Friday, July 16, 2010

Mid-Year Report: Music

We're already halfway through the year, so now's as good a time as any to recount my favorite albums and singles that have come out in the first part of 2010.  So far, it's been a pretty good year.

5 Best Albums

1. Hands by Little Boots - One of the most danceable CDs in years, Little Boots brings a retro flavor to great club music, with some really interesting sounds and clever little songs (even if the lyrics are a little shallow).  There's a consistency across the whole album here that seems unheard of nowadays in music, providing plenty of instant dance classics.  Little Boots is a welcome new voice to the dance scene.  Key Tracks: New In Town, Remedy, Ghost, Mathematics, Hearts Collide.

2. Dust (EP) by Cara Salimando - This five-song EP from newcomer Cara Salimando is a beautiful collection of songs with catchy lyrics and strong vocals.  There's a good dose of piano in the music found here, where you can see the influences of artists she admires, like Regina Spektor, although the songs have their own unique sound.  This really is a very exciting debut from the singer-songwriter, especially considering that she's only eighteen years old.  Key Tracks: Dust, The Way We Are, Even More, Cigarette Smoke, Anything At All.

3. My Best Friend Is You by Kate Nash - The Brit returns with the cussing, in-your-face style she debuted with in Made of Bricks, making a name for herself.  But with her new album, Nash has refined her sound, bringing a nice pop sound to many of her catchy, vibrant songs, but still seeming as relevant as ever.  Key Tracks: Paris, Kiss That Grrrl, Don't You Want To Share the Guilt?, Do-Wha-Doo, Later On.

4. Travelling Like the Light by VV Brown - VV Brown found a good amount of success with Shark In the Water, but that's only a hint of what she offers on her debut CD, which boasts a good amount of soul and funk, with some sounds that are wholly unique and interesting, and just plain infectious.  Key Tracks:  Shark In the Water, Leave!, Bottles, Crying Blood, Back In Time.

5. I'm Still Here by Mindy McCready - Mindy McCready's first new album in eight years marks a triumphant return for a country artist with amazing vocal strength.  Despite a timultuous couple of years, she breathes life into the songs she sings, whether they're fun and danceable or soft and delicate, pulling on your heart strings.  Country radio may overlook her, but she's a real gift to her listeners, and her new CD is further proof of this.  Key Tracks: Wrong Again, By Her Side, I Want a Man, I'm Still Here, Songs About You.

10 Best Singles

1. Dancing On My Own by Robyn - The dance song of the year so far.  Great hook, great sound.

2. Dust by Cara Salimando - Absolutely beautiful melody with a great hook and thoughtful lyrics.

3. Animal by Neon Trees - A great summer song that makes you want to turn the radio up and sing along.

4. Broken by Chely Wright - An honest, soul-baring song from country music's first openly-gay country singer.

5. Ready by Reni Lane - A really fun dance groove from newcomer Reni Lane that always has me tapping my foot and smiling.

6. Mouthful of Diamonds by Phantogram - I love the sound of this song.  Very unique, very haunting.

7. In My Veins by Andrew Belle featuring Erin McCarley - A lovely ballad that kind of snuck up on me to become one of my most frequently played songs so far this year.  Lovely hypnotic melody.

8. Don't Stop the Music by Jamie Cullum - Jamie Cullum's The Pursuit would have been #6 on my Best Albums list, but I wanted to keep it pretty tight for so early in the year.  This is a fantastic remake of the song originally performed by Rihanna - Cullum shows us how to recreate a song right in this really sexy rendition.

9. Pretty Babies by Karen Elson - Another newcomer, Karen Elson has some great sounds on her debut The Ghost Who Walks, but none that shine quite so much as this unique-sounding song with a funky beat.

10. See You In the Spring by Court Yard Hounds featuring Jakob Dylan - This is the Dixie Chicks minus lead singer Natalie, and their self-titled CD is pretty impressive, with this soulful song featuring Jakob Dylan taking the cake as the stand out.

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