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Monday, January 31, 2011

2010 Album Buyer's Guide: M-Z


what came before
Letters: A - L



MADE IN ICELAND 3
Various Artists / Compilation


Sam Amidon - How Come That Blood

"This 20-song compilation album is brilliant from start to finish with but a few exceptions. To land that kind of standout quality from one album is undeniable value. And, I love realizing that one of my favorite albums of the year is from contemporary Iceland. Most unexpected and highly recommend!" - Ryan Spaulding





"Menomena manages to slip under the radar with their melancholy lyrics and downplayed instrumentals, but with each listen this classic sleeper band takes over another piece of my heart. "Dirty Cartoons" might be my most played song all year, according to iTunes. And any band that can pull off the line 'I'm not the most cock-sure guy but I get more bold with every smile,' deserves some recognition, " - Emma Dessau

Menomena
Web / Fb / My / Tw


New Collisions
The Optimist


New Collisions - Swift Destruction

"A red hot ball of power pop goodness. It is of little surprise that the New Collisions were chosen to be opening act for the B52's this past summer at the Cape Cod Melody Tent. The spectacular vocals and laser-sharp song writing combine with just the right sound to make a style that is easy to do "OK", into something truly special," - 5342 Studios


New Collisions
My / Fb / Tw / Sb / Mx


Janelle Monae
Archandroid
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Janelle Monae - Tightrope

"This funky-space-opera is a fascinating piece of work. Seeing her on tour with Of Montreal was an other-worldly experience. And if you can't see her live, this album is an excellent next-best thing. Her voice is spectacular and vocal rhythms are truly inspired," - 5342 Studios

"Only one word: Wild." - Ryan Spaulding

Janelle Monae
My / Fb / Tw / Sb / Mx


PEGGY SUE
Fossils and Other Phantoms


Peggy Sue - Matilda

Peggy Sue put on one of the most charming stage shows I witnessed at the Paradise this year. The UK three-piece play both tender songs and rapturous bouts of Stage Rock intermittently. Pretty awesome," - Ryan Spaulding

PEGGY SUE
Web / My / Fb / Tw



PHOSPHORESCENT
Here's to Taking It Easy


Phospherescent - Tell Me Baby

"It's been a little over two years since we last had new material from Matthew Houck and the wait was clear worth it. Here's to Taking It Easy is emotive genius. A heartfelt album you would do well to own," - Ryan Spaulding

PHOSPHORESCENT
Web / My / Fb


MATT POND PA
The Dark Leaves


Matt Pond PA - Starting

"Matt Pond PA is one of those bands that I have a hard time describing. They have a mid-tempo pop sensibility while delivering elegant lyrics. Although very light at times, there is a barely restrained intensity to much of the music that just sucks me in," - 5342 Studios

MATT POND PA
Web / My / Fb / Tw


NEW PORNOGRAPHERS
Together


New Pornographers - A Bite Out of My Bed

"Honestly, I didn't think much of their last album Challengers. I figured this was going to be one of those times where a band gets more dough for production and its used it to suck out the soul of the artist. Color me wrong, because Together is at least on par with Twin Cinema and I'd be hard pressed to disagree with folks if they thought it was a little better or a little weaker," - 5342 Studios


THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS
Web / My / Fb / Tw


RADARS TO THE SKY
Supra / Infra


Radars To The Sky - Selfish Kids
photo by Callie Giovanna

"Chiming guitar, gliding vocals, sophisticated and sly songwriting from Andrew Spitser, with highly complimentary keyboard melodies and harmonizing vocals from his wife Kate provide the focal point of this marvelous band from Eastside L.A. There’s something about that smooth singing and acerbic lyrics that makes me smile. A wonderful debut, promising great things – and hopefully East Coast shows in the near future," - Julie Stoller

RADARS TO THE SKY
My /Fb


ROGUE WAVE
Permalight


Rogue Wave - Solitary Gun
photo by 5342 Studios

"My inner contrarian indie-rock critic self is locked away in a room screaming while I write this. Rogue Wave is pretty well known indie-pop act these days and I really didn't want to like this album after the first listen. Its highly produced, poppy and more electronic than previous efforts. I think it bounces in spots. However, it is gleefully addictive when you give it a chance," - 5342 Studios

ROGUE WAVE
Web / My / Fb / Tw



"The Roots are back again with another fantastic album. And not just a collection of songs, but a complete album. Its amazing and gratifying that they continue to crank out such brilliant work," - 5342 Studios

