best of 2010: new music discoveries

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Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

best of 2010

best of 2010: new music discoveries

yesterday, i began my look back at 2010. for the last several years, i’ve spent about a week looking back on the various media that were my favorites of that particular year, and 2010 will be no different for me.

so, each day this week, i’ll post a list that presents my 25 favorite of the given category. here’s the lineup for the week (each day i’ll come back and update this list with links):

monday: tv shows
tuesday (today): new music discoveries
wednesday: cover songs
thursday: songs
friday: albums

as i’ve stated before, i consume a lot of music. i find a lot of really great music as well as my fair share of not so great music. most of it falls somewhere in between those 2 extremes. there’s so many new artists i discover that don’t necessarily fit into my best albums list, but i’d like to share about (and actually, a few of these artists do appear on my best albums list). this list—which i’ve never done before—does just that. there’s a lot of great artists that, prior to 2010, i had never even heard about that found their way into regular rotation in itunes. so, i hope you can discover some new music too.

alright, with all that said, here’s the list.

[note: these artists aren’t all new to music in 2010, but they are artists that are new to me in 2010.]

25. paper tongues: paper tongues

24. villagers: becoming a jackal

23. sally seltmann: heart that’s pounding

22. sarah blasko: as day follows night

21. james vincent mcmorrow: early in the morning

20. ellery: this isn’t over yet

19. frightened rabbit: the winter of mixed drinks

18. horse feathers: thistled spring

17. april smith: songs for a sinking ship

16. the mynabirds: what we lose in the fire we gain in the flood

15. tired pony: the place we ran from

14. beta radio: seven sisters

13. bad books: bad books

12. karen elson: the ghost who walks

11. carolina chocolate drops: genuine nego jig

10. drew grow & the pastors’ wives: drew grow & the pastors’ wives. any band that comes from portland is bound to be good, right? well, this group of folk/gospel/indie/etc musicians are a little bit edward sharpe & the magnetic zeroes and a little bit m. ward. in the end, it all works.

09. buke & gass: riposte. buke = baritone ukulele. gass = guitar bass hybrid. buke & gass = strangely beautiful experimental music. this two piece uses homemade instruments (they make custom instruments for the blue man group on the side) to create surprisingly full sounded acoustic music.

08. fistful of mercy: as i call you down. i saw these guys at the west memphis 3 rally, voices for justice, without having ever heard of them. and they blew my mind. a supergroup comprised of dhanni harrison, joseph arthur and ben harper, they created an amazing energy and sound on stage. while the album didn’t live up the live performance, it was still an unexpected and welcome surprise in 2010.

07. kid cudi: man on the moon II: the legend of mr. rager. kid cudi was pretty huge before 2010, but i never paid him any attention or even listened to any of his music. i have to admit, though, that this year, kanye’s constant hyping of him made me give him a listen. and i certainly wasn’t disappointed. the lyrical depth and introspection is what makes cudi worth listening to.

06. joe purdy: 4th of july. this one came out of nowhere. i randomly saw him mentioned in a blog post i was reading and it sounded like something worth at least checking out on myspace. what i found was an understated, yet beautiful folk singer-songwriter from, of all places, arkansas. he’s been a nice addition to my itunes repertoire.

05. john mark mcmiilan: the medicine. for quite a long time, i heard him hyped by, mainly, a handful of hipster christian types. that, quite frankly, made me not want to give this guy a listen. but alas, i did and i found something very beautifully unique. it’s a little bit worship, it’s a little bit folk, it’s a little bit something else. all in all, it’s a little bit great.

04. sharon jones & the dap kings: i learned the hard way. another unexpected find for 2010, sharon jones & the dap kings represent the heigh of a revivalist movement of funk/soul of the late 60s. i knew the dap kings previously from their work with mark ronson & amy winehouse, but i was pleased to discover their primary work with the incredible voice of sharon jones.

03. sleigh bells: treats. ok, here’s the plan: put this in your car stereo, turn the speakers up and be prepared to shake and express concern for the well-being of your speakers. this album creates such a sonic experience that i haven’t experienced with any other band. to me, the biggest appeal of sleigh bells is the striking contrast between blown out drums & fuzzed guitars with alexis krauss’ pop-like voice.

02. matt & kim: sidewalks. i’m much more of a full album kind of guy than i am a singles kind of guy. but every now and then, 1 single song makes me fall in love with a band. cameras did just that. i couldn’t quit playing this track and it led to me loving not just sidewalks but their whole back catalogue that i had missed.

01. lissie: catching a tiger. from the very first few notes i heard her sing, i knew i would love lissie. and when her debut album, catching a tiger, came out, i certainly wasn’t disappointed. she’s already drawn comparisons to chrissie hynde and neko case, but i don’t think they’re adequate. it’s not that she’s better than these artists, but it’s that she’s carved out her own little place that’s unique and necessary. what made her even more compelling is her incredible covers of lady gaga, kid cudi and metallica that created the much-needed chatter a new artist needs (i’ll get to those covers tomorrow…).

so there you have it. there’s the list. what do you think? i’ve certainly missed some good new artists. what are they? i’ve also, no doubt, ranked some things too high or too low. what are they? help me to flesh out and “correct” my list.

and since it’s christmas time, i thought i’d give a little gift. here’s a mix that features a track from each artist in my list. enjoy.

// click to download the .zip //

see you in tomorrow with my next list: top 25 cover songs of 2010.