Reissues & Compilations of the Year 2010

Just one more pointless year-end list to go and then it’s time to move on.

FAVOURITE REISSUES & COMPILATIONS OF THE YEAR 2010:

10. Kathy McCord: From New Jersey To Woodstock (Big Beat, 2010)

Kathy McCord’s self-titled album has been a highly sought cult classic. Well not highly sought by me obviously. Up until this reissue I had never heard her name. But that just shows how little I know about folk music. Big Beat’s beautiful 2CD reissue contains the whole album on one CD and another disc full of previously unreleased tracks from the seventies. The cult classic is worthy of that “cult” status. It’s a really wonderful album and shows that her name should be said in the same sentence with Vashti Bunyan, Linda Perhacs and Sibylle Baier. However, I’m not that excited about the second disc. It’s not bad my any means, but there’s not much really exciting material there. Perhaps a cheaper one CD edition could have been a better option, with 5 or 6 best of those unissued tracks as bonus tracks after the magnificent self-titled album.

9. Califia – The Songs Of Lee Hazlewood (Ace Records, 2010)

If I had some money, I would buy all the Songwriter Series compilations that Ace Records are releasing. Even when I don’t have money, I have to buy some of them like this new one that introduces the songwriting talent of the great Lee Hazlewood. But why haven’t I really paid much attention to Dino, Desi & Billy beforehand. I love both of these songs on Califia. Totally my kind of stuff. That’s just one example. There’s a lot of great songs and cool performances on this one.

8. Bruce Springsteen: The Promise (Sony, 2010)

I’m not the world’s biggest Bruce Springsteen fan, but I do love almost everything up until Nebraska (obviously some later stuff as well like Devils & Dust). I didn’t have the money or the interest to invest to the giant 3cd + 3dvd packet and settled for this wonderful 2cd set. There’s nothing that haven’t already been said about this one. If you love Bruce, you will love this. If you don’t love him, I promise this won’t change your opinion.

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7. Book A Trip: The Psych Pop Sounds Of Capitol Records (Now Sounds, 2010)

Now Sounds searched the Capitol Records vaults and found 26 psych pop / soft pop / sunshine pop gems. Ok, maybe not all of them are pure class A gems, but a huge chunk of them really are. Book A Trip is a fantastic compilation full of obscure bands and obscure songs. I’m in love with the Sidewalk Skipper Band, Burgundy Street Singers, Summer Snow and many others.

6. The Holy Mackerel: The Holy Mackerel [Deluxe Expanded Edition] (Now Sounds, 2010)

The Holy Mackerel was a short-lived 60s pop band led by the wonderful Paul Williams. I hadn’t heard The Holy Mackerel beforehand, but Paul Williams made my expectations sky high. The Holy Mackerel album didn’t disappoint. It contains lots of little pop treasures. Nothin’ Short Of Misery always makes me smile with lines like “I said woman / if you are looking for excitement honey / Do your looking elsewhere and someday you will see / that the life of high excitement isn’t half as fun as being bored with me”.  A wonderful album and the song Bitter Honey is stylewise like the prologue to the solo album Someday Man that followed two years later and turned out to be one of the greatest sunshine pop albums ever released.

5. Luke Gibson: Another Perfect Day (True North, 2010)

Luke Gibson’s Another Perfect Day is a great Canadian folk album. Luke Gibson is probably better known from Luke and The Apostles if you know a little bit about canadian music. I don’t know and therefore I didn’t know anything about Luke Gibson before I found this album. Anyway, Another Perfect Day is a really gorgeous folk & country rock album. Such a lovely and heartwarming music.

4. Jim Sullivan: U.F.O (Light In The Attic, 2010)

Jim Sullivan’s story is mysterious. In march 1975 Jim Sullivan disappeared in New Mexico and nobody knows what happened. Up until now, his music has been really mysterious as well. Hopefully that is about to change. Thanks to Light In The Attic who released Jim’s debut album U.F.O. However, I was actually slightly disappointed after a couple of first listening sessions. At that point I thought that the story itself was more interesting than the music. Thankfully you know that I’m often totally clueless. Nowadays I’m totally into this album and regard it as a folk rock classic. Whistle Stop was the real eye opener and soon I fell in love with the whole album.

