Top Ten for 2010 (List #2 of 7): by Michael Hall
by Michael Hall
10. Over the Sun and Under the Radar – Jungol
Jungol has been rocking since their high school battle of the bands in the Atlanta suburbs more than 10 years ago. Now, after a couple of name changes and some rotation in the line-up, Jungol has found their place. The two twins, Josh (bass) and Graham Yoder (guitar), and drummer, Jason Monseur, have been honing their sound on the Atlanta scene and have been getting some much due praise for their work. Cinematic, ethereal and sometimes bone crushing experimental and electronic rock is something you need to experience. Fast Asleep and Two People, both available on their Facebook and My Space pages, are perfect examples of the range and depth of their sound.
9. Junky Star – Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses
Bingham gets back to his roots with this one. He leaves behind the foot stomping country rock on “Roadhouse Sun” and gets back to the sound he crafted so well on Mescalito. On the heels of his Oscar winning hit, “The Weary Kind,” from Crazy Heart, Junky Star solidified Bingham’s already rising star even more. His is the new voice of thoughtful yet rebellious country. And what a voice.
8. Pauper’s Field – Dylan Leblanc
I gave this a lukewarm review back in August, and I still stand by my assertion that it can easily get lost in the alt-country mix, but the more I listen to it, the more I like it. Leblanc’s song writing prowess far exceeds that of most his age. It is a sad but beautiful album and considering everything that was released this year, one of the best.
7. Teen Dream – Beach House
The track, “Zebra,” is enough to hook me. The bell like tone of the guitar and the harmonies pull you in from the get-go. Released in January of 2010, almost a year has passed, and the album still always pleases.
6. Brothers – The Black Keys
This band never seems to disappoint. They have received plenty of commercial success, but have done so without letting it go to their heads. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have added texture and depth to their sound without compromising what made them great in the first place. It is still gritty blues that will shoot you if you come onto their porch without permission.
5. Shame Shame – Dr. Dog
This is a refreshingly good album. Dr. Dog does not mess around with gimmicks or try to appeal to a certain type of music fan. They simply make music that they want to make, and the end result is a deep, textured and well thought album that never is never too much. Instrumentation, song writing and musicianship shine on Shame Shame. This is easily one of the best albums of the year.
4. Easy Street – Half Dozen Brass Band
There is nothing like a good brass band, and I feel lucky to be in Athens, where we have our very own New Orleans style brass band, Half Dozen Brass Band. Marching through the audience and around the venue, tossing beads into the crowd and infectious energy are all staples at a Half Dozen show. It is like being on Bourbon Street. “Easy Street” is their first full length release and listening to it will almost definitely create a spontaneous dance party in your living room.
I love the Black Crowes, and I always have. My Shake Your Money Maker cassette saw some serious action in its day. While much of their later work was hit or miss, the acoustic re-workings of their best songs in a two disc set is just too much for me to miss. Some of the tunes on Crowesology are actually probably better than their originals. Chris Robinson’s voice is now more worn and experienced, which adds some depth to songs that I have listened to what seems like a million times before. If you are Crowes fan, this is a must have.
2. So Runs the World Away – Josh Ritter
While Leblanc might be one of the better songwriters anyone has heard in a long time, Josh Ritter is the best song writer, probably of my generation. He never seems to force anything. He has a sense of humor and at the same time is conscious of the world in which he lives. Add to that a focus on composition and instrumentation that adds a richness to his music that hasn’t been as prevalent on past albums, and “So Runs the World Away” is one of the best albums of 2010.
1. Beachcomber’s Windowsill – Stornaway
“Make no mistake; Beachcomber’s Windowsill is a phenomenal album. Sit on a front porch with a beer (a British pint, just to keep things all on the same level) and the setting sun and you will surely understand. The clarity of the often harmonized vocals, the strength of 11 superbly written songs and the album’s undeniably optimistic tone keeps the listener glued to its natural, organic beauty. It reminds us that the ups and downs are all part of the big picture and that life itself is wonderful. Stornoway has a bright future ahead of them.” I approve of this message.