Tag Archives: Best of 2010

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before: Favorite Reissues of 2010

20 Dec

2010_ReissuesThey say those who ignore history are bound to repeat it. In music, however, those who pay attention to history seem just as likely to repeat it. So here's a bunch of new versions of things that are worth ripping off. The percentage of previously unreleased material (as well as packaging, liner notes, etc) certainly factored into what made this list as much as the quality of the original work. 

Dollymixture 1. Dolly MixtureEverything and More [Dolly Mixture] | BUY
For the first time in on place this three-disc collection brings together UK cult band's singles, demos, live cuts and, well, more…all in one place. Most of this has never been on CD before. Add to this great liner notes from Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley, you've got an indie pop fan's dream come true. 

MP3: Dolly Mixture – Everything and More 

 

ORANGE_JUICE_Coals_To_Newca 2. Orange JuiceCoals to Newcastle [Domino] | BUY
Most of what makes up this 99.9% complete collected works of Glasgow greats Orange Juice has been available before — Polydor UK released some nice reissues in 1997 that went out of print almost immediately. But this marks the first time EVER that most of this has ever been available in America. And for those that did get the '90s reissues, there's even more here — Peel Sessions, live cuts, 12" mixes, alternate takes — that it justifies repurchasing. No vinyl and no 7" version of "Rip it Up" help keep it out of the top spot.

MP3: Orange Juice – What Presence?! (12" version) 

Wafwotf 3. The FallThe Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall: Omnibus Edition [Beggars Banquet] | BUY
My personal favorite Fall album gets the four-disc Omibus Edition treatment. The 1984 record was the first fully made with Mark E. Smith's then-wife Brix, who brought pop smarts to the Mancunian band's somewhat difficult sound, and their first produced by the great John Leckie.  The Omnibus Edition restores the album's original running order, putting singles from the same time — "Oh Brother!," "C.R.E.E.P." and "No Bulbs" — on the second disc with their b-sides and rough mixes of album tracks. The third collects radio sessions, and the fourth is a live recording from their performance at the 1984 Pandora's Music Box Festival in Norway (set time 3:15AM) that shows what a powerhouse live band the Fall were at the time.

MP3: The Fall – Lay of the Land (Live at Pandor's Music Box Festival) 

TAMISHOWFALL 4. The T.A.M.I. Show [Shout Factory!] | BUY

The first ever home video release of this legendary 1964 concert film, given a first-class DVD courtesy the good folks at Shout Factory. The talent here is staggering — The Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, Smoke Robinson & the Miracles, Chuck Berry, The Supremes — and the performances even better. But nothing tops the footage of James Brown that is worth buying this for alone and shows that Eddie Murphy's famous imitation wasn't really that far off from the real thing. Incredible.

VIDEO: James Brown & the Famous Flames on the T.A.M.I. Show 

 

Methodactors

5. The Method Actors – This is Still It [Acute] | BUY
Big thanks to Acute for putting the spotlight on obscure '80s Athens, Georgia duo who pounded out nervy post punk, a bit like Pylon's weird younger brothers.This best-of will have you scouring auction sites and used bins for more.

MP3: The Method Actors – Do the Method
MP3: The Method Actors – Bleeding 

 

JimSullivan_thumb_325 6. Jim SullivanU.F.O. [Light in the Attic] BUY
Whenever you think you've heard every lost classic, LIght in the Attic comes along to prove you wrong. In this case, it's Jim Sullivan, whose 1969 debut only known by writers at MOJO and employees at Aquarius. Now we get it too: expansive folk/country that should excite anyone who's ever loved "Wichita Lineman."

MP3: Jim Sullivan – Highways 

 

JaneBirkinSergeGainsbourg_t 7. Jane Birkin at Serge GainsbourgJe T’aime… Moi, Non Plus [Light in the Attic] | BUY
This one's a little better known, the first pairing of Parisian power-couple Serge Gainsbourg and muse Jane Birkin. The infamous title track is only the beginning, so many great songs — so many killer grooves — on this album, from the foreplay to the afterglow. The vinyl version comes with a bonus 7" and a comic book!

MP3: Jane Birkin et Serge Gainsbourg – Jane B 

Hawksh_alan_mohawkthe_101b 8. Alan HawkshawMo’Hawk: The Essential Vibes & Grooves 1967 – 1975 [RPM] | BUY
In a similar if much more superficial vein is this compilation of early recordings of Alan Hawkshaw, a British composer and session man whose work can be heard all over British TV in the late '60s and early '70s, be it theme songs or jingles. All of it was groovy. (If you bought those Sound Gallery compilations from the mid-'90s you've heard his work.) I don't know that you'd want to listen to this as a whole, but it's always fun to throw Hawkshaw's tracks on a mix (or while DJing) and he seems an untapped resource for sampling.

