As the year 2010 draws to a close, I’d like to take a look at some of the albums that have been released this year. I’ve picked up quite a few and have listened to them. Now that the year is over and the final new music Tuesday has come and gone, I can look at all the albums released this year and put together a list of what I believe are the best albums of the year. So, without further ado, I give you The Rock Show’s top twelve albums of 2010!
12. The Black Keys – Brothers
Part alternative rock, part blues rock, part roots – this album makes a blend of real modern alternative sounds with Black Crowes style blues rock, and it sounds very intriguing. This album may not be for everyone, but it certainly does deserve a spot on the list. Bands like this keep things fresh and interesting – there aren’t too many albums that sound like this these days – maybe some of Jack White’s projects, but that’s about it.
11. Anberlin – Dark is the Way, Light is a Place
Not a band I’ve been following very closely, but this album is catchy without a doubt. With the continued influx of bands that follow the hard rock formula (Shinedown, Seether, Breaking Benjamin, etc), its refreshing to see a band that has an edgy sound but doesn’t go overboard with it. As I said, I haven’t been listening to them until recently, and I know they’ve always had this kind of sound, but the fact that they’re really breaking into the mainstream amongst the harder rock bands means that people want what this band delivers. With that, they deserve a spot on the list.
10. Foxy Shazam – Foxy Shazam
I can honestly say that when I first listened to this album I was unimpressed. However, upon continued listens, you just can’t help but fall in love with the catchiness and overdramatics of the band. The best comparison I can draw is The Darkness, not because of sound but because of style – a band that doesn’t take itself too seriously, yet still puts out rockin’ tunes that are catchier than a cold in the middle of winter. The album is clearly a promise of things to come, and hopefully this band can keep up the production. The album provides an enjoyable listen that is unique among the other bands and albums out there, and so deserves a spot on the list.
9. The Gracious Few – The Gracious Few
I’ve lauded this band already, and deservedly so. These guys really know how to push that hard rock formula to its breaking point. They’re clearly not just a carbon copy of those hard rock bands that dominate modern rock radio these days – they’re much more creative than that. Made up of members of Live and Candlebox, they definitely have experience under their belts, but together they sound like a unit that is unique in itself and not just the sum of two other bands. They also keep the sound of their old bands alive, too, and for that they deserve a spot on the list.
8. Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown
While it is not a surprise at all that Kings of Leon made the list, it is not just their name that bought the spot. Come Around Sundown still keeps the same distance from the old material as Only By the Night does, but it also keeps a distance from that record. Come Around Sundown is a new direction for the band – still a less raw sound, but also less of a pop-style record (though I’m sure many would disagree). The album really embraces the alternative rock style that’s prevalent in alt radio today, and the style suits them well. The album is consistent and very good – the songwriting is catchy and warm. It is that – the quality of the songs on the album – and not the name that makes them deserve a spot on the list.
7. Circa Survive – Blue Sky Noise
These guys seem to be on the verge of breaking through into the mainstream. I had the pleasure of seeing them open for Coheed & Cambria earlier this year – it was my first exposure to them, and I promptly bought their album On Letting Go and eventually this one. Much more than just another underground emo-style band, they have very creative songs that seem to push the limits of what mainstream listeners are willing to accept. They’re definitely a band full of strange characters, but their music is solid and inventive, and that’s really what it takes to get on the list.
6. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
Grace Potter’s a musician I was literally JUST exposed to this past week on Letterman. The song they played was just interesting enough to make me investigate the album, and iTunes made the purchase worth it by setting the 14-track album at $6.99. And, as if the fact that the album is this high on the list didn’t make it obvious, the album was worth it. As expected, the single is probably the least good song on the album, but not bad, and the rest of the album is fantastic. It’s actually not that hard of an album – not too soft, either, actually just right, and Grace Potter’s voice is a force to be reckoned with. The band has two older albums that seem to not have made the mainstream, but this one is clearly destined for success. Definitely an album worth looking into, especially for fans of blues-rock style music, and that ensures its spot on the list.
