Mark Reaffirms and Rearranges Your 2010 – The Final Chapter

20. The Dopamines – Expect The Worst – Midwest punk that’s more than a few steps above the typical beer blasting basement punk. Basically “FML” in musical form, but with fun and catchy melodies! (Paper + Plastic)

19. Candle Thieves – Sunshine And Other Misfortunes – Solid collection of tunes that remind me of the Eels. A few gems hit me right away, and some of the other wavers between growing on me and pushing my patience in a healthy way. (Mercer Street)

18. Moondoggies – Tidelands – It’s a bit of a re-write of the previous album, but I’m ok with that, considering Don’t Be A Stranger was one of the best Americana albums of the last 10 years. (Hardly Art)

17. Tame Impala – Innerspeaker – Despite a semi-low ranking, this is the kind of album that I wish was topping mag lists instead of Arcade Fire. IMO it’s incredibly more creative and accessible. Has psychedelic pop/rock ever made a comeback? (Universal)

16. Librarians – Present Passed – Another mysteriously underrated album. I thought for sure this would be the year a 2nd wave of Animal Collective bands would take over, but it wasn’t so. Really like the flow of this one. (Postfact)

15. Kate Nash – My Best Friend Is You – I like my female vocals either really really cutesy, or really really strong. If it’s somewhere in the middle, then it’s just white noise to me. Kate Nash has a good portion of both extremes. This probably should be higher. (Geffen)

14. Chumbawamba – abcdefg – Not as immediately wonderful as the previous two albums, but they “stay the course” and continue to be one of my all-time favs. This should probably be lower, though. (No-Masters Cooperative)

13. Teenage Fanclub – Shadows – I’ve already resigned to the fact they won’t bring the 90s TF back. That being said, I think this is much better than Man-Made, and love this album like a great college reunion with old friends. (Merge)

12. Full of Fancy – Liquid Nature – Not only strong female vocals, but two of them! A great mix of Olympia grrl punk, Magnapop/Tuscadero alt-rock, and some Pixies-era Kim Deal. Best bang-for-your-buck release too, since the cd comes with 10 additional tracks of all their previous 7″ singles. (Don Giovanni)

11. Stars – The Five Ghosts – I’ve always loved the sound of Stars, but this is the best songwriting they’ve done since Nightsongs. I can listen to this over and over again. (Vagrant)

10. Black Wine – S/T – My supergroup pick of the year. Featuring Miranda of Full of Fancy (see above), Jeff from the Ergs! (# 2 album in ’04) and J Nixon of Hunchback (# 2 album of ’07). All three contribute songs so it’s not easily summed up. I guess imagine all those late-80s SST and Sub Pop bands, but with songs that I would enjoy listening to. (Don Giovanni)

09. Dr. Dog – Shame, Shame – Bread, Band, Byrds, Beach Boys, Beatles, whatever. I love this fucking stuff. (Anti)

08. Mixtapes – Maps – Superb band from Ohio. Kind of like if you took the late-90s emo/rock scene and gave it happy pills. Perhaps a difficult band to google, here’s the convenient links, as the band has this stuff up for free. Check here and here (Self released)

07. Jonsi – Go – Probably the best word to describe it is “beautiful.” Possibly wonderful and spiritual and pleasurable too. In retrospect, my fandom of Sigur Ros a decade ago was more of a bandwagon jump, but I’m glad I did because Jonsi’s output just keeps getting better and better. (Parlaphone)

06. Clem Snide – The Meat of Life – Another band I’ve always liked, and I was very pleased to hear it’s better than the previous two. You know what to expect from Eef these days, but it doesn’t make the music any less enjoyable or the lyrics any less clever. (429)

05. Dinosaur Feathers – Fantasy Memorial – Played this a ton in the spring and summer. Another surprisingly overlooked album, (see # 16). Poppy, layered harmonies, and fresh sounding. Kind of like Animal Collective, but here we have ideas that are actually constructed into songs, instead of just letting the notion float through the speakers. (Self Released)

04. The 20 Belows – For Better Days – As soon as I heard it, I knew it would be my favorite pop punk album of the year. And then after 1000 more listens, I was like “fuck, this is better than most 2010 releases.” Easiest way to describe it is Dookie-era Green Day, except from the Netherlands. (Monster Zero)

