Lucid Culture


The 100 Best Albums of 2010

Since it was impossible to whittle this down to the original 50 we were shooting for, we went for 100 – so much for the canard that the album is dead. As with last year’s list, everything here is in pretty random order. Is Paula Carino’s wounded, lyrical janglerock (#1) any “better” than Bobby Avey’s intense piano jazz (#100)? Who cares? It’s all good. If you want single tracks, here’s our 100 Best Songs of 2010 list.

1. Paula Carino – Open on Sunday
This one tops the list this year because every single song on this moody, pensive, wickedly lyrical janglerock album is good – not a single miss here. It’s been a long time coming. As a lyricist and tunesmith, Carino ranks with Elvis Costello and Richard Thompson, a great wit, fearless nonconformist and unaffectedly compelling singer.

2. Ran Blake and Sara Serpa – Camera Obscura
Serpa, a sometimes chillingly intense third-stream composer and singer, is a protegee of Blake, the preeminent noir jazz pianist of the last fifty years. Their collaboration is fascinatingly unpredictable: when it comes to longing and angst, they don’t disappoint. 

3. Norden Bombsight – Pinto
Intense and often unhinged, the Brooklyn band’s darkly psychedelic art-rock blends 70s orchestrated rock influences with macabre goth tinges and the occasional Americana theme. Frontwoman/keyboardist/electric mandolinist Rachael Bell’s savage wail brings the intensity to redline.

4. Sarah Manning – Dandelion Clock
Haunting, intensely lyrical, sometimes anguished jazz concept album – about the fleeting nature of time – from this brilliant alto saxophonist/composer and her quartet with Art Hirahara, Linda Oh and Kyle Struve.

5. The NYFA Collection
A massive five-cd box set that aims to be a definitive history of edgy avant garde music and jazz in New York that succeeds amazingly well: it’s the new music equivalent of the Harry Smith albums. Too many artists here to list: see our review from November.

6. Redhooker – Vespers
Hypnotic, ambient soundscapes and pensive avant-chamber instrumentals from Stephen Griesgraber’s marvelously shapeshifting new music ensemble.

7. The Roots of Chicha 2 anthology
It’s the Rosetta Stone of classic psychedelic Peruvian cumbia-rock from the 70s and 80s, a wildly entertaining blend of instrumentals, dance songs, twangy guitar and rhythms from just about everywhere south of the border.

8. The Tivoli Trio’s first album
Jazz pianist Frank Carlberg’s phantasmagorical, carnivalesque, often macabre trio project.

9. Las Rubias del Norte – Ziguala
Surreal, otherworldly and mysterious with gorgeous harmonies and a global mix of songs with latin, Bollywood and Mexican influences, it’s the Brooklyn band’s best album – in a lot of ways, it’s the great album Chicha Libre didn’t put out this year, plus vocals.

10. The Snow – I Die Every Night
Intense, smartly lyrical, alternately lush and sensuous art-rock and chamber pop from Pierre de Gaillande and Hilary Downes’ eclectic New York band.

11. The New Collisions – The Optimist
The Boston new wavers’ dark, brilliantly lyrical shift into straight-ahead powerpop.

12. Mojo Mancini’s first album
Creepy, atmospheric, cinematic instrumentals with organ, guitar and sax from an A-list crew of NYC sidemen, picking up where Big Lazy left off.

13. Botanica – Who You Are
This era’s foremost art-rock band’s most diverse and ultimately most optimistic album, but where frontman/keyboardist Paul Wallfisch went further toward psychedelia and soul, guitarist John Andrews picked up with an ominous, reverb-drenched, Beatlesque roar.

14. Bad Reputation: Pierre de Gaillande Sings Georges Brassens
The first full-length English-language album of songs by legendary French songwriter Brassens is as potent and obscenely hilarious as his own work.  

15. Thomas Simon – Moncao
Another album of swirling cinematic soundscapes, these with more of a guitar-driven, apocalyptic goth menace.

16. The Larch – Larix Americana
Finally, the classic album these Brooklyn new wave throwbacks always hinted they had in them: an especially tuneful, gleefully sung, ferociously lyrical and funny one.

17. The Jack Grace Band – Drinking Songs for Lovers
A country concept album that needed to be written, and it’s a good thing this wry honkytonk baritone crooner and his oldschool 60s-style band were the ones to do it. Drinks for breakfast; birthday drinking; drinking at the racetrack, and drunk parents are just some of the topics covered on this crazed, hilarious album. There should be a Jack Grace Band drinking game.

18. Bassam Saba – Wonderful Land
A tribute to the multi-instrumentalist composer’s native Lebanon, it’s a characteristically lush, diverse album with influences that range from classic Egyptian anthems to western baroque composition.

19. Elvis Costello – National Ransom
This is the one album on this list that we didn’t review, because we figured you already knew about it. No? It’s a double album with his most recent band, Americana rockers The Sugarcanes, and it’s one of the best things he’s ever done.

20. The Marc Cary Focus Trio – Live 2009
Dark, magisterial, hypnotic and haunting, it captures one of the most powerfully melodic, interesting jazz pianists of this era at the top of his game.

