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Best of 2010: Steve Jones

Finishing our year-end lists, we have the top 10 records of the year from Steve Jones:

1. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
2. The Goodnight Loving – Supper Club
3. The National – High Violet
4. Harlem – Hippies
5. Last Year’s Men – Sunny Down Snuff
6. The War on Drugs – Future Weather
7. Ty Segall – Melted
8. Best Coast – Crazy For You
9. Sharon Van Etten – Epic
10. (tie) Nobunny – First Blood
10. (tie) Overnight Lows – City of Rotten Eyes

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Best of 2010: Kyle Miller

Today we have a “best of 2010” list from Kyle Miller:

Like last year, I’m posting my ten favorite songs of 2010. This year I’m excluding anything released on Churchkey since, you know, I’m biased. These are in no particular order, because that seems like a lot of work.

  • Titus Andronicus — “A More Perfect Union”: This song gets me every single time. Whether I was standing outside in a parking lot at noon at SXSW, or listening in my car, it got me every time. Equally great as both album opener and live show opener. The Monitor was without question my favorite album of 2010.
  • Mount Moriah — “Lament”: I’m going to count this as a 2010 song since it was released on that HFQ comp, and because I saw it performed live almost a dozen times this year. Holy crap. “Lament” is my favorite Mount Moriah song, but at least half a dozen others might be your favorite song. It’s going to take an incredible 2011 release from someone to top their upcoming album on my list a year from now (you know, if I was making a list of albums.)
  • The Wigg Report — “What You Don’t Know Might Kill Me”: This song, originally by the Future Kings of Nowhere, and included on the Friends of FKoN benefit comp, sounds neither  like the original, nor particularly like The Wigg Report. For some reason the lyrics never sunk in with me until this version. Maybe I’m slow? It’s both sweet and haunting at this pace. Honorable mention to HNMTF w/ Steve Oliva covering “Paper Napkins” on this same comp, which gave people goosebumps at the This Machine Kills Cancer benefit show. Really. Fucking. Good.
  • The National — “Runaway”: I haven’t yet been able to accurately describe to anyone why I love this song. And I actually tried, sitting outside a bar on a not-so-distant Tuesday night. It’s been pretty darn perfect for me all year, though. So there.
  • Harlem — “Faces”: If The Monitor wasn’t the album I played most this year, Hippies was. Tons of great songs on the album, but “Faces” gets the nod because it makes me look forward to flipping over to side 2.
  • The Goodnight Loving — “Doesn’t Shake Me”: My first exposure to The Goodnight Loving, despite Chaz’s prior urging, was a show at the Layabout House this year, where they played with The Dry Heathens. They were good, not great. A month or so later, I got The Goodnight Loving Supper Club through Chaz’s record of the month club. Somehow it didn’t do it for me on the first couple of listens, but it grew on me quickly after that. “Doesn’t Shake Me” does shake me, as does “The Pan”. Now I can’t wait to see them live again.
  • Cee-Lo Green — “Fuck You”: I’m not sure I can say much about this song that hasn’t been said already. My dad, who’s not into music at all and has never heard of Cee-Lo, saw this song performed live at a Letterman taping. Famously anti-f-bombs, my dad said “wow. that song was so rude.” and followed it with “but I gotta admit, it’s pretty darn catchy.” I’m pretty sure that’s the intended reaction from middle America. I just think it’s a damn good pop song, swear words or otherwise.
  • Superchunk — “Horror Business”: I know they meant for this to be a throwaway, but goddamn, I love Superchunk and I love the Misfits. How could this go wrong?
  • Superchunk — “My Gap Feels Weird”: “Digging For Something” was my favorite song from this album for a long time, but somehow I found myself liking this song more, which I would have considered a real dark horse on my first couple listens of Majesty Shredding. Also, the cadence of the chorus still throws me off when singing along.
  • Veelee — “Animal Dreams”: I suppose this was a common theme for me this year:  The Future Sight seemed like it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for on the first few listens, which was a bummer, since I really like Veelee. I came back to it a few weeks later, though, and it was exactly what I was hoping for. Weird how that happens. “Animal Dreams” edges out some of the other gems because it sounds so powerful live, when it crescendos into the “whoah-whoah-oh-oh, whoah-whoah”. Well done, sir and ma’am.
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Best of 2010: Jordan Lawrence

Today’s top 10 comes from Churchkey publicist Jordan Lawrence. Here are his top 10 live sets from 2010:

These are all hometown shows because I didn’t really stray out of the Triangle to hit up a concert this year. (Side note: what a bummer, need to schedule some road trips in 2011) Also, this list is dominated by this year’s Hopscotch and Troika music festivals, two of the most satisfying festivals to hit the Triangle in the five years I’ve been living here.

