Muruch’s Top 25 Albums of 2010

It’s that time again! Following are my Top 25 Albums of 2010. Like ’em or not, these are the albums I’ve personally enjoyed and listened to most often in the past year. Click on the album titles to read the full reviews, purchase the albums, and, in some cases, download mp3s…

*Honorable mention to Florence + the Machine’s Lungs, which would have been #2 on this list had it been released this year.

Muruch’s Top 25 Albums of 2010

25. Sheila Nicholls: Songs from the Bardo

…I was so excited to see Sheila Nicholls name on a new press release!…genre-hopping…moody experience…Sheila’s lovely vocals drive every song

Sheila Nicholls – Bardo (mp3)*
Sheila Nicholls – Natural Law (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

24. The Concretes: WYWH

…sultry and atmospheric…blends mellow electro-pop melodies with ambient beats beneath new lead singer Lisa Milberg’s whisper soft vocals

The Concretes – All Day (mp3)*
The Concretes – Good Evening (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

23. Heart: Red Velvet Car

…a step back from the pop-rock endeavors of recent decades in favor of a multi-instrumental style…perfect display of Ann’s astounding vocal power and Nancy’s searing guitar riffs.

Buy @ Amazon

22. Warner Nuzova: Russian Music for Cello & Piano

…The deep resonance of Warner’s cello is juxtaposed and intertwined with the emotive peels of Nuzova’s piano, resulting in a sound full of somber beauty and classical romance.

Buy @ Amazon

21. Screaming Females: Castle Talk

…loud, exhilarating, wailing punk rockers…a spectacular cacophony of ferocious growls, frenzied shrieks, scorching guitar licks and tempestuous rhythm

Screaming Females – I Don’t Mind It (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

20. Brooke Fraser: Flags

…a collection of subtle folk-influenced melodies and pretty, infectious pop fleshed out with innovative arrangements and all wrapped up in Brooke’s warm voice

Buy @ Amazon

19. Agent Ribbons: Chateau Crone

…churns atmospheric retro pop-rock with modern rock riffs, handclap percussion, and girl group harmony. The result is somewhere between The Zombies and The Shangri-Las.

Buy @ Amazon

18. Creed Bratton: Bounce Back

…With the help of his backing band The 3DVB’s and his The Office co-star Ed Helms, Creed has made an unusual, funny, funky, and all around awesome album.

Creed Bratton – Rubber Tree (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

17. Robert Plant: Band of Joy

…an almost perfect marriage of Robert Plant’s psychedelic sway and Buddy Miller’s freight train of rocked up Americana

Buy @ Amazon

16. Danielle Ate the Sandwich: Two Bedroom Apartment

…The combination of that kind of sweetly self-deprecating humor and Danielle’s clear, warm voice along with some very pretty acoustic melodies make this album a charmer.

Buy @ Amazon

15. Robert Stallman: The Nightingale in Love

…Whether you’re a classical aficionado or simply enjoy pretty instrumental music, this lovely album is definitely one to try…Simply put, The Nightingale in Love is beautiful. So very beautiful.

Buy @ Amazon

14. Sade: Soldier of Love

…an album everyone should hear…strong artistic integrity combined with an exquisitely exotic voice and elegant melodies give Sade’s music a rare grace and beauty.

Buy @ Amazon

13. Katharine McPhee: Unbroken

…an excellent mix of infectious pop melodies and singer-songwriter acoustics…Her multi-faceted voice effortlessly flows from impressive Divaesque acrobatics to a warmer, relaxed charm reminiscent of classic Carole King.

Buy @ Amazon

12. Loreena McKennitt: The Wind that Shakes the Barley

…brimming with a heady mix of Celtic and folk instrumentation…Loreena’s supernatural soprano is on gorgeous display

Buy @ Amazon

11. The Bird & The Bee: A Tribute to Daryl Hall & John Oates

…tribute to 1980s pop icons Hall & Oates is no parody, instead this is a sincere and happy homage to one of my favorite guilty pleasure bands…the perfect soundtrack for summer.

Buy @ Amazon

10. Sing Me To Sleep: Indie Lullabies

…a wide variety of charming, serene covers by various indie acts…The entire Sing Me To Sleep album flows together to create a lovely, gentle mood.

Dean & Britta – Making Me Smile (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

9. The Gaslight Anthem: American Slang

…one of the most excellent, enjoyable rock albums I’ve heard in years…infectious but substantial rock – settled delciously somewhere between arena and roots.

Buy @ Amazon

8. Allison Crowe: Spiral

…Her voice flawlessly flows between the most pristine soprano and gut-wrenching, full-bodied wails…I hear Allison Crowe sing, and I remember the effect music is supposed to have on you.

Buy @ Amazon

7. The Innocence Mission: My Room in Trees

…pristinely pretty…Sparse arrangements are coupled with poetic lyrics full of scenic imagery and bittersweet emotion – all carried by the lovely soprano of Karen Peris.

The Innocence Mission – God is Love (mp3)*
The Innocence Mission – Happy Mondays (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

6. Moreland & Arbuckle: Flood

…If Moreland & Arbuckle’s upcoming album Flood is any indication, 2010 is gonna be a great year for music…this mix of Delta blues, folk, country, soul, and rock is one wild ride.

Buy @ Amazon

5. She & Him: Volume Two

…another collection of airy, retro-styled pop songs fleshed out with folk instrumenation…a breezy pop soundtrack for summer.

