[image-1] Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More (2010)
Marcus Mumfords accent provides the only clue that Mumford & Sons are anything other than uniquely American. The London quartet peppers their debut full-length with rootsy mountain music, rapid banjo-picking, piano melodies plucked from a 19th-century saloon and soaring choruses. The best comparison I can make (and an admittedly lazy one) for someone unfamiliar and even dismissive of these influences (like me) is an acoustic Flogging Molly. Brilliantly performed and impeccably produced for maximum emotional impact, Sigh No More is an easy candidate for best album of 2010.
Jason Best Coast, Crazy for You (2010)
Formed in 2009 by Bethany Cosentino (lyrics, vocals) and Bobb Bruno (multi-instruments). In her childhood, Bethany was a "show baby" who performed at zillions of talent competitions, and while still in her teens wrote and recorded teenie bop love songs. More recently, Bethany, along with Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend) and Kid Cudi (rapper and co-star of HBOs How To Make It In America) put out the insanely cool single, All Summer for Converse.
Nicole Jawbreaker, Unfun (1990, re-released in 2010)
Remastered and reissued by Blackball Records for the 20th anniversary of Jawbreaker's 1990 debut album, this record sounds GOOD. With Blake Schwarzenbach's new band Forgetters gaining steam -- their double 7" Too Small To Fail is due out September 21 -- it's especially good timing to revisit his original band's inception.
[image-2] Robert Plant, Fate of Nations (1993)
After witnessing last Friday night's fantastic show, I've been digging a lot of Plant's solo material. Sadly, this fine effort from 1993 went totally undetected and didn't make much of an impact upon it's release. Ironic since it's the most Zeppelin-esque material of his solo catalog. Interestingly, the opening number from last week's performance, "Down To The Sea," is from this album. Maybe Robert was attempting to remind everyone about this forgotten piece of work?
Leilani Arcade Fire, The Suburbs (2010)
The first time I listened to this album, I thought it was godawful -- I didn't even recognize it as Arcade Fire at first with its retro bouncy piano and marginally upbeat feel. In fact, I wasn't even sure I'd listen to it again. But being that I respect the Arcade Fire, I decided to give it another spin. And another. By the third time around, I'd gotten past my knee-jerk WTF? into toleration mode, and by four, I was close to liking it. I'm about six spins in and there are a few tracks that are sticking to my brain matter the way a truly good tracks do -- my favorite right now is "Modern Man" with its off-beat rhythm and sensitive feel. Overall, The Suburbs is more reserved than the past two albums, and I think that's what turned me off initially. Plus I had a hard time being okay with the fact that there was a song called "Rococo." Only the Arcade Fire can get away with writing a song with such an annoyingly literati title (I HATE that word), and at the same time, be completely making fun of the literati-ness. I guess that's the point, since I actually paid attention to the lyrics last spin around... I've even been singing along, although I cringe inwardly at the "Rococo" chorus.
Deborah Local Natives, Gorilla Manor (2010)
Though I've been listening to this one on and off since it's release in the UK, it's really only started to take hold recently. At first listen Local Natives seemed like just another really good indie band, but they're so much more. Layered vocals, catchy melodies, and eloquent lyrics combine with that "California" mindset to make music that's really speaking to me right now. I'm spinning it with my new fancy headphones lately, and the subtle production details are truly coming through. Definitely one of the best releases this year.
What are you listening to right now? We want to know! Leave your answer below in the comments section...