Sunday, December 26, 2010

Best of 2010

In most years, the best part of undertaking the task of creating a best of list, is highlighting the emerging artists that were unearthed. That was not the case in 2010. It was a year of the tried and true. It was like the a pair of worn out jeans you can't replace, because they are perfectly broken in and comfortable.

There were some good finds, like The Constellations and Phosphorescent. While Austin Collins is not a new name, he firmly established himself with the infectious "Wrong Control". However, my list for 2010 is primarily populated with the familiar, like Old 97's, Patty Griffin and Alejandro Escovedo. The album of the year is Robert Plant's "Band of Joy". Robert Plant is as familiar as it gets. So look at the list below and give me your feedback, whether bad or good, I can take it.
1 Robert Plant-Band of Joy

2 Old 97's-The Grand Theater Vol. One

3 Patty Griffin-Downtown Church

4 Austin Collins-Wrong Control

5 Paul Thorn-Pimps & Preachers

6 Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses-Junky Star

7 Alejandro Escovedo-Street Songs of Love

8 Drive-By Truckers-The Big To-Do

9 Justin Townes Earle-Harlem River Blues

10 Crooked Still-Some Strange Country

11 Steeldrivers-Reckless Side of Me

12 Two Cow Garage-Sweet Saint Me

13 Phosphorescent-Here’s to Taking it Easy

14 Constellations-Southern Gothic

15 Dierks Bentley-Up On The Ridge

16 Marty Stuart-Studio B Sessions

17 Eleven Hundred Springs-This Crazy Life

18 Reckless Kelly-Somewhere In Time

19 John Hiatt-The Open Road

20 Jason & The Scorchers-Halcyon Times

21 Chattam County Line-Wildwood

22 Grace Potter & the Nocturnals-Grace Potter & the Nocturnals

23 Bobby Bare Jr.-A Storm, A Tree, My Mother's Head

24 Elliot Randall & The Deadmen-Caffeine & Gasoline

25 Infamous Stringdusters-Things That Fly

26 Jesse Malin & the St. Mark's Social-Love It To Life

27 The Gaslight Anthem-American Slang

28 Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs-God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise

29 Pat Anderson -Magnolia Road

30 Railroad Earth-Railroad Earth

31 Ray Wylie Hubbard-A Enlightenment B Endarkenment Hint There Is No C

32 Carrie Rodriguez-Love And Circumstance

33 Dale Watson-Carryin' On

34 Honey Child-Nearer the Earth

35 The Hold Steady-Heaven is Wherever

35 Tim O'Brien-Chicken & Egg

37 Elizabeth Cook-Welder

38 Cherryholmes-IV

39 Willie Nelson-Country Music

40 Los Lobos-Tin Can Trust

41 Steel Wheels-Red Wing

42 Ted Leo & the Pharmacists-The Brutalist Bricks

43 Yarn-Come On In

44 Merle Haggard-I Am What I Am

45 Jim Lauderdale-Patchwork River

46 Tift Merritt-See You On The Moon

47 Great American Taxi -Reckless Habits

48 Jesse Dayton-One for the Dance Halls

49 Pete Yorn-Pete Yorn

50 Kasey Anderson-Nowhere nights

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Amos Lee- Mission Bell

On January 25th, Amos Lee is going to release Mission Bell on Blue Note Records. Mark your calendars, this early January release will remain on many best of lists by the end of 2011. Characteristically, Lee's soulful voice is the focal point of the album. However, the sound of Mission Bell exhibits more texture than his previous releases. The project is produced by Joey Burns, from Calexico. His imprints are seen on every song. Mission Bell has a compelling echo, that adds a new dimension to Amos Lee's sound, and perfectly matches the lyrical theme of each track. 

It is an album about searching. The search is not temporal. Instead, the search is a cerebral journey. "Windows are Rolled Down" takes place at the interseciton of lonliness and renewal. The dichotomy of despair and hope pull the listener in two different directions. Conversely "Flower" is infused with a hope that is more optimistic, in fact it is a mature form of Naivete. Some songs, like "Stay With Me" are more atmospheric, but the soulful side of Lee is not lost or overshadowed on "Mission Bell", as shown by the song "Learned a Lot". However, an album with this much texture is perfect for guests like Sam Beam (Iron and Wine), Lucinda Williams and Pieta Brown. Willie Nelson also appears on the final track to make the exit from Mission Bell equal to its' entrance.