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Monday, January 31, 2011

2010 Album Buyer's Guide: A-L


RSL Album Buyer's Guide 2010
Self Portrait by Rembrandt

Welcome! You have just found one of the most exhaustive and well-considered lists of quality, new music available from 2010. We don't promise to have everything that's out there but what is comes in an easily digestible listing!

Read on below: there's an mp3 or video from each of THE BEST music projects RSL encountered in 2010. Ultimately, this A-Z shopping list (we have great confidence that any and all of these belong in your permanent collection) is a reflection of our own personal tastes. (Accordingly - there are some rather prominent omissions from this list - and we stand firmly by these selections. We didn't always agree - so there are some debated entries here!)


ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Absolutely Must Be Owned.

The Black Key - Brothers

Why They're at #1 - In 2010, the silly talented Akron, OH duo took something good and appeared to have effortlessly taken it to a whole new level. Brothers is a swanky, magnificent song book. You can read the songs like stories in a child's bedside book. But instead of simplicity and stale tone safe stories, the Black Keys pluck on heartstrings, descend dark staircases and share a drink with listeners. Interestingly, this act's greatest accomplishment this year may not in fact be this stellar record. The Keys' bawdy, swamp influenced blues & rock guitar (Dan Auerbach - shots from his solo tour at the Paradise in Boston 2 years ago) and simple, steady and powerful drumming (Patrick Carney - shots from SxSW) have clearly swayed the path of contemporary music. Indisputably the kings of what they do in indie music, the duo have plowed head on into Popular Culture.



The Black Keys have found themselves atop the pop culture pile; from songs in films, to sports highlight coverage to the backing tracks and themes of TV shows. Tracks from Brothers are even being used in advertising spots playing between the shows using the very same songs!

While I normally eschew such overexposure - even by favorite acts... let's pause on the actual level of quality in these tracks. Therein lies authenticity, hard fought experience and a link to music's past. It's impossible not to recognize this work's integrity. Most influential album of the year - and the record I played more than any other.

THE BLACK KEYS
Web / My / Fb / Tw




KASEY ANDERSON
Nowhere Nights

"One of my absolute favorite records of the year starts this alphabetical listing off right. Kasey Anderson has the soul of a much older fellow and the benefactors are his listeners. Be prepared to weather the storm with this wicked record," - Ryan Spaulding


KASEY ANDERSON
Web / My / Fb / Tw

ARCHIE BRONSON OUTFIT
Coconut


Archie Bronson Outfit - Hoola

"My favorite underground act from the last decade has returned! Archie Bronson Outfit are still writing songs about sex, rock 'n roll and fast cars, but the World just might finally be ready to listen. Coconut is one of the most fun albums of the year - pop it in and go for a drive," - Ryan Spaulding

ARCHIE BRONSON OUTFIT
Web / My / Fb

The Autumn Defense
Once Around

The Autumn Defense - Back of My Mind

Wilco's John Stirratt and Patrick Sansone released an exciting new album, Once Around - going by the name The Autumn Defense. The album won my heart with it's golden pop and gorgeous harmonies," - Ryan Spaulding


Autumn Defense
Web / My / Fb / Tw


BEACH HOUSE
Teen Dream


Beach House - Walk In The Park
Paulo Dourado photo

"Beach House has upped their game with Teen Dream. Though the talents of vocalist Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally were apparent on their previous releases, Teen Dream is just... well... dreamier. Songs like 'Used to Be' and 'Walk in the Park' make this release reverberate in your skull and melt your heart, like the best illusory summer dozes should," - Emma Dessau


BEACH HOUSE
Web / My / Fb / Tw

Rick Berlin
Paper Airplane


Rick Berlin - Hard 2 Be Liked

"2010 Singer Songwriter of the Year in our book. Rick Berlin has made a career out of questioning authority and living his art. What he has accomplished with Paper Airplane is quite possibly his best work to date. If you are indeed going to buy a number of these albums, I encourage you to take a chance on this one. Brilliant in every sense of the word!" - Ryan Spaulding


RICK BERLIN
Web / Paper Airplane
Fb / Twitter / Truth


BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE
Forgiveness Rock Record


Broken Social Scene- All to All

"Broken Social Scene seems to pull off being both more accessible AND more complex than before. Check out 'Your Forgot It In People' and their self titled album.) Although Forgiveness Rock Record may not necessarily be my favorite album of the three, it is certainly no step backward for a band that always seems to be at the peak of their popularity," - Steve Legare

BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE
Web / My / Fb / Tw


Dead Confederate
Sugar


Dead Confederate - Run From The Gun

"My Runner-Up Album of the Year. Dead Confederate came out of the woods with Sugar - an amazing, emotive and cerebral effort. Seeing these songs performed live really blew me away. You need this record to have any semblance of a 2010 representation. A masterpiece - the sign of a band with real staying power." - Ryan Spaulding

Dead Confederate
Web / My / Fb / Tw / Yt


The Deadly Syndrome
Nolens Volens


The Deadly Syndrome - Wingwalker

"Quirky, fun and folky on their debut, The Deadly Syndrome dips into more adventurous (though still melodic) waters and pushes their sound into new places. Lyrically there’s an increased self-awareness and edgier quality that shows a band in transitional growth," - Julie Stoller

The Deadly Syndrome
Web / My / Fb / Tw


The Drums
self-titled


The Drums - Me And The Moon

"Its hard to listen to The Drums and not hear New Order, but wearing your inspirations on your sleeve is no crime. In this case, it resulted in a peppy, elegantly simple indie-pop gem. I'm bopping along to their treble-ly bass lines as I write this and can't help but smile," - 5342 Studios

The Drums
Web / Fb / My / Tw


EIGHTIES MATCHBOX B-LINE DISASTER
Blood and Fire


Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster - Love Turns to Hate

"The return of this truly strange band after some years unsigned is very welcome. Despite a change of lead guitarist (old guitarist Richard Fownes left to join NIN) and label, 'Blood and Fire' is just as eccentric a mix of metal, goth and early Nick Cave like drama as their previous two efforts. One of the most interesting things I’ve heard this year," - Nick Parker

EIGHTIES MATCHBOX B-LINE DISASTER
Web / My / Fb / Blog


AARON ENGLISH
American Fever Dream


Aaron English - Sleight of Heart

"Aaron English may prove to the most relevant songwriter of the year. His work on the timeless American (Fever) Dream is pure contemplative genius," - Ryan Spaulding

AARON ENGLISH
Web / My / Fb / Tw / itunes

ROKY ERICKSON & OKKERVIL RIVER
True Love Cast Out All Evil


Roky Erickson - Be and Bring Me Home

"This is a heartwarming story of a man who’s come back from the abyss – and is stronger than ever. Beautifully supported with the warm, folky tones of Okkervil River and occasional bits of ‘field recordings’ and electronic interludes which hint at Roky Erickson’s inner turmoil, he sings of a personal battle to reclaim his life from years locked away in a mental institution, in a gentle and starkly honest way," - Julie Stoller


ROKY ERICKSON
RE Web / OR Web / My / Fb / Tw



"One of the Best Young Bands in the America. Filligar are definitely someone you should know. The new album, The Nerve, is amazing," - Ryan Spaulding

Filligar
Web / My / Fb / Tw


GIL-SCOTT HERON
I'm New Here


Gil Scott-Heron - Me And The Devil

"So much of what we listen to these days is about losing ourselves, Escape. Gil-Scott Heron has been talking about Reality for so long he has come to personify it. Heron's voice resonates in the soul," - Ryan Spaulding

GIL-SCOTT HERON
Web / My / Album


HEY MARSEILLES
To Travels and Trunks


Hey Marseilles - Rio

"There are some albums that come along that just make your heart 'feel big'. Hey Marseilles' To Travels & Trunks is one of those. This mini indie orchestra which is something like a cross between The Decemberists and Beirut will sweep you away with their lush melodies. Love it. Love it." - 5342 Studios

"One of the most magical live shows and a bigger than life emotional experience. Get swept up in this record. Really wonderful," - Ryan Spaulding


Hey Marseilles
Web / Myspace / Twitter / Secret Show


SHARON JONES
I Learned the Hard Way


Sharon Jones at SxSW by 5342 Studios

"One of the world's best live performers just keeps putting out great albums. The female James Brown does it again with a soulful collection of tunes that you would have to be soulless to hate," - 5342 Studios.

"I Learned the Hard Way is a brilliant record. A performer at the top of her game. Serious best of 2010 Album Consideration for Sharon Jones. A true must-have," - Ryan Spaulding.