1. Fucked Up – Berkley Cafe, Hopscotch Music Festival – Raleigh, N.C.

  • Why it was so good: Damien “Pink Eyes” Abraham is one of the most transfixing frontmen I’ve ever seen. He owns his band’s monolithic hardcore riffs with the inescapable gravitas of the best televangelists. The audience at Berkley was only sad he couldn’t preach forever.
  • Signature moment: Abraham accidentally dumping a cooler full of ice and water over his head and the audience and then jumping into the mosh pit to direct a make-shift Slip ‘n Slide.

2. Megafaun and Fight the Big Bull – Hayti Heritage Center, “Sounds of the South” – Durham, N.C.

  • Why it was so good: This amazing set, the last of a three-night stand that will be a live album next year, not only featured entrancing arrangements and performances by the experimentalist folkies of Megafaun and the ultra-talented jazz ensemble of Fight the Big Bull, but was also lifted by breathtaking vocal performance by Sharon Van Etten and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon.
  • Signature moment: Both bands’ friends and families rushing to the stage to close out the event with a rousing chorus of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” Sounds of the South indeed.

3. Harvey Milk – Berkley Cafe, Hopscotch Music Festival – Raleigh, N.C.

  • Why it was so good: Harvey Milk’s Hopscotch set was a tour-de-force, balancing the band’s cement-truck grade sludge with agile blues riffs. The effect was like a heavyweight fighter who can move with the ease of a featherweight.
  • Signature moment: Harvey Milk closed its set with a searing, more-than-10-minute blues jam that balanced arresting emotionality with punishing metal heft.

4. Public Enemy – City Plaza, Hopscotch Music Festival – Raleigh, N.C.

  • Why it was so good: Seeing probably the best living hip-hop band use downtown Raleigh as the scene for one of the most fun spectacles I’ve ever seen is something I won’t ever forget.
  • Signature moment: Flavor Flav’s ridiculous, near-30-minute rant at the end of the set, touching on everything from his public image to his upcoming fried chicken chain. N.C.’s capitol becoming a real-life version of VH1: priceless.

5. Collections of Colonies of Bees – Pour House, Friend Island Day Party – Raleigh, N.C.

  • Why it was so good: Emotive and technically impressive in a way that most post-rock bands can only dream of,  COCOB’s run-through of it’s upcoming album Giving at this Hopscotch day party was devastating. Prediction: the band will be making an appearance on my album list for 2011.
  • Signature moment: The guy next to me in the audience at this noon performance who leaned over and said, “Man, this is fantastic! I just came for the free coffee.”

6. Titus Andronicus – Local 506 – Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Why it was so good: The rambling punk/Boss anthems of the band’s fantastic 2010 record The Monitor were even more explosive in person. Singer Patrick Stickles shouts vitriol as good as any singer around.
  • Signature moment: Spider Bags’ Dan McGee joining the band to reprise their Monitor duet “Theme from ‘Cheers'”, a hilarious and hard-hitting drinking jam.

7. Black Congo NC – Deep South, Hopscotch Music Festival – Raleigh, N.C.

  • BCNC’s afro-jazz-rock fusion started out my Hopscotch on one of its brightest notes. Bold, adventurous melodies from guitar, keys and saxophone created a tangled jungle of pristine sound.
  • Signature moment: The band’s impassioned performance of luxurious ballad “Seagull” resounded with technical brilliance and amazing feeling. Possibly the single best song I heard at the festival.

8. Mount Moriah – Fullsteam Brewery, Troika Music Festival – Durham, N.C.

  • Why it was so good: Heather McEntire’s insightful gems of love and loss and embattled spirituality cut to the quick, especially in the context of the band’s lush country rock. At Troika the band owned its songs with help from Megafaun’s Phil and Brad Cook, on keys and bass respectively. Brilliant.
  • Signature moment: The band’s gut-wrenching take on Bellafea’s “Telling the Hour”. Break-up songs rarely come this cathartic and satisfying.

9. Spider Bags – Local 506, Dive Party IV – Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Why it was so good: The barely controlled, but always thrilling shambles of Spider Bags’ garage-y barroom rock is always a treat, but this was the best set I’ve ever seen from them. Tight and powerful, but still rough around the edges, the band owned the stage like the veterans they are. Churchkey artist or not, that’s something I couldn’t resist if I tried.
  • Signature moment: McGee dealing with two assholes in the front row by beating them at their own game — lying on his back, accepting the beer they poured in his mouth and then spitting it in the air back at them, all while nailing his electrifying guitar lines.

10. Frank Fairfield – The Pinhook – Durham, N.C.

  • Why it was so good: Fairfield, a California singer who embodies the role of pre-Seger folk in full era dress, fiddles and banjos his way through traditional songs with gritty nuance. It fully transports you back to the past they represent.
  • Signature moment: Fairfield’s take on “Boll Weevil”, which oozed with so much rustic charm it might as well have been crackling off of a vintage field recording.
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Best of 2010: David Koslowski

1. Getting to rock an eyepatch and getting my eyesight back after surgery this summer.

2. Devo at The National in Richmond, one of my Top 5 concerts ever.

3. Beach House at Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill.

4. Completing my first documentary film, FREAKS IN LOVE : A Quarter Century of Underground Rock with ALICE DONUT.

5. Berlin…spending 10 days in this fantastic city of art, music & culture. While there seeing Faust & NEU! (2 of my all time favorite Krautrock bands) in concert. Shirlé got to hold a lyric sheet for Jean-Hervé Péron of Faust during their show and then we met him & drummer Zappi Diermaier afterwards.

