michael gallucci


In Uncategorized on 09/20/2010 at 3:46 pm

We’re heading into the homestretch of 2010, as record companies scramble to unload their biggest, baddest albums of the year just in time for the holidays. But before new albums by Kings of Leon, Rihanna, and Taylor Swift go into heavy rotation on our iPods, we’re taking one last critical look at the summer’s best releases. Like past years, the hot months were filled with luscious ear candy (Katy Perry), black-hearted beach music (Disturbed), and indie rockers looking to be a little less indie (almost all of them). Here are five of our favorite albums from 2010’s third quarter.

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs


The Canadian collective’s third album is filled with arena-size rockers that are bigger and grander than anything they’ve done before. On The Suburbs, Arcade Fire sound like the most vital band in the world, even if they’re not actually at that point yet.


Everything about The Suburbs says Important Album. From multipart songs to bookending the album with the title track to making statements on subdivisions splitting communities as well as souls, it’s a record that reveals new details with each listen.

CHANCES IT’LL MAKE IT ON YEAR-END TOP 10 LISTS: 95 percent. Arcade Fire are the closest we got to a Radiohead these days: a band that almost every rock critic claims to love. Even if they really don’t.

Best CoastCrazy for You


Frontwoman Bethany Cosentino writes three kinds of songs on her L.A. band’s debut: about boys, weed, and her cat (no, that’s not a euphemism; she really likes her cat). Crazy for You is one of the year’s most obsessive records.


Crazy for You combines Ronettes-style pop melodrama, the Jesus and Mary Chain’s wall of noise, and the Beach Boys stuck somewhere between the garage and the waves. Cosentino may sing with casual indifference, but she’s just waiting for you to let your guard down so she can pounce.

CHANCES IT’LL MAKE IT ON YEAR-END TOP 10 LISTS: 65 percent. After about a half-dozen listens, the album doesn’t have any more to give. It’s a brief, summer fling.

Jenny and Johnny – I’m Having Fun Now


Jenny is Rilo Kiley frontwoman and indie-rock fox Jenny Lewis; Johnathan is her boyfriend, Glasgow-raised singer-songwriter Johnathan Rice. Their first album together sounds like it came out of a Laurel Canyon living room, circa 1977.


Lewis and Rice write super-hooky power-pop songs, together and alone. Bonus points for not getting all lovey-dovey on songs like “Scissor Runner,” “Big Wave,” and “Committed,” which soak in sweet and occasionally barbed harmonies.

CHANCES IT’LL MAKE IT ON YEAR-END TOP 10 LISTS: 45 percent. I’m Having Fun Now often plays like an album made between real albums. No doubt, most critics will treat it that way.

Jamey Johnson – The Guitar Song


This double CD’s launching point is a country-music staple. Redemption is at the core of this concept album about a self-destructive artist who starts out in an out-of-town bar and ends up on a front porch in his hometown. It’s the year’s most ambitious song cycle.


Johnson looks the like kind of guy who’d kick your ass for just glancing in his direction. He sings that way too, injecting The Guitar Song’s mix of originals and covers with equal doses of Hank Williams and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

CHANCES IT’LL MAKE IT ON YEAR-END TOP 10 LISTS: 70 percent. It’s the best country album of the year, but country albums don’t usually fare well in Animal Collective fans’ Top 10 lists.

Robert Plant – Band of Joy


On the surface, Plant’s follow-up to the Grammy-hogging Raising Sand he made with Alison Krauss sounds like more of the same sleepy mood-rock. But dig deeper and you’ll hear a livelier, if less textured, set of songs simmering here.


Despite Band of Joy’s laidback nature, Plant hasn’t sounded this inspired in years. There’s a bunch of old songs about salvation, damnation, and not much in between. It’s a roots record all right, but one filtered though an Englishman’s sense of style.

CHANCES IT’LL MAKE IT ON YEAR-END TOP 10 LISTS: 75 percent. Band of Joy may lose a few points for kicking up Sand’s atmospherics, but Plant is on his first creative roll in 40 years.


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