By Chris Moore:
In the past, before the Weekend Review was officially a segment on the Laptop Sessions blog and my articles had the oh-so-clever title of “Music Review” — and I know, I know, “the Weekend Review” isn’t all that much more clever — I have been accused of writing reviews that were positive to a fault.
This may well be true, as I have found it challenging these past couple years to define and refine my voice as a music critic who is also a singer/songwriter. After all, it has been difficult to find a comfortable middle ground between praising music simply because someone labored over it and pointing out flaws to bring others down a notch.
Being an “amateur” has allowed me the opportunity and relative privacy to hone my craft.
I’ve come a long way from the every-so-often, knee-jerk nature of my early “CD Reviews,” articles that I typed and saved on my computer long before the Fusco-Moore Productions blog — now known as the Laptop Sessions blog — was launched. I’ve also come a significant way since the aforementioned “Music Reviews.” And, I’d like to think that I’ve progressed as a writer over the past year of “Weekend Reviews.”
So, this being my fifty-second and final Weekend Review of 2010, I decided to dedicate it to laying out a table of contents of sorts for the fifty-four reviews I’ve written this year (including “Yes, No, Maybe So?” one-sentence reviews). They’re arranged below in descending order from my one five-star rating down to my handful of one-star reviews.
What it all amounts to is a lot of music from a diverse range of artists that run the genre gamut. The one common denominator here, the one solid link between all subjects of the Weekend Review, is the presence of the singer/songwriter. With the exception of a couple of cover song albums, these are albums of original music released in 2010.
The best I can offer as an overall statement for the year’s music is that this was, overall, an excellent year for new music. The range tended to follow the bell curve (1 five star, 14 four stars, 23 three stars, 13 two stars, and 3 one stars), but this should not undercut the fact that there were fourteen very strong, interesting, entertaining albums released this year.
In all fairness, what the year was lacking was any albums that really blew everything else out of the water. Although several have argued this point with me, I do not hesitate a moment to give All in Good Time (BnL) the full five-star nod. That being said, I do not consider it their best album, not by a long shot.
So, where does that leave us?
In my opinion, it leaves 2010 as a very strong year with at least fifteen strong reasons to buy new albums, but it also leaves a gap for those attuned to and awaiting the next, best classic albums for the ages.
I hope you’ll check back for my final post (at least for a while) on the blog tomorrow and that you’ll consider checking some of these albums out while they’re still available on the ever-increasingly trend- and contempo-centric CD shelves.
54 New Albums, 2010: Arranged in descending order of star ranking (out of 5).
|All in Good Time (Barenaked Ladies) – 5 stars|
|Bad Books (Bad Books) – 4.5 stars|
|Be in Love (Locksley) – 4 stars|
|Broken Bells (Broken Bells) – 4 stars|
|Heaven is Whenever (The Hold Steady) – 4 stars|
|Kaleidoscope Heart (Sara Bareilles) – 4 stars|
|Lonely Avenue (Ben Folds & Nick Hornby) – 4 stars|
|Mines (Menomena) – 4 stars|
|Mojo (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers) – 4 stars (4.5 w/o “Candy” & “Takin’ My Time”)|
|Night Work – (Scissor Sisters) – 4 stars|
|Sea of Cowards (The Dead Weather) – 4 stars|
|Suburba – House of Heroes – 4 stars|
|The Grand Theatre Volume One (Old 97’s) – 4 stars|
|The Suburbs (Arcade Fire) – 4 stars|
|Volume Two (She & Him) – 4 stars|
|A Postcard from California (Al Jardine) – 3.5 stars|
|A Singer Must Die (Steven Page with the Art of Time Ensemble) – 3.5 stars|
|American Slang (The Gaslight Anthem) – 3 stars|
|American VI: Ain’t No Grave (Johnny Cash) – 3 stars|
|As I Call You Down (Fistful of Mercy) – 3.5 stars|
|Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin (Brian Wilson) – 3.5 stars|
|Brothers (The Black Keys) – 3.5 stars|
|Dark Night of the Soul (Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse) – 3.5 stars|
|Death to False Metal (Weezer) – 3 stars|
|Destroyer of the Void – (Blitzen Trapper) – 3.5 stars|
|Easy Wonderful (Guster) – 3 stars|
|Everything Under the Sun (Jukebox the Ghost) – 3.5 stars|
|High Violet (The National) – 3.5 stars|
|How to Destroy Angels (How to Destroy Angels) – 3 stars|
|Hurley (Weezer) – 3.5 stars|
|Light You Up (Shawn Mullins) – 3 stars|
|Lo-Fi for the Dividing Nights (Broken Social Scene) – 3 stars|
|Page One (Steven Page) – 3.5 stars|
|Sigh No More (Mumford & Sons) – 3.5 stars|
|Something for the Rest of Us (Goo Goo Dolls) – 3.5 stars|
|Stone Temple Pilots (Stone Temple Pilots) – 3.5 stars|
|To The Sea (Jack Johnson) – 3 stars|
|Transference (Spoon) – 3.5 stars|
|Court Yard Hounds (Court Yard Hounds) – 2.5 stars|
|Crazy for You (Best Coast) – 2.5 stars|
|Eureka (Rooney) – 2 stars|
|Everything Comes and Goes (Michelle Branch) – 2 stars|
|Familial (Philip Selway) – 2.5 stars|
|Forgiveness Rock Record (Broken Social Scene) – 2 stars|
|Heligoland (Massive Attack) – 2 stars|
|Infinite Arms (Band of Horses) – 2 stars|
|National Ransom (Elvis Costello) – 2 stars|
|Realism (Magnetic Fields) – 2.5 stars|
|Women & Country (Jakob Dylan) – 2.5 stars|
|Write About Love (Belle & Sebastian) – 2.5 stars|
|Y Not (Ringo Starr) – 2.5 stars|
|100 Miles from Memphis (Sheryl Crow) – 1.5 stars|
|Clapton (Eric Clapton) – 1 star|
|Interpol (Interpol) – 1 star|