With the year coming to a close, here’s a collection of my favorite music from the year. In addition to listening to a lot of new discs, working on goby this year has led me to see a lot more concerts in person. Some favorites: Trixie Whitley, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Los Campesinos in NY, Solas, Eddie from Ohio and Angelique Kidjo all at the Somerville Theater and Jack Johnson down at the Comcast Center. A good year for music.
Black Dub – Black Dub – Black Dub is the new collaboration between legendary producer/musician Daniel Lanois (Dylan, U2, Peter Gabriel), and Trixie Whitley (daughter of the late great bluesman Chris Whitley). Trixie’s incendiary vocals bring to mind Janis Joplin or Billie Holliday. The album is a fantastic collage of jazz, blues, reggae and searing guitar work.
Mount Kimbie – Crooks and Lovers – Developed a taste for electronic music this year. Mount Kimbie threw off a hypnotic, ambient sound that periodically surfaces hooks and melodies that would be at home in much more mainstream music – but the melodies disappear as soon as they arrive, leaving you wanting more. Also the first time I’ve heard of the genre called “Dubstep”. Still don’t know what means, but I like it.
Solas – The Turning Tide – I got turned on to Solas (again) by seeing the newly formed lineup with a new vocalist play at the Somerville Theater. Irish acoustic music with a contemporary flair, these folks can jam. The band has been around for almost 15 years but the new lineup gives them great freshness.
Rush – Caravan – Not really a full disc, but even a couple of new songs from Rush are worth celebrating. No surprises here, you get just what you expect – thoughtful lyrics and tight, hard-driving rock from guys who’ve been playing together for 30 years.
Robert Plant – Band of Joy – Robert Plant has that “Lion in Winter” thing going. At a time when he could be sitting by the pool counting his millions, he’s constantly re-inventing himself and exploring things. Check out “Monkey”, then buy the disc.
The Aqua Velvets – Tiki Beat – Surf Noir California Beach Music. No vocals, just dreamy, often dark sounds.
Zoe Keating – Into the Trees. “Solo” cellist. I say solo in quotes, because there’s a lot of layering onto this disc. If the Lord of the Rings didn’t already have a soundtrack, this would be it. Hypnotic. I think it’s supposed to be “classical” music but way more accessible than that. Tip of the hat to Thomas (http://twjensen.blogspot.com/) for recommending.
OK, a couple of cheats – these aren’t from 2010, but I discovered them this year and I haven’t been able to turn them off.
Fink – Biscuits for Breakfast (2006) – Acoustic roots music with a Funk/Soul edge. Some wicked guitar playing and often-disturbing lyrics. Pretty sure that “Pretty Little Thing” is about a serial killer. “All Cried Out” is one of my favorite tracks this year.
Crystal Method – Divided by Night – Continuing the electronic theme. Mount Kimbie is the new school. Divided by Night is the old school, done perfectly. Drown in the Now is another one of my favorite tracks this year.
One extra track that’s stuck in my mind. Following a tweet from science fiction writer William Gibson I landed on Johnette Napolitano. “Poem for the Native” from the “Scarred” disc is another of my favorites this year. Dark, mystical song about the desert. The vocals are powerful and the guitar work. How a song manages be dark and funky at the same time is beyond me, but it is.