Saturday, January 29, 2011


In late December, I posted my top ten albums of 2010; the list was topped by The Drive-By Truckers' The Big To-Do. Immediately afterwards, I started thinking about some other albums that I really enjoyed this year, so I started a brief series called "Tied for #11." I've done a bunch of posts, starting with one about Buddy Guy's Living Proof.  Here is another handful of albums that I enjoyed a lot.

Outkast's Big Boi finally released his debut this year: Sir Lucious Left Foot...The Son Of Chico Dusty.  It's too bad that it didn't get the attention that it deserved. Both by the press and even by Def Jam, who helped Boi to get the album from Jive (the label that OutKast record for).  "Shutterbug" is one of the hottest singles of the year. I think that, like Black Thought of The Roots, Big Boi is one of the best MCs in hip-hop, but doesn't get the attention of, say, Lil Wayne or T.I.

Ray LaMontagne's God Willing and The Creek Don't Rise is a really great album. It's a gorgeous album, but because Ray doesn't really do much promotion, you don't hear much about it. I think it will benefit from being nominated for a few Grammys (including "Beg Steal or Borrow" which is up for Song Of The Year). Hopefully he will perform at the ceremony.

Mumford & Sons was probably my favorite new discovery of 2010. Their Sigh No More album reminded me of Springsteens' Seeger Sessions Band, and I mean that as a high compliment. The fact that a band so removed from any recent trend, either in the mainstream pop world or the "indie rock" world has become so popular is, frankly, amazing to me and it gives me hope. I haven't seen them live, but I have filmed a studio performance by the band (see it here) and I really dug it.

I've often felt that Sheryl Crow doesn't get the credit she deserves, and that's never been more true than on her current album, 100 Miles From Memphis. I guess in a way, I can understand people paying a bit less attention to her - her last two albums weren't as strong as her first few. But this album is a great comeback, and should have done really well. But if you liked her earlier music, I urge you to check this one out.

Like The Drive-By Truckers, Reckless Kelly is a band who I discovered thanks to the SiriusXM channel Outlaw Country. (And this is where I offer the full disclosure that I work for SiriusXM, but I was a SIRIUS subscriber before I worked there.) Somewhere In Time is an album of songs by someone named Pinto Beckett. Without knowing much about him, or the band, I really dug it. I have to make it a point to get more music by both of them in the '11.

New Jersey's own Gaslight Anthem got a decent amount of press for their album American Slang, and deservedly so. They're a really good band, and they have the double edged approval of Bruce Springsteen (good because of the obvious extra exposure, bad because you can't do interviews without talking about him). They come from the punk rock underground, but they sound is really accessible. Hopefully people won't be scared of them because of their appearance. I'd love to see them get huge. In 2010 they headlined Radio City Music Hall, so maybe they're on their way.

One last album I'll mention is Johnny Cash's final recordings: American VI: Ain't No Grave. It sounds like he is aware that this is "it" for him, and it adds a poignancy to the songs . I have always been a big fan of the American Recordings series, I think Rick Rubin did a great job on all of them, this one included.

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