21. Æ’s first album
Eva Salina Primack and Aurelia Shrenker’s austere, ghostly, starkly evocative, innovative blend of Appalachian and Balkan a-cappella songs.

22. Cousin Silas – Canaveral Dreams
Yorkshire’s most evocative soundscape composer offers an often terrifyingly allusive collection of electroacoustic tableaux here; his latest one Adrift Off the Isles of Langerhans promises to be just as good. 

23. Tris McCall – Let the Night Fall
Richly lyrical, uneasy New Jersey-themed concept album by the Overlord keyboardist: a vivid, understatedly angst-driven portrayal of stripmall hell by someone who’s lived it.

24. Ben Syversen’s Cracked Vessel’s first album
The highly sought-after Balkan trumpeter also leads this scorching, assaultive, aggressive trumpet-and-guitar noiserock/avant jazz band – it’s a wild ride.

25. Katzenjammer – Le Pop
Edgy, biting, satirical noir cabaret and new wave-inflected accordion rock from this wildly popular all-female Norwegian quartet.

26. Natacha Atlas – Mounqaliba
A biting, haunting, richly melodic look at the state of the world, another classic-style Levantine art-song masterpiece by one of this era’s most socially aware artists.

27. Under Byen – Alt Er Tabt
Stark, intense, moody chamber-rock from this ethereal Danish band.

28. Ted Hearne – Katrina Ballads
Sort of like the Dead Kennedys for chamber orchestra. It’s a cerebral, brutally honest, often brutally funny depiction of the early days of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, with songs incorporating art-rock, avant-garde chamber music and jazz.

29. Victoire – Cathedral City
Missy Mazzoli’s mesmerizing, ambient/atmospheric art-rock band’s debut is a lush, shadowy swirl of keyboards, strings and winds.

30. Patricia Vonne – Worth It
The Texas Americana rock chanteuse’s most diverse album blends anthemic, characteristically lyrical janglerock with a brooding southwestern gothic vibe.

31. My Education – Sunrise
Bracingly ambient, reverb-drenched guitar soundscapes in a Mogwai vein from this excellent Texas post-rock crew.

32. Gaida – Levantine Indulgence
Slinky ballads and instrumentals drawing on Syrian, Lebanese and Egyptian influences by the New York-based chanteuse and her excellent group.

33. Liz Tormes – Limelight
Smoldering, venomous, lyrical Nashville gothic songwriting by the New York noir songwriter with a great band behind her. If revenge songs are your thing, nobody writes them better than Liz Tormes.

34. Little Annie and Paul Wallfisch – Genderful
The noir cabaret legend and her reliable cohort, Botanica frontman Wallfisch team up for a characteristically haunting yet often very funny album, their best together.

35. Fernando Otero – Vital
Intense, dark solo piano compositions from the eclectic Argentinian composer.

36. Brooklyn Rider – Dominant Curve
The adventurous string quartet’s tribute to Debussy, including his string quartet along with pieces by Colin Jacobsen, Kojiro Umezaki, Dmitry Yanov-Yanovsky and Justin Messina.

37. Avi Fox-Rosen – Welcome to the Show
Smart, sardonically timely concept album for the new depression by the eclectic Brooklyn guitarist/songwriter and his funky, artsy, Steely Dan-ish band.

38. Either/Orchestra – Mood Music for Time Travellers
Witty, virtuosically cinematic Ethiopian-flavored big band jazz, the playful large ensemble’s first album in close to a decade.

39. The Rough Guide to Arabic Lounge compilation 
An eclectic mix of cutting-edge pop, classical and cabaret from around the Middle East…but no lounge music.

40. Bobtown’s first album
With their lush, beautiful four-part harmonies, stark, clever melodies that blend old time chain gang songs, bluegrass and blues and macabre sensibility, Bobtown established themselves as one of the most original bands in Americana.

41. The Mingus Big Band – Live at Jazz Standard
Allowing this album on this list is just plain unfair. It’s an ecstatic New Year’s Eve show by some of New York’s best jazz players, a wall-to-wall collection of Mingus classics, mostly from the late 50s Mingus Mingus Mingus era.

42. Newspeak – Sweet Light Crude
Potent and politically aware third-stream music that matches Lynchian ambience to depressed Michigan autoland and covers Missy Mazzoli with a vivid, hypnotic swirl.

43. The Universal Thump – First Spout
Art-rock composer/pianist Greta Gertler’s irrepressible, unpredictable sensibility has never been more potent or tunefully in effect than she is here – and the album isn’t even done yet.  

44. Annabouboula – Immortal Water
Slinky, psychedelic Greek rock with Greek, Turkish, reggae and trip-hop music.

45. Krista Detor – Chocolate Paper Suites
Some lists consider this a 2009 release (to be fair, we’ve snuck a few others from late in that year onto this list – hey, a good album is a good album). Either way, it’s a torrent of pensive lyrics delivered with Detor’s eerie calm and eclectic sense of melody.

46. Ninth House – 11 Cemetery & Western Classics
Eleven years after they began, who would have thought that New York-based Nashville gothic rockers’ best album would come out in 2010, after a flurry of lineup changes and stylistic shifts? It may be their loudest and most intense one yet.