03. Darren Hanlon – I Will Love You At All – Ex-Lucksmiths dude. There’s something really easy and familiar about the melodies here. Not obvious enough to put your finger on, but just enough to make you have that great nostalgic feeling. Pleasant Australian vocals, and the kind of variety that more singer/songwriter albums should aspire to. (Yep Roc)

02. Dead Mechanical – Addict Rhythms – One of those bands that I dub a “product of geography” since they are from Baltimore and sound like a mix of NJ punk pop, DC’s Dischord output, and Chapel Hill, NC’s 90s indie rock scene. The quick RIYL is Superchunk and Jawbreaker, but to be honest I like these guys more. (Traffic Street)

01. Unwelcome Guests – Don’t Go Swimming – I’ve already said my piece about these guys. Americana pop punk I guess? The best albums always make for the worst reviews. I don’t want to talk about it, I want to listen to it and want you to listen to it too! It’s the best! (Kiss Of Death)

Here’s the last chunk of goodies for all your listening needs


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Special Monday Morning Tape – #83

I Was A Fountainhug
(taken from his 2010 release Gaze, Hug, Tree Fort EP)
Derbydon’t believe in you
(taken from their 2011 release Madeline)
Mark Mandevilleso blue
(taken from his 2010 release No Big Plans)
Johnny Dowdyolanda
(taken from his 2010 release Wake Up The Snakes)
Dominant Legsclawing out the walls
(taken from their 2010 release Young At Love and Life EP)
Allo Darlin’dreaming
(taken from their 2010 release Allo Darlin’)
Yuckdespite everything
(taken from their split 7″ release with Porcelain Raft)
Porcelain Raftthe wall
(taken from their split 7″ release with Yuck)
The Windsome place
(taken from their 2010 release Harum Scarum)
Drew Grow and The Pastors’ Wivescompany
(taken from their 2010 release Drew Grow and The Pastors’ Wives)
(taken from their 2010 release Broken Dreams Club EP)
Donovan Woodsphone
(taken from his 2010 release The Widowmaker)

And The Relatives “Regal Son”

Kathryn Calder – Arrow

Slippery Slope from The Dø

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Mini-Beats – December 2010 – Edition 33

Pas Chic ChicAu Contraire (2008, Semprini) ♥♥½
-eccentric cabaret/psyche pop with danceable, almost Kraut-like beats and French lyrics likely about sex and wine and being hip and whatnot; this didn’t pan out as good as the description implies…-
Yellow OstrichThe Mistress (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-there’s always enough quality in Alex Schaaf’s songs and presentation to keep his albums on repeat for hours before I realize the pressing need to not ignore the  rest of my listening queue; this features less of the a capella harmonies of the precious Fade Cave EP but it still works wonders on its own level; gratis
Yellow OstrichThe Serious Kids EP (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-I’m hoping the eventual popularity Alex will enjoy (or suffer through…) doesn’t hinder his ability to keep banging out quality stuff and providing it for free, no less; some tracks reminded of Cloud Cult here-
FoalsTotal Life Forever (2010, Sub Pop) ♥♥½
-rhythmic indie-rock from the UK that never seems to develop and live up to its potential (that potential being Spanish Sahara…); rumor has it that I need to give their debut a spin-
Les Savvy FavRoot To Ruin (2010, Frenchkiss) ♥♥♥
-if you came expecting the heroes of the post-punk revivalist scene to summon your white ass to the dancefloor (read: mosh pit) like they have with every previous LP you’ll be a little disappointed; however, if you came for a more accessible batch of guitar-driven social commentaries (read: finger-pointing) then by all means, pleasure yourself-
PregnantRegional Music (2010, Life’s Blood) ♥♥♥½
-a nervous jaunt through a hodge-podge of skronky beats, noise loops and sound collages; pressed on diarrhea-yellow vinyl and the A-side is cut to play inside-out (pretty neat…)-
Let’s WrestleIn The Court Of The Wrestling Let’s (2009, Boom) ♥♥
-heard great things about this coming but walked away with a sour face; it’s structurally unsound, schizo/manic odd-pop that should equate to something a little more interesting-
Boston SpaceshipsOur Cubehouse Still Rocks (2010, Guided By Voices) ♥♥♥½
-I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is the most solid/worthwhile release from Bob since ’06’s From A Compound Eye
Archie Bronson OutfitCoconut (2010, Domino) ♥♥♥
-a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it affair, especially when it comes to this variety of hyper UK post-punk; I liked the few jams I heard on their previous LP but nothing here came close to packing the same punch or intensity-
In GrenadaBreak (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥
-imagine a 70’s-era Springsteen fronting the 2010 Arcade Fire and you’ll begin to understand these Philly lads’ debut-
Deer TickThe Black Dirt Sessions (2010, Partisan) ♥♥♥½
-this might be a case of my loving John McCauley’s vocals more than anything since only a few tracks stood out and some even felt uncomfortable or out of place-
Josephine Foster & The Victor Herrero BandAnda Jaleo (2010, Fire) ♥♥♥
-this is a collection of adaptations of Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca’s Las Canciones; I’d say it treads more on the side of minimal Latin folk with handclaps, classical guitar and castanets centered around Josephine’s dynamic vocal style-
The Head and The HeartThe Head and The Heart (2010, self-released) ♥♥♥½
-warm, comforting folk/Americana not unlike recent favorites the Avett Brothers and Delta Spirit
Lawrence ArabiaChant Darling (2010, Bella Union) ♥♥♥½
-an unexpected soulful pop surprise from New Zealand that doesn’t pull influence from the Flying Nun crowd; RIYL Okkervil River (an after-effect of touring with them I am sure)-
Run On SentenceYou The Darkness and Me (2010, Hush) ♥♥♥
-assorted mix of modern folk sounds and instrumentation that should appeal to fans of Iron and Wine

