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

Sing Me To Sleep: Indie Lullabies

I first posted a song from Sing Me To Sleep: Indie Lullabies in January, and recently received the gorgeous limited first edition from indie label American Laundromat Records. The compilation benefits the non-profit childrens’ charity The Valerie Fund, and features a wide variety of charming, serene covers by various indie acts – including Stars, Jenny Owen Youngs, The Real Tuesday Weld, Dean & Britta, O+S, Tanya Donelly, Trespassers William, and Laura Gibson. Sing Me To Sleep will be released on May 18th.

The entire Sing Me To Sleep album flows together to create a lovely, gentle mood. Though the soft arrangements fit well with the “indie lullabies” theme, these are songs originally recorded and just as enjoyable for adults.

Some of the highlights are: a pretty, femme transformation of The Smiths’ “Asleep” by Stars, The Real Tuesday Weld’s crackling “Little Boxes” (originally recorded by Malvina Reynolds and used more recently as the theme for Weeds), an eerie take on The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” by Ohbijou’s Casey Mecija, Dala’s languid cover of “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” Telekinesis’ haunting version of ELO’s “Can’t Get It Out of My Head,” and former Belly frontwoman Tanya Donelly’s jazzy croon of “Moon River.”

Snowbird’s stunning rendering of “The North Wind Doth Blow” is my absolute favorite track and is one of the few that was actually a nursery rhyme, but there isn’t one song on the disc that I feel compelled to skip.

Sing Me To Sleep‘s quiet mood could certainly lull you to sleep, but then you’d miss some of the most beautiful covers ever recorded.

The limited edition first pressing includes several bonus tracks, including a somewhat creepy cover of “You Are My Sunshine” by Peter Broderick, an atmospheric cover of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” by Papercuts, and Laura Gibson’s signature low-fi style on Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Edelweiss.”

Dean & Britta – Making Me Smile (mp3) *

*mp3 hosted by & posted w/ permission of label

You purchase the limited first edition (w/ alternative artwork, bonus tracks, bonus 7″ vinyl, free digital download, promo pins, poster & more) at the American Laundromat Records, and the regular CD is available at Amazon…

Pre-order 1st Edition @ Label

Buy @ Amazon

Mp3 Menagerie: Dean & Britta, Lucy Schwartz, Aidan Knight

Dean & Britta – Making Me Smile (mp3) *

I don’t know if “indie-lullaby” was an official sub-genre before, but it certainly is now. This sweet song is from the upcoming charity compilation Sing Me To Sleep, which benefits the children’s charity The Valerie Fund. The album features lullabies and covers by Stars, Laura Gibson, Trespassers William, O+S, Tanya Donelly, Telekinesis, The Real Tuesday Weld, Julie Peel, and Sigur Rós among others. It will be released by American Laundromat Records on May 18.

Pre-order @ Label Site

*mp3 hosted by & posted w/ permission of label

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Lucy Schwartz – Help Me! Help Me! (mp3 expired) *

Singer-songwriter Lucy Schwartz returns with the EP Help Me! Help Me! on January 26.

Buy @ Amazon

*mp3 provided by & posted w/ permission of Filter Mag

Lucy Schwartz MySpace

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Aidan Knight – Jasper (mp3)*

Atmospheric indie-folk with a warm voice. Singer-songwriter Aidan Knight will release his new album Versicolour on March 2.

Pre-Order @ Amazon (not yet available)

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

Aidan Knight MySpace