47. Klezwoods’ first album
Ostensibly this is klezmer, but violinist Joe Kessler’s big band plays music from every corner of the former Ottoman Empire, with wit and intensity.

48. Khaira Arby – Timbuktu Tarab
An innovative, fearlessly feminist mix of desert blues, art-rock, afrobeat and psychedelia by the pioneering Malian desert blues diva.

49. Vieux Farka Toure – Live
About time the Malian guitar god (Ali Farka Toure’s oldest kid) made a live album – it’s sort of like an African Albert Collins record, all chilly sonics and lightning riffage but no wasted notes, just raw adrenaline.

50. Robin Aigner – Bandito
Aigner gets props for her sultry, soaring vocals, but she’s also a tremendously witty songwriter with a smart sense of history, a love for sly innuendo and purist taste in Americana and oldtimey songwriting.

51. John Sheppard: Media Vita – Stile Antico
A mammoth collection of otherworldly, death-obsessed Renaissance vocal works by the hardworking, wildly popular self-directed UK choral group.

52. Tarbaby – An End to Fear
One of the most unbelievably tuneful jazz albums of the year – and a powerfully socially aware one too. Pianist Orrin Evans is on the hook for a lot of this, along with
bassist Eric Revis, drummer Nasheet Waits plus the estimable JD Allen on tenor. They cover the Bad Brains and give a shout-out to the Jena Six.

53. Brass Menazeri – Vranjski San
Fiery Balkan brass dance tunes and anthems from this Bay Area crew.

54. Changing Modes – Here
Artsy, smartly lyrical somewhat retro 80s rock that ranges from snarling punk to creepy, goth-tinged songs: if this album came out 25 years ago, it would be regarded as a cult classic today.  

55. Kasey Anderson – Nowhere Nights
Snarling, Steve Earle-style lyrical Americana rock. Anderson’s forthcoming 2011 album Heart of a Dog goes in an even harder-rocking direction.

56. Abaji – Origine Orients
The multi-instrumentalist and instrument inventor’s latest eclectic collection draws on Middle Eastern, Greek, and gypsy music as well as Americana.

57. Marianne Dissard – Paris One Takes
A brilliant way to build a fan base: edgy,world-weary, amusingly lyrical French rocker Dissard offers this one as a free download. It’s one of the funnest albums of the year – even if you don’t speak French.

58. Copal – Into the Shadow Garden
Slinky, hypnotic, original Middle Eastern and gypsy-tinged violin-and-cello world music dancefloor vamps from the most original groove band on the planet.

59. The Spy from Cairo – Secretly Famous
Hypnotic, psychedelic dub-flavored Middle Eastern instrumentals, many with a trip-hop feel.

60. El Pueblo – Isla
Warmly hypnotic and psychedelic, this has to be the most diverse roots reggae album released in awhile – the Brooklyn band have more dubwise styles than you can count.

61. The One and Nines’ first album
Sultry oldschool Memphis style soul from these New Jersey revivalists: what Sharon Jones did for Harlem, these guys (and their fearless frontwoman Vera Sousa) are doing for a more southern soul sound.

62. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – I Speak Fula
Hypnotic, diverse anthems and ballads from the Malian lute virtuoso and his desert blues-style band.

63. Fishtank Ensemble – Woman in Sin
Raucous original gypsy music taken to the next level with jazz and Middle Eastern influences, with a frontwoman whose vocal wail and theremin are hard to tell apart.

64. Benjamin Herman – Hypochristmastreefuzz (More Mengelberg)
Don’t let the silly title scare you away – this wild, psychedelic, surfy jazz album covers some of famous Dutch jazz composer Misha Mengelberg’s most memorable tracks.

65. The Rough Guide to Desert Blues anthology
At the risk of giving you too many of these, it was a good year for the Rough Guides: this has all the usual suspects (Etran Finatawa, Ali Farka Toure and Tinariwen) but also a ton of obscure brilliant cuts by Marien Hassan, Tartit, Malouma and Tamikrest.

66. The Sometime Boys – Any Day Now
The debut of the acoustic Americana side project by the brain trust from artsy, powerful rockers System Noise is funky, virtuosic and tuneful with some of frontwoman Sarah Mucho’s most compelling vocals ever.

67. Mostly Other People Do the Killing – Forty Fort
A clever, often hilarious whirlwind of postbop quotes and japes from these self-styled “bebop terrorists,” with some of the funniest liner notes ever courtesy of nonagenarian jazz know-it-all “Leonardo Featherweight.”

68. The Dither Guitar Quartet’s first album
Swirling psychedelic avant garde dreampop instrumentals by five cutting-edge composers: layers and layers and layers of screaming, atmospheric, reverb-toned menace and whisper.

69. The Cookers – Warriors
Deliciously tuneful, inspired 1960s style postbop jazz from a bunch of vets: Billy Harper, Craig Handy, Cecil McBee, George Cables, Billy Hart, Eddie Henderson and David Weiss.