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Mark Reaffirms and Rearranges Your 2010 (Part 3)

29. Egghead. – Would Like A Few Words With You : Nerdy pop punk trio that last reared it’s head in the late 90s comes out of the Left Field Time Machine to bring back the geek rock. What I like best about this album (aside from perhaps the uncanny recapturing of that classic Egghead. sound) is that this album isn’t one of those “fun for the kids!/dance party!/yay rock!” albums that walk a fine line between shit and schtick. It’s made by and for the people who were in college when the original Egghead releases were floating about. We’re older, wiser, and now bopping along to “My Daughter Can Fuck Up Your Daughter,” “Stuck Inside A Stuckey’s (With Leonard From The Dickies)” and possibly my favorite “What The Hell Is She Thinking?” (Knock Knock)

28. Be My Doppelganger – No Composure : Melodic midwest punk! Despite presenting my picks in mix form, really this whole album deserves to be heard. The scope doesn’t quite come across in a single song. Throughout the LP they do a great job blending rock’n’roll with their happy punk and beardo pop. Very good and very seamless. (It’s Alive)

27. Tender Trap – Dansette, Dansette: I’ll recommend anything Amelia Fletcher touches. With Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, Marine Research, and Tender Trap under her belt she’s gone an impressive 4-for-4. Fans of hers will not be disappointed. (Fortuna Pop!)

26. Magic Kids – Memphis:
Another cool album that dabbles in a wide variety of indie pop styles. Sometimes it reminds me of the late great Holiday. I think they alllmost push their own limits to the breaking point, but much respect to them for daring to burst the modern bubblegum pop bubble. (True Panther)

25. Nick Curran & The Lowlifes – Reform School Girl: Great authentic garage rock that sounds like it came straight from the vaults. The title track is destined to be on a Nuggets comp 30 years from now, but there’s plenty of other gems and some raw blues to boot. (Eclecto Groove)

24. New Pornographers – Together: A no-brainer. I’ve listened to this band so much over the past decade they’ve become one of those “comfort” bands whose sound just makes me feel great. Put that together with the fact this is much better than their last album, and you’ve got a spot on my list. (Matador)

23. Hamid Drake & Bindu – Reggaeology :
Reggae fused with jazz and beat poetry and all that intellectual noise. Reggae has such a distinct and predictable groove that normally one can just “chill” with it, but this album demands your attention. I love it when standards are revisited and revitalized. (Rogue Art)

22. The Challenged – Loaded Language: If I remember correctly the subject of one of my early kicks in the pants! For those 90s skate punk fans that are sad about the music having been diluted and then finally drowned in the ocean of malls and the Warped Tour. (Rally)

