I've gotta admit: I like music. So here are my top ten concerts, albums, and songs of 2010.
Top Ten Concerts of 2010
You know I love live music. I went to a lot of great concerts in 2010 – bookended with The Black Keys on January 1 and December 31 – so this was a really tough one. I've already ranked the top ten shows I saw at Lollapalooza, so I'll leave those off the list (although that Green Day show would otherwise be on here at #2).
10. Chief with Haim (6/14; The Troubadour, Los Angeles)
This one is mainly on here because I saw Mischa Barton at the show.
9. The Hold Steady (10/1; The Vic, Chicago)
These guys never let me down with their live shows.
8. Iron Maiden (7/18; First Midwest Bank Amphitheater; Tinley Park)
This was the first time I had seen Iron Maiden live, and they didn't disappoint. The only reason this isn't higher is that they didn't play "Run to the Hills" -- not that their set was lacking for metal classics.
7. Everybody Was in the French Resistance . . . Now! with Team Band and Chaperone (5/6; Schuba's, Chicago)
I thought I wrote about this show, but I guess I didn't. It was solid, helped by the fact that the bands hung around in the bar after the show, so Chandler and I got to pretend we were cool for a little while.
6. American Bang (12/13; House of Blues Backporch Stage, Chicago)
I saw these guys at Lollapalooza, and they put on a fantastic show. Thus, when I had the opportunity to see them in a small venue, for $9 no less, I couldn't pass it up. Again, they put on a great show. The Backporch Stage at HOB isn't the greatest venue, since it's pretty much a restaurant with a stage at one end. Hopefully the next time these guys come back to Chicago, they will be playing at a place like Beat Kitchen, Schuba's, or Lincoln Hall.
5. The Gaslight Anthem (7/27; House of Blues, Chicago)
I already wrote about this one.
4. Stone Temple Pilots with Cage the Elephant (8/20; Charter One Pavilion, Chicago)
This was an awesome show. STP still has it, and CTE was a great choice for the opener.
3. Township (3/13; Reggie's Music Joint, Chicago)
I hope these guys continue to make it out to the Midwest because they put on a hell of a show.
2. Sudtiroler Spitzbuam (9/24; Pschorr Braurosl, Munich)
You will learn more -- very little more -- about this whenever I get my dead laptop's data recovered and, as a result, can finish my Munich updates.
1. The Black Keys with The Greenhornes (12/31; Aragon Ballroom, Chicago)
This was my first ever show at the Aragon (thanks to the White Stripes cancelling a show a few years ago there). Despite the fact that I was having gastrointestinal distress (perhaps as a result of a 24-hour stomach bug) and that I was sober on New Years Eve, The Black Keys and The Greenhornes did not disappoint. The Greenhornes opened (as you might imagine), and pumped out some solid garage rock. The Black Keys kicked ass, as usual. At midnight, there was a giant balloon drop, which resulted in thousands of balloons being batted about for the next hour or so (until they were all popped).
Top Ten Albums of 2010
Bear in mind that this list includes only albums that I own, and I only bought 11 albums that were released last year. Also, it does not include live albums. I thought 2010 was a relatively weak year for music, at least from the new stuff I bought, but that may be a product of only buying a relatively small amount of new music last year. It would also appear that I support side projects.
11. Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards
I love Jack White, and his side projects are generally pretty good, but he needs to get back to The White Stripes.
10. The Hold Steady - Heaven is Whenever
I love The Hold Steady, but I thought this album didn't hit very hard. After longtime keyboardist Franz Nicolay left the band, I assumed that would mean the band's music would turn in a slightly more rocking direction. It did not. That's not to say there aren't some solid rockers on this one, but it's no Stay Positive or Boys and Girls in America.
9. American Bang - American Bang
As I mentioned above, I saw these guys at Lollapalooza and then again last month, and they put on a fantastic live show. They play straightforward, '70s-inspired Southern hard rock. Unfortunately, the ballsiness and energy of their live shows isn't captured on the album as well as it could have been. The songs are good, and the album was produced by legendary rock producer Bob Rock, so it's worth picking up, but their live shows are worth even more.
8. The Postelles - The Postelles
I had the single version of their song, "White Night," which was released in 2009. The album version of that song is slightly different and, in my opinion, not as good as the single version. Overall, the album is pretty good. Several of the songs are produced by Albert Hammond, Jr. of The Strokes. It harkens '60s garage rock/pop, and the songs are generally pretty catchy.
7. Codeine Velvet Club - Codeine Velvet Club
This is a side project of now-former Fratellis frontman Jon Lawler and Scottish singer-songwriter Lou Hickey (who is a female), who share lead vocals. It's kind of a '60s-influenced, Wall of Sound type album of poppy songs, with some rockers thrown in there as well.
6. Everybody Was in The French Resistance . . . NOW! – Fixin' the Charts, Vol. 1
This is a side project of Art Brut frontman Eddie Argos, and it has an interesting back story. Argos and Dyan Valdés of L.A. group The Blood Arm were on a road trip, and "Jimmy Mack" by Martha and The Vandellas came on the radio. Argos and Valdés had a discussion about how the song would be different from the guy's point of view (as it is basically about a woman who cheats on Jimmy and asks him when he's coming back). Thus, they decided to form a band and create an entire album of songs written in response to other songs, including "Hey! It's Jimmy Mack," in which Jimmy explains that he's not coming back. Other highlights include "Think Twice (It's Not All Right)" (a response to Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice (It's All Right)"), "G.I.R.L.F.R.E.N. (You Know I've Got A)" (a response to Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend"), and "My Way (Is Not Always the Best Way") (a response to Frank Sinatra's "My Way").
5. Harlem - Hippies
I saw these guys at Lollapalooza and subsequently bought their album. It's a nice mix of stripped-down garage punk and The Beach Boys.
4. The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main St. Rarities Edition
This is a collection of unreleased songs and alternate versions of songs from the Exile on Main St. sessions, and it is pretty awesome (although not nearly as good as what ended up on the album).
3. Jimi Hendrix - Valleys of Neptune
It seems like every couple years more Hendrix songs are discovered. This was what was supposed to be Hendrix's next album, but then he went and died. In addition to a bunch of "new" songs, there are also alternate versions of "Stone Free," "Fire," and "Red House" and covers of some blues songs, different versions of which appear on various compilations.
2. The Black Keys - Brothers
The Black Keys went dark and upped their entourage to include, gasp, more than just a guitar and drums. It's a pretty damn good album with some songs that aren't what you might otherwise consider Black Keys songs.
1. The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang
The Gaslight Anthem's American Slang stood out in 2010 as a solid piece of rock and roll, built on the broken dreams of Jersey's past and present.
Top Song of 2010
Rather than comb my iPod to figure out which ten songs from 2010 I like best, there is a runaway favorite for the best song of the year: "Fuck You" by Cee-Lo Green. It's the catchiest song with a dirty word you've ever heard.