Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 The Year in Review - Music

Don’t let anybody tell you it wasn’t a good year for music. I know there were plenty of highlights for me...

Amy Correia started the year off with one of the best independently financed CDs of the year. “You go your way” is a long way from “The Bike” her classic song from 2000. Her voice is gutsier and more mature. Her band and producer were top notch. And her songwriting is still wonderful. I also got to see her live this year and without the band her songs were even more compelling.

This was also the year for the bulk of Sam Phillips “Long Play” project. “Magic for Everybody”, “Old Tin Pan” and “Days of One Night Stands” combined are among the best work she has done. I know that on this list next year I will be talking about the final installment of the project. It isn’t too late to grab all of the music. Just go to .

Maybe my favorite song of the year is “Where Are We Now” from the debut CD, “The Burned” from The Burned. Technically, it was released in December of ‘09, but that’s close enough for me. This dark song, with minor chord hooks just gets inside you and won’t let go. Think Pink Floyd or a darker Moody Blues with great guitar work. Or maybe my favorite is Richard Thompson's "If Love Whispers Your Name". Sad, moving and a blistering guitar solo to end this live song that ends the live CD, “Dream Attic”.

I had a couple of favorite concerts this year. On the serious side, The Swell Season played the 120 seat McCabe’s in Santa Monica. It was just the two of them and it doesn’t get any more personal than that. They both told stories and we got even more insight into these lovely people. And the music... As intense as when the whole band is there. On the crazy side, Steve Poltz turned 50 and celebrated with a new CD and a show at The Belly Up in Solana Beach. Everyone from A.J. Croce (Jim’s son and an amazing keyboard player) to Mojo Nixon (they don’t get much more crazy or obscene) showed up to wish Steve a happy birthday and perform. Even the Rugburns (Steve’s old band) reunited for the evening.

If there is a theme to this year, it would be "return to form". A whole bunch of artists have put out there best CD's in years. And a few of them are...

2010 saw the return of Katell Keineg. After two amazing CDs back in the 90’s, support from everyone from Natalie Merchant to Vonda Shepard, she pretty much disappeared. She had released a few CDs (or EPs) but they were lucky to have a single song that was interesting. “At The Mermaid Parade” was a wonderful return to form. It is great to have such a unique artist back, bringing us music.

Allison Moorer's "Crows" was also a return to form. Although she hasn't had a bad CD, this CD is the type of work we expect from such a talented artist.

Maybe I was the only one that didn't like John Hiatt's last CD, but I'm in his corner with this years "The Open Road". Great lyrics, great tunes, great artist.

Joan Armatrading returned to form last year with her excellent blues based CD. This year she brought back her pop side with, “This Charming Life”. Her live show was as good as any of hers since the late 80's.

Any year there is a Kenny White CD, it is a good year. “Comfort in the Static” is another jem.

Alejandro Escovedo teamed up again with Chuck Prophet and Tony Visconti and hit another home run with “Street Songs of Life”; maybe his best CD ever.

2010 I will remember as the year I gave up on Austin's ACL Festival. We did see some good shows (Gogol Bordello was one of my favorites), but even the clubs seemed out of sync this year. When you can only find one good show to see in Austin on a given night, there's something wrong. 2011 will be the year I remember as my first visit to SXSW. Can't wait for March.

In the category of young new bands, Mumford & Sons' rookie release, “Sigh No More”, was one of my favorites as was Angus and Julia Stone’s second domestic release, “Down The Way”. Both featured unique but very accessible music.

Under the category of “They haven’t changed... but who cares”, The latest from The Innocence Mission, “My Room in the Trees” was beautiful and even though we’ve heard it all before, they always make it sound fresh.

And last but not least, there is no competition for the best box set. Bruce Springsteen’s “The Promise”, was just amazing from every angle: A good remastering of “Darkness on the Edge of Town”, packaging that will take weeks for me to browse through, some great concert videos and some great unreleased material from that era. One of the rare times when Bruce gave us so much more than we asked for.

There was plenty of good music this year and I tried to bring as much of it as possible to The Promise. A big thank you to all of my listeners. And for those of you who have written or told me in person how much you like my station... I do it all for you. Have a happy New Years everyone!

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