MP3:  Alan Hawkshaw – Dr. Jeckyl and Hyde Park

Goodhumor 9. Saint Etienne - Good Humor [UMC] | BUY
Consummate '90s Londoners decamp to Sweden to work with Cardigans producer Tore Johansson and try something new: a concept album about America made with live musicians. It turned out to be a genius move, and the 1997 album is arguably the band's best. This deluxe edition gives us a second disc that expands the Fairfax High bonus disc that came with it's American release on Sub Pop.

MP3: Saint Etienne – Swim Swan Swim

Thecure_d 10. The CureDisintigration [Elektra] | BUY
One of the mopiest records ever to become a (deserved) worldwide hit, the Cure's 1989 uberwork gets the three-disc deluxe treatment. In addition to a slightly-punched up remastering (not too egregious) we get a discs worth of demos, as well as the entire Etreat live album which originally only came out in France.

MP3: The Cure – Plainsong (demo)

Black-tambourine-anth-aa 11. Black Tambourine – S/T [Slumberland] | BUY
What with every band in Brooklyn (and elsewhere) naming this band as an influence, as well as Slumberland's resurgence as a label, it only makes sense that we'd get a deluxe version of Black Tambourine's entire output, including six new tracks, three of which were recorded specifically for this release. I'm not sure it really betters Slumberland's previous BT compilation (which was always available), but the packaging and liner notes are real nice. 

MP3: Black Tambourine – For Ex-Lovers Only

Sound Bites Best of 2010: Favorite Extended Plays

13 Dec

2010EPs2

I've always loved EPs. More than a single, less than an album, the format is designed as the ideal showcase for a band. Or at least a nice stopgap between albums. It was the format of choice for the '90s shoegaze scene which is probably why I have such affection. In my mind the ideal EP should be four songs and no longer than 20 minutes, but I don't follow any hard rules for this. In an age of 28 minute albums it's hard to gauge. Anyway, I've never done a Best EPs list before, but the format has definitely made a big comeback this year, in my opinion, at least in that so many ended up staying in constant rotation. Here are my 15 favorites.

01FandO 1. The Fresh & OnlysAugust on My Mind [Captured Tracks] | BUY
Year two of The Fresh & Onlys was stronger than the first, with the band honing their already sharp songwriting skills and becoming more adept at recording, whether it be in a real studio or on four-track. August in My Mind was probably their best release of a second prolific year.

MP3: The Fresh & Onlys – Garbage Collector 

15spectrals 2. SpectralsA Spectrals Extended Play [Moshi Moshi/Underwater Peoples] | BUY
Kind of a cheat, Extended Play collects the best songs from Spectrals' myriad 7" singles on one platter, which brings Louis Jones' talent into sharp focus. Reverb-drenched, but in a Phil Spector kind of way, Spectrals' sound like old favorites you've never heard before. Bewitching stuff.

MP3: Spectrals – Peppermint

14generationals 3. Generationals Trust [Park the Van] | BUY
Imagine a less cloying Boy Least Likely To or Architecture in Helsinki if they didn't try so hard, and you've got New Orleans Generationals who are young masters of clever, tuneful pop. I think you call it effortless? Like on last year's underrated Con Law, this EP brings four more great songs to the table.

MP3: Generationals – Trust

03EternalSummers 4. Eternal Summers - Eternal Summers EP [Chimney Sweep] | BUY
Not that there's anything wrong with using those words, mind you, er, ha ha? Eternal Summers are more slashy, in line with Veronica Falls and Brilliant Colors. Their debut LP on Kanine is great too, but this 10" is a concentrated dose of what they do best. Also, nice to finally see some quality bands coming from Southwest Virginia, near where I grew up. 

MP3: Eternal Summers – In the Beginning 

04THITH 5. The Hundred in the Hands - This Desert [WARP] |BUY
As Charlie the Tuna once taught us, having good taste doesn't necessarily mean you're going to taste good. But this electronic duo manage to do both, easily my favorite electronic pop act to come along in some time. Catchy, sexy, imminently danceable. Check out their album, too, also from this year.