SHARON JONES & the DAP KINGS
Web / My / Fb / Tw


THE JOY FORMIDABLE
A Balloon Called Moaning


The Joy Formidable - Austere

"A year after its release in the UK, we can now all finally enjoy this welsh band’s addictive debut. “A Balloon Called Moaning” has been pitched as at the cutting edge of British music, and for once the buzz is very much appropriate. Support this fledgling band, and feel you have your finger on the pulse!" - Nick Parker

"Songs so good your fans make you an unofficial "masturbation" video. Yep, this powerpop trio has put together a collection of addictive tunes. Big bass, sweet guitar, driving drums and vocals reminiscent of The Breeders," - 5342 Studios


JOY FORMIDABLE
Web / My / Fb / Tw


KINGSLEY FLOOD
Dust Windows


Kingsley Flood - Just a Midnight Ride

"Ascension, you are mine! Kingsley Flood are easily one of the most talented bands on this list. Moving effortlessly through the worlds of Americana and Folk, the word is getting out on this Boston secret. Highly Recommended, one of the two best albums this year in New England," - Ryan Spaulding

KINGSLEY FLOOD
Web / My / Fb / Tw


LCD SOUNDSYSTEM
This is Happening


LCD Soundsystem - You Wanted a Hit

"With their third, and perhaps final, album you get just what you have come to expect from LCD Soundsystem. Awesome electronic music with a new wave sensibility," - 5342 Studios

"James Murphy has a gift for translation and storytelling. This is Happening is an artistic, sometimes wild, sometimes tongue-in-cheek modern tale. One, that should be experienced more than once," - Ryan Spaulding


LCD SOUNDSYSTEM
Web / My / Fb / Tw

LIARS
Sisterworld


Liars - Scissor

"Sisterworld arrives as a reading of the LA music scene with all its dark genres. The album has the serpentine progress of Lynch's Lost Highway where strange character transfiguration points to something hidden and disturbing. Each song, whether grunge, metal or experimental work together as a cohesive whole to tell a somber story," - Mark Jenko

LIARS
Web / My / Fb / Blog


LIGHTSPEED CHAMPION
Life is Sweet, Nice to Meet you



Lightspeed Champion - Marlene

"Lightspeed’s second album is as peculiar a combination of sounds as we’ve come to expect from Dev Hynes’s music. He seems to be in his own world, but it’s one you will love to explore with him," - Nick Parker


LIGHTSPEED CHAMPION
Web / My / Fb / Worst Movies


LOCAL NATIVES
Gorilla Manner


Local Natives - Airplanes

"One of the Best New Bands in the Country right now. Local Natives are a zeitgeist act and this is an important album to the status quo. A Band's band, really, and made up of talented musicians with promising futures," - Ryan Spaulding

LOCAL NATIVES
Web / My / Fb / Tw / Blog


LOS CAMPESINOS
Romance is Boring


Los Campesinos - There Are Listed Buildings

"Still full of wit, but also more adult than ever before, Los Campesinos have proven with this third release that they are among the best alternative bands in Britain at the moment. Their gig with Cymbals Eat Guitars (also excellent) this spring was the best live show I’ve seen in 2010," - Nick Parker


LOS CAMPESINOS
Web / My / Fb / Tw


more of the best
Letters: M - Z


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
>

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


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Everest

Photographic Evidence
by Kira Doucette

We Take You There...
the Paradise
Boston, MA - 10/3/10





ONE TO WATCH IN 2011 -
Everest
are a band on the rise. With the 2010 release of their sophomore effort, "On Approach," the band from Los Angeles took some real chances creatively. They reinvented themselves, partially they say, because their first album and early acclaim met them before they had developed their sound. Clearly, it was a wise gamble.


RSL Streaming Photo Album
Everest in Boston - Nov 3, 2010



Last year saw Everest appear on national television and playing before full-houses coast-to-coast. They shared the stage with My Morning Jacket, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Guster, and Matt Costa. We caught the band in Boston in November. This is the first ever presentation of those photographs, snapped by our own Kira Doucette. We think you'll find this is one of the most promising new sounds going.


Recorded Live in Chicago:

Everest - "House of 9's"
from Everest Channel


Feb 07 - Bootleg Theater
Los Angeles, CA

Feb 10 - Hotel Utah Saloon
San Francisco, CA

Feb 14- Spaceland/The Satellite
Los Angeles, CA

Feb 15 - Casbah
San Diego, CA

Feb 17 - Hotel Utah Saloon
San Francisco, CA

Feb 21 - The Echo
Los Angeles, CA

Feb 22 - Casbah
San Diego, CA

Feb 24 - Hotel Utah Saloon
San Francisco, CA

Feb 28 - Spaceland/ The Satellite
Los Angeles, CA

Everest
Web / My / Fb / Tw