THURSDAY MORNING MIX
FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2010
December 30, 2010
There is an apple tree in the backyard. It's approaching January, and a couple purple apples still hold stubbornly to their branches, not even enough to count on two hands. This morning's snow sits atop each fruit, like white caps on mis-colored acorns. Give me the beauty of winter over summer's easy green, anytime.
Winter is also the time I allow myself a rare look over my shoulder at the months passed. I'm pleased with my list this year, happy with the mix of the new and the familiar, the expected and the out-of-nowhere.
Part of being a musical "free-thinker" is having a wide attention span. It's being able to pick up under the radar acts like Chris Pureka or Colorado's Travel By Sea, while giving bigger names like Justin Townes Earle or Jakob Dylan their due play. It's also being humble enough to admit that the year's highest-profile americana release was, in fact, my favorite album of 2010.
I'm not more than a very casual fan of Led Zeppelin, as evidence that my favorite Zep album is their commonly dismissed In Through the Out Door ("Fool In the Rain," anybody?!). I don't even think Robert Plant's Raising Sand collab with Alison Krauss made my favorites list the year it debuted. Still, I see Band of Joy as a monumentally successful example of true collaboration between producer/musician Buddy Miller, Plant and the phenomenal band they gathered around them. The album wouldn't have been the same without Greg Leisz's pedal steel, the swamp-deep bass and drums of Byron House and Marco Giovino, or (especially) Patty Griffin's heavenly vocals. I want to put the album on as I type (and that's truly unusual for this musically attention-challenged programmer!).
20) Chris Pureka, "Lowlands" How I Learned To See In the Dark (Sad Rabbit, 4/10)
19) Caleb Klauder, "What Was I Supposed To Do" Western Country (Quicksilver, 8/10)
18) Travel By Sea, "Sign of the Times" Two States & the Blindness That Follows (Autumn Tone, 10/10)
17) Thrift Store Cowboys, "Ghost Trails" Light Fighter (Self, 9/10)
16) Phosphorescent, "Heaven Sittin' Down" Here's To Taking It Easy (Dead Oceans, 5/10)
15) Amy Cook, "Strange Birds" Let the Light In (Self, 4/10)
14) Elizabeth Cook, "All the Time" Welder (31 Tigers, 5/10)
13) Ray Wylie Hubbard, "Black Wings" A Enlightenment ... (Bordello, 1/10)
12) Old 97s, "You Were Born To Be In Battle" Grand Theatre Vol 1 (New West, 10/10)
11) Sahara Smith, "Tin Man Town" Myth of the Heart (Playing in Traffic, 8/10)
10) Kim Richey, "When the Circus Comes To Town" Wreck Your Wheels (31 Tigers, 9/10)
9) Joe Pug, "Not So Sure" Messenger (Lightning Rod, 2/10)
8) Tim Barry, "With Ease I Leave" 28th and Stonewall (Suburban Home, 1/10)
7) Ryan Bingham, "Junky Star" Junky Star (Lost Hwy, 8/10)
6) Nathaniel Rateliff, "Lamb On the Stone" In Memory of Loss (Rounder, 5/10)
5) Justin Townes Earle, "Slippin' and Slidin'" Harlem River Blues (Bloodshot, 9/10)
4) Jakob Dylan, "Yonder Come the Blues" Women + Country (Sony, 4/10)
3) Mumford & Sons, "Timshel" Sigh No More (Glassnote, 2/10)
2) Halden Wofford & the Hi Beams, "Till Night Is Through" Sinners & Saints (Self, 7/10)
1) Robert Plant, "House of Cards" Band of Joy (Rounder, 9/10)