Top Ten for 2010 (List #6 of 7): by Gino Orlandi
This album lives up to its title. This duet, made famous by the lead singer of Rilo Kiley, has created an album that defines fun. The lyrics often get lost inside the music, kind of like space-fillers, but the songs themselves are catchy and enjoyable. I’m Having Fun Now is perfect for the Number 10 spot—just a plain old good time with two great musicians. It’s not much more than that, but then again, it doesn’t really need to be.
9. Self-Titled – Broken Bells
At once rather haunting in songs like “The Ghost Inside” and “Sailing to Nowhere,” at other times cruising in the realm of slow jam in “The High Road” and “Vaporize,” Broken Bells finds a way to make mixers not-so-rote. The electronics work into these songs to add an extra layer that just wouldn’t be there otherwise, and the lyrics don’t disappear in them. A quietude comes with this album, great for the upcoming winter, and an exemplary coming-together for this band.
If I’m being honest, I’d have to admit that this isn’t Ray Lamontagne’s best album. But then again, with Ray, that’s a lot to live up to. Although these songs aren’t the most original, Ray’s heartfelt singing style—a kind of booming whisper reminiscent of Otis Redding—breathes life and soul into every lyric. A slight diversion in style for him, Ray’s sincere way of singing will still make you fall in love with him, even if it’s now with blues standards like “Devil in the Jukebox.” It’s always promising to see an already-great artist continuing to experiment, and we can call this one a success.
7. Together – The New Pornographers
This actually might be my favorite release of The New Pornographers. They’re really stretching their musical legs here, but having fun at the same time. “Crash Years” will have you swaying back and forth one minute and head-banging the next. “Silver Jenny Dollar” will transport you back into the black-and-white days of fifty’s rock. “Daughters of Sorrow,” moving from solo piano to wild distortion, will make you believe that there’s still life in the ballad. The New Pornographers breathe freshness into just about everything that they do, and in Together, they do just about it all.
I’m generally a little leery about the overuse of distortion, but these guys don’t get washed away by it. This duo, comprised of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, brings a mélange of blues, soul, and classic rock back into the world of indie rock. They move from the slow, soulful standards of “Too Afraid to Love You” to the head-bobbing dance jams of “Everlasting Light,” each song with its own grit and originality. Their unique, stylistic blend makes for an album of cross-genre appeal, and almost anyone will get lost in its groove.
5. Gorilla Manor – Local Natives
This year, your ultimate album for complex yet peaceful indie rock comes from Local Natives. Their high-soaring feathery vocals, mixed with slow drums and a non-overused electric guitar, makes for a release that is at once moving and meditative. These songs open and unfold like sun through cold, cloudy weather. It’s tough for music to be lovely and catchy at the same time, but Local Natives pull it off, making me keep wanting to sing along even though my voice will never touch the beautiful realms theirs reach.
Blitzen Trapper is a band that’s never shy about uniting all their musical talents on their albums. Here, in Destroyer of the Void, alt.-folk meets indie rock with a Wilco-ish twist. They slide between the slow piano ballads of “Heaven and Earth” to the cool jams of “Evening Star.” The lyrics are true and the sound is original, without ever feeling unapproachable. You can sink into this album, and you will.
3. Good Things – Aloe Blacc
So I’ve looked it up in Webster’s Thesaurus. “Aloe Blacc” is officially a synonym for “soul.” This album has a groove, pain, and tears all rolled and tucked inside its memorable beats. In short, it does exactly what a great soul album should, immersing you in every emotion, with Blacc’s smooth-candy voice that’s beyond compare in the industry today.
2. Sigh No More – Mumford & Sons
This album has it all, in my opinion. Cool melodies of back-country folk, soaring vocals, and an amalgam of killer solos, this release flows and delights at every twist and turn. Imagine the sensation of lazing down a white-water canyon, sometimes lying on the lapping waves, sometimes picking up speed, and you’ll have some idea of what it’s like to listen to Mumford & Sons. Sigh No More is more than an album. It’s a ride.
A combination of witty, moving lyrics and blazing skills on the strings, Kristian Matsson of Dalarna, Sweden has composed an album that’s at once smooth and seriously impressive. The slight coarseness of his voice forces lyrics out of the strumming, clawing their way out of the music, as if meant to leave scars on your skin. It is a human style, reminiscent of Bob Dylan, and refreshing amidst a world of synthesizers and mixers and overused distortion. This is an album that lives.