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.


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Lollapalooza 2010, The Final Recap: The Happy Hour Bands

As we recap the highlights and lowlights of Lollapalooza 2010, we can’t help but feel a little bad for the bands that play in the middle of the day, as their spot on the schedule means one of two things: either they haven’t ascended to the level of headliner and are holding spots until the big boys play, or they are big enough to headline, but are merely being used as bait to bring people in early. And, to add insult to injury, depending on which stage they’re playing, they get burned to a crisp by the sun. If you ask them, of course, they’ll tell you, like any player called up to the big leagues, that they’re just happy to be here. But we have to think that some of these bands would have preferred to play later to larger crowds, especially one group of spud boys out of Akron who are treating the comeback trail like a warpath.

Devo, Friday, Parkways Foundation Stage
Best show of the weekend that we saw with our own eyes, bar none. Devo’s currently riding a massive wave of good buzz with the release of Something for Everybody, the band’s first album in 20 years, and we were pretty sure that they would beat that new record over the heads of everyone here. And at first, they did, doing a new song/old song bit for the first six songs in the set. And then a strange thing happened – they played “Whip It” halfway through the set so the casual fans could leave (it’s a Lolla thing, leaving after hearing “the hit”), at which point they put on a fans-only show that left us stunned. Sure, we thought there was a good chance they’d play “Peek-a-Boo,” “That’s Good” and “Girl U Want,” but only in our wildest dreams did we expect them to break out “Going Under,” “Gates of Steel,” “Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA,” “Jocko Homo,” “Uncontrollable Urge,” and “Mongoloid.” Both the set list and the performances were out of this world. Let’s hope the younger bands on the bill saw this show and took notes.

Devo
Photo by Dave Mead

Metric, Saturday, Playstation Stage
Ah, Emily Haines. We could watch her dance all day long. Our guy Greg raved about the band’s set at South by Southwest earlier this year, and he was not wrong. Playing the Playstation Stage, which is known as the Petrillo Band Shell the other 362 days of the year, the band sounded very good, though Haines’ vocals were drowned out here and there. The biggest drag is that the stage is sunken, and they drew such a large crowd that we had a hard time seeing Emily without peeking at the Jumbotron. The set wisely consisted primarily of their latest album Fantasies, and their version of “Stadium Love” had the entire crowd doing that “Ooooh-wooo-woooo” bit in the chorus, very cool. Haines could stand to work on her stage banter a bit, though. Actually, just about every band here could improve in that category.

Metric
Photo by Dave Mead

Wolfmother, Sunday, Parkways Foundation Stage
We still remember their performance from 2006 as being the most bone-crushing set anyone’s thrown down at the Chicago Lollas, and our man Eldred told us that the new Stockdale-plus-three-new-members incarnation of the band brought the goods as well. And while the set may have been predictable, the crowd still went “apeshit” for them.

Wolfmother_01
Photo by Dave Mead

F**k Buttons, Friday, Sony Bloggie Stage
We went to the media area to get some water after Devo, while our friend Tim headed north to check out this electronic duo. He was bored and moved on before we even got there.

The Big Pink, Friday, adidas Stage
The best thing we can say about the Big Pink’s set was that it ended 15 minutes early. “Dominos” is catchy enough, but as we were getting food – and well within range of their stage – all we heard was droning. Lots and lots of droning. The 15 minutes of silence before Devo’s set was a blessing.


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