Happy seasonal situation, whatever your situation (+bonus tracks!)
Okay, so I’m a lazy bum, and didn’t get things together for the holidays. I may not even be able to for New Years.
Yes, I’m a worthless bum.
Instead, I’ll recommend a few good things to put in your ears from 2010 (which might be the only good things that have happened this year. Honestly, 2010 broke records in suckiness.)
Abney Park – Aether Shanties:
Okay, it came out in December of 2009, but Shanties is an awesome album. Full of steampunk-y, jazzy, gypsy world traveler pop. Abney’s older albums just don’t have the same hook this one does.
“But I’m going straight through/I’m not going to hate you/I’m gonna wait for you/Until the day I die.”
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach.
Yeah, whatever. I can hear your eye rolls from here. I was never a Blur fan, so I’m still surprised how hard I’ve fallen for Gorillaz. Gorillaz (the album) was great, exploring the concept of the virtual band. Demon Days was better, a concept album of searching and escape. Plastic Beach nails it. A huge variety of musicians and artists poured ideas into this album about… garbage. Flotsam. Junk. The drift and leftovers of culture and society and the world. Tying shopping bags into bouquets and digging through refuse heaps to make art. Few bands get better with every album, but Gorillas has managed it.
“I’m a scary gargoyle on a tower/That you made with plastic power/Your eyes remind me/of factories far away”
The Black Keys – Brothers
Another album that surprised me with how cool it was. The Black Keys sound like they could be palling around with the Commodores or Earth, Wind & Fire. They play with the sound of the 70’s Funk, the power of 80’s punk, the brains of 90’s grunge, and then add their own twist to it. Fabulous.
“Well the look of the cake/it ain’t always the taste/My ex-girl, she had such a/beautiful face”
Broken Bells – Broken Bells
I’m convinced that Brian Burton (DJ Dangermouse) could tape himself having horrid, bloody, explosive diarrhea, and it would sound fantastic. It seems everything he touches is just awesome. Including his collaboration with James “The Shins? Which generic indyrock band was that again?” Mercer. Never liked the Shins (or that gawdawful Garden State movie), so had a lot of trouble reconciling boring echo-rock with this song. The video is a brilliant bit of cinema, too.
“Just like a whiskey bottle drained on the floor/She’s got no future, just a love to endure/Just give some matter to shaking her hide/Too late to leave him are the songs in her car”
Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
Okay, okay… so technically the album is a 2009, but it didn’t come out in the US until this year. And it is fantastic. Somewhere out in the strange folk/blugrass/punk wastelands where Johnny Cash, Social Distortion, the Pogues, and half a million bar bands lurk is where their music lies. Smart lyric play, a willingness to defy genres (brass sections?), and some fantastic banjo (yes, banjo) picking make this an album well above most of the crowd out there.
“But I will hold on hopin’/And I won’t let you choke/On the noose around your neck
And I’ll find strength in pain/And I will change my ways/And I will know my name as it’s called again”
…and hey, just in case I haven’t said it enough: If 2011 is only half as crappy as 2010, then it will be a stellar year.