2010 treated me well. I went to a lot of shows, I discovered tons of excellent new music, some of my favorite acts came out with great new records and, 2010 was indeed, the year of the Jacket. I'm not going to approach this as a straight up "best of" list but rather as a "this is what I was most into this year" list, everything mentioned may not even be from 2010.
The Year of The Jacket
2010 was my greatest year with My Morning Jacket despite them not coming out with a new record. I caught the boys as a full band 7 times. Once in Columbus, OH, once in Chicago, IL and five times in New York City. Carl Broemel played some shows this year and I was able to attend 3 of them, one of which featured every member of MMJ sans Jim James. In Chicago I had the good fortune to speak with Carl and his father a bit after the show and at Carl's NYC gig I was able to meet all the guys in attendance, share some words and get autographs. The entire NYC stint was the most amazing week of my entire life. The people I was able to meet and share many special moments with are in my thoughts on a daily basis, that's how great of an impression they made on me (take MMJ out of that equation and I'd still go on that trip). The shows were the grandest events I've ever known. Each opening act seemed to be paired with the sound MMJ were bringing that night and then each night was almost 2 separate MMJ concerts; the album and the encore. Every night surpassed the one before it. If I'm ever in a deep Inception type dream situation I'm going to populate my world with memories from that week.
It's been quite the Jack White year. Now, before 2010 I casually liked SOME White Stripes and SOME Raconteurs. I was never a fanatic and never really paid all that much attention to the unstoppable force that is Jack White until the around the time the guitar documentary It Might Get Loud came out. The guitar is a big part of my world and I was incredibly eager to check this film out. Jimmy Page, Jack White and the Edge (I'm not nuts about U2 or the Edge. Wanted to put that out there!) got together to discuss the instrument that made them what they are today and director Davis Guggenheim couldn't have captured it in a better way. I wanted to see the film primarily for the Jimmy Page bits but after viewing I was left saying "Jimmy Page who?" The fever began. Then The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights came out. I'm intrigued with this man by this time, I've been digging deeper into The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather as well as reading about Jack as much as possible. Well, little did I know that UGWNL and Jack White would be a staple in my life for a long time (I watched it yesterday). The first time I tossed the blu-ray in I watched it 2 or 3 times in a row. It captivated me to the point that it was almost paralyzing. It's all I could think about, he was all I could think about. Amazingly, I was able to meet him due to a special lady out there, you know who you are! It was at the peak of my craziness for him too, I get the chills just thinking about it.
Jack has an amazingly interesting and effective approach towards music (that same approach can be ported to real life too): Do it. Finish it. It might suck and you might be uncomfortable but get it done. You'll be a better musician (or person) after it. It's character building. Now, that is not a direct quote by any stretch of the imagination but you get the point. Jack White is undoubtedly one of the finest, most talented musicians this planet has ever seen. His guitar playing has changed the way an entire generation of players will approach the instrument. His record label/company is bringing about an analog revolution in a digital world.
Jack, I hope you never stop.
The Black Keys
What hasn't been said about these guys this year? My first show of the year was The Black Keys on New Years day 2010 and my last will be The Black Keys New Years Eve 2010. I've been a fan of these guys for a while a now and I've been familiar with all their material for some time but 2010 saw me maniacally listening to all of their records. Every song that Dan Auerbach writes is oozing with bluesy grit. That grit comes through in the guitar playing, the lyric writing, the guitar tone, hell, even their image. They look like they were ridden hard and put away wet yet always bring enough energy to power a medium sized country for a week.
New Years Eve should be excellent.
Roger Waters Performing "The Wall"
In terms of sheer mass, this was BY FAR the biggest single event I attended this year, probably ever. For those of you that don't know: I'm a Pink Floyd fanatic. They're the first band I was ever really into. They're the band that got me out of my 8th grade music slump (Eminem, Slipknot and.. Wilco, WTF was I thinking?!?) and ultimately they're the foundation of my musical skyscraper. The hours I've spent listening, watching, analyzing and blowing speakers to "The Wall" could be measured in weeks. Being able to witness its' creator perform it in its entirety was truly amazing.
