Bullz-Eye’s Favorite Albums of 2010: Senior Editor David Medsker’s picks

Having children has had a profound impact on my musical tastes. Will it make them cry? Will it teach them naughty words? Will it bore them? Then it doesn’t get played around the house, which has resulted in my sharp turn towards the poppier side of modern. And really, once you’ve seen your three-year-old completely lose his shit when hearing a song with a chorus of “Na, na na na, na na na, na na na na na na na,” it’s hard to push anything on him that doesn’t come armed to the teeth with the pop hooks. Mind you, I think the Ramones are a pop band too, so I’m painting with a pretty broad brush here. But make no mistake – these bands are pop bands, of varying stripes and shapes. If you fancy yourself a hipster, you’d be best to move on and check out one of the other writers’ lists. I gave up being hip a couple years ago, and let me tell you: it’s extremely liberating.

Note: Some of the notes at the end of the write-ups will offer suggestions of which songs to check out. Others actually offer the songs. If you see “Click here for a free download…”, those songs are on our server, meaning you won’t be dragged off to some site that asks you to give up your email address for a song. These puppies all come with no strings attached, so please download away.

Top 10 Albums of 2010

1. Mark Ronson: Record Collection
Ahhhhhh. If I get to heaven, this is what the radio station will sound like. Tasteful drum beats paired with even tastier synth tracks, highlighted by brilliantly chosen guest contributors from Q-Tip and D’Angelo to Simon Le Bon and a devastating performance by Boy George. Definitely gonna ride this bike until we get home.
Download these: “The Bike Song,” “Somebody to Love Me,” “Record Collection”

2. Hey Champ: Star
I’m a sucker for any band that justifies my love for New Order and the Buggles, and this Chicago trio threw down synth pop/rock that, in an ideal world, would have Passion Pit opening for them, not the other way around.
Click here for a free download of Hey Champ’s “Neverest”
Click here for a free download of Hey Champ’s “Cold Dust Girl”

3. Prefab Sprout: Let’s Change the World with Music
Man, what a sweet surprise this was. Originally scheduled to be the follow-up album to 1990’s Jordan: The Comeback, the album was scrapped despite Prefab leader Paddy McAloon already finishing studio-quality demo versions of every song. Eighteen years later, the songs finally see the light of day, and the result is instant nostalgia. He supposedly has dozens more albums on his shelves from the same period. Please don’t make us wait 18 years for the next one, Paddy.
Download these: “Let There Be Music,” “Ride,” “God Watch Over You”

4. The Hours: It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish
This one is knocked down a few rungs on a technicality, in that it’s a Franken-album consisting of the best songs from the band’s two UK-only releases. But hot damn, are those songs good. Shimmering, sky-high, piano-driven pop that addresses the darkness in people’s lives but strives for hope and change. No wonder Nike used one of these songs for their unforgettable “Human Chain” ad earlier this year. Favorite lyric: “I can understand how someone can go over to the dark side, ’cause the Devil, he’s got all the tunes.”
Download these: “See the Light,” “Big Black Hole,” “Come On”

The Hours – “See The Light” 2010 Edit from Adeline Records on Vimeo.

5. The Silver Seas: Chateau Revenge
I’m still pissed about this one. I got a sneak peek of the record months before its release because our publicist is tight with the band. We played the daylights out of it, and couldn’t wait to sing its praises when it came out in April…only April never happened. Then it was July, and when it came out, the damn thing was buried. Why, why, why? Not enough irony or cynicism? I see no reason why the Shins can sell millions while the Silver Seas still toil in obscurity. The phrase ‘criminally underrated’ was written about bands like this.
Click here for a free download of the Silver Seas’ “The Best Things in Life”

Read the rest after the jump...

Me, Myself, and iPod 4/21/10: Little Boots’ money shot

esd ipod

Why is this week’s installment of “Me, Myself and iPod” subtitled ‘Money Shot,’ you ask? Because last week’s column produced the largest number of downloads this site has ever seen, and I’m still not sure if that is a testament to Amanda Palmer’s fiercely loyal fan base, or if it’s because I used the words ‘blowjob queen’ in the title. Either way, I’m not messing with success. Plus, this week’s headliner, um, makes me tingly.

Little Boots – Remedy (SPEAK Remix)
SPEAK makes their second appearance in the three weeks of this column’s existence (they covered Daft Punk’s “Digital Love” in MMI’s debut) by tackling one of the best songs from Little Boots’ album Hands. The mix is a bit of a Frankensong, as the music track doesn’t really mesh with Boots’ vocals, but I’d love to hear someone take the chords in the verse and write a song around that. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch her “New in Town” video. Sweet Jesus, is she hot.