70. The Debutante Hour – The Birth and Death of Meaning
Quirky, fun, harmonically beautiful oldtimey sounds with cleverly amusing lyrics from this sultry all-female Brooklyn trio.

71. Mark Sinnis – The Night’s Last Tomorrow
Arguably the finest and most diverse effort to date from the ominous baritone frontman of Nashville gothic rockers Ninth House, ranging from noir cabaret to dark blues to country. He’s the guy that Voltaire ripped off.

72. Bryan and the Haggards – Pretend It’s the End of the World
Outsider or mostly outside jazz guys (Bryan Murray, Jon Irabagon, Jon Lundbom, Moppa Elliott, Danny Fischer) cover Merle Haggard. As absurd and cruelly funny as you would expect.

73. The City Champs – The Set-Up
Like a more diverse, cinematic, noir Booker T & the MGs, the Memphis organ instrumental trio offer a psychedelic yet danceable collection of grooves.

74. Carolann Solebello – Glass of Desire
The Red Molly multi-instrumentalist/singer’s diverse, soaringly intense new solo album of Americana and folk-rock.

75. Black 47 – Bankers and Gangsters
Larry Kirwan never runs out of ideas, never gets stale. We ranked these Irish-American legends’ 2008 album Iraq as that year’s best; this depression-themed one is just as tuneful, wittily perceptive and anthemic.

76. Ken Fowser & Behn Gillece – Little Echo
Torchy, period-perfect late 50s style vibraphone jazz. It ought to be the soundtrack for Mad Men’s next few seasons, if the show lasts that long. Unselfconsciously sexy stuff.

77. The Pre-War Ponies – Introducing the Pre-War Ponies
Daria Grace, their frontwoman and baritone uke player, is one of the most casually compelling, sultry voices in oldtimey and Americana music. This is her charming, unselfconsciously romantic 20s/30s project where she covers all kinds of great obscure period pieces.

78. Gato Libre – Shiro
Quietly tuneful Japanese gypsy jazz-flavored tunes from pianist Satoko Fujii’s obscure accordion project – like one of those great bands that only plays Barbes once every couple of months.

79. Thunderball – 12 Mile High
Spinning with layers of dub-inspired keys, guitars and effects, their cinematic instrumentals are trippy beyond belief, and funny too.

80. Comic Wow – Music for Mysteries of Mind Space and Time
We’re sticking all the psychedelic stuff here for lack of a better place to put it. Some of this you might call dubstep, some is cinematic, some is funky, some is disco. Either way it’s insanely layered, insanely good stoner music.

81. The Smiles and Frowns’ first album
Period-perfect: these guys sound like they stepped out of a Top of the Pops performance alongside the Pretty Things and Electric Prunes, 1968. Whatever they’re smoking out in Arizona where this band is from seems to be working just fine.

82. Jeremy Messersmith – The Reluctant Graveyard
File this under psychedelic pop, with a goth touch – it’s nothing if not original. Clever lyricist, solid powerpop tunes, a 60s fascination that’s not cheesy – he saved that for his Star Wars song.

83. Flugente – Flugente 2
A guy after our own heart: the once-and-future Blam frontman hates gentrification, despises yuppies and trendoids and has the lyrical chops to give his somewhat Leonard Cohen-esque acoustic rants an original, witheringly funny edge. 

84. Jim Guttmann – Bessarabian Breakdown
Joyously and often darkly eclectic klezmer themes and dances from the Klezmer Conservatory Band’s bassist.

85. Very Be Careful – Escape Room
We don’t usually pay attention to bloggers who can’t write, but one of them actually complained about how loud the accordion on these wild LA cumbia punks’ album is. Reason enough for us to put it on the list.

86. The Ellen Rowe Quartet – Wishing Well
Lush, plaintive, beautifully lyrical jazz from the pianist/composer and her inspired band including several memorable Ingrid Jensen cameos.

87. The Whispering Tree – Go Call the Captain
These folks really love 6/8 time, and it works for them, through an uncommonly smart mix of uneasy acoustic Nashville gothic and Appalachian-tinged ballads.

88. Razia – Zebu Nation
Eclectic rock, Afrobeat, jazz-tinged ballads and Mediterranean-style songwriting from the Malagasy chanteuse and her band.

89. Phil Sargent – A New Day
We love albums like this, that transcend boundaries and push the envelope. Guitarist Sargent, backed by a rhythm section and Aubrey Johnson supplying vocalese, runs from motorway ambience to roaring metal/art-rock and pensive jazz instrumentals. 

90. Bern & the Brights – Swing Shift Maisies
Lush yet austere: art-rock with indie production values, but which actually enhance the violin-fueled bite of the surprisingly complex, counterintuitive songs.

91. Jacam Manricks – Trigonometry
Bad title, great album. The alto saxophonist’s previous album was all about lush, gorgeous charts and tunes; this one’s about great playing – with more of those tunes, albeit somewhat more stripped down.

92. Alma Afrobeat Ensemble – Toubab Soul
This is one of the most amazingly melodic, memorable albums of the year even though most of these instrumentals are basically one-chord jams! Lush, hypnotic, often fiery Ethiopian-influenced grooves from this smart Barcelona-based group.

