Monday, December 13, 2010

Top ten, part one

Herein, the first portion of the top ten artists I have discovered this year. Not every band put out an album this year, but they are all pretty current. Since I am a liiiittle pressed for time these days, I will just offer a brief summary and maybe cite a memory of a particularly nice listening experience. Hit me up if you want to hear some of the songs.

10) Elizabeth and the Catapult; Taller Children
The first of several members of this list to hail from my own Brooklyn, I first heard of them when they played a concert with the guy who will be #4 here. I was immediately drawn to them by their excellent name. Elizabeth sings clever lyrics in a whole range of styles. I recommend the infectious "Race You" and the dreamy "Rainiest Day of Summer," which I have listened to on rainy days of my own. My favorite memory is listening to their first album on a perfect day in Philadelphia, on my way to Green Line Cafe, wandering the city.

9) Beach House; Teen Dream
Beach House puts out the perfect music for cold days where the sky is white and you find yourself retreating into your own cozy world. I listened to their album streaming on NPR before my giant walk down Bedford Avenue; I walked with them in the snow to Iris Cafe on an enchanted Saturday morning. I had the pleasure of seeing them live in Prospect Park, as an opener for this list's #3, and they are just as magical in the summer.

8) Clogs; Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton
A member of #3 (I recognize doing this in reverse top-ten format has developed some problems of mysteriousness) and his various compatriots comprise this instrumental-rock group who I first encountered on a neat program at BAM where the Brooklyn Phil brought in rock artists that it liked. They've now turned towards music with some vocalists, including awesome guests Sufjan Stevens and Matt Berninger. "Red Seas" is particularly haunting, but all the songs are really just gorgeous.

7) Sharon Van Etten; Epic
I had a hard time tracking down Sharon Van Etten's "Much More Than That" after hearing it on NPR's Song of the Day, but I am glad that I did, and that I found her 7-track Epic. As I have mentioned here, "Don't Do It" is the perfect soundtrack for striding bravely through fall. And I often have a hard time finding female vocalists I like, but her voice is compelling in a whole range from the quiet of "Much More Than That" to some of the rockers on Epic like the aforementioned "Don't Do It" and brassy "Peace Signs." I wish I had gotten a chance to see her live, but it's eluded me so far; she is opening for #3 next year but, alas, in Europe.

Stay tuned for bands 6 through 1, and if you would like me to expand anything from this sketchy set of descriptions, let me know!

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