Slow Club – Giving Up on Love
This cute boy/girl song also has a great video, but it’s a different kind of great than the Little Boots clip. MacKenzie Crook, a.k.a. Gareth from the UK version of “The Office,” lip syncs the song on a ferris wheel in a one-take clip. As for the song, think the Raveonettes, only poppier.

Eyes Set to Kill – All You Ever Knew
We’re still trying to wrap our heads around this one. The instrumentation in the intro brings to mind Primus, but the male vocals are pure Cookie Monster screamo. And then, this lovely female voice appears in the chorus, and the body that voice comes from, that of Alexia Rodriguez, is equally lovely. Odd, melodic, and thrashy. New record Broken Frames out in June.

See Green – Goldmine
Courtenay Green first caught my eye roughly a year ago when she released the video for her song “Beyond Therapy.” The song was all right – truth be told, I was a bigger fan of the old-fashioned video – but armed with a new band name and an updated, more muscular sound, Green appears to be ready for her close-up. Her Violet EP comes out May 4. Haven’t heard it yet, but you can bet that this song has officially whet my appetite.

Minus the Bear – My Time
Truth be told, my eyes rolled whenever I saw this band’s name. I’m a stickler for band names, and believe that it tells you next to everything you need to know about a band. Upon seeing Minus the Bear, I thought, “pretentious twits.” Wrong. This nifty little synth-friendly rocker fits nicely next to Jupiter One’s recent material, resurrecting the open frontier that was the late ’70s and early ’80s rock scene.

We Have Band – Honey Trap
Look for these guys to burn up the blogosphere. Armed with a drum machine straight off of the Human League’s Dare, this song will appeal to anyone who dug Calvin Harris’ “Merrymaking at My Place.”

The Love Language – Heart to Tell
Jangle pop! Who wants jangle pop? Merge’s latest act blends super-catchy ’60s-style melodies with more contemporary percussion riffs (think “Hollaback Girl”). New album Libraries comes out July 13. Please let the rest of it sound like this.

Elogy – London
The press release compares this trio to Coldplay, Muse, and Thirty Seconds to Mars. I definitely hear the first band, don’t really hear the second band, and am going to try to forget that I ever saw them compared to the third band. If Coldplay made a drum ‘n bass-type record, or at the very least something a little more glitchy (think Everything but the Girl’s Walking Wounded), it would probably sound like this.

Gadi Mirhazi & Soul Clap – Beautiful Thang
Time for a little Deep House Dish. The sampling in the beginning is a little annoying, but then this “Trans Europe Express”-type keyboard settles in, and it’s all smooth sailing from there.

Jeremy Messersmith – Violet!
It was not at all surprising to discover that Dan Wilson is a fan of fellow Minneapolis pop boy Jeremy Messersmith. Armed with a chorus Burt Bacharach and the Red Button would kill for, this tuns is sure to have the Audities set buzzing.

Talking to Walls – Came to You
The press release for this New Haven quartet compared them to the Cure, but to my ears, they’re closer to the Call. Big, earnest, anthemic.


Little Boots: Hands

RIYL: Annie, Kylie Minogue, The Ting Tings

You have to admire the tenacity of UK pop stars. They keep trying to crack the American market, even though most of them are met with the equivalent of a hair tousle and a cheek pinch. “Oh, you’re so cute. Keep on trying, you’ll get there.” Of course, most of them never get there, and of the few that do, many owe it to their ill-gotten celebrity status (Amy, meet drugs; Lily, meet topless photos) as much if not more than their music, but you have to think that if anyone is going to buck this trend, it’s Little Boots, the solo pseudonym for former Dead Disco member Victoria Hesketh. For starters, look at her.


Yep, she’s gorgeous, and her debut album Hands is stuffed to the gills with perky dance song after perky dance song not unlike a certain Ms. Gaga, though there are varying degrees of quality. “New in Town” is one of those earworm-type songs that will own your soul, “Stuck on Repeat” playfully tweaks the “I Feel Love” keyboard line, and she winks knowingly to her synth-pop predecessors by tapping the Human League’s Phil Oakey for a duet on “Symmetry.” She’s not blessed with the strongest set of pipes, but then again, neither is Madonna, and her voice is at least as good as, say, Lady Gaga, Rihanna or Katie from the Ting Tings. And with a hook like the chorus to “Remedy,” vocal power is almost beside the point.

Still, the bias against UK pop in the States is a strong one – ask Robbie Williams. Hands should be a hit on both sides of the pond, but any music fan will tell you that there are lots of albums that should have been hits. Will Little Boots be one of them? Who the hell knows, but there is enough here to entertain the question. (Elektra 2010)

Little Boots MySpace page


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