93. Jay Banerjee – “Ban-er-jee,” Just Like It’s Spelled
Like a lo-fi Byrds, the impresario behind NYC’s best rock event, Hipster Demolition Night airs out his bag of catchy, retro 60s Rickenbacker 12-string janglerock licks and savagely satirical lyrics.

94. Debo Band – Flamingoh (Pink Bird Dawn)
The Boston-based Ethiopian dance band’s debut ep – a deliriously fun live recording made on tour in Africa – would be further up this list if it was longer. Which it will be soon – watch this space.

95. Spanglish Fly – Latin Soul y Bugalú
Their debut ep is a throwback to Spanish Harlem circa 1965 or 1966, a blend of oldschool retro soul and oldschool retro salsa – think Joe Cuba but with better production values. Plus you can dance to this like crazy.

96. Jason Robinson and Anthony Davis – Cerulean Landscape
This is about as bluesy as Shostakovich, but it’s gorgeously melodic, with all kinds of interplay between the adventurous, eclectic saxophonist (who stays within himself pretty much here) and the glimmering third-stream piano titan.

97. Denis Matsuev/Valery Gergiev/Mariinsky Orchestra – Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.3./Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
How do you resist putting a recording this robust of two of the iconic late Romantic masterpieces on a Best Albums list? Answer: you don’t.

98. Magnifico – Magnification
Stagy, wry, tongue-in-cheek, sometimes over-the-top Balkan dancefloor madness. He satirizes dumb American culture, and fascist Balkan dictator types, and gets away with it because everybody loves it and it’s so psychedelically tuneful.

99. The Joel Yennior Trio – Big City Circus
Either/Orchestra’s trombone guy’s alternately retro and rather chillingly noir small-combo debut – check out the righteously wrathful suite Justice Lost. 

100. The Bobby Avey Trio – A New Face
On one level, it kills us to put such a great album – magisterial, frequently murky modal jazz piano from one of the best up-and-coming players out there – at #100. Then again, a lot of people scroll all the way to the bottom. And he doesn’t need the press from us anyway.

December 27, 2010 Posted by | avant garde music, classical music, experimental music, folk music, gypsy music, jazz, latin music, middle eastern music, Music, music, concert, reggae music, rock music, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The 100 Best Tracks of 2010, 100 Best Songs of 2010, 100 Best Cuts of 2010, Whatever You Want to Call This

Keep in mind that the songs are in completely random order (other than #1 of course, heh heh). This is just one of our many ways of spreading the word about all the good music out there that the corporate media and their imitators in the blogosphere won’t touch because it’s too edgy, too much fun, or too intelligent. In response to your requests for as much variety as possible, we give you 100 songs by 100 of the coolest artists out there, in a wide variety of styles. Whenever possible, we link to each individual song, but because some of them are so new they haven’t been recorded or youtubed yet, that’s not possible. We try our best to get titles right, but in the case of the unreleased stuff the artists may not have settled on definitive ones yet.

Because we’re a New York blog, this is a very New York-centric list. If you’re interested, here’s our 100 Best Albums of 2010 list, our Best Songs of 2009 list, our 50 Best Albums of 2009 list and our 200 Best Albums of the Decade list for the entire decade of the zeros.

1. Changing Modes – Moles
A punk rock classic with all the extras: a wicked catchy tune, a scream and a sizzling guitar solo. It looks at the life of a crazy homeless person living in the bowels of the New York subway, where it’s “worse than your nightmares and better than your wildest dreams.”

2.  The Brooklyn What – Punk Rock Loneliness
Chilling, vintage punk-infused wintertime scenario at the corner of Bleecker and Bowery, where CBGB’s used to be, by the brilliant, eclectic New York band.

3. The Larch – Tracking Tina
Tongue-in-cheek retro new wave about paranoid yuppie parents putting their kids under surveillance, from the band’s career-best new album Larix Americana

4. Clare & the Reasons – Murder, They Want Murder
The natives in “Ditmasville” are restless and they want blood – an eerie, Orbisonesque noir pop song from the Brooklyn art-rockers.  

5.  Bobtown – We Will Bury You
The New York bluegrass/Americana band’s soaring but unsettling, funereal highlight from their new albumm.

6. Tris McCall – First World, Third Rate
Suburban New Jersie anomie and angst perfectly capsulized and set to catchy piano-based art-rock, from the songwriter’s excellent new album Let the Night Fall. 

7.  Flugente – People Come from All Around
An anti-gentrifier anthem from a first-class songwriter memorializing a better time and place in NYC without being sentimental. From his excellent new one Flugente II.

8. Norden Bombsight – Raven
Careening art-rock monstrosity from the fiery, psychedelic band – probably the only song ever to memorialize (or mention) West Haven, Connecticut.

9. Walter Ego – I Am the Glass
Metaphorically rich, tuneful, Costelloish rock from the excellent lyrical New York acoustic rocker (who needs a website so his fans can hear this song).

10. 3ology with Ron Miles – Nightmares of My Youth
Cornetist Miles’ jazz trio with Tim and Doug Carmichael vividly evokes a dark night of the soul. From the group’s debut album together.

