Bullz-Eye’s Best of 2010: Staff Writer Scott Malchus’ picks

Each year, when I sort through my favorite songs, I have trouble ranking them because each one has a different meaning to me. I always wind up creating a mixtape (or a playlist, for you younger readers) of those songs and arrange them so that the music flows like a great album or concert set. Without further ado, here’s my mix of the twenty songs I returned to for repeated listens throughout 2010.

“Fade Like a Shadow,” KT Tunstall
Tunstall continues to produce pop gems that are spirited, bright and full of life. This single from her latest, Tiger Suit, has everything you want in a single: a passionate delivery, a great melodic hook, and a unique rhythm that helps it stand out from other songs. A great way to kick off a mix tape.

“I Should Have Known It,” Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
The lead single from Mojo has that vintage Petty snarl and bite. The rest of the album may be a mixed bag, but this great rocker builds to kick-ass guitar jam and stands up with some of their best.

Read the rest after the jump...

Various Artists: Crazy Heart: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

RIYL: Stephen Bruton, Ryan Bingham, T Bone Burnett

At the turn of the century – just about the time the record industry was experiencing its Wile E. Coyote moment before plunging into its recent sales abyss – Jeff Bridges decided to start a label, Ramp Records, and release a Michael McDonald album alongside Bridges’ own solo debut, Be Here Now. Neither release received much attention at the time, but as vanity-plate recording projects from actors tend to go, Bridges’ wasn’t bad; he had a rumpled, Dude-like charm as a vocalist, and although his songwriting tended toward the ponderous (“Buddha & Christ at Large,” anyone?), the songs communicated the same calculatedly offhand attention to craft as his acting. Point is, Bridges’ critically acclaimed turn as the booze-soaked songwriter at the center of “Crazy Heart” isn’t wholly revelatory – and Be Here Now might have stood a better chance at being a hit if he’d surrounded his songs with stellar, downbeat performances from artists like Buck Owens, Sam Phillips, and the Louvett Brothers.

And okay, so Bridges didn’t have much of a hand in writing “Crazy Heart’s” original songs, but he does steal the spotlight on the soundtrack – no mean feat when you’re sharing the stage with the aforementioned artists, as well as young Americana lion Ryan Bingham, who’s already won a Golden Globe for one of his contributions, “The Weary Kind.” There really aren’t any bad songs here, but it’s Bridges’ performances that’ll draw you in the most – when he sings “funny how fallin’ feels like flyin’ for a little while,” sounding for all the world like a more tuneful John Hiatt, you’ll flash back to every heartbreak you’ve ever suffered and every shitty bar you’ve ever been sorry you sat down in. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll want to own this, without question – but even if you haven’t, it’s the best cross-industry soundtrack we’ve seen since John Mellencamp starred in Falling from Grace in 1992. Pour yourself a strong one, sprinkle some sawdust on the floor, and get carried away. (New West 2010)

Crazy Heart MySpace page


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