Buy @ Amazon

4. Kate Miller-Heidke: Curiouser

…like a collaboration between Kate Bush and Lady Gaga. Mainstream pop fans will definitely enjoy this disc, as will those searching for catchy tunes with lyrical substance.

Buy @ Amazon

3. Janelle Monáe: The Archandroid

…Conceptually and musically, this multi-facted, genre-mashing masterpiece has everything you could want in an album and then some. And Janelle’s supernatural vocal range is as chameleonic as the songs she sings.

Buy @ Amazon

2. Xavier Rudd: Koonyum Sun

…Xavier Rudd is my favorite artist, full stop…yet another breathtaking masterpiece that’s sure to land Xavier Rudd at the top of my year end list again.

Buy @ Amazon

1. Anaïs Mitchell: Hadestown

…transforms the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice into a post-apocalyptic American fable with Depression era style and indie-folk sensibility. This gorgeous, exciting project reminds me why I love music so much and why I love writing about music so much.”

Anaïs Mitchell – Flowers (mp3)*
Anaïs Mitchell & Bon Iver – Wait for Me (mp3)*

Buy @ Amazon

*all mp3s hosted by & posted w/ permission of artists, labels and/or their PR reps

Screaming Females: Castle Talk

The aptly named Screaming Females are loud, exhilarating, wailing punk rockers who just happen to be fronted by a formidable chick. Lead singer-guitarist Marisa Paternoster’s unearthly howls and her trio’s raucous punked up rock noise must make trailblazers like Patti Smith and Courtney Love proud. Screaming Females churn the punk sound of the late 1970s with the “grrl rock” and grunge style of the early 1990s. I shared an mp3 from the New Jersey rock band’s new album back in September, but didn’t hear the rest of this disc until this month. Castle Talk may be a last minute addition to my year end list.

The first few tracks on Castle Talk are fantastically turbulent and catchy rock numbers, but “Normal” really sets it ablaze. After that, the album erupts into a spectacular cacophony of ferocious growls, frenzied shrieks, scorching guitar licks and tempestuous rhythm.

Screaming Females – I Don’t Mind It (mp3)*

Screaming Females – Wild by forcefieldpr

*mp3 & Soundcloud stream hosted by & posted w/ permission of artist’s PR rep on behalf of label

Buy @ Amazon

Castle Talk - Screaming Females

Screaming Females Official Site
Screaming Females MySpace

Mp3 Menagerie: The Giving Tree Band, Minor Stars, Noun

You can download an mp3 of “Circles” by The Giving Tree Band by clicking on “Free Download” in the above widget and entering your email address. It’s worth the exchange. The band was recommended to me because I like Old Crow Medicine Show. Though The Giving Tree Band isn’t quite that good, they are very close. They have a similar oldfashioned bluegrass sound mixed with a bit of Americana and Paul Simon-like pop-folk melodies. Their third full-length album The Joke, The Threat & The Obvious will be released on September 21st.

Buy @ Amazon

The Giving Tree Band MySpace

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Minor Stars – The Death of the Sun (mp3)*
Minor Stars – Dead Weight (mp3)*
Minor Stars – Numbers Don’t Lie (mp3)*
Minor Stars – Mirror (mp3)*

I’d never heard of Minor Stars before their PR rep sent me these songs, but you have to like a band who shares so many free, legal mp3s. Especially one with such a refreshingly pure rock sound as this. These four tracks are from Minor Stars’ new album The Death of the Sun in the Silver Sea, which you can download as a “name your own price” purchase (including for free) at Bandcamp.

*mp3s hosted by band & posted w/ permission of PR rep

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Noun – Brother (mp3)*

Noun is Screaming Females‘ fierce and formidable frontwoman Marissa Paternoster, and she just released her solo project’s debut album Holy Hell. You can still download the album’s title track in my March post.

Buy @ Amazon

*mp3 hosted by & posted w/ permission of band’s PR rep

Screaming Females: New Mp3

If you’re a new reader, you should know that I really have to love a song to post it as a single mp3 (as opposed to in my “Mp3 Menagerie” posts of multiple tracks or a full album review). That’s certainly the case here. Screaming Females remind me a little of the great chick-fronted rock bands of the early and mid 1990s, which remains my favorite era of music. Their new album Castle Talk will be released on September 14th.

Screaming Females – I Don’t Mind It (mp3)*

*mp3 hosted by & posted w/ permission of band’s PR co.

The album is not yet available for purchase, but should be at the links below closer to the release date…

Pre-order @ Amazon

Screaming Females MySpace

Mp3 Menagerie: Chris Pureka, Jen Olive, Noun

Chris Pureka – Wrecking Ball (mp3 expired) *

New song from folk singer-songwriter Chris Pureka’s upcoming album How I Learned To See In The Dark, to be released April 13th.

Buy @ Amazon

*mp3 provided by & posted w/ permission of artist’s PR rep

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Jen Olive – Wire Wire (mp3) *

Retro-influenced, somewhat psychedelic folk song from singer-songwriter Jen Olive’s recently released debut album Warm Robot.

Buy @ Amazon

*mp3 hosted by & posted w/ permission of artist’s PR rep

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Noun – Holy Hell (mp3) *

Noun is the solo project of Screaming Females’ singer Marissa Paternoster. This is the title track from her upcoming album, set for release in June.

Pre-order @ Amazon (not yet available)

*mp3 hosted by & posted w/ permission of artist’s PR rep