11. Chicha Libre – Rich Guy Theme
Early in the year, the psychedelic Brooklyn chicha revivalists debuted this live as one of two main themes for Charlie Chaplin’s The Idle Class. It’s as evil and as catchy as any of the stoner surf themes that came out of Peru in the 70s that the band emulates so perfectly.

12. Liz Tormes – Read My Mind
Bitter, intense, ferociously literate kiss-off song from the New York Americana chanteuse. From her most recent album Limelight.

13. Kasey Anderson – Torn Apart
A warning to get out of a small town before it suffocates you, done sort of growly, Steve Earle style. From Anderson’s new album Nowhere Nights.

14. Edward Rogers – Passing the Sunshine
The blithe neo-Britpop melody masks the ache for a New York neighborhood lost to greedy developers and the gentrifiers who moved in and ruined it. From Rogers’ excellent most recent album Sparkle Lane.

15. The Snow – The Silent Parade
An understatedly majestic art-rock anthem about the snowstorm to end all snowstorms, from frontman Pierre de Gaillande’s ongoing “disaster song cycle,” and the band’s latest album I Die Every Night.

16. Jay Banerjee & the Heartthrobs – Long Way Home
Lusciously jangly but savagely dismissive 12-string guitar rock song for a clueless gentrifier girl who finds that New York isn’t all just trendy and nice like pitchfork says it is.

17. Tall Tall Trees – Sallie Mae
Characteristically edgy, hilarious banjo rock tune that brings the instutition to life: she left him and stuck him with a debt he’ll never be able to repay.

18. Avi Fox-Rosen – White Collar Crime
Sly, Steely Dan-esque funk-rock with a message: if you want to be a crook, this is the right way to go.

19. Bad Reputation – I Made Myself Small
Pierre de Gaillande’s English-language Georges Brassens cover project’s version of the classic Je Me Suis Fait Tout Petit: gypsy-tinged art-rock about being pussywhipped.

20. The Toneballs – Max Planck’s Time
Middle Eastern-tinged, angst-ridden art-rock from songwriter/filmmaker Dan Sallitt’s post Blow This Nightclub project. Lead guitarist Paul McKenzie blew us away with a version of this at Freddy’s Bar right before it closed earlier this year.

21. Abaji – Menz Baba
Bouzouki rock has seldom been this catchy or this intense. From the Greek/Turkish multi-instrumentalist’s new one Origine Orients.

22. Thunderball – To Catch a Vixen
Trippy, cinematic downtempo/trip-hop crime theme from this irrepressible crew.

23. Kathleen Supove – Trepidus, by Louis Andriessen
Watching the avant garde piano titan play this brutally taxing piece with perfect staccato intensity and groove in Brooklyn this past spring was one of the highlights of 2010.

24. Sean Kershaw & the New Jack Ramblers – Woke Up Dead
Creepy noir Americana from the Coney Island Cowboy’s long-awaited new full-length cd.

25. Rick Barry – Atlantis
Pensive, brooding apocalyptic folk-rock from the New Jersey songwriter.

26. The Tivoli Trio – Two for Tea
Macabre, phantasmagorical piano jazz theme from Frank Carlberg and his rhythm section.

27. Wormburner – Peekskill
Depression-era heartland hell from a highway rock band who know their way around smart, realist meat-and-potatoes anthemic rock songwriting.

28. Tribecastan – Starry Stari Grad
Sad, haunting Macedonian-tinged waltz from these eclectic world music hellraisers.

29. The Jack Grace Band – If You’re Gonna Raise a Drunk
Definitely one of the  alltime classic drinking songs: a how-to guide for the drunk parent, from the Martini Cowboy’s excellent new Drinking Songs for Lovers cd.

30. Elvis Costello – National Ransom
The greatest English-language songwriter turns his poison pen and Americana rock band on the Wall Street swindlers who gave us the new depression – title track from his excellent album.

31. Girl to Gorilla – Evil Man
New York noir meets southwestern gothic with punk energy – they kicked the hell out of this one at last spring’s upstate Beefstock Festival.

32. Mojo Mancini – The Bunker
Dub reggae meets Tuatara-style South Asian hypnotic ambience on this one from NYC’s best noir soundtrack band’s self-titled debut album.

33. Mostly Other People Do the Killing – The Christian Life
Characteristically hilarious, sacrilegious cover of the Louvin Bros.’ country gospel standard.

34. Carolann Solebello – Behind the Door
Vividly lyrical, wounded yet triumphant anthem for anyone with a checkered past – from the Red Molly multi-instrumentalist’s most recent album Glass of Desire.

36. Elisa Flynn – Close Your Eyes
The indie songwriter’s haunting evocation of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair disaster – she did a riveting version of this at Small Beast this past spring.

37. Smoothe Moose – Ghouls n Ghosts
Theme from the classic 1980s video game, done dubstep style.

38. Las Rubias del Norte – Navidad Negra
Noir cumbia much in the same vein as their brother band, Chicha Libre, from their career-best new album Ziguala.