5. Ed Kowalczyk – Alive
It’s almost another Live album. That gets it a lot of points already. While The Gracious Few are busy tearing hard rock a new one, Ed is busy keeping the Live vocals “alive,” pun intended. I’m much more of a fan of Live than I am of most hard rock bands, so it’s not surprising that I favor Ed’s solo work to The Gracious Few. Not only that, but Ed proves on this album that his vocal talent wasn’t just part of Live. The album showcases his vocal abilities, but also his songwriting abilities, and it’s clear that this album truly deserves a spot on the list.
4. VersaEmerge – Fixed at Zero
From the very beginning I can imagine that this band will get nailed as a Paramore rip-off. They’re not. VersaEmerge blasts out of the gates with a much heavier sound. That’s not to say that the bands aren’t similar – they are – but where Paramore seems to have a more upbeat sound (despite the lyrical content), VersaEmerge takes a bit of a darker turn with images of vultures and bows and arrows. The band itself – not just the singer (whose voice is spectacular) – shows real potential for greatness, and they’re definitely an artist to pay attention to. Definitely a band worth investigating, and that makes them and their debut album worthy of a spot on the list.
3. Coheed & Cambria – Year of the Black Rainbow
It’s an album that was highly awaited by fans of the band, and while I think the album is about middle of the pack in terms of Coheed albums, it is a very strong album in comparison to the other releases this year. It’s bold and confident, and it keeps up with the evolving style of the band. It takes the sound of No World For Tomorrow and adds a boatload of creativity to it, resulting in an eclectic mix of songs that work very well together. There are weak spots, sure, but overall the songs add a new variety to their catalog. The new material really shines in a live setting, and the new singles are deserving of their spots among the classic Coheed hits. The band continues to evolve and grow, which makes its most recent album a perfect choice for the list.
2. American Bang – American Bang
A brand new band that packs a solid punch – American Bang may sound a bit like Kings of Leon in voice only, but the sound of the album is what happens when raw southern rock mixes with modern hard rock. The tunes are catchy and it’s clear that they’ve hit a winning formula for their songwriting. They are definitely one of the best new bands to hit the airwaves, and have proven themselves worthy of our attention. I’m going to keep my eye on them and see what they do in the future, but their present stuff is worth listening to without a doubt, and that’s what makes them worthy of second place on the list.
1. Jimmy Eat World – Invented
Jimmy Eat World can hardly be topped when it comes to vocal melodies and overall catchiness. Like with Coheed, this album may not be the best in comparison to their other material, but when compared to other albums this year, I’d have to say this one gets the prize. This band is consistently putting out great albums, and this is one of them. I’ve already said everything I want to say about the album in my last review, so I’ll leave it at that. This album gets the top spot.
There’s not much to report on, so this will count as the weekly update. Happy New Year to everyone!
New artists added to The Rock Show’s library: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Keane
Updated artists in The Rock Show’s library: Anberlin (New Surrender), Flyleaf (Remember to Live)
Artists to watch: The Gracious Few, Foxy Shazam, A Silent Film, Sick Puppies, VersaEmerge
December 29 – Halestorm at the Crocodile Rock in Allentown, PA
December 31 – Halestorm at the Trocadero in Philadelphia, PA
January 1 – Third Eye Blind at the House of Blues Atlantic City in Atlantic City, NJ
January 30 – Circa Survive and Anberlin with Foxy Shazam at the Crocodile Rock in Allentown, PA
January 31 – Linkin Park at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA
February 11 – Jimmy Eat World at the House of Blues Atlantic City in Atlantic City, NJ
February 12 – Jimmy Eat World at the Crocodile Rock in Allentown, PA
April 8 – Rush at the Giant Center in Hershey, PA
May 6 – My Chemical Romance at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, PA
~The Rock Show, where it’s all about the music! Keep listening!