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...

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...

The Like: Release Me

RIYL: Matthew Sweet, The Bangles, 60’s Mod rock

The Like return for their sophomore effort, Release Me, a 13-song set clocking in at just under 40 minutes. This collection of ’60s inspired pop rock gems will rock your socks off and keep you dancing for the duration of the record. Release Me has enough cool to satisfy retro-alternative hipsters and turn the heads of aging mods looking for some kickin’ new tunes to play at their next Vespa rally.

Founding members Z Berg (vocals/guitars) and Tennessee Thomas (drums) parted ways with Charlotte Froom (bass/vocals) and entered the recording studio with famed producer Mark Ronson, the man responsible for Amy Winehouse’s spectacular soul album, Back to Black. The English producer certainly has a knack for recreating the sounds of a different era, but Release Me would be pure novelty if it weren’t full of strong, catchy power pop that sticks to you like the sweetest tasting bubble gum. Mind you, this gum has a little bite.

While the music is sunny and very danceable, once you get past that bright veneer, you’ll find that Release Me is an album full of women scorned, breakups and broken hearts.   Even if you’re not in the mood for some Alanis angst, you can look past the lyrics and just rock out. “He’s Not A Boy” (the first single) and “I Can See It” are so damn good, they deserve radio play all summer long, and then some; while “Catch Me If You Can,” “In the End” and “Release Me” will make sure no fan is sitting down during the band’s upcoming concerts.

By the end of the album, the organ begins to wear thin, but as soon as you start thinking you may want to break that keyboard player’s fingers, the album is over. It won’t be long until you’ve scrolled back to the beginning and started the whole thing over again.

If you’ve ever wondered what the Kinks, Zombies or Who would have sounded like had they been an all-girl group who played their own instruments and sang in perfect harmony, the Like may be your answer. Here’s hoping that they continue to grow as artists like their obvious influences. (Polydor/Downtown Records, 2010)

The Like MySpace page
Click here to purchase Release Me from Amazon


Me, Myself, and iPod 6/3/10: A true Disney princess

esd ipod

Memorial Day, plus a super-busy movie screening schedule, threw this week into complete chaos. It didn’t help that I’ve been sick. I know, wah wah wah. Sorry, I’ll quit whining.

The Like – He’s Not a Boy
With Mark Ronson at the helm, the Like out-Locksley Locksley with this catchy slice of ’60s pop.

Cowboy Junkies – Cicadas
The press release boasts of the band finally operating independently, but that’s about the only thing that appears to have changed about the band, from the sound of this song from their upcoming album Renmin Park.

Quitzow – Cherry Blossom
Man, who slipped Daft Punk the ecstasy? I want to shake that person’s hand.

Setting Sun – Sacrifice
Fans of Joseph Arthur and Pete Yorn, take note.

Anna Rose – Whispers
She’s Alan Menken’s daughter. Yes, that Alan Menken. But this tune is closer to Joni Mitchell than “Kiss the Girl.”


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