Bullz-Eye’s Favorite Albums of 2010: Staff Writer Mike Heyliger’s picks

I seriously can’t remember the last time I’ve had to struggle with a list of my favorite music in a particular year. Actually, I can, so I should clarify: I seriously can’t remember the last time I’ve had so much good music to choose from when paring down my list of favorites for the year. Upon looking at my CD collection (yes, I’m one of those guys), I still see another 10 or 20 albums that could make the list if I listen more carefully. But without the benefit of the free time it would take to check those CDs out, here’s a list of the 20 best albums I’ve heard in 2010.

1. Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
As much as Kanye’s childish tirades infuriate me, I’ll be damned if his music doesn’t always win me over. Fantasy is amazing from just about every facet: musically, lyrically, thematically. I’ll forgive ‘Ye for a million idiotic public statements if he keeps making music like this.

2. Gil Scott-Heron: I’m New Here
One of two albums in my Top 20 recorded by artists re-emerging after a 14-year absence, I’m New Here is a haunting listen. The ravages of time have wreaked havoc on Scott-Heron’s voice, but much like Bob Dylan’s most recent work, age has given the artist’s voice additional resonance.

3. The Black Keys: Brothers
Sometimes the album that breaks a band through to a mainstream audience is indeed their best work. That’s definitely the case with the Black Keys’ Brothers. Bluesy garage-rock with enough hooks to keep guys like me interested, I feel like this is the album Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney were aiming for with their Danger Mouse-helmed Attack & Release album. As it turned out, they didn’t (really) need Danger Mouse, anyway, just their bad selves and the ghosts of Muscle Schoals, Alabama.

4. The Roots: How I Got Over
Can someone give these guys a medal for the most consistently awesome act not only in hip-hop, but in music period? I feel like the Roots are incapable of making a bad album even if they tried to. Although I suppose if they replaced Black Thought with Jimmy Fallon…

5. Cee Lo Green: The Lady Killer
“Fuck You” (or “Forget You,” if you’re easily offended) was a gimmick single, sure. However, even gimmick singles can be genius, and what’s more is that the Goodie Mob/Gnarls Barkley frontman was able to back the promise of that song up with an incredible album. I wish he rapped more, but when you can outsing just about every artist in contemporary pop and R&B, I guess you can be excused.

Read the rest after the jump...

Barenaked Ladies: All in Good Time

RIYL: Camper Van Beethoven, Moxy Fruvous, The Housemartins

From the outside, it always looked like the Barenaked Ladies got most of their goofy humor from Ed “One Week” Robertson, and most of their moody depth from Steven “The Old Apartment” Page – so when Page quit the band last year, it might have seemed safe to conclude that subsequent BNL albums would contain a lot of tongue-in-cheek rapping and punny wordplay. Creative dynamics are never that simple, of course, but it still may come as a surprise to many fans that BNL’s first post-Page effort, All in Good Time, contains some of the band’s darkest, most mature work.


Even better, Time goes a long way toward correcting the blandly pleasant drift of the Ladies’ recent efforts, restoring some of the bite and emotional depth that lurked beneath their sunny pop hooks. For the first time in recent memory, Barenaked Ladies sounds like an honest-to-goodness band here, and not just because songwriting credits are split relatively democratically between Robertson and his fellow remaining BNLers (Kevin Hearn, Tyler Stewart, and Jim Creggan). There’s an organic, lived-in feel to these performances that shines through the band’s usual production gimmicks; even the album’s requisite rap number, “Four Seconds,” sounds more authentically funky.

There are a number of tracks that sling arrows at departed friends and lovers, and it’ll be hard for fans to resist the temptation to wonder how many of them were inspired by Page’s absence. “I tried to be your brother / You cried, and ran for cover,” Robertson sings on the opening track and leadoff single, “You Run Away”; later, he spits “Can you forgive me for / What I had to do? / I’d use a metaphor / But I’m done with you” in the charging “I Have Learned.” But how truly personal these songs are isn’t as important as the breadth of their appeal – and both of those tracks offer more resonance, boast more feeling, than the band has shown in years. The same is true for much of the rest of All in Good Time. Call it addition through subtraction. (Risin’/EMI 2010)

Barenaked Ladies MySpace page


Steven Page leaves Barenaked Ladies

Even though it seems like Barenaked Ladies has run its course, the news that lead singer Steven Page has left the band is still a little surprising.

Singer-guitarist Steven Page said a big reason he decided to leave the Barenaked Ladies was he felt his songwriting voice was occasionally being squeezed out as a result of being in a five-member band.

A day after he announced on the band’s Web site that he was leaving the group, Page said the Barenaked Ladies has so many songwriting voices that he’s looking forward to a future as a solo artist.

“Frankly, the band itself was a five-way democracy and one of the great things about it is that it’s been about the five-way collaboration, but it’s also one of the things that’s made me decide to be a solo artist,” he said Thursday.

BNL just seemed like one of those bands that would be together forever.


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