39. Greta Gertler – Teacher
Casually dramatic, intense ballad from this state-of-the-art, playful art-rock composer.

40. Pal Shazar – People Talk
Elvis Costelloesque nonconformist anthem from the cult hero songwriter from 80s legends Slow Children.

41. Fishtank Ensemble – Espagnolette
Blistering gypsy intensity from the Bay Area band’s latest album; they slayed with this at BAM last winter.

42. Black Death – Live Free or Die
Not a cover of the Bill Morrissey comedy-rock classic – this punk-metal stomp is closer to the UK Subs at their early 80s peak.

43. Gamelan Galak Tika – Tire Fire
Evan Ziporyn’s gamelan-rock band’s showstopper is this long, aptly titled, scorching triptych.

44. The One and Nines – Walked Alone
Defiant, sassy oldschool Memphis soul from siren Vera Sousa and her talented band.

45. Gaida – Levantine Indulgence
Sweeping, majestically slinky title track to the Syrian/American chanteuse’s new album.

46. Masters of Persian Music – Taqsim #1
Iranian spike fiddle virtuoso/composer Kayhan Kalhor and his accomplices dedicated this long, mournful jam to a recently bereaved friend at their show at NYU’s Skirball Center this past spring.

47. The Smiles & Frowns – Mechanical Songs
Cleverly satirical, period-perfect retro 60s psychedelia.

48. Lorraine Leckie – Don’t Giggle At the Corpse
Blackly amusing funeral scenario, solo acoustic, from the New York noir chanteuse’s new album Martini Eyes.

49. Newspeak – If You See Something Say Something
Brutally sarcastic cover of the Taking Back Sunday song by this amazingly eclectic New York avant-garde/rock outfit.

50. Matt Keating – Asbury Park
A bitingly realistic antidote to Springsteen-style romanticism – as yet unreleased.

51. Sarah Manning – The Owls Are on the March
Alto sax genius Manning’s latest album Dandelion Clock contemplates the finitude of time: this is a characteristically angst-drenched, richly melodic composition.

52. The New York Scandia String Symphony/Bjarke Mogensen – Anders Koppel: Concerto Piccolo
Danish composer Koppel’s richly diverse suite for accordion and orchestra was stunning this past spring when Mogensen and the NY Scandia Symphony’s chamber orchestra played it at Victor Borge Hall.

53. Mary Lee’s Corvette – Big Things
From frontwoman Mary Lee Kortes’ as-yet-unstaged musical about legendary, obscure heartland songwriter Beulah Rowley, this is a darkly lyrical oldtime swing song.

54. The City Champs – Comanche
Noir Link Wray-ish gospel-inflected theme from the Memphis organ groove trio’s excellent latest album.

55. Fernando Otero – Fin de Revision
Cinematic solo piano suspense theme from the eclectic Argentinian pianist/composer’s excellent latest album, Vital.

56. Elaine Romanelli – Faust Revisited
Cruelly funny yet insightful look at the psychology of anxious yuppie vanity, from the NYC siren’s compelling album The Real Deal.

57. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Saro
Memorable West African tribute to a fallen family member, from the ngoni star’s latest album I Speak Fula.

58. The Debutante Hour – Galax
Creepy Nashville gothic from the irrepressible, theatrical all-girl trio.

59. The Disclaimers – We’re the Disclaimers
A soul/rock band this good deserves their own theme: the two frontwoman deliver sultry harmonies over the two guitars, keys and violin. They killed with this at Spike Hill almost a year ago.

60. The Dixons – The Lonesome Side of Me
Oldschool Bakersfield-style Telecaster-driven country with Johnny Cash style vocals – awesome.

61. LJ Murphy – Waiting By the Lamppost for You
Characteristically vivid, cinematic, brooding ballad from the NY noir legend. Unreleased, but a current staple of his live show.

62. Spanglish Fly – Open Container
An anthem for anybody who’s ever been busted by a New York cop out to make his quota of cheap arrests. Unreleased, but a real crowd-pleaser at the bugalu revivalists’ live shows.

63. Audrey Chen – Untitled
Chen improvises everything – using a homemade effects box, she growled, purred, whispered and roared through an amazing wordless set including this one last month at Issue Project Room.

64. Jeremy Messersmith – Deathbed Salesman
Darkly hilarious, jangly Rickenbacker guitar powerpop from the excellent Minnesota tunesmith’s Reluctant Graveyard album.

65. Erica Smith & the 99 Cent Dreams – River King
Vividly evocative, bitter Americana-tinged resignation from one of NYC’s foremost song stylists. Unreleased, but she plays it live a lot.

66. Cousin Silas – A Passing
Ominous, allusive ambient soundscape from the British composer’s marvelous Canaveral Dreams album.

67. Ted Hearne – Brownie You’re Doing a Heck of a Job
The Bush regime may be out of office, but it’s still fun to make fun of them. This white hip-hop number from Hearne’s Katrina Ballads album is a doozy.

68. Little Annie & Paul Wallfisch – Cutesy Bootsies
Absolutely hilarious anti-trendoid anthem from the noir chanteuse and the Botanica pianist/bandleader.