21. Harlem – Hippies:
Maybe it’s got a few more songs than necessary, but at the same time I thought they came up with enough good ideas to justify. The strongest string of songs is sandwiched right in the middle, so unless you’re paying attention the good stuff kinda hides on you. (Matador)

Give a listen to some of 29-21 here:

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Special Monday Morning Tape – #82

Toro Y Moistill sound
(taken from his 2011 release Underneath The Pine)
The Rural Alberta Advantagestamp
(taken from their 2011 release Departing)
Lower Densblue and silver
(taken from their 2010 release Twin-Hand Movement)
The Asteroid #4wild opal eyes
(taken from their 2011 release Hail To The Clear Figurines)
Puro Instinctstilyagi
(taken from their 2011 release Headbangers In Ecstasy)
Wise Bloodloud mouths
(released as a digital single only)
Arbouretumdestroying to save
(taken from their 2011 release The Gathering)
Pet Ghost Projectglitch shake
(taken from their 2011 release Shelf Life)
Iron & Winetree by the river
(taken from his 2011 release Kiss Each Other Clean)
Danielsongrow up
(taken from their 2011 release Best Of Gloucester County)
Two If By Seaapron of flowers
(taken from their 2011 Staysail 7″ release)
Lullwaterone more time
(taken from their 2011 release Silhouette)

Postdata – Tobias Grey

Mogwai “How to Be a Werewolf” (in Thirty Century Man)

Hammock – Longest Year

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Mark Reaffirms and Rearranges Your 2010 (Part 2)

39. V/A Stardumb 50 : At the risk of missing out on earlier releases (particularly from the Zatopeks and Kepi Ghoulie) I’ll say this double-LP is the Stardumb release to get. The best of the best of new school European pop punk and some other wonderful rock nuggets as well. A bunch of new tracks and a bunch of covers of the old tracks. All fun and a whole bunch of exclusive tracks, like a good, celebratory compilation should be. (Stardumb)

38. Allo’ Darlin – S/T: English twee with girl vox and the audacity to be fun and cute without pushing the regular twee agenda of fragility and cavities. (Fortuna Pop)

37. Brian Wilson – Re-imagines Gershwin :
My only caveat was the album title, as “re-imagines” has me thinking of Brian doing something…creative. It’s basically a typical cover album. That being said, it’s Brian Wilson doing Gershwin tunes! Pretty much the best of both worlds. (Disney Pearl)

36. Vampire Weekend – Contra :
Not as captivating as their debut, but still really solid. Maybe it’s ranked high just based on the fact that it doesn’t stink. But if this is their plateau, the law of diminishing returns will have me jumping off the VW bandwagon. (XL)

35. The Books – This Way Out:
Finding something NEW in today’s music world is literally like finding gold. The Books just laugh in the face of that truth. Every track is an experience, a mystery, and an adventure in sound. I rarely describe music as “interesting art” but again, the Books make my standards crumble. (Temporary Residence)

34. Sun Kil Moon – Admiral Fell Promises : I love Mark Kozelek’s voice. He could sing AC/DC, Modest Mouse, or a recipe book and I’ll listen. I typically grow into each album of his, but this one had an immediate appeal. To be safe, I’ll rank modestly and let it climb over time. (Caldo Verde)

33. J Roddy Walston & The Business – S/T Good ol’ rock’n’roll. What I love about this album is the attitude that just oozes from these super tuff songs. It’s nasty and rollicking, without becoming a desperate caricature of new-school rockabilly. They don’t have to shout “Hey, look how wild I am!” You just hear it and know it. (Vagrant)

32. The Sword – Warp Riders :
If there’s only one metal album to get this year, and only one stoner rock album to get this year, why not kill two headbangin’ birds with one stone. Fun for the whole stereo. (Kemado)

31. Morning Benders – Big Echo : “Excuses” is such a high point (one of the best songs of the year), that the slow decline from it for the rest of the disc still makes for a wonderful album. Well crafted songs that nod to Phil Spector/Brian Wilson (as a producer) while firmly standing within their own sound – which fortunately happens to be indie pop/rock, which I love. (Rough Trade)

30. Electronic Anthology Project – S/T : I’m so happy about this album. Doug Martsch re-imagines (no, truly this time) his Built To Spill catalog as 80’s synth-wave songs. I love Doug but sometimes I worry that he doesn’t have fun making music. Now, I am relieved. (Self-Released)

Take a sampling of 39-30:

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