MP3: The Hundred in the Hands – Building in L.O.V.E.

02tonycastles 6. (The) Tony CastlesNo Service [Famous Class] | BUY
Dreamy keyboard-heavy pop with a dose of funk lite brings to mind Prefab Sprout. Too much music this year banked on warm vibes, but Tony Castles understand That Summer Feeling without having to mention the beach, sun or surfing. 


MP3
: Tony Castles – Black Girls in Dresses

Dominantlegs 7. Dominant Legs – Young at Love and Life [Lefse] | BUY
Unfairly lumped in with the chillwavers, San Francisco’s Dominant Legs (Ryan Lynch who also plays in Girls) sound like a real band as opposed to something someone dreamed up in Garage Band. And you can actually imagine it being played live. (And they do, I’ve seen them.) And while there's definitely an '80s thing going on, it's not Other People's Nostalgia. Songs are as good as the vibe.

MP3: Dominant Legs – Clawing Out the Walls 

Girlsnames 8. Girls NamesYou Should Know By Now [Tough Love] | BUY
Belfast's Girls Names filled the void left by Crystal Stilts relative inactivity this year with their slightly spooky Cherry Red/Creation influenced sound. Good in its own right, mind you as it is on this list, but the resemblance is a bit uncanny. And they've got a single on Slumberland too! This was the better of the two EPs the band released this year, this one is sold out in physical form but can still be got digitally. The Captured Tracks EP is swell too.

MP3: Girls Names – Tear Me Down

Twinsister 9. Twin SisterColor Your Life [Infinite Best] | BUY
A gorgeous, groovy mix of the Cocteau Twins and Sade, Brooklyn band Twin Sister were one of the breakout stars of 2010. And rightly so. You can still download the entirety of this wonderful EP for free from the band's website, but the vinyl is truly lovely. 

MP3: Twin Sister – All Around and Away We Go

Girls 10. Girls - Broken Dreams Club [True Panther] | BUY
While I wouldn't call Girls' 2009 debut low fi by any means, there is a clarity of sound on Broken Dreams Club that they haven't tried before, and it suits not only Christopher Owens' fragile voice but the ace performers they've become over the last two years. The songs were always there. As a  "LETTER OF INTENT," we can only relisten to this till the next record.

MP3: Girls – Heartbreaker

Jamesblake 11. James BlakeCMYK [R&S] | BUY
I don't listen to a ton of dubstep/grime or anything else like this but there is something to James Blake's music that sets it immediately apart and commands your attention. It's like listening to someone tune between radio stations and making it work as music on its own. Of the many records Blake released this year, CMYK was the most mesmerizing.

MP3: James Blake – CMYK

Alexkemp 12. Alex KempRat D'Hotel – Pt. 1 – Rat Walks Into a Bar [Alex Kemp/TuneCore]
Former Small Factory/Godrays singer appears after a decade or so with two EPs of bright, shiny, danceable pop more akin to his old pals Papas Fritas. New direction, but same solid songwriting that made Small Factory's early singles so winning. So good to hear Kemp's charmingly craggy voice again. You can download this EP for free from Kemp's website (click on the brown paper bag).

MP3: Alex Kemp – I'm on Your Side

Suuns 13. SuunsZeroes [Secretly Canadian] | BUY
Formerly known as Zeroes, Suuns (pronounced "Sooons") are one of Montreal's most interesting new bands, as can be heard on this EP. I have a feeling they know exactly what Mark E. Smith means by "repetition repetition repetition" given the solid Krautrock-y grooves. This EP has since been expanded to a full album, but I'm not sure it needed the extra tracks. A perfect blast.

MP3: Suuns – Arena

Cloudnothings 14. Cloud Nothings - Leave You Forever [True Panther] | BUY
Cleveland's Cloud Nothings are first and foremost hookmasters in the long powerpop tradition. Live they are crunchier, louder (a skinny beast of a drummer adds massive whallop) but on record they can come off more like that time where American "college rock" morphed into indie rock. The band put out a handful of records this year, this four-song 7" is maybe the best. Certainly the best cover art.

MP3: Cloud Nothings – Weird Son

Ace 15. A Classic EducationHey There Stranger [Lefse] | BUY
Can you embrace baroque, anthemic and reverby garage all at the same time? Yes, says A Classic Education who are from Bologna, Italy (via Canada). More reverb than garage, mind you, with a'60s cosmopolitan sweep as well. In a word, lovely.

MP3: A Classic Education – Gone to Sea