69. Daria Grace & the Pre-War Ponies – Moon Over Brooklyn
An unselfconsciously romantic cover of an obscure 1920s swing number that deserves to be the borough’s theme song.

70. Ana Milosavljevic – Reflections
Brooding, Satie-esque piano-and-violin masterpiece based on an old Serbian folk song that offers just a hint of hope at the end; title track from her new album.

71. The Snow – Albatross
Richly lyrical, psychedelic art-rock from Pierre de Gaillande’s excellent chamber-pop band’s new album I Die Every Night.

72. The John Sharples Band – The Impostor
A noir Tom Warnick classic done with extra guitar fury by the world’s best cover band, whose raison d’etre is to play only brilliant obscure songs.

73.  The Spy from Cairo – Leila
Deliciously trippy downtempo version of the serpentine Mohammed Al-Wahab classic.

74. Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars – Jah Mercy
Conscious African reggae from this ecstatically intense crew’s most recent album.

75. Paula Carino – The Great Depression
Characteristically catchy, lyrically rich janglerock from Carino’s career-best Open on Sunday album.

76. iLa Mawana – 40 Hours
Defiantly conscious roots reggae workingmans’ anthem; from their new album Soldiers of Sound.

77. Hot Club of Detroit – Restless Twilight
Gypsy jazz shuffle from the excellent Detroit band’s latest album It’s About That Time.

78. Gilzene & the Blue Light Mento Band – Gungu Walk
Hilariously rustic proto-reggae by this Jamaican crew. “Gungu walk” is oldtime Jamaican slang for “do the nasty.”

79. Tom Warnick & World’s Fair – I’m a Stranger Here
Characteristically surreal, carnivalesque noir rock from Warnick’s latest excellent album, The Great Escape.

80. Botanica – Who You Are
Rich, towering noir angst from this era’s foremost art-rock band – beware anyone who caters to your desire for someone to know who you are and what you need.

81.Randi Russo – Alienation
Potently crafted, pretty self-explanatory, dark artsy rock from one of its best practitioners over the last ten years: look for a release in 2011.

82. Special Patrol Group – Only an Oasis
Subtly lyrical 1990s style Britpop with bite: a snide reflection on a southern New England upbringing.

83. Dollshot – The Trees
Creepy improvisationally tinged art/jazz/rock from this brilliantly unpredictable New York crew.

84. Sonia’s Party & the Everyone’s Invited Band – Can’t Tear My Heart
Oldschool 1960s style soul music – a real showstopper in concert.

85. The Oxygen Ponies – I Don’t Want Yr Love
Snarling, sarcastic and intense track from the NYC art-rockers’ forthcoming 2011 album.

86. Æ – Thalassa
Otherworldly track from the new album by Eva Salina Primack and Aurelia Shrenker’s hypnotic, haunting duo a-cappella project.

87. Devi – Tompkins Square
A stomping, riff-rocking remake of the False Prophets’ punk classic.

88.  Razia – Ny Alantsika
Stately, haunting eco-disaster anthem by the eclectic Malagasy chanteuse’s new album Zebu Nation.

89. Electric Junkyard Gamelan – Life on Mars
Typically richly intertwined gamelanesque trip-hop from Terry Dame’s amazing homemade instrument-playing band. They did an especially amazing version of this at Barbes last spring.

90. Black 47 – Bankers & Gangsters
Aptly snide title track to the Irish-American rockers’ tuneful new album.

91. Bern & the Brights – Sangria Peaches
Tricky, artsy, bracing violin-and-guitar driven chamber-rock from this completely original New Jersey band’s debut cd Swing Shift Maisies

92.  The Newton Gang – A Woman Scorned
Careening, noirish paisley underground intensity from J.D. Duarte’s powerful Americana rock outfit. They murdered with this at this past summer’s Brooklyn County Fair.

93. Cudzoo & the Fagettes – Walk of Shame
Pretty hilarious early morning scenario when everything goes wrong at the worst possible moment, by these fearless faux-girl group punks.

94. Redhooker – Black Light Poster Child
Trance-inducing, minimalist atmospherics from the Brooklyn avant/baroque ensemble’s debut cd Vespers.

95. Rev. Billy and the Life After Shopping Gospel Choir – Not for Sale
A ferocious gospel tune reminding the corporate types who would sell off New York to the highest-bidding gentrifier that the natives won’t tolerate it. It’s a highlight of their amazing live show.

96. Brooklyn Rider – Achille’s Heel
A fascinating, shapeshifting Debussy tribute from the adventurous string quartet’s latest album Dominant Curve.

97. My Education – Lust
Hypnotically crescendoing, atmospheric, cinematic postrock guitar theme from these excellent Texas instrumentalists.

98. The Fast Sails – Wayside
A catchy, retro 80s look at struggling bands dealing with greedy club owners from rock siren Simone Snaith’s latest project. 

99. Robin Aigner – Great Molasses Flood
Somebody had to immortalize the 1918 disaster in Boston that claimed over a dozen lives, derailed a train and flooded the North End – good thing it was this soaring Americana siren.

100. My Pet Dragon – Something Between Us
Majestic, swirling, hypnotically intense Radiohead-flavored art-rock.

February 9, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments