As a 15 year veteran of the music industry (with a good measure of politics thrown in), I was excited when the good people at The Dagger asked if I would be interested in blogging about one of my true passions. Of course I jumped at the opportunity to share some of the music that I listen to and love with their readers. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than when someone says “what do you listen to?” My answer is always, a cliché I know, “everything.” But it’s true. Music, for me at least, is the one constant in my life. Some moods require that I delve into my jazz collection while others suggest that Slayer might be more appropriate. These are the days, by the way, that it’s best to leave me alone.
My goal with this column is to share a bit of my eclectic tastes with you in the hopes that I can maybe help you discover something new to liven up your ride to work/iPod/workout/whatever. I don’t profess to be an expert and I’m sure there will be plenty of people who will disagree and maybe even hate what I write about, but that’s ok. Dissent is always welcome.
There was so much great music released in 2010 that it’s difficult to remember it all. So in no particular order, here’s my list of the some of the best things I listened to in 2010.
1. Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings “I Learned The Hard Way” (Daptone Records).
One of the hardest working bands in America, Sharon Jones and her sweet funky soul are not to be missed or heard. The Brooklyn, NY based Daptone Records reminds me of the old Motown label with a strong collective of musicians appearing/recording with each other. I’ve been a fan of this band for years and they simply keep getting better. Their fourth album is a more mature record with better and smoother production.
Listen To This If You Like: old Motown soul, James Brown, Marvin Gaye
Discography: Dap-Dippin’with Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings (2002); Naturally (2005); 100 Days, 100 Nights (2007)
2. Band of Horses “Infinite Arms” (Columbia/Brown/Fat Possum). I wasn’t terribly familiar with this band until earlier this year when I had an opportunity to see them perform at the SxSW music festival in Austin. A mind blowing performance instantly made me a believer and it’s a shame that more people don’t know about this band. Infinite Arms is their third record and first for Columbia after being on Seattle indie icon Sub Pop Records. Founder and lead singer Ben Bridwell is simply one of the finest songwriters in America today.
Listen To This If You Like: Neil Young, early Radiohead, alt-country
Discography: Everything All The Time (2006); Cease To Begin (2007)
3. Fitz and The Tantrums “Pickin’ Up The Pieces” (Dangerbird Records). Another entry into the soul revival, this Los Angeles based band adds just the right amount of West Coast swagger to their old school sound. Another amazing live band who are quickly becoming one of my all-time favorites. Don’t miss them at the World Live Café in Philadelphia on January 18th or the Recher Theatre in Towson on February 16th. You’ll thank me later. I promise.
Listen To This If You Like: hipster soul, Daryl Hall, Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings
Discography: “Songs For a Break Up Vol. 1”
4. Locksley “Be In Love” (Feature Records). A four piece power-pop band from Brooklyn, NY (originally from Wisconsin), this is a great follow up to 2006’s Don’t Make Me Wait. Full of catchy hooks and sing-along choruses, this disc is as addictive as a bag of Lays potato chips but so much more satisfying.
Listen To This If You Like: Big Star, Weezer, The Strokes,
Discography: Safely From The City (2004); Don’t Make Me Wait (2006)
5. Lissie “Catching A Tiger” (Fat Possum).
Elisabeth Maurus, better known by her stage name Lissie, brings an authenticity to her record and performance that suggest someone who has been around far longer than her 28 years. Part country, part folk with a splash of attitude/confidence thrown in, this record feels vintage without being corny or dated. She would have been right at home as a 70’s singer/songwriter and that’s a compliment. Check her out at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC on January 30th.
Listen To This If You Like: Stevie Nicks, Loretta Lynn, Sheryl Crow
6. Live From Daryl’s House.
I know this isn’t a recording but it’s one of the best music experiences out there. The premise? (From The Live From Daryl’s House Website) “Daryl Hall started Live From Daryl’s House, the free monthly web show in late 2007, after having the idea of “playing with my friends and putting it up on the Internet,” and the show has since garnered acclaim from Rolling Stone, SPIN, Daily Variety, CNN, BBC, Yahoo! Music and influential blogged Bob Lefsetz, who cited Live From Daryl’s House as a perfect example of a veteran artist reinventing himself in the digital age by collaborating with both established colleagues and newer performers. “ Standout sessions include the aforementioned Sharon Jones, Nick Lowe, Train, Smokey Robinson, Diane Birch and Fitz and The Tantrums.
Honorable mention: Ke$ha “Animal”; Alkaline Trio “This Addiction”; Rogue Wave “Permalight”; Broken Bells “Broken Bells”; Darius Rucker “Charleston, SC 1966”; Court Yard Hounds “Court Yard Hounds”; The Black Keys “Brothers”; Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers “Mojo”; Katy Perry “Teenage Dream”; Weezer “Hurley”; Superchunk “Majesty Shredding”; Teenage Fanclub “Shadows”; Mumford & Sons “Sigh No More”.
Band of Horses is most excellent. I was in love with that album for a few months. Would have liked to see the Avett Brothers in there, but I don’t need a list to tell me they’re great. Alkaline Trio is always great — that goes without saying. As for Ke$ha and Daryl Hall, hmmm, not sure, but I don’t think I want to find out either. Thanks for contributing to The Dagger.
Melissa A Ford says
Band of Horses are ok. Broken Bells are outstanding! I love how you have a “listen to this if you like” section. I perked up at a few of them because of my interest with the bands that I like! 🙂
John Henkel says
Thanks for the feedback!
John Henkel says
Hey Teresa. Thanks for your comments. While not a huge Daryl Hall fan as a standalone artist, his online show is quite good. I would encourage you to check it out. Best part is that you don’t have to sit through an entire show but can pick and choose individual artist sessions and each song within that session.
As for The Avett Brothers, I saw them at SxSW also. Maybe I caught them on a bad night but I didn’t see what all the fuss was about.
Thom Payne says
John, I have seen the Avett Bros. twice, live in Baltimore and both times they produced the most spirited concerts I have seen. How long did they play at SWSX? Give them another chance when they come back to B’More.
ballyhoo fan says
Listen to Ballyhoo! from aberdeen md they are a nationally touring band! there album is out on surfdog records and every now and then they play locally
John Henkel says
I am not familiar with them. I will check them out. Thanks!