greg0rb is a staff reviewer for Punknews.org - ed.
Y'know boys, a good captain needs many skills, such as boldness, daring, and a velour uniform.I've got a new band to spam you about! Outdoor Velour is the first band I have fronted/played guitar for, and the first in which I am a part of writing all of the songs. Being out from behind the kit is scary but it's also been super fun. No proper release yet, but some decent demos are on our Facebook page. My band I spammed you about last year, Take Manhattan, is no more. After two years, much money lost pressing a free CD and an adventure of an east coast tour, things dissolved over the summer.
In other personal news, I decided to finally make my accordion hobby into something more and invested in a piano accordion and started taking lessons in the fall. Soon after, I joined my teacher's accordion ensemble where I play percussion as well as accordion. Don't be jealous. Also, in late September we adopted a five-year-old beagle. Keeping with our Futurama theme we named him Zapp. He is the ultimate cuddler.
My Top 20 Albums of 2010
Deerhunter: Halycon Digest
This album is poppy/jammy, dirty/sparkling, noisy/beautiful and other conflicting things. Don't know how they write stuff like this.
Raw punk-infused rock with enough instruments buried in the din that even Sufjan would be jealous.
of Montreal: False Priest
Opting not to try and best the groundbreaking Skeletal Lamping in the "freak-aaay" department, Barnes goes straight for pop perfection on False Priest. He almost succeeds with the help of Jon Brion's production and guest vocals from Janelle Monae and Solange Knowles.
Sleigh Bells: Treats
Mom + Pop
Arguably the biggest-hyped band in the indie-verse this year, Alexis Krauss and ex-Poison the Well guitarist Derek Miller craft a winning formula so simple, everyone is kicking themselves for not thinking of it first. Without sounding like Brokencyde, they manage to combine speaker-bustin' beats with huge power-chord riffs, all with sweet n' sassy vocals over-top.
No Age: Everything in Between
The L.A. duo clean up (a pinch) and get comfortable in their own skin, gaining the confidence to get more melodic without losing their grit.
More unabashed pop from my favorite Missouri nerds. Chris Walla production pumps things up a bit, but the band retains their simplistic charms.
They intentionally made this record less pretty, because how can you compete with Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga? I love the home-recorded tracks, the '60s-style panning, the chop edits, and I love how they try to fuck with awesome songs. Nope, sorry guys. Your songs remain awesome.
I was late to the party with these mopey Ohioans and even then it took me awhile to appreciate Boxer. They are like the modern Joy Division: chill vocals over tightly-wound, perfectly constructed backing.
While I have progressively dug Arcade Fire's records less each time around, it is likely because my standards were instantly set sky-high with Funeral. The Suburbs is another ambitious hunk of indie rock glory. Not enough accordion, though.
Happy Birthday: Happy Birthday
Some of the most twisted pop-rock ever. I really don't know how to describe this.
Belle & Sebastian: Belle & Sebastian Write About Love
Not sure why The Life Pursuit didn't make my list back in â??06; perhaps it was a bit too rockin' or funky for what I expected from B&S. Write About Love dials it back to a bit more of their classic sound, yet still progressing with a lot more female leads and some darker, minor-key tracks.
A modern girl group doing classic girl group melodies and harmonies, but punked-up with cracking drums and muddied-up with reverb to take it into the current indie aesthetic. And it sure doesn't hurt that your producer co-wrote "My Boyfriend's Back."
Sufjan Stevens: The Age of Adz
After putting out a bunch of leftovers and bullshit for five years, we finally get a new studio album, and anyone who thought Stevens would stay stagnant in his folkiness for that long is just naÃ¯ve. It took some warming up to, but the electronics-dominated Adz is ultimately nearly as satisfying and surely as finely-crafted
My sister introduced me to these Scots' music after she saw them opening for Maritime (or maybe the Weakerthans? Someone good, in any case) and now they're on Atlantic Records. Somewhere in between they made this awesome record, which embraces their accents and delivers a tricky mix of churning guitars and folky instrumentation, all with heart-on-sleeve lyrics.
Dookie updated for the reverb-loving noise pop era, King of the Beach will make you happy to sing about self-loathing. Well, that and weed.
Local Bloomington, Ind., supergroup released one of the most impressively technical and simultaneously catchy records of the year. Triple guitar, synth bass, crazy drumming, gang vocals–this has it all. Gotta namedrop Matt Tobey of Good Luck if only to get more of you to check this hidden gem out.
Nana Grizol: Ruth
Over a year after hearing lead singer Theo Hilton perform with the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour, I finally figured out who he was and what band he fronted. Also the drummer of Defiance, Ohio, here, Hilton crafts sweet nostalgia-driven tunes full of twinkly guitars, buzzing bass, smooth clarinets and blatting brass courtesy of Neutral Milk Hotel's Scott Spillane.
These young Floridians recorded a '90s rock homage in their college apartment and now are on Warner Bros. Crazy. Catchy as vintage Weezer but with big riffs, tons of Afrobeat percussion and more reverb than you can shake a reverby stick at.
Though I heard him in 2009, something about Wild Hunt catapulted him from "amazing guitarist" status to the "amazing songwriter" throne. A man and his guitar, Kristian Matsson nimbly plucks or fervently strums with better-than-Dylan melodies shouted to the rooftops.
At the last second, these crafty veterans dislodge two relatively new acts from their top spots they had in their clutches since the spring. I will fess up: This is the first Superchunk album I've owned (GASP!), but due to the complete ass-kicking it has administered to my posterior, I plan to own their other eight albums by this time next year. Reminding me most of the Get Up Kids, Ted Leo and Ultimate Fakebook, Superchunk combines all of those bands' most rockin-est elements and makes me wonder why I spent time and money on any of them.
Hey! I Got Two EPs This Year!
The Tallest Man on Earth: Sometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird
That makes fifteen perfect songs by this man in one calendar year.
Good Luck: Demonstration 2010
Anything new by Good Luck warrants listing. Three new songs and a rad Prince cover. "Decider" is one of the greatest sing-alongs ever.
Hey! I Bought a Compilation Too!
A band that sounds like the hippest band blowin' up NYC is actually from 20 years ago. Fuzzy, poppy and sloppy in all the right ways, the short-lived Black Tambourine is dusted off here and given their due with their complete released output, demos and four newly-recorded tracks from the group who reunited briefly for the hell of it.
Now That's What Greg Calls Music VIISide A
- Nana Grizol â?? Cynicism
- Surfer Blood â?? Swim
- Sleigh Bells â?? Tell â??Em
- Cee Lo Green â?? Cee Lo Green
- Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin â?? Back in the Saddle
- Spoon â?? Trouble Comes Running
- Superchunk â?? Crossed Wires
- The National â?? Bloodbuzz Ohio
- The Tallest Man on Earth â?? Burden of Tomorrow
- Memory Map â?? Sew It Up
- Sufjan Stevens â?? Impossible Soul
- Arcade Fire â?? Ready to Start
- Deerhunter â?? Desire Lines
- Frightened Rabbit â?? Living in Colour
- Dum Dum Girls â?? Jail La La
- No Age â?? Positive Amputation
- Happy Birthday â?? Girls FM
- Wavves â?? Super Soaker
- Janelle Monae â?? Tightrope
- of Montreal â?? Enemy Gene
- Belle & Sebastian â?? I Want the World to Stop
- Titus Andronicus â?? A More Perfect Union