to "The Funeral" when Arcade Fire made me happy and not sleepy.

Not TRULY Original Albums but Worth Noting

Girl Talk - All Day - Sick mixing, clean transitions, and superbly fantastic mash-ups for Gregg Gillis. It is fun, danceable as hell, and just GOOD from start to finish! It is all one track by the way. Who does that??? While it can be argued as to whether this is "original" music or not, I am putting it here solely based on the fact that he technically wrote nothing on the album and could not have made it without The Jackson Five, Jay-Z, 2Pac, B.o.B., Beastie Boys, Lil Jon, MGMT, Third Eye Blind... Anyway, thank you Girl Talk, for keeping my toes tapping and head bobbing.

Streetlight Manifesto - 99 Songs of Revolution: Volume 1 - Again, nothing on this album was officially written by Tomas Kalnoky and his band of ska miscreants, except maybe some horn lines and arrangement. And they are wonderful. This album of all covers is very catchy. I love hearing songs that I already know transformed into something completely new, or redone in a different style. And what better than a ska-punk rendition of The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" (with an awesome trumpet intro) or Paul Simon's "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard." Oh what fun!