Bollocks! Staffers Pick Their Favorites of 2010 (Part 1)

Well, folks, the Bollocks! Awards are over for another year, but that doesn’t mean we’ve run out of ways to endlessly wax nostalgic about a year that’s not even over yet. I thought it would be nice to open up the floor a bit to a couple of people who have helped me over the last couple of years by allowing them to write about their favorite musical things of 2010. So today, you can read what our resident musical pathologist, Dr. Rebecca Mellor, has to say about the last year in music and tomorrow, you’ll be treated to Jesus Christ’s thoughts on the same topic. Enjoy!

Hello again. I am Dr. Rebecca Mellor (no relation). I have known Chorpenning for a few years now and have occasionally, against my better judgment, offered to help him in the running of his little music blog. In exchange for this, Chorpenning pesters me about my last name (he believes I am some how related to a certain punk icon, though I have assured him literally a thousand times that I am not) and makes fun of me for only using contractions while under the influence of intoxicants. At any rate, Chorpenning has asked me to write a few words about my favorite music from 2010 and I have agreed to do so, in the hopes of improving the musical health of Bollocks! readers (I would also like to apologize for Chorpenning’s insistence on putting the name of the blog in bold type with that annoying exclamation point. Though he welcomes the occasional contribution from people like myself and Jesus Christ, he seems ill-inclined to take advice on professional writing conventions).

My favorite album of the year (I also refuse to engage in the sort of random boldfacing that marred the otherwise enjoyable Bollocks! Awards) was Castle Talk by the Screaming Females. By my calculation, this album rocks at least three times harder than any other rock album released this year. In fact, when compared to all of Nickelback’s albums combined, Castle Talk still out-rocks Nickelback by a factor of one thousand to one.

Though Ms. Marissa Paternoster is given (justifiable) praise for her guitar and singing capabilities, I find that the Screaming Females have an almost perfect balance of immense talent. King Mike’s bass lines are among the most exciting I have heard all year (especially his intro to “Normal”) and Jarrett Dougherty’s drums crash, pound, and propel the proceedings along at a satisfying pace.  If Castle Talk should prove to be some kind of breakthrough album for the Screaming Females, I can objectively tell you that no current band is more deserving of a wider audience. There has been growing concern in my field lately that rock ‘n’ roll is a dying art form, suffering the slings and arrows of overwrought emo and outrageous rap/rock hybrids; the Screaming Females (and a few – very few – of their peers) have put those concerns to rest.

This might seem controversial, but I honestly think that The Suburbs, the third Arcade Fire album, is one of the more underrated albums of 2010 (but not the most underrated. I will render my verdict on that topic shortly). I know the album has received widespread acclaim, but in my estimation, it is deserving of even more. If Castle Talk was my favorite album of this year, The Suburbs was a close second. Like their debut, Funeral, the Arcade Fire’s latest offering is an album that almost sneaks up on you with its majesty and depth. And, unlike many more popular albums (I’m thinking of Ke$ha, whose name is not even a word) of the current moment, The Suburbs will be considered great by astute listeners ten and twenty years from now.

2010 featured several songs that I would count among my favorites, not least of which is the song “All We Make is Entertainment” by the Manic Street Preachers. It opens with a slight nod to Queen’s “Radio GaGa” before lifting off into indelible guitar riffs and James Dean Bradfield’s soaring vocal lines about “a sad indictment/ of what we’re good at.” As an album, Postcards from a Young Man is uneven, ambitious, pretentious, and wonderful; “All We Make is Entertainment” is its finest moment (followed closely by “Don’t Be Evil”).

I was also quite taken with the song “The Numbers Don’t Lie” by the Mynabirds. As a scientist, I tend to agree with that assertion, but as a piece of music, “The Numbers Don’t Lie” is lovely, gospel-tinged pop. Laura Burhenn, along with Laura Veirs, might be one of the most underrated vocalists of this year (perhaps a study is in order: The Collective Consumer Tendency to Ignore Beautiful Music by Women Named Laura). I certainly have not seen enough written praise of either woman and both have crafted subtle, beautiful albums. The Mynabirds’ What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood was at least critically well-received but I am not sure that many people outside of Pitchfork and Veirs’ home state of Oregon gave July Flame much notice, so I would argue that it is 2010’s most underrated album.

Speaking of Oregon, it is interesting to note just how much truly wonderful music came from that state this year – the aforementioned Mynabirds album was recorded there, Laura Veirs is from there, as are Menomena (whose Mines is exquisite), the Thermals, Corin Tucker, and M. Ward of She & Him. New Jersey, perhaps surprisingly, was also a source of incredible music in 2010: the Screaming Females, Titus Andronicus, and Ted Leo & the Pharmacists all hail from the Garden State. I have calculated that a national tour featuring all three of those acts would provide maximum entertainment for fans of punkish rock and would go a long way toward repairing the immense damage Jersey Shore has done to New Jersey’s cultural reputation.

I am asked, more often than I am comfortable admitting, what music creates the best atmosphere for sexual intercourse. Depending on the type of intercourse you prefer and the amount of time you have to perform the act, I would recommend the following albums: Esperanza Spalding’s Chamber Music Society is an excellent album for tender, anniversary or holiday lovemaking. Grinderman 2 is among the best albums I have heard (probably since Iggy and the Stooges’ Raw Power) for aggressive, animalistic sex. If you are in a hurry, perhaps one or two tracks off of Grinderman 2 will make the perfect soundtrack to a backseat “quickie.” For long, slow, passionate, possibly wine-fueled sex, I recommend a mix of Menomena’s Mines, Atmosphere’s To All My Friends, Blood Makes the Blade Holy: The Atmosphere EPs, and the Screaming Females’ Castle Talk. But maybe I am only speaking for myself on that one.

 

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