to eleven

My…um…list for 2010 by jason

Well, Jayson posted his best of list, which means it’s that time of year again. I’m going to do my list like I did last year, where I’m rating these albums not by how good or bad they were, but how they met my expectations. Because you can look anywhere on teh interwebz for numbered ratings and all that. And away we go:


Broken Bells-Broken Bells.
I’m always weary when musicians from different groups get together to form a new one. I’m not sure why I was weary of this project, though; James Mercer is a great vocalist, and Danger Mouse turns everything he touches to gold. I think my main concern before this was released was that I wasn’t sure Mercer’s vocals would mesh well with the more mechanical sounds of DM. They do. No reason to panic.

Soul Khan-Soul Like Khan
This is one of only two albums that Jayson and I completely agree on. This album is the shit. I did not share Jayson’s confidence that this was going to be great. Freestyle rap battle skill does not always translate to the studio. Soul can do it all, though. Watch this guy. You can download this album for free, and you can read our interview with him HERE. I’d like to point out that MTV2 interviewed him, but we did it first. Suck it, MTV2!

100 Akers-The New Edition Beat Tape
100 Akers has been putting together these beat tapes based on ’80s albums. They are all good, but the New Edition Beat Tape was my favorite, by far. Like, I’ll be honest…I get beat tapes. They aren’t the kind of thing I would just listen to, or just have playing in the background, but I understand that that is some people’s thing. This one, I actually do play sometimes. Someone needs to make a mash-up with this album. Get it free HERE.

Max Tannone-Mos Dub
Yeah, Jaydiohead was good, but can Max do it again? Yes, yes he can. Mos Dub is possibly the one thing on this list that I’ve listened to the most. It’s probably my favorite mash-up album. I know that Jayson prefered Tannone’s Dub Kweli, but I think that this one is just a bit better. Get it free HERE.

Murder By Death-Good Morning Magpie.
This is the other album that Jayson and I agree on, 100%. In fact, read what he said about it, but imagine me saying it. “Foxglove” is probably my favorite song on this.

Trouble Books-Gathered Tones
On this one, Trouble Books are less twee and more ambient. I guess this shouldn’t be that much of a surprise…Keith Freund has been dabbling in ambient with his other projects, like Constant Comment, so it’s a natural transition.

Grinderman-Grinderman 2
I liked the first Grinderman album, but this one is just…darker? More primal? Either way, it’s just better. Even though the band is essentially a pared-down version of The Bad Seeds, they finally find their identity as Grinderman on this album.

John Vanderslice-Green Grow the Rushes EP
It’s kind of a joke that one of the things a hipster does is to be “That Guy,” the one who always says “I liked their older stuff more.” You can’t be That Guy with Vanderslice. He is getting better and better with each album, and that is the objective truth. this one is free, too, if you’re willing to look through his website. Very smooth, produced vocals over guitars, violins, and some synth. Nice.

The Extra Lens-Undercard
Like the Mountain Goats? You’ll like this. It ‘s actually a very good album, but I hold John Darnielle to a higher standard than I hold most people, so this just meets my expectations. He’d have to do another Tallahassee to exceed my them.

Belle and Sebastian-Write About Love
Again, this is a very good album, and one which shows a lot of growth and maturity from the band that’s known for being stuck in high school for the last 10+ years. And it’s certainly better than The Life Pursuit. However, it’s no If You’re Feeling Sinister.

The National-High Violet
This is a good album. Don’t get me wrong. But I had such high hopes for this one after how great Boxer was. Still, I liked it well enough. I might be the only person in the world being at all negative about this one, but hey. Whatever.

If last year was the year of the back catalogue for me, this year was the year of the free download. What can I say? I’m poor.

Obviously, I liked everything I got into this year, and I don’t think there was anything I tried that I didn’t like. Poverty has forced me to be selective about what I listen to.

I didn’t include music by people I’m friends with on this list, but check out Chris Buckridge and the Last Friend’s Excessive Compulsive, as well as The Singular’s The Sad Machine. Reviews of these albums can be found on To Eleven:

The Chris Buckridge and the Last Friend review.
The Singular review.

Overall, it was a much better year for music than I thought it would be. Here’s to 2011 being just as good.



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