Here are some of my favorite records I got into this year. They weren't all new for 2010 but they were new to me. These aren't in any order and there are countless others, these are just some stand outs.
The Black Keys - Brothers
Definitely my most listened to record. It's a bummer that I sound like everyone else but Brothers was my standout record of 2010. Nice to see a real band get some mainstream recognition they deserve.
Local Natives - Gorilla Manor
New Music Monday man Chris sent this to me a ways back. Refreshing is the first thing that comes to mind. Nice harmonies too.
Muddy Waters - Folk Singer
The blues. There is something about the blues that resonates in me. It just feels right when I listen to it. Buddy Guy plays guitar on this mostly acoustic record, fantastic stuff.
Black Mountain - Black Mountain
My appreciation for these guys is growing. Lots of dark, bluesy guitar (my favorite), great male and female vocals, I highly suggest checking them out.
Dave Rawlings Machine - Friend of a Friend
Listen to "Method Acting/Cortez the Killer" and tell me it isn't amazing.
Davy Knowles & Back Door Slam - Live at the Gaiety Theater
Davy Knowles is a guitar maniac from the Isle of Man that currently resides in Chicago. Lots of soul for a little white guy.
Delta Spirit - History From Below
These guys have a great sound AND this record was produced my MMJ's Bo Koster, pretty cool.
Everest - On Approach
After seeing them kill the stage before MMJ demolished it on the last night of the MMJ T5 stint I was hooked.
The Greenhornes - Four Stars
These guys should have a larger following. The Beatles would have sounded something like this if they were from Detroit (I know The Greenhornes are from Cin City Cincinnati).
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - III/IV
The return of DRA. It's been tough without him and I'm glad 2010 saw him unloading plenty of unearthed material. I'm in love with this record but it took some time. Initially I thought "Okay, chalk this up to a loss" and "Not what I wanted, what the hell?" but at around 6 spins it clicked and my ears opened wide, drinking in that Ryan Adams goodness. There is something about his lyrics that stir my soul I guess you could say. It's what his lyrics say and how they're delivered, it chills me.
We got around 25 tracks (III/IV + random tracks he released, usually as a sorry for Pax-Am malfunctions, haha) from Adams this year but none were "new." Everything was for the most part recorded in or around 2007. When will we hear "The Ryan Adams Band?" I'm sure 2011 will host a new chapter in Ryan Adams musical career.
Iron & Wine - Walking Far From Home EP
Model Stranger - Dreams & Bones
Isaac Hayes - Black Moses
Karen Elson - The Ghost Who Walks
Jimi Hendrix - Blue Wild Angel: Live at the Isle of Wight
Junior Kimbrough - Sad Days, Lonely Nights
MGMT - Congratulations
Neil Young - Le Noise
Pavement - Brighten The Corners
The Raconteurs - Live at the Manchester Apollo
Spoon - Transference
T. Rex - Electric Warrior
Velvet Underground - Velvet Underground
We Are The Willows - A Collection of Sounds...
Woods - Songs of Shame
Yim Yames - Tribute To EP
Overall I saw a ton of live music this year. I got to 8 or 9 states for music this year and went to a few full on fests. Hopefully I can double all my numbers in 2011.
While I'm not nuts about the jam band scene I do enjoy it in doses and I always enjoy watching fine musicians. Summercamp was a blast and I think it'll be a regular thing for me.
The first year of LouFest was a great time. Apparently year two will bring acts larger than She & Him and Jeff Tweedy, can't wait.
MMJ NYC T5 Stint
Enough said I think.
It's been an amazing year. Maybe my best year. Thanks to everyone out there that checks this site, that's sends me an email, that shares a link with their friends. It was great to meet so many of you this year. Have a wonderful Christmas, have a happy New Year. I'm not done posting shows this year, make sure to check back when you can, the holidays can be crazy.