3. Ted Lucas: Ted Lucas (aka The Om Album) (Yoga Records, 2010)

I’m totally addicted to this album by Ted Lucas. Or let me rephrase that. I’m completely addicted to the first six songs on this album. The last three songs are not my cup of tea. I think I need to get some kind of enlightenment to understand Indian guitar raga. I’m obviously not ready for that yet. Still this has to be on the podium, because of those first six songs. Oh my oh my. That’s just perfect music. In a way so simple, but still so incredibly captivating and magical psych-folk. I’ve listened to these six songs huge amount of times during the past month. I just can’t get enough of them no matter how hard I try.

2. Blaze Foley: The Dawg Years (Fat Possum, 2010)

Blaze Foley was a country legend. Well maybe still way too unknown to be a legend, but a fantastic songwriter and a true cult hero nevertheless. Blaze Foley is probably best known as the writer of Merle Haggard’s hit If I Could Only Fly, but that’s just one fantastic song he wrote. This wonderful compilation The Dawg Years gathers together his amazing early recordings from 1976 to 1978. Oh and you can watch a great documentary Duck Tape Messiah about him at imdb.com.

1. Paul Williams: Someday Man [Deluxe Expanded Edition] (Now Sounds, 2010)

I rarely buy albums that I already own, but this time I had to make an exception. My favourite reissue label Now Sounds releasing one of my favourite albums. How could I resist that. Paul Williams’ Someday Man is a truly wonderful and totally amazing sunshine pop treasure.  Paul Williams and  Roger Nichols wrote a lot of great songs together like The Carpenters’ hit We’ve Only Just Begun, but to me this album is their finest effort. Perhaps a lot said, but this is just perfect from start to finish. I even have all the reasons to hate it. I usually prefer simple, down-to-earth things. Just man and an acoustic guitar is often enough. Still I totally love this heavily orchestrated pop heaven and it never sounds too big or overproduced to me. It just works beautifully on every level. The reissue of the year. No doubt about it.

One more thing! Because I bought this Now Sounds Edition, I now have a Collector’s Choice 2005 CD release of this album that I don’t need anymore. It’s got some minor scratches (I blame careless FOTM DJ Team), but nothing that would affect the play. I thought I give this one away. If you want it, leave a comment below. Everyone who comments this entry (and wants the CD) before sunday (23rd) midnight is in for the draw. No need to leave a full name, first name or nickname will do just fine. I’ll make the draw on monday 24th and after that one lucky person gets this beautiful album free of charge. Only for Finnish residents though. I’m not prepared to pay for international shipping.

Update: There doesn’t seem to be much interest towards a free Paul Williams CD. Well let’s change the deadline to 6th of february and see if some interested souls arrive. If not, then I just keep ’em both.

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Albums of the Year 2010 – Part four 10-1

Part one 40-31, Part two 30-21, Part three 20-11

10. The Posies: Blood/Candy

The greatest band in the world according to One Chord To Another made a most welcome return with this wonderful album. Sure I wished there would have been a little bit more distortion & grit on the record, but it doesn’t change the fact that the album contains a huge amount of magnificent pop songs like The Glitter Prize and Take Care Of Yourself.

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9. Sweatmaster: Dig Up The Knife

The finest Finnish rock band Sweatmaster was once again in top form. Dig Up The Knife introduced a little darker and heavier side of Sweatmaster. That might sound a little scary for a pop fan (well based on this list I probably should start calling myself country fan and not pop fan), but there was no need to be worried. I trusted them and they didn’t let me down. Dig Up The Knife is awesome.

8. The Genuine Fakes: The Striped Album

Swedish The Genuine Fakes are a power pop band that hasn’t forgotten the first word of the term. Power chords, catchy melodies, killer choruses and a lot of fantastic pop songs. Sure it might too typical power pop for some, but I don’t mind at all. This is the kind of music I love the most and The Striped Album is a brilliant album. If you love 90’s swedish power pop, you will love this one as well.

7. Elvyn: The Decline

I instantly fell in love with Canadian pop group Elvyn and it wasn’t just a little crush. Our relationship has only gotten stronger during the year and The Decline is definitely one of the greatest pop albums of the year. Kind of like Teenage Fanclub with a little country influences. What a lovely, harmonic and extremely beautiful  pop album.

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6. Laura Veirs: July Flame

This one came out already in january, but such a fabulous and magical album like July Flame can’t and won’t be forgotten. Laura Veirs made the finest album of her amazing career. She’s such a wonderful songwriter and this time the production and arrangements also work perfectly. The album just sounds warm, rich, unique and colourful.  Intriguing music.

