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My parents were the first of many influences on my musical tastes. Mom is the bona fide musician of the family; she has a beautiful singing voice and is proficient on the piano. I took three years of piano lessons, but it didn’t stick. What did become ingrained was an appreciation for artists in the singer/songwriter mold. The fact that I would belt out Willie Nelson’s Good Hearted Woman at age four can be attributed to my father’s passion for music. Even now, when I hear the Battle of New Orleans (video below), I hear my Dad’s voice and not Johnny Horton’s.

At some point in the late 80’s, it became obvious that I was developing my own set of criteria for evaluating art. I remember a seminal moment in particular — the day they chastised me after hearing the intro track on Black Sheep’s A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing blaring from my room. Someday, in ten years or so, my daughter or son will play something that bothers my ears, and the circle of life will continue.

How do my tastes differ from my parents’ tastes? I’m obsessed with melodies first and rhythm second. Mom’s prefers talented vocalists and dramatic phrasing, and Dad listens for song structure and lyrical content and meter. I wonder what they might think of my favorite track of 2010, Eyesore by Women. The song consists of three mini-songs strung together, and although I’m pretty sure Patrick Flegel’s nasally vocals are in English, only short segments of words are decipherable as coherent English phrases.

Unlike my previous year-end evaluations in 2008 and 2009, I’ll remember 2010 as a year when I made a conscious decision to consume full albums rather than singles (for old time’s sake, I guess). I can’t yet say whether this body-of-work strategy pays more dividends than the alternative piecemeal song strategy. This year, I feel like I have a stronger opinion when it comes to ranking albums, and less of a breadth of exposure to individual tracks, especially in the genres that I don’t hear as much through the blogs and satellite radio stations I depend on for music discovery (hip-hop, R&B, jazz, dance, and electronic). So, forgive me if my lists for 2010 are rock-heavy.

Music snob ice-dancing solo to the music in his head

This year I won’t dissect releases that disappointed me (Spoon and Broken Bells) or what I think was overrated (Sleigh Bells and Sufjan Stevens) or downright ridiculous and irritating (Kings of Leon). Instead, take a look and listen at what I found to be the aural highlights of 2010.

Oh, and I owe special thanks to my wife for tolerating my obsession and being agreeable about whatever I put on the home stereo.

Best albums

I’ve had 42 full albums and EPs, all released in 2010, in the rotation off and on this year. My 16 favorites are classified in the APJ four tiers of quality:

Tier One

Public Strain — Women
Lisbon — The Walkmen
Cosmogramma — Flying Lotus
InnerSpeaker — Tame Impala

Tier Two

Astro Coast — Surfer Blood
– Before Today — Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
Black Noise — Pantha du Prince
Forget — Twin Shadow

Tier Three

Everything In Between — No Age
Swim — Caribou
The Budos Band III — The Budos Band
Halcyon Digest — Deerhunter

Tier Four

Teen Dream — Beach House
The Monitor — Titus Andronicus
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Kanye West
Odd Blood — Yeasayer

Best songs

My 40 favorite songs of 2010 are listed below. I linked mp3s if I could find them elsewhere (why yes, I am too cheap to pay for the WordPress audio upgrade) for the first 20 or so:

  1. Eyesore — Women
  2. Albatross — Besnard Lakes
  3. My Way — jj (feat. Lil Wayne)
  4. I Was Thinking… — Gauntlet Hair
  5. Odessa — Caribou
  6. Lucidity — Tame Impala
  7. Heart to Tell — The Love Language
  8. Carolina — Girls
  9. Promises — The Morning Benders
  10. Woe is Me — The Walkmen
  11. Mouthful of Diamonds — Phantogram
  12. How I Got Over — The Roots
  13. Round and Round — Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
  14. National Anthem — Freddie Gibbs
  15. Piece — Deer Tick
  16. River Serpentine — The Budos Band
  17. I Don’t Think I — Devin Therriault
  18. Empire Ants — Gorillaz (feat. Little Dragon)
  19. O.N.E. — Yeasayer
  20. Cremona Memories — Keep Shelly in Athens
  21. Castles in the Snow — Twin Shadow
  22. Heart — Love Diamonds
  23. Gold Skull — Miniature Tigers
  24. Waterfall — Fresh & Onlys
  25. Total Life Forever — Foals
  26. Desire Lines — Deerhunter
  27. Satelllliiiiiiiteee — Flying Lotus
  28. I Learned the Hard Way — Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
  29. Marathon — Tennis
  30. Valley Hump Crash — No Age
  31. Dance or Die — Janelle Monáe (feat. Saul Williams)
  32. In the Fall — Future Islands (feat. Katrina Ford)
  33. Shadow People — Dr. Dog
  34. The Suburbs — Arcade Fire
  35. Wide Eyes — Local Natives
  36. Golden Haze — Wild Nothing
  37. The Dreamer — The Tallest Man on Earth
  38. A More Perfect Union — Titus Andronicus
  39. Dance Yrself Clean — LCD Soundsystem
  40. Bottled in Cork — Ted Leo and the Pharmacists


Even though our family is now well beyond the transition from only two dogs to two kids and two demoted dogs, the title of this blog remains the same. When I started this little thing, that transition was on my mind.

The adage that says one picture equals a thousand words doesn’t need validation, but it if did, I think this photo by Jessica Lobdell would do the trick. This image is a visual equivalent of this blog’s title.

The holiday buzz has us busy lately, but I will post Burns Thanksgiving and Jones Christmas content soon. Oh, and I’m already plotting my impressions of the best music of 2010.

Image from Raleigh

Urban dirt-biking

I took this post-apocalyptic picture outside Jones Barber Shop in Raleigh last year.