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.

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The Henry Clay People: Somewhere on the Golden Coast

RIYL: Pavement, The Hold Steady, The Replacements

The Henry Clay People are busting out of LA’s famous Eagle Rock/Echo Park/Silverlake scene and they’re bringing a timely update to a familiar alt-indie, guitar-driven sound. The band’s ragged guitars will recall Pavement for some, though the vocals often bring a more energetic vibe. The album is also filled with zeitgeist lyrics that will resonate to many here in the Great Recession of the 21st century.

The opening duo of “Nobody Taught Us to Quit” and ”Working Part Time” establishes a high energy ’90s type of influence, but leaning toward the indie side of things rather than psychedelic grunge. The band is busting out loud guitars, simple yet infectious riffage and earnest vocals that add up to a compelling vibe. The latter tune features one of the best lines of the year with “We got drunk and called in sick,” instantly establishing this band as a bunch of guys that could be your drinking pals instead of some pretentious rock stars.

“Digital Kid” brings an endearing melodic slacker theme, while “Slow Burn” somewhat recalls a Neil Young & Crazy Horse sound with guitar solos that are only a few notes but which still sing out. “End of an Empire” blends a ’90s alt-rock with some ’50s rockabilly for a unique vibe, while “This Ain’t a Scene” is an anthem for the aughts – a mid-tempo number that gets deep and melodic, with some great lyrics about “ a generation caught in between… we won’t settle down until we’ve seen everything we paid to see.” “Two Lives at the End of the Night” closes the album out with a beautiful ballad about a relationship gone wrong – “I would pay to hear you say I’d never never make the same mistake.”

There’s definitely something deeper going on with the lyrics on this album. The band knows how to rock too, but can mix up the moods. It all seems to promise a bright future for the Henry Clay People. (TBD Records 2010)

Henry Clay People MySpace page


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