Slowtrain owner, party-planner, expert napper
1. White Hinterland, Kairos (Dead Oceans)
I can’t think of any occasion when I don’t want to hear Kairos. It is always a winner for me, and that has to be a true sign of a great album – an album worthy of my number one pick. Kairos is dreamy, poppy, emotional, exquisite, fun, light, challenging, and deep. It can be just about anything you want it to be – and I want it to be playing, all the time.
2. Beach House, Teen Dream (Sub Pop)
This record is incredible. The vocals, the lyrics, the instrumentation – all of it embody what I want in a female lead record. This album has a power through and through that cannot be ignored. It is a work of art from front to back, and chances are you’re going to love it.
3. Damien Jurado, Saint Bartlett (Secretly Canadian)
This dark and moody album from Jurado is my favorite of his to date. The partnership between him and producer, Richard Swift, is a huge step in the right direction for an already iconic songwriter. Swift seems to give Jurado the freedom and confidence to be more than just a singer-songwriter, and it works. I can’t wait for what more is to come from these two, because Saint Bartlett is nothing short of a masterpiece.
4. Laura Veirs, July Flame (Raven Marching Band)
Laura Veirs has always written intelligent and adorable songs. July Flame is not a huge departure from her formula that works – but it is a step above the rest. Filled with incredible imagery, honesty, catchy melodies, and a lineup of talented musicians rounding out the ranks – the latest from Veirs is phenomenal. Once you get this in your repertoire, it won’t be easy to switch it out.
5. Yeasayer, Odd Blood (Secretly Canadian)
Oh the amount of fun that Odd Blood has brought me since its LP release in January is immeasurable. The newest from Yeasayer is a bit of a departure from their worldly, All Hour Cymbals, but it the best kind of departure I could imagine. Weird like Animal Collective, but far more accessible, Odd Blood will start a dance party or just improve your mood. But this “fun” album isn’t just a trendy record waiting to pass like an Urban Outfitters ad, it is solid from front to back. The production is stellar and the transition from song to song is brilliant. We’ll all be listening to this for years to come.
6. Shearwater, The Golden Archipelago (Matador)
Well, duh. If you folks have ever read these books in previous years you know my undying love for all things Shearwater. The Golden Archipelago is no different. It is simply stunning. A true work of musical art.
7. The National, High Violet (4AD)
I never really “got” The National. I know I’m probably in the minority there – but it’s true. Alligator and Boxer are both good, I don’t deny that. But they never really made an impression on me. Things changed with High Violet though. This album seemed more impressive from the start and with each new listen I’ve fallen deeper and deeper in love with these sensible songs. Now that winter is here I’m not sure I’ll ever take it off the turntable.
8. Spoon, Transference (Merge)
I’ve always enjoyed Spoon, but until Transference their sound just kind of blended together for me. Now, finally, in 2010 I’ve found my standout Spoon album. It is poppy and memorable and everything I want in my favorite Spoon record.
9. Sufjan Stevens, The Age of Adz (Asthmatic Kitty)
The Age of Adz is epic. Like Arcade Fire’s Funeral type of epic. It is big and orchestrated and intense and just stunning. Steven’s seems to have grown up a bit since the days of his 50 states pipe-dream, and it shows in his new work. Not only does The Age of Adz give me a newfound respect for Sufjan, but I’m already looking forward to the great things to come from him in the future.
10. Phosphorescent, Here’s To Taking It Easy (Dead Oceans)
It is always a good year when a new Phosphorescent record comes out. Especially when the new record is called Here’s To Taking It Easy – this boozey album is pure joy. It makes me want to kick back. It makes me want to party. And it certainly makes me want to buy a bottle of whiskey and hang out with Matthew Houck. So cheers to Phosphorescent for putting that much more joy in my 2010.
11. Various Artists, From the Land of Ice and Snow: Songs of Led Zeppelin
12. The Black Keys, Brothers
13. Glasser, The Ring
14. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Before Today
15. Peter Wolf Crier, Inter-Be
16. Laura Gibson and Ethan Rose, Bridge Carols
17. Here We Go Magic, Pigeons
18. Belle & Sebastian, Write About Love
19. Efterklang, Magic Chairs
20. Phantogram, Eyelid Movies
21. Deerhunter, Halcyon Digest
22. Sleigh Bells, Treats
23. Dr. Dog, Shame
24. Broken Social Scene, Forgiveness Rock Record
25. Efterklang, Parades
Top Ten Songs of 2010
1. White Hinterland – Icarus
2. Efterklang – Modern Drift
3. Sleigh Bells – Ring Ring
4. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Home
5. Beach House – Norway
6. Phantogram – Mouthful of Diamonds
7. Damien Jurado – Arkansas
8. Laura Veirs – July Flame
9. Broken Social Scene – Texico Bitches
10. Deerhunter – Helicopter
Anna's fave shows:
1. Beach House @ Star Bar, Sundance show
This show was just as EPIC as Teen Dream. I saw people in tears and that was a totally appropriate reaction. It renewed my faith in music.
2. Decemberists and friends @ Pendarvis Farm, June 19, 2009
Not to brag or anything, but hot damn, we were in this tiny room at a Portland farm where the Decemberists were hosting an intimate album-wrap party, and there were only like 60 or so people there. In between hot dogs and beers the Decemberists got on stage and played a couple songs from their new album and then proceeded to play amazing covers. After their incredible showcase some of their pals (ie: Laura Veirs) picked up instruments and did the same. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and wow…I’ll never forget it.
3. Wye Oak @ Subterranean, October 24, 2010
What can I say about this show? Wye Oak just slayed it. They took requests, played covers, told jokes, and just mesmerized everyone around them. This band is going to be so huge so soon. I can feel it in my bones.
4. Shearwater @ Matador at 21, October 2, 2010
Again, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that I ADORE Shearwater. They are probably my favorite. This particular set showcased the band in one of the most casual performances I’d ever seen from them – and it worked wonderfully. In just a white t-shirt, coming straight from the canyons of southern Utah, Jonathan Meiburg really let himself loose and the band followed his lead. The show was fun, beautiful, and memorable to no end. Don’t miss them next time they venture through Utah. Trust.
5. Damien Jurado @ Slowtrain, June 3, 2010
At the time of this special Slowtrain in-store Jurado had just released one of my favorite albums of the year. The store was packed. The crowd was full, polite, and attentive. It was as if all of the stars aligned and Jurado could feel it – because he projected it back at us. Playing songs from his new record and songs rarely played live. It was intensely beautiful and a special day for everyone in attendance.