These are my favorite records of 2010. Looking back at last year’s list, I realize this was a great 12 months of music.
1. Fake Problems – Real Ghosts Caught on Tape
Both lyrically and musically, this record is so much better than Fake Problem’s earlier work, it might as well be a different band. From awful to awesome in one album flat? Not exactly, but you get the idea.
Favorite line: “If Confidence is key, I must be locked out of the house. If home is where the heart is, I do not have a pulse” – “ADT.”
2. Eminem – Recovery
I’m not a rap fan (surprising, I know). In fact, Eminem’s Recovery is one of the only rap albums I own. However, I can say that no matter which genre you prefer, it’s impossible to ignore the statement that Eminem made with this record. Lyrically, it’s ridiculously angry, but somehow completely upbeat and positive at the same time.
Favorite line: “He’s married to the game, like a fuck you for Christmas, his gift is a curse” – “Not Afraid.”
3. Foxy Shazam – Foxy Shazam
The catchiest record of the year comes from the weirdest band of the year. Need proof? Either listen to their album, or see them live. Lead singer Eric Nally routinely smokes four cigarettes on stage, and then eats them.
Favorite line: “Baby, you look like a zebra” – live show
4. Tokyo Police Club – Champ
The first half of this record contains what are easily my favorite songs of the year. Too bad the second half doesn’t quite measure up. Still a great listen containing all of the quirks you would expect from Tokyo Police Club.
Favorite line: “I’m on your side, but only for a while, of course. You never use words you can’t afford, a house of cards and it’s a sign” – “Wait Up (Boots of Danger).”
5. Motion City Soundtrack – My Dinosaur Life
A complete return to form after the so-so Even if it Kills Me. I’m pretty sure the quality of their records is directly proportional to the amount of swearing Justin Pierre does. And he swears a ton on this record.
Favorite line: “It’s been a good year, a good new beginning. I’m through with the old school so let’s commence the winning.” -“Worker Bee.”
6. Steel Train – Steel Train
Steel Train’s transformation from jam band to one of today’s best rock bands is nothing short or remarkable. This is their strongest work to date.
Favorite line: “You and I both are nothing but thieves. We take what we want when we need.” -“Bullet.”
7. Off With Their Heads – In Desolation
In my opinion, Off With Their Heads are the ideal rock band. Everything they play is short, fast and loud.
Favorite line: “So I just drive. It doesn’t matter where. I put my foot to the floor let the wind blow through my hair” – “Drive.”
8. Fireworks – All I Have to Offer Is My Own Confusion
While pop-punk has grown a bit stale in recent years, you wouldn’t know it by listening to Firework’s newest full-length. This is the album that even bands like New Found Glory wish they could write. It’s basically a 12 song party. And it’s my kind of party, because there are enough sarcastic one-liners for everyone in attendance.
Favorite line: “Without this bad knee I wouldn’t have a good one. These vices don’t hold me down. They fucking carry me” – “When We Stand on Each Other We Block Out the Sun.”
9. The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang
While it doesn’t quite pack the punch of their 2008 breakout The ’59 Sound, this is another admirable effort from New Jersey’s new favorite son’s.
Favorite Line: “For the hub city girls in the ribbons and the curls, who know the meaning of staying out late. They know the meaning of staying out very, very late” – “The Diamond Church Street Choir.”
10 Hot Hot Heat – Future Breeds
Talk about a comeback. With this record, Hot Hot Heat took everything that made their pre-Happiness Limited material so much fun, injected it with pure caffeine, and then threw it in a blender. The result was an immensely enjoyable and twisted record.
Favorite line: “So much, so much for dying before you’re 30, or 27 like Jan and Jim. Get on it. Where’s your iconic
all too ironic romantic tragedy recorded quadraphonic?” -“Implosionatic.”
I can honestly say I found out about Foxy Shazam long before they got big. Unfortunately, anyone could make the same claim after reading this blog post. That’s because Foxy Shazam isn’t big… at all. After witnessing their performance in Providence last night however, I must say it isn’t from lack of effort on their part. Based on their stage presence alone, an innocent bystander could have easily mistaken the Cincinnati sextet for one of the world’s biggest rock bands. Their blend of swagger, style, and sing along-choruses made it easy to forget they were playing a dive bar in a grimy section of Providence and not at a stadium full of 80,000 screaming fans.
Now if you’ve gotten this far and were at the show (which is doubtful, considering there were all of 100 people there), you’ve probably realized I haven’t mentioned the headliner, Free Energy. That’s because I didn’t stay for Free Energy. Hopefully I can report back on them when this tour returns to New England next month. Until that time, you’ll have to search for a hipper blog than mine to find the full story. Mainly one that isn’t written by someone who had to work the next morning.
Kidding aside, the night began with a short set from Canadian indie rockers Hollerado. Being that this was a $12 show and there were probably 20 people in the room at the time, I wasn’t expecting much from the opening band. Maybe it was because of those low expectations, but wow was I impressed by what I heard .
The quartet played a brand of simple but ridiculously catchy power pop that seemed to catch even the bouncer and bartender by surprise. In between songs, the band joked about their fellow countrymen, mainly pathetic French rappers driving Honda Civics with “post production mufflers.” An opening band that’s not only good, but also amusing between songs? Now those are hard to come by. After the set, I certainly wasn’t the only one picking up their debut full-length, “Record in a Bag.”
Next up, of course, was Foxy Shazam. Prior to their set, keyboardist Sky White (easily noticeable with his enormous beard and shaved head) mingled with fans while doing a pre-set stretching routine. After limbering up, the band jumped on stage and grabbed the crowd’s attention by the throat.
Their appearance in itself would be enough to turn heads on any street in America, for the band looked like Motley Crue on a thrift store budget. Their fashion sense quickly became an afterthought though, as lead singer Eric Nally jumped into a convoluted and downright strange story about his childhood and the inspiration for “The Only Way To My Heart…”, which the band then opened their set with.
Nally’s stage antics were hard to ignore, as he jumped, twisted, and generally hammed it up throughout the entire show. In the meantime, Sky White could often be seen stomping on the keyboard with his feet. At one point he even donned a set of football shoulder pads adorned in candles and other nick-knacks. Despite this, the band still somehow sounded great.
The setlist consisted mainly of songs from their recently released self-titled album. The songs from this record are the stuff that rock legends have been made of. They beg to pumped through the speakers at Madison Square Garden or shouted along by thousands of fans standing in a field at a summer festival. Of course, this isn’t likely to happen any time soon, but don’t tell Foxy Shazam that.
Singles “Oh Lord” and “Unstoppable” garnered the biggest reaction from the crowd, but the band treated every track like they were in a high-stakes “battle of the bands” contest and a $1 million dollar prize was on the line. This even included the Misfits cover they threw in for good measure.
After abruptly ending the set, Nally encouraged one fan to grab the bolt that had fallen off the drum set and make a necklace out of it. He then spiked the mic to t he floor, and walked off stage. A very appropriate ending to a short, yet very memorable show. Luckily, Foxy Shazam will be touring most of the US and Europe over the next few months. If you haven’t had a chance to see this ridiculous spectacle live, I strongly encourage you to do so. And bring your camera. You won’t regret it.