top 25 albums of 2010

stars in their eyes

Some year I’m going to design an elaborate March Madness style bracket to determine my favorite album, but this was not that year. Instead, I listened to 1134 of 1516 tracks in my 2010 playlist, alphabetical by artist and album, between December 1 and, uh, right now, and I made a list: top 25 albums and the last five out of the official list; three re-releases; two live albums. (In my defense: I had listened to the rest of those tracks at some point in the last three months. So I didn’t neglect anything. I was just overly ambitious and I have a lot of music.)

There’s no science in this list; it’s almost all feeling, with a hefty helping of at least knowing an objective definition of “really great”. Some of these albums sat on the list from January on — some barrelled onto it in the last week. And I was, let it be said, utterly insane by the middle of the G’s in my relistening. For what it’s worth.

Behind the jump: let’s do this thing.

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top tracks, eps and singles of 2010

luego @ local 506

Shorter and less obsessed-over (than tomorrow’s epic work of art top albums list) lists of great EPs and 7″s, and tracks I loved in 2010. (I totally made the first list so I could put Frank’s EP and the Graves’ EP on it.)

Top EPs and 7″ Releases of 2010

  1. Frank Turner — Rock and Roll: “I Still Believe”, and “Pass It Along”, and agggggh, this EP. Made me cry at work the first time I listened to it. Still does.
  2. The Roadside Graves — You Won’t Be Happy With Me: “Liv Tyler” is my favorite track of 2010. See below.
  3. The Gaslight Anthem — Tumbling Dice 7″: dear Gaslight, please cover the Stones forever and ever, amen.
  4. The Honored Guests — Into Nostalgia: one of the only local releases on any of my lists, but fuck, this EP is great. I need to pick up their full-length
  5. Centro-matic/South San Gabriel — Eyas: Will Johnson, you are a beautiful genius.

Aside from “Lydia”, which has the best opening lines of any song released in 2010, this is my Top 10 Favorite Tracks From Releases Not On My Best Of Albums List.

  1. The Roadside Graves — “Liv Tyler”: and i don’t know whose baby you are
  2. Ghost Shirt — “Southern Girl”: to a southern girl with a busted heart/just pumping out gasoline/with a family of ghosts and a punk rock dream
  3. American Aquarium — “Rattlesnake”: you could tell she had a history with cigarettes and whiskey and boys who had a way with words
  4. Two Cow Garage — “Lydia”: i want to be in love like an old soul song/i want to feel like the second verse of let’s get it on
  5. Two Man Gentleman Band — “Put It In My Ear (When You Make That Music)”: it’s a man with a man playing music/that will cause you to rise up and say/”friend, when we make that music/i have no fear, put it in my ear”
  6. The Love Language — “Heart To Tell”: i never had the heart to tell her/no, i never had the words to say
  7. Old 97s — “Champaign, Illinois”: oh, then if you die fearin’ God and painfully employed/you will not go to Heaven, you’ll go to Champaign, Illinois
  8. Carolina Chocolate Drops — “Hit ‘Em Up Style” (Blu Cantrell cover): so you better let him know that if he messed up you gotta hit ’em up
  9. Holy Ghost Tent Revival — “Northbound”: you, you should be next to me in the passenger seat
  10. The Old Ceremony — “Wither On The Vine”: and i don’t want to wither on the vine

Download a zip file of all 10 tracks [here].

Okay, now you go: what’s your favorite track of 2010?

MP3s are for sampling purposes only; if you enjoy what you hear, please support the artists by purchasing their music. Files are available for a limited time only. If you represent an artist or a label and would prefer that I remove a link to an mp3, please email me at asdonkar at gmail dot com and I will immediately remove the file.

top ten shows of 2010

superchunk @ the cradle

Today kicks off a couple of year end lists; tomorrow you’ll get EPs and tracks, and next week, a massive list of albums the making of which may make me more insane than usual, but which will be thorough if nothing else. Today, though: today you get my Top 10 Live Shows of 2010.

I saw 72 shows in 2010; less than 2009, but more than 2008. And, to my great delight, I didn’t see a single show I would say was a bad show, either. So making this list was hard; after the top five, all of which were standouts, there was a whole pack that could have populated 6-10. Some of these shows are here because of both the sets played and the nights themselves. And Brian & Dave have sat at the top of the list since January, when they were the first show I saw in 2010. Here’s hoping that I get to kick 2011 off with some shows as amazing.

(Not included: the 10th Annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. Because Bristol is so far and away more amazing than anything else I do at any point in the year. And no single show can ever compete with a Bristol lineup. Even if I did get punched during the Truckers’ set this year.)

  1. Brian Fallon & Dave Hause solo acoustic at the Black Cat, Washington, DC. This was my comfort go-to live set all year; Brian’s opening monologue about marriage and not cheating us out of our ticket price would have sold me, but the cover of “Ball & Chain” at the end, ugh.
  2. Two Cow Garage w/ Dave Hause at Kings Barcade, Raleigh, NC. The band that put out my favorite album of 2010, plus Dave Hause, who we are all learning is essential to good things happening. Needs more Dave Hause everywhere.
  3. Justin Townes Earle w/ Caitlin Rose at Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC. Startling and stunning and gorgeous.
  4. Drive-By Truckers two-night stand at the Lincoln, Raleigh, NC. After these two sets, I smelled like beer for three days and felt like Mike Cooley had been punching me in the face all weekend. In the best way.
  5. The National w/ Owen Pallett at Memorial Auditorium, Raleigh, NC. For the a cappella set-closing version of “Vanderlyle Cry-baby Geeks” alone, but also for everything else.
  6. Ha Ha Tonka opening for Rocky Votolato at Local 506, Chapel Hill, NC. An opening set on this list? Yes. I’d been waiting more than a year to see them, and they were so far and away better than I had even hoped for, it made my heart soar.
  7. Superchunk at Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC. The album release show was more polished, but lurching, deep-cut-playing, shaking-off-the-rust Superchunk was more fun.
  8. Stroke It, Noel: a Fully Orchestrated Performance of Big Star’s Third at Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC. Break my heart, why don’t you.
  9. Malarkeygras w/ American Aquarium, Red Collar & Paleface at the Pour House, Raleigh, NC. The cover of “Thunder Road” that night was why I live where I live.
  10. Frightened Rabbit w/ Maps & Atlases & Bad Veins at Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC. Hearing “My Backwards Walk” live was exactly what I needed at that moment in time.

Behind the jump, one photo from each show, except the Brian/Dave show, because I didn’t shoot it; the only show I didn’t shoot all year. Instead, you get a photo of Dave Hause from the Two Cow set. Substitution!

Continue reading “top ten shows of 2010”