Sunday, December 19, 2010

Best Music of 2010: Part 2

23. Laura Marling - I Speak Because I Can
This is the highest ranking album in the countdown that didn't previously appear in Frequent Spins. There are four such albums and, coincidentally enough, they're all among the six featured in this post. They were overlooked or bypassed from Frequent Spins for various reasons. In the case of Laura Marling, she caught my ear earlier in the year, but the album wasn't available for inexpensive purchase from my usual sources, so I didn't revisit it until just recently. I'm really glad I did.

24. Like Pioneers - Piecemeal
A Chicago supergroup of sorts, Like Pioneers includes members of Bound Stems, Chin Up Chin Up, The Narrator and other Windy City indie bands. Although Bound Stems made this list in 2008, it's hard to call an act a "supergroup" when most people have never heard of the bands its members come from. Still, this one was a late year recommendation by my home brewing partner, who also is a rock snob extraordinaire, and it turned out to be a surprising late entrant into the top 25.

25. Nada Surf - If I Had a Hi-Fi
This album of covers that mostly work is the band's second appearance on my year-end list, with the first being 2008's Lucky. These guys have certainly evolved quite a bit since their ridiculous 1996 hit single, "Popular." Coming a long way since 1996 seems to be a recurring theme this year.

26. Superchunk - Majesty Shredding
The final Frequent Spins of this year should have included this album, but I simply forgot about it. Although they're one of the most revered indie rock bands from the '90s—following the punk rock D.I.Y. ethic to the letter by founding their own record label, the highly successful Merge Records—my interest in them didn't develop until last year's Leaves in the Gutter EP. I've since begun exploring their back catalog a bit, but even their seminal record, No Pocky for Kitty, hasn't been as frequent a listen as this year's impressive effort.

27. The Black Keys - Brothers
As I wrote last year, when Dan Auerbach's solo outing made the list before any Black Keys album ever had, there's something about this band that kept me coming back, despite the fact they've never made a record that was able to hold my interest from start to finish. Then, they went out and released their longest album—at least in terms of number of tracks (15)—and it turned out to be my favorite. Go figure.

28. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings - I Learned the Hard Way
This would be a good time for my obligatory discussion of female artists and my best music of 2010 list. Although there are more than half a dozen others with a significant female presence, only four acts fronted by women made this year's list. Three of those four—Laura Marling, Sharon Jones, She & Him—have already appeared in these first two posts, leaving only the top ranking female artist still to be revealed.

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