Hey, everyone! Happy New Year! I hope that you have a good one, and that you’re surrounded by good food, friends, and music. It’s been a long year over here (the epic dissertation struggle continues), and I haven’t always been the most attentive (you’re top of the list of New Year’s Resolutions!)… but I wanted to thank everyone for all their love and support. I’ve been positively blown away by the amount of excellent music that has been sent my way, and the… well, legitimacy, I seem to have stumbled into.
So, in 2011, I’ll be stepping up to keep things rolling around here. And I hope that you’ll be there, too! And since it’s customary, follow me for some things I’ve loved this year, as well as some things I’m looking forward to in the New Year!
Starting off the list are some of the releases from the year that really stand out for me. I’m self-consciously not offering you a Top Ten list, because, frankly, I just don’t want to. That sort of ranking is something I’ve never been comfortable with. So, in no particular order:
Notable Releases of 2010:
Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me | What an absolutely glorious, unexpected record. I dare you to watch this video for “Baby Birch” (still my favorite), and not feel punched in the gut (you know, in a good way):
Breathe Owl Breathe – Magic Central | As unpretentious and charming a record as you’ll ever meet. The songs are playful, dreamy, and delightful in their overtures to Americana. (Here’s more on Breathe Owl Breathe.)
My personal favorite is “Dogwalkers of the New Age:”
[audio:https://www.shh-listen.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/004-Dog-Walkers.mp3|titles=Dogwalkers of the New Age]
Sun Kil Moon – Admiral Fell Promises | Someone online pointed out that Mark Kozelek could sing the phone book, and it would sound beautiful and haunting. I agree. This album is beautiful, and you should own it. Here’s “Alesund:”
[audio:https://www.shh-listen.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/01-Alesund.mp3|titles=01 Alesund] Download
Smashing Pumpkins – “Freak” | Mostly, it’s just this track that made me sit up again and take notice of Billy Corgan and Co. While much of the Teargarden by Kaleidyscope stuff is interesting, I’m drawn to this one. As a big fan (Exhibits A and B), I’m glad to be drawn back.
[audio:https://www.shh-listen.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Freak.mp3|titles=Smashing Pumpkins – Freak] Download
Cee Lo Green – “Fuck You” | While we’re on the subject of singles, how could we not discuss Cee Lo? Everyone from William Shatner (caution!) to Gwyneth Paltrow covered this song, and it really is, ironically, the feel-good song of the year.
Ghosts I’ve Met – Payphone Patience EP | This one was one of the first pieces of music to be sent to me for review, and so there’s an extra-special element for me. It’s a beautiful folk album of strings, soul, and harmony. Definitely check it out! Here’s “Payphone Patience:”
[audio:https://www.shh-listen.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Payphone-Patience.mp3|titles=Ghosts I’ve Met – Payphone Patience] Download
Tired Pony – The Place We Ran From | Sometimes, the “supergroup” thing really does pay off. This is definitely one of those times. The album is straight-up, unpretentious rock from the likes of Gary Lightbody, Peter Buck, and M. Ward. (Original Review) Here’s “Point me at Lost Islands,” courtesy of The Point of Everything:
[audio:https://www.shh-listen.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Tired-Pony-Point-Me-At-Lost-Islands.mp3|titles=Tired Pony- Point Me At Lost Islands] Download
Notable Artists of 2010 (Either “New,” New or Newly Discovered By Me):
John Craigie – Remember how I wasn’t comfortable ranking songs? Yeah, well, thanks to Heather over at Fuel/Friends, “All Through Montana” is the best song I’ve heard all year. Seriously. (She also gave me my number two song…)
[audio:https://www.shh-listen.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/06-All-Through-Montana.mp3|titles=06 All Through Montana] Download
Once you’ve let that soak in, warm back up with this one: “Chuck Norris’ Tears Cure Cancer, but Too Bad He Never Cries:”
Best Coast – This video for “When I’m With You” is full of sunshine and distortion. Exactly the colors my Summer is painted in…(Original Review)
Sonya Cotton – Ever since I first wrote about Sonya’s music, I’ve been amazed at just how much it has grown to be an important part of my collection. Her songs are beautiful and thought-provoking, and you should definitely own some. Here’s “Red River:”
[audio:https://www.shh-listen.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Sonya-Cotton-Red-River.mp3|titles=Sonya Cotton – Red River] Download
The Deep Dark Woods – Another outstanding bit of Canadian folk from the fine folks at Slowcoustic. Brilliant and positively oozing out atmosphere… you need this. Here’s “All the Money I Had is Gone”
[audio:https://www.shh-listen.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/The-Deep-Dark-Woods-All-the-Money-I-Had-Is-Gone.mp3|titles=The Deep Dark Woods – All the Money I had is Gone] Download
Lissie – If there’s one thing that Lissie knows how to do (apart from channel Janis Joplin), it’s to put together an amazing cover. Witness her Lady Gaga cover for Exhibit A. Great covers should make you see things in a new way… or, in this case, draw you to something you would’ve never found. And so it is that Lissie’s cover of Lionel Richie’s “Hello,” is one of my favorite covers of the year.
Things I’m Really Looking Forward to in 2011:
March 8th: R.E.M. – Collapse Into Now (Preview)
March 29th: Mountain Goats – All Eternals Deck (Preview)
Bon Iver – Title, Date TBA
Explosions in the Sky – Title, Date TBA
Fleet Foxes – Title, Date TBA
And that’s about it for me. Honestly, what I’m most looking forward to in 2011 is this… writing and sharing with you, and getting to continue this crazy, beautiful experience of building a semi-decent music website into (I hope) a decent one. Thank you all for your interest and support, and Happy New Year!
Oh, and, if someone can tell me why this post got 20% of my annual traffic (literally thousands of hits for this one post), I’d be ever grateful! See you next year!