amongst books

amongst books

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Best Albums, 2010

Eels, End Times
i discovered Eels with Hombre Loco and haven’t looked back. This album is the second of a trilogy that started with Hombre Loco and ends with a new CD called Tomorrow Morning, which I haven’t heard yet. E. or Mark Oliver Everett has a voice that is reminiscent of Tom Waits except more tuneful perhaps. this album has a good range to it from the romantic Little Bird, the reflective On My Feet to the melancholy End Times to the more raucous Unhinged. High and Lonesome starts with a thunderstorm and a dial tone and then there’s a knock at the door…unanswered.

the National, High Violet
i am in love with Matt Baringer’s dark beautiful voice. Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers is one of my favourite albums and i really need to buy more of the National’s music. strong lyrics, voice, melodies and instruments add up to a fine band. High Violet is memorable with beautiful harmonies, strong rhythms juxtaposed with some melancholy lyrics such as in Sorrow.

Elvis Costello, National Ransom
I loved his last album, Secret, Profane and Sugar Cane and i admit to being an Elvis fan from way back. i like National Ransom because it reminds me of his early records on My Aim is True & This Year’s Model with a dash of Goodbye Cruel World and Spike. it must be hard for a popular artist when everyone wants them to be just like they used to be and not do anything new. Elvis is a big experimenter and i like that, but i haven’t been a big fan of a lot of his experimentation. what i want from him is his biting lyrics, strong voice. he has such an excellent range in his voice and when he hits those high notes like he does in Stations of the Cross, i remember why i liked him when i first heard his music. it was Toronto, it was 1982…i was 20, a lovely jezebel…enuff said.

Rae Spoon, Love is a hunter
i first heard Rae at Club Saw a few years ago and have loved his music since. i think there’s something in the water out west because lots of great music comes from there. he pens poetic lyrics and has a gorgeous voice. Love is a hunter is a kind of edgy pop with a beat you can dance to, if you insist. i’d rather just listen and watch…

Deer Tick, the Black Dirt Sessions
never heard of this band until the Black Dirt Sessions, which i likely discovered thru a sampler from Paste Magazine. i’m somewhat predictable in why i like music, voice is the first thing i go for. i love strong sexy voices and i don’t care about what gender anyone is. a lot of current music sounds wimpy to me. i am not a fan of Sufjan Stevens for instance. i like rich voices with big ranges. i’m fond of good guitar too and this album has that as well. on this album i particularly like the song Twenty Miles. it has a good rhythm, John McCauley’s sexy voice with a gritty edge. love the piano in these tunes too, especially in Goodbye Dear Friend.

Bob Dylan, the Bootleg Series, Volume 9, the Witmark Demos (1962-1964)
strange that i didn’t really like Dylan when i was a kid and he was in his element, but then i didn’t like much of anything at that age. i’m making up for lost appreciation now and the Witmark Demos is a comprehensive album to own (2 Discs if you buy the CDs) with 38 tracks, some of which i’ve never heard before and some which are early versions of songs that he’s rerecorded many times. what i love about Bob Dylan is the way he reinterprets his music or in some cases the music of others. i also like that he introduces obscure folk music to his audiences. Love this version of Masters of War, which is one of my favourites. Yep, that’s a door slam you hear at the beginning. One of the either annoying or interesting things about this album, depending on your point of view, is that it is a demo album, so there are sounds in the background, including coughs, but if you’re a true fan, you won’t let that bother you and will appreciate having access to what was previously inaccessible. and it’s kinda cool when you hear Dylan starting over because he forgot the words. insightful. And nope, i did not also buy the original mono recordings since i’m just playing the MP3s and don’t have a good stereo, so they would be wasted on me.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Canada
And if you’re looking for a great and contemporary xmas album, look no further than the free Ho! Ho! Ho! Canada by folks like the Acorn, Woodpigeon and Dan Managan. they take on the seasonal classics and add their own songs too. It’s fun and it’s free. Download here. “thank god for green trees and red hearts, new years and new starts”

Finally a shout out too to the local musicians who make this town so wonderful to live in. on my wish list is new music by Glenn Nuotio, Andrea Simms-Karp, John Carroll, John Lavery, John Gillies, James Missen, Tara Holloway, Birdie Whyte, Kristin Bell-Murray, Lindsey Ferguson, Kevin Grant…and former Ottawans Rozalind MacPhail, Peter Webb, Neil Gerster and Trevor Tchir.

PS: any fav new music from 2010? please let me know...


Bowler Hat Productions said...

"End Times" destroyed me. You have great taste. - Max

Nat Jay said...

Thanks for quoting my song!! :)

Amanda Earl said...

thanks, Max. Nat Jay: thanks for making such beautiful music. you have a lovely voice.

Todd said...

That is quite a selection of albums you have there as all seem very interesting in the talent of the musicians. One of the musicians menetioned in your shou-out intrigues me the most however: her name is Kristin Bell-Murray, and I admir her for her talent as a musician; I am wondering if you have any information about where to get copies of her CDs', and where on could send a fan letter to her.

Amanda Earl said...

thanks, Todd. her myspace page is