The Roots
Web / Fb / Late Night / Tw


SLEIGH BELLS
Treats




"A fascinating combination of hip beats, keys, metal and an occasional sweetness that can catch you unaware. There is some funky bad-assery going on here," - 5342 Studios

SLEIGH BELLS
Web / My / Fb / Tw


SQUINCH OWL
Homeward Bound
Photobucket

Squinch Owl - I Am Always Coming Home

"I wouldn't have heard of Squinch Owl had it not been for a simple twist of internet-searching fate. This rag-tag group of Western Massachusetts kids (who travel in a blue short bus) had it not been for the Kitchen Sessions series. Their first album, which you can download for free on their bandcamp site, is simply excellent. Singer Sofia Album's soulful voice is the kind of thing that doesn't happen every day, and they play an old rusty saw with a bow, for godsake!" - Emma Dessau

Squinch Owl
Bandcamp / My /


SUFJAN STEVENS
Age of Adz



"This album combines the best of Sufjan's talents. Both his heartbreaking storytelling abilities and his incredible electro-skillz are featured on Age of Adz, and the product is a near perfect album to be listened to from start to finish... preferably on great speakers or headphones, so you don't miss a beat of synth-goodness," - Emma Dessau

"Otherworldly and brilliant! As good as Stevens is, Age of Adz surprised me. One of the very best new efforts from 2010,"- Ryan Spaulding


Sufjan Stevens
Web / My / Fb / Tw

Son of the Sun
The Happy Loss

Son of the Sun - The Franklin

"Buffalo, NY's shining star, Son of the Sun proved to be one of the best acts on the East Coast this year, tearing up CMJ and leaving a number of new fans stunned in their wake.The new album, The Happy Loss is a winner and I can't wait to see what comes next. This album should be in your collection," - Ryan Spaulding

Son of the Sun
Web / My / Fb / Tw


THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH
The Wild Hunt



"Swedish folker Kristian Matsson channels Bob Dylan circa 1965 more effectively than any other musician out right now, whether the comparison is officially overused or not. His scratchy voice and finger picked guitar are an intimate and soothing combination, and The Wild Hunt is a clear step forward for Matsson, featuring more variation and depth than his 2008 full length debut, Shallow Grave (which ain't too damn bad either,)" - Emma Dessau

The Tallest Man on Earth
Web / My / Fb / Tw


THIEVING IRONS
This Midnight Hum


Thieving Irons - Tow The Line

In the ashes of the disbanded Pela - one of America's finest modern rock bands, guitarist Nathan Martinez - under the name Thieving Irons - crafted one of the year's best albums. This is what Indie Rock is all about. Martinez is truly gifted!" - Ryan Spaulding

Thieving Irons
Web / My / Fb / Tw


TITUS ANDRONICUS
The Monitor


Titus Andronicus - Theme From "Cheers"

"Though Titus’s 'The Monitor' is a complex concept album based loosely on the civil war, it manages at the same time to sound perfectly relevant to today. It’s full of fascinating stories of working-class lives writ large, and remains furiously energetic throughout, demanding your attention," - Nick Parker

"One of the more significant albums released to date in 2010. An unexpected treat and a real winner," - Ryan Spaulding

TITUS ANDRONICUS
Web / My / Fb / Yt


TRAVELS
Robber On The Run
Travels,Best of 2010

Travels - Friends In Bands

"Travels is one of New England's finest explorations of sound - and still unknown to the general public. Mona Elliott (Victory at Sea) and Anar Badalov (Metal Hearts) have released their best work to-date in Robber on Run. Amazing stuff - one of my favorites from this list," - Ryan Spaulding

TRAVELS
My / Fb


WILD NOTHING
Gemini


Wild Nothing - Live In Dreams

"Its been some time since I had me a seriously-good shoe-gaze fix, but the first offering from Jack Tatum and Wild Nothing sure did the trick. Hearkening back to the glory days of the genre, this album can stand shoulder to shoulder with many of the best," - 5342 Studios

Wild Nothing
My / Web / Tw



It is most fitting perhaps that we end our annual list with my favorite band. I have been a diehard Wolf Parade fan for the last five years of my life. The release of a new album's worth of material made for a winning show season. Wolf Parade sold out dates all over North America before deciding to hang up their cleats for a while. Here's to hoping all that leftover energy from Expo '86 presents itself in one or more of the band's numerous side projects. This is one of those you need to own. Everyday magic." - Ryan Spaulding