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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.
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.
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:
– Public Strain — Women
– Lisbon — The Walkmen
– Cosmogramma — Flying Lotus
– InnerSpeaker — Tame Impala
– Astro Coast — Surfer Blood
– Before Today — Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
– Black Noise — Pantha du Prince
– Forget — Twin Shadow
– Everything In Between — No Age
– Swim — Caribou
– The Budos Band III — The Budos Band
– Halcyon Digest — Deerhunter
– Teen Dream — Beach House
– The Monitor — Titus Andronicus
– My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Kanye West
– Odd Blood — Yeasayer
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:
- Eyesore — Women
- Albatross — Besnard Lakes
- My Way — jj (feat. Lil Wayne)
- I Was Thinking… — Gauntlet Hair
- Odessa — Caribou
- Lucidity — Tame Impala
- Heart to Tell — The Love Language
- Carolina — Girls
- Promises — The Morning Benders
- Woe is Me — The Walkmen
- Mouthful of Diamonds — Phantogram
- How I Got Over — The Roots
- Round and Round — Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
- National Anthem — Freddie Gibbs
- Piece — Deer Tick https://cbsmp3oftheday.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/deertick-piece.mp3?dl=1
- River Serpentine — The Budos Band
- I Don’t Think I — Devin Therriault
- Empire Ants — Gorillaz (feat. Little Dragon)
- O.N.E. — Yeasayer
- Cremona Memories — Keep Shelly in Athens
- Castles in the Snow — Twin Shadow
- Heart — Love Diamonds
- Gold Skull — Miniature Tigers
- Waterfall — Fresh & Onlys
- Total Life Forever — Foals
- Desire Lines — Deerhunter
- Satelllliiiiiiiteee — Flying Lotus
- I Learned the Hard Way — Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
- Marathon — Tennis
- Valley Hump Crash — No Age
- Dance or Die — Janelle Monáe (feat. Saul Williams)
- In the Fall — Future Islands (feat. Katrina Ford)
- Shadow People — Dr. Dog
- The Suburbs — Arcade Fire
- Wide Eyes — Local Natives
- Golden Haze — Wild Nothing
- The Dreamer — The Tallest Man on Earth
- A More Perfect Union — Titus Andronicus
- Dance Yrself Clean — LCD Soundsystem
- 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.