6. Bear In Heaven at Local 506 in Chapel Hill and then at Hopscotch in Raleigh.

7. Annual Daniel Festival with Hammer No More The Fingers, which brought about the birth of Loose Coozy.

8. Touring with Gray Young, but especially Baltimore where GY bassist, Dan Grinder at an after party had to text FES to “go to bed.”

9. World Cup 2010…even though Germany lost.

10. Records by To Rococo Rot, Deerhunter, The National, Beach House, Liars, Weekend, The Soft Moon and No Joy.

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Best of 2010: Steve Oliva

Today’s ‘best of 2010’ list comes from Steve Oliva of The Dry Heathens.

10) The Extra Lens – “Undercard”

Perhaps, sometime off in the distant future, John Darnielle will release a record that I don’t love.  I fucking doubt it, though.

Choice cut: “How I Left the Ministry”

9) Last Year’s Men – “Sunny Down Snuff”

This is my favorite garage record of the year.  Super hooky, super skuzzy, super fucking great four chord rock and roll.  I love these kids and I love this band and I love this record.

Choice cut: “Spilled”

8) Phosphorescent – “Here’s To Taking It Easy”

What a fucking COOL record.  At times pissed off, sad, joyous and boastful, this is just an awesome pop-rock record, with a dash of alt-country thrown in for good measure, about girls, getting drunk, and trying to figure out life.  Relatable.

Choice cut: “Tell Me Baby (Have You Had Enough)”

7) The Love Language – “Libraries”

If “Heart to Tell” doesn’t make you sing and dance like a preteen girl at a slumber party, then you and I aren’t going to be friends.  The best pure pop tune on this, and maybe any, record this year.  Stu also, however, made sure to wedge in a bit of the mournful lo-fi majesty that made his debut such a hit with “Wilmont,” another absolutely stunning song.

Choice cut: “Wilmont”

6) Superchunk – “Majesty Shredding”

New Superchunk record?  Fuck and yes.  Find me a two-word chorus as catchy as that in “Crossed Wires.”  I fucking dare you.

Choice cut: “My Gap Feels Weird”

5) No Age – “Everything in Between”

This is one of those rare records that I was really REALLY excited about both before and after its release.  This one’s a little more reined in than “Nouns,” but not in a detrimental way.  The tracks are a little poppier, sure, but that noisy No Age weirdness is still pervasive.  Basically, this band just keeps getting better at what they do.

Choice cut: “Fever Dreaming”

4) Veelee – “The Future Sight”

Dear Matt Park and Ginger Wagg: I heart you.  Local record of the year, for my money.  And “Animal Dreams,” all six and a half minutes of it, is perfect.

Choice cut: “Animal Dreams”

3) The Tallest Man on Earth – “The Wild Hunt”

There’s not a song on this record that I couldn’t listen to every day from now until forever.  “The Wild Hunt” is a very simple album, admittedly: intricate acoustic guitar lines, clever songcraft, and (for the most part) excellent lyrics.  Funny that this formula, when held to strictly, can still produce a compelling, powerful record.

Choice cut: “The Drying of the Lawns”

2) Titus Andronicus – “The Monitor”

What a mighty, angry, triumphant, brilliant record we have here.  A solid hour of the sounds of being young and pissed off.  I suppose there might be folks to whom this is not appealing.  By all means, let me know if you are one of them.  And then we will fight.

Choice cut: “Theme from ‘Cheers’”

1) Fang Island – “Fang Island”

It would be very difficult for me to tell you how much I love this record.  Good God, it is everything I want from rock and roll: loud guitars, huge choruses, minimal vocals, fucking hooks galore, and just fun, fun, fun.  I’ve listened to it, on average, probably once every two days since the spring.  Not tired of it.  Not even a little bit.  This one’s a winner.

Choice cut: “Sideswiper”

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Best of 2010: Nick Williams

Today we’re kicking off our year-end ‘Best of 2010’ lists, starting with Nick Williams from Free Electric State.

Nick’s top 10 shows of the year:

10. Birds of Avalon at Casbah, Troika Music Festival
9. Bear In Heaven at Local 506
8. Valient Thorr at  Motorco, Troika Music Festival
7. Bellafea at Kings, Hopscotch Music Festival
6. Hammer No More The Fingers at Annual Daniel 2010
5. NOMO at Lincoln Theatre, Hopscotch Music Festival
4. In The Year Of The Pig at The Pinhook
3. Caribou at Cat’s Cradle
2. Gray Young at  Casbah, Troika Music Festival
1. Lurch at The Pinhook (this was all JME’s fault)