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 9/22/10: Wake me up when September ends

esd ipod

Sorry, disappeared for a while there. I took a week off after Lollapalooza – my first week off in two years, I might add – and I still haven’t caught up on email. I know, wah wah wah, you have too much music to listen to. Hey, I’m just sayin’, there are only so many hours in the day. My kids miss their daddy when I hole up in the music cave, and I miss them, too.

Mackintosh Braun – Could It Be
Man, if only the rest of the record could keep up with this song. In theory, I should love Mackintosh Braun. They make ELO-inspired synth pop, which is as close to my wheelhouse as things get. In reality, I merely like Mackintosh Braun. I think it was the processed vocals that did me in. They have ’em on every track. The record overall is good, and I’m betting they can do better next time around, but if you’re going to take one song of theirs with you, this one, for now, is it.

Chatelaine – Broken Bones (Depreciation Guild remix)
Ah, Toni Halliday. She could sing the phone book, and I’d swoon. Her new band, Chatelaine, is a much mellower beast than Curve, but their album Take a Line for a Walk is a keeper. This remix of the leadoff track is a neat mix of both her past and her present. But mostly her present.

Doppelganger – Breaks My Head
I’m a sucker for those slow-building songs with only a handful of chords. This is one of those songs.

  

Mackintosh Braun: Where We Are


RIYL: Dissociatives, Air, E.L.O.

It’s good to see that there is someone at the major league level who remembers the importance of having a label with a personality, and that someone is Chop Shop Records’ Alexandra Patsavas. If Patsavas has your back, odds are you are a contemporary pop act with an offbeat approach and throwback sensibilities, i.e. you write songs like they were written before Rob Thomas fucked everything up, and this describes Patsavas’ latest signing, Mackintosh Braun, to a ‘T.’ The Portland duo’s debut album Where We Are is blissful synth pop song after blissful synth pop song, filled with breathy, manipulated vocals and washes of sound that envelop the listener like a wave from the oceans of Xanadu. The band could definitely use a second operating speed, but when they’re on, like the fab opening track “Could It Be” and the ringing “Line in the Sand,” it’s damn near irresistible. Most of the album, though, falls into the pleasant-but-slight category, and the robotic vocals leave the proceedings a little cold, but you can tell from the chord sequences that Mackintosh Braun have the right idea. With any luck, they’ll come up with more of those right ideas next time around. (Chop Shop/Atlantic 2010)

Download Mackintosh Braun’s “Could It Be” here

Mackintosh Braun MySpace page
Click to buy Where We Are from Amazon

  

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