Bullz-Eye’s Favorite Albums of 2010: Staff Writer James Eldred’s picks

I would like to preface this list by saying that I have not yet listened to Cee-Lo Green’s new album nor Kanye West’s latest – which everyone and their mother is telling me is a freaking masterpiece. So a more apt title of this list might be “The Top 10 albums of the year that I got around to.”

1. Foxy Shazam: Foxy Shazam
If I had my way this list would have one album. That’s right, this album is so good that it is actually the 10 best albums of the year. Hell, it’s the 20 best albums of the year, and the five albums of 2009. Foxy Shazam aren’t just a band, they are a force of nature that will kick your ass, steal your lunch money and make sweet love to you all at the same time. “Count Me Out,” “Bye Bye Symphony,” “Bombs Away,” the list just goes on and on, every song on this album could be a Top 10 single. Yet somehow none of them have been. America, you’re letting me down even more than usual. There is no greater band on the planet than Foxy Shazam. They are here to take over the world and be the biggest rock stars since the Beatles. So if you all could just accept that already and buy this album now, that would be great.

2. Goldfrapp: Head First
Most artists who try to recreate that classic ’80s dance sound usually crash and burn, sounding more like a parody of the music they’re trying to replicate (Owl City springs to mind) than the real deal. But Goldfrapp pulled it off with this release, channeling the soundtrack to “Flashdance” and Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” (in a good way!) on instantly danceable tracks like “Rocket” and “Alive.”

3. The Sword: Warp Riders
There are not enough metal bands making concept albums about intergalactic space battles. Thankfully the Sword realized this, and updated their mythology-based themes for the 21st century, changing their focus on medieval wizards and warriors to space-faring heroes and transcendental beings who traverse space and time. The fist-pounding metal that accompanies the far out narrative is pretty damn good as well.

4. Coheed & Cambria: Year of the Black Rainbow
Okay, maybe there are other bands creating concept albums about intergalactic space battles. But while the Sword is like “Aliens,” direct and to the point, Coheed & Cambria’s conclusion to their epic Armory Wars saga is like “Star Trek,” “Star Wars” and Rush’s 2112 all rolled into one incredibly overblown and bombastic delight.

5. Sleigh Bells: Treats
What is it about Brooklyn and male/female electronic duos? First Matt & Kim, and now these two. But while Matt & Kim delivered the audio equivalent of a big hug with Sidewalks, Sleigh Bells’ Treats is like a sonic punch in the face, a bizarre combination of industrial, punk and straight-up noise that is louder and more original than any other record this year.


Read the rest after the jump...

Bullz-Eye’s Favorite Albums of 2010: Staff Writer Carlos Ramirez’s picks

2010 was sensational year for music. Not only was there a slew of exceptional rock, metal, and indie records, released from proven acts, there was also an exciting crop of new artists that sprouted up throughout the year. Debut albums from Tame Impala, Aeroplane, and Mumford and Sons all showcased stellar songwriting while veteran artists like Bryan Ferry and Manic Street Preachers proved they still had gas in their creative tanks. For this year’s Bullz-Eye list, I’ve broken down my favorite albums into a few categories.

Best Pop Album

Ellie Goulding: Lights
Initially, this English newcomer performed her self-written material in a more intimate, singer-songwriter setting – but upon entering her university studies, she discovered and fell in love with electronica. She then started working with producers like Frankmusik and Starsmith, who began to reshape her song presentations. The retooling of Goulding’s approach proved to be pop music gold. On Lights, the songstress’ debut album, Goulding’s confessional lyrics and ethereal vocal delivery effortlessly weave through waves of synthesizers, hyper-melodic guitars, and Italo-disco bass lines. While there isn’t anything on Lights that is as obviously radio-baiting as Katy Perry’s inescapable “California Gurls,” there are at least six or seven tracks that top it in quality. There’s a song late on the record called “I’ll Hold My Breath” that I must have played a hundred times this past year. Musically, the track’s intro and first verse are kept lean, with hushed synths and acoustic guitars supporting a honey-sweet vocal from Goulding, but just when you think you know the direction the arrangement heading in, an explosion of crystalline keyboards and thumping drums gushes from your speakers, revealing what in my estimation is the greatest chorus of the last 12 months. Whether it’s dance-floor bangers (“Under the Sheets”) or gorgeous ballads (“The Writer”), Lights never misses the mark.