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5. Teenage Fanclub: Shadows

Teenage Fanclub once again made a magnificent pop album. Especially Norman Blake really hit the jackpot. Baby Lee and When I Still Have Thee are future classics. Not that there was anything wrong with Gerald’s or Raymond’s output either. Songs like Shock and Awe and Past were almost equally perfect slices of pop heaven. Pretty much perfect pop music from start to finish. I also loved their concert at Nosturi, Helsinki.

4. Two Cow Garage: Sweet Saint Me

Probably the band I’ve listened to the most during the year. I bought the whole back catalog early in the year and in the autumn it was time for a brand new Two Cow Garage album. Sweet Saint Me turned out to be just as great as I had hoped. It’s a fantastic rock album that causes a beautiful havoc in your heart. There’s some acoustic beauties and power pop choruses as well. Micah Schnabel is a brilliant songwriter and a fabulous vocalist. Lydia is one of the songs of the year.

3. Penniless: A Cab To The City

A Cab To The City is the best finnish album of the year and should have gotten five hearts when I reviewed it. I don’t know why I was such an ass back then and only gave four and a half. Penniless have always been fantastic, but this is their finest album so far. Extremely convincing stuff and full of stunning songs like The Missing and Hail Of Bullets. It definitely would be about time to make that pilgrimage to Nakkila.

2. Micah Schnabel: When The Stage Lights Go Dim

The top two albums were in their own league. Of course someone could say that this #2 pick isn’t eligible, because Micah Schnabel self-released this back in 2009. However, Suburban Home Records re-released it in 2010 to wider audiences and therefore it easily qualifies. If it’s possible, I love this solo album When The Stage Lights Go Dim even more than I love Micah Schnabel’s band Two Cow Garage. Micah is a real hardcore troubadour and he just sings his heart out. He is passionate, honest and truly convincing. Brutal views about the glory of touring life delivered with emotion-filled vocals. Marvellous stuff.

1. The Fox Hunt: Long Way To Go

And the album of the year award goes to… The Fox Hunt. In the end it was an easy decision. I’m just totally addicted to Long Way To Go and I love every second of it. It just feels so damn good to listen to it. Even during the times when the lyrics are heartbreaking. A string band playing old-time country music. Fiddle, mandolin, upright bass, banjo and guitar. That’s what I love to hear. The best part is still the singing. Vocals and harmony vocals are amazing throughout the record. It just doesn’t getting any better than this. Long Way To Go is a perfect album.

Listen to Troublemakin’ Woman:

[audio:http://www.onechord.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/02-trouble-makin-woman.mp3]

Listen to Lower Than I Should Be:
[audio:http://www.onechord.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/10-lower-than-i-should-be.mp3]

Mountain Stage Interview:

The Fox Hunt Website

That’s it. Thanks for reading. If anyone actually red the whole long list. Hopefully someone did, because it took hours to make it. A lot of good records are missing from the list. I’m especially a little bit sad that I had to leave out lots of good Finnish albums. Maybe I should do separate top 20 lists for foreign and finnish albums instead, but somehow I prefer this method even though there won’t be enough places for all good finnish albums. Anyway, that’s all for now. I didn’t buy enough EPs to make even a top 10, but I’ll write something about the ones that I loved (=Nopat & Heartjet) before christmas. Best of Retro/reissue list will be coming after christmas. I will get a few of those for christmas present (I know because I bought them myself, heh) so I can’t do it before that. Take care.

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Favourite songs of the year 2010

That time of the year again. What are the best albums and songs of the year? These lists are blissfully pointless, but in some silly way I love making them. I didn’t spend ages on this song list though and I might have forgetten something important. It was still pretty difficult to choose just ten, but I know the album list will be ridicilously long, so I thought that I force myself to choose just ten songs this time around. Albums of the year countdown starts within a week or two.

FAVOURITE SONGS OF THE YEAR:

10. Nopat: Yksinäisten tiet
9. Have Gun, Will Travel: Salad Days
8. The Posies: The Glitter Prize
7. Elvyn: Lotta Lies
6. The Genuine Fakes: I Don’t Want It
5. Penniless: The Missing
4. Teenage Fanclub: When I Still Have Thee
3. Two Cow Garage: Lydia
2. The Fox Hunt: Lower Than I Should Be

and the song of the year award goes to…

1. Darren Hanlon: Scenes From a Separation

Only Darren can make such a heartbreaking moment sound so heartwarming. A beautiful well-written story that makes you both cry and smile. This is a live video of the song made by Shoot The Player.

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