While it’s true that a staggering amount of music crosses my desk each year, a large percentage of it tends to be reissues, archival releases and the like. Those are my area of specialty and interest. But I am a keen follower of new music as well. My tastes rarely coincide with anything like the Top 40, so I won’t be considering 2010 releases from Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber (assuming there were any; I neither know nor have any interest in knowing).
Maple Mars is unapologetically powerpop. Released on the genre-specific Kool Kat label, on Galaxyland this outfit creates intelligent yet hook-filled music that will appeal to anyone who thinks Jellyfish deserved to be huge. But they also draw upon the best of 60s and 70s pop traditions. And they do it all while rocking. What’s not to love?
Nick Curran used to fill the first guitar chair in the Fabulous Thunderbirds. But you won’t find more than brief hints of that band’s style on Reform School Girl. Imagine instead an unholy mix of Jerry Lee Lewis, the Misfits, Eddie Cochran and Motörhead. Not for the weak-willed, this is hard stuff. It’s what the Stray Cats should have sounded like. And the production is absolutely perfect. Nick: more, please.
Gold Motel are a pop group with a female lead vocalist. Their songs are memorable and hooky, and filled with subtle little hints of the best of 80s new wave. Initially released only as a download, Summer House got a physical release right near the end of the year. By the way: When the band posted a link to my review, they credited me as the well-known animator Bill Kopp. I’m not that guy.
I stumbled across The Orange Peels’ album 2020 late-late-late in 2009, and in fact listed it as a best of that year. But it was officially released in early 2010, and I still play it all the time. Catchy almost beyond description, 2020 draws sonic inspiration from some very interesting and unexpected places. The group members are involved in myriad other projects as well, and some of those have caught my attention too.
Spock’s Beard have breathed new life into progressive rock. They survived the loss of their leader/primary songwriter/front man and actually went on to get even better. Their tenth album – appropriately enough titled X – brings melody to the fore, while offering plenty of hairpin musical turns for prog fans. X is a compelling, exhilarating listen from start to finish, and it’s among the most frequently-played CDs in my office, car and Zune. It’s hands-down my favorite album released in 2010.
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