Best Metal Album

Alcest: Écailles de Lune
Alcest is the brainchild of a French musician who goes under the nom de plume Neige. Écailles de Lune is the project’s second album and is easily the most exhilarating musical piece that I came across in the last 12 months. Although Neige’s roots are in black metal, his wildly inventive arrangements aren’t exclusively bound to that genre’s parameters. Everything from the atmospherics of shoegaze to the barren soundscapes frequently favored by groups like Sigur Rós and Mogwai are explored on Écailles de Lune. Each song on the album is its own sweeping epic, with skyscraping guitars and serpentine mood shifts. Neige’s vocal performance also mirrors the music’s expansive reach. On “Solar Song,” the singer croons like he’s fronting a 4AD band circa 1991, but on the two-part title track, his tortured screeching and growling owes an obvious debt to his black metal background. Time will tell if Alcest finds an audience with non-metal listeners, but there’s certainly enough diversity on Écailles de Lune to warrant it.


Read the rest after the jump...

Bullz-Eye’s Favorite Albums of 2010: Staff Writer Greg Schwartz’s picks

It’s been another bad year for the recording industry, but another great year for music fans. Rock ‘n’ roll is alive and well, as is the opportunity to see it performed live. Musicians can still make a living, but they have to hit the road and seize modern marketing opportunities. One thing that will never change is the public’s desire to hear great music. Bands that can deliver still have a chance to write their own ticket.

Top 10 lists are of course inherently subjective, and this observer’s faves will always lean toward the guitar-driven rock side of the music spectrum. I was certain that the debut album from the long-awaited Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Band would be topping my list this year, especially after the slew of terrific new tunes they delivered in two stellar shows at the New Orleans Jazzfest back in April. But the album isn’t coming out until 2011. Here’s my take on the best albums and songs that were released in 2010.

10. The Henry Clay People: Somewhere on the Golden Coast
This is just an old-fashioned, ’90s-style indie-alternative rock ‘n’ roll album that stands out with its energetic yet down-to-earth sound. No Pro Tools trickery going on here, just a band plugging into their amps and turning up the volume. It’s got loud guitars with melodic hooks, rocking piano and zeitgeist lyrics from singer/guitarist Joey Siara that tap into this modern era of Depression and discontent. “Working Part Time” is one of the great anthems of the year, while “End of an Empire” sounds like an alt-rock prophecy.

9. The Sword: Warp Riders
The Austin, Texas hard rockers deliver a blast from the past that is easily the best metal album to come along in some time. It’s like a cross between Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy, which equals metal heaven. It’s chock full of great riffs, furious rhythms and tight metal mayhem with a twist of classic rock flavor.


Read the rest after the jump...

Bullz-Eye’s Top Ten Music Moments of 2010: Staff Writer Rob Smith’s Picks

In my mind, 2010 will be remembered more for moments of strangeness, oddity, and lessened expectation, than it will be for transcendent music. The throwaway nature of pop has never been more transient or incidental; technology enables us to hear as much as we want and, by the sheer volume of those possibilities, to actively listen as little as we ever have. How else to explain Ke$ha and the Glee cast recordings, much less the continuing nonsense of Black Eyed Peas? Raise your hand if you think Bruno Mars or Rihanna are still going to be churning out hits ten years from now, or that Katy Perry (more about her below) will still be squeezing into latex after she and her pasty Brit hubby have two or three little Russells to contend with, and things start saggin’.

I will remember 2010 for several key moments:

Top 10 Music Moments of 2010

1. The Roots, Being the Roots. Are they the best band on the planet? It’s hard to argue when their versatility is put on display every weeknight, and when they reiterate their overall excellence by turning out two of the best records of the year (How I Got Over and Wake Up, with John Legend).

2. Dio, Chilton Die. We lost metal’s gentle sorcerer (Ronnie James Dio) and Big Star’s genius-in-residence (Alex Chilton) within a few months of one another. May they both rock in peace.


Read the rest after the jump...

Black Sabbath: Paranoid Classic Albums DVD

It’s been said that Black Sabbath’s landmark Paranoid album spawned the genre of heavy metal, and if you watch this awesome video from Eagle Rock Entertainment, you can see why.  The four members of Black Sabbath – Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward -created music their own way, and it was a powerful sound that appealed to stoners and those craving stuff equal to or heavier than Led Zeppelin.  The band also appealed to the masses who were protesting the Vietnam War in 1970, because making music that went against the grain was something these folks could relate to.  But this DVD is just outstanding in that every member of Black Sabbath is interviewed, as well as folks like sound engineer Tom Allom and long-time fan and recording artist Henry Rollins.  There is awesome archived footage of the band playing live, and detailed descriptions of how each song on Paranoid was written or how it began.  Fans of Black Sabbath, or anyone who is too young to remember them but curious, should all grab this DVD, because not only is it a history lesson, it’s a lesson on how music should be made – with the artist driving the proverbial bus.  (Eagle Vision 2010)

  

Related Posts