Bullz-Eye’s Favorite Albums of 2010: Staff Writer Mike Farley’s picks

It was an interesting year for me music-wise. So much great stuff passed my desk or by e-mail from publicists, but something odd happened: my old PC started getting so slow that I literally could not listen to my iTunes and work at the same time. Makes writing CD reviews tough, but makes listening while I work to get a feel for new music even harder. I persevered, playing stuff in the car and also, finally, getting a super-fast new PC recently. My joy of listening to my iTunes catalog and discovering new music has returned. And so, I give to you, my Top 10 albums of 2010:

1. The Silver Seas: Chateau Revenge
There are two songs on this album that can bring anyone from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs in no time flat: “The Best Things in Life” and “What’s the Drawback.” Daniel Tashian and company continue to make some of the best music that, unfortunately, most people have never heard. So hey, this holiday season, do something about that. Go buy the Silver Seas’ music, and tell them I sent you.

2. Rooney: Eureka
Editor David Medsker to me, “Hey, I think you’ll like these guys.” Me, after hearing band: “Um, understatement.” It’s just good, unadulterated pop/rock – no whiny kid voice and no Auto Tune.


Read the rest after the jump...

Elogy: One


RIYL: Coldplay, Aqualung, Passion Pit

Not everyone can lead. It’s just a fact of life. Some will lead, and the rest will follow, and you will find no greater place to observe this behavior in action than in the world of music, where every band who scores even a sliver of attention inadvertently gives birth to a gaggle of copycats. Most of which, naturally, suck hard.

However, just because someone is a follower does not mean that they’re not bringing something new to the table, and California trio Elogy is a good example. From the first breath that singer Derek Cannavo takes on One, the band’s debut album, it’s clear that he really, really likes the way Chris Martin sings, executing both of Martin’s trademark moves (the aching baritone, followed by the aching falsetto) in a matter of seconds. And yet, for all the tricks the band may have stolen from other bands’ playbooks, One is a consistently engaging listen, stuffed to the gills with anthemic choruses and slice & dice programming that will make Passion Pit green with envy. The soaring “Eager We Are” will surely land in a CW show in the next six months, while “Welcome to Inertia” out-Aqualung’s Aqualung, skillfully blending major keys with full-blown melancholia. The band’s true star, though, is drummer Nick Lyman, who positively bashes his set when he’s not unleashing drum samples that sound like Everything but the Girl’s Walking Wounded set on puree.

If they can stay away from overblown power ballads like “Rest Your Senses” (think Staind’s “It’s Been Awhile” for the bedroom pop set), there should be little preventing Elogy from jumping to the next level. It may not be the most unique first step a band’s ever taken, but it would not be at all surprising to see Elogy evolve into a band that others want to copy. (Elogy 2010)

Elogy MySpace page
Click to buy One from Amazon

  

Aqualung: Magnetic North


RIYL: Beck, Bright Eyes, Ben Folds

Aqualung, a group that is essentially one man, Matt Hales, flirted with retirement before realizing that his gift for songwriting needed to continue being shared by the masses. His/their latest, Magnetic North, is Aqualung’s second album on Verve and first set of new material since 2007’s Memory Man. Following a move from his native England to Los Angeles, Aqualung’s new material is slightly more upbeat and inspired in spots than some of his previous work, which tended to be mostly dark, moody and melodic. Right from the start, Magnetic North kicks off with “New Friend,” a super catchy ditty that features, for lack of a better term, a psychedelic piano riff. “Reel Me In” is like a cross between Ben Folds and Death Cab for Cutie, and it’s another upbeat anthem.

There are more melodic-as-hell tracks in “Fingertip” and “Hummingbird,” but that doesn’t mean Aqualung forgot where he came from. Some of the best numbers are the haunting and falsetto-laced “Lost,” which sounds like it could have come from 2004’s Strange and Beautiful; the powerful “36 Hours;” or the quirky and dark title track, a fitting closer to this unique batch of songs. If you’re a fan of alt-pop that has more alt than pop, chances are good you’ll love this new one from Aqualung – and as an added bonus, it’s the kind of record that will make your significant other think you’re cool and sensitive. And what could be wrong with that? (Verve 2010)

Aqualung MySpace page

  

Ian McGlynn: This Is the Sound

Every once in a while, an artist’s music has this way of striking us in our musical pleasure center. Singer/songwriter/pianist Ian McGlynn’s second full-length album, This Is the Sound, is likely going to have that effect on you if you are a fan of dreamy alt-pop. McGlynn’s tenor and some of his melodies will remind you a bit of John Lennon, but his songwriting leans more towards a cross between Ben Folds and Aqualung, and the production on this effort (it’s self-produced with help from songwriting partner John Mosloskie) bring the songs to life in powerful fashion. Much of McGlynn’s material has a cool underground vibe, but some of the tracks on This Is the Sound stand out. In particular, “Night Driving” paints a vivid picture with its dark yet melodic feel, and “Memorial Day Parade” is as close to straight-up pop as McGlynn gets. And he takes things up a notch on the opening track “Play Dead,” which is haunting, beautiful and able to stop you from whatever it is you were doing before you started listening. McGlynn’s music has been placed in both independent and major motion pictures, and whether or not you have heard him before or think you may have, he’s well worth seeking out. (LABEL: Bailey Park)

Ian McGlynn MySpace Page

  

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