Bollocks! Staffers Pick Their Favorites of 2010 (Part 2: The Reason for the Season)

Yesterday, we featured a story by musical pathologist Rebecca Mellor (no relation) on her favorite albums and songs of 2010. Today, my good friend Jesus H. Christ (a.k.a. “The Reason for the Season”) is going to tell you about some of his favorite music from the last year and on Monday, I’ll chime in with my ten favorite records. Merry Christmas!

Hey y’all.

Jesus H. here. I was pretty stoked to tell you about my favorite albums of 2010, many of which are unavailable to the living. When Chorpenning explained to me that a full 80% of Bollocks! readers are still alive, I had to consider and eventually embrace his suggestion that I tell you about albums I loved that you warm-bodies can actually purchase. I’ve already told you about the new Mavis Staples album, but – as good as it is – You Are Not Alone is not my favorite album of 2010. Nope. The best album I heard this year (by someone still living) is, by far, Heaven is Whenever by the Hold Steady.

There’s a lot of conflicting shit down there on Earth about me and what I believe; I’m not gonna divulge too much here because I like to keep the holy rollers guessing. But you’d be safe to assume that I put a high value on telling the truth and I think Craig Finn is a very truthful songwriter. Ever since Almost Killed Me, Finn has been telling the truth, whether it’s that “certain songs get scratched into our souls” or “hard drugs are for bartenders.” Heaven is Whenever contains some of the best truths Finn’s ever told, including, “You can’t tell people what they wanna hear/ if you also wanna tell the truth.” I learned that shit the hard way. Same thing goes for, “In the end, I bet no one learns a lesson.”  Heaven is Whenever also contains this bit of gospel truth: “Heaven is whenever/ we can get together/ sit down on your floor/ and listen to your records.” Craig Finn gets it. Pat Robertson clearly does not get it.

But what makes the Hold Steady great isn’t just honest lyrics – it’s honest music. These guys show up in the shirts they put on that morning, they plug in, and they play it straight with their audience. No frills, no auto-tune, just good, smart rock ‘n’ roll. Rocking isn’t just their business – it’s their religion and they’re good enough at it to win converts every time they take the stage. And if you don’t think that a rock show can fill your spirit as much or more than a church sermon, you’re going to the wrong rock shows (and probably the wrong church). I know – I’ve seen Joe Strummer perform a thousand times, including a few Clash shows back in the early 80s. The dude is busking outside my office right now. If he plays “Redemption Song”, I’m going to have to pause in my writing long enough to weep and share a spliff with the man.

Aw, shit. There he goes. Back in a minute.

Now then. Where was I? Oh yeah: the Hold Steady. Heaven is Whenever. Best album of 2010. Best rock band in America right now, although the Screaming Females are making their move into a very close second. I don’t wanna say too much about Castle Talk because it’s been praised up one side of Bollocks! and down the other this week, and deservedly so. Just go get the fuckin’ album already, will ya?

Another album I loved this year was Grinderman 2. When the first Grinderman record came out, it was kind of amusing, but it mostly struck me that Nick Cave wanted to goof off in a cock-rock band for a while. Then along came Grinderman 2 and rocked my fucking face off. Cave, like the Hold Steady, clearly gets what rock ‘n’ roll is capable of being, and he’s a clever bastard too. “Palaces of Montezuma” is worth the price of admission for the whole disc, but Cave spends most of Grinderman 2 acting like the bastard offspring of David Bowie and Iggy Pop and if you can’t dig that, you probably can’t dig anything (I heard that Iggy really did try to woo a chick once with “the spinal cord of JFK/ wrapped in Marilyn Monroe’s negligee”; it worked out about how you’d expect).

Austin, Texas, is a great place for music and the state of Texas in general is a great place for crazy (although Arizona has taken pains to rival Texas in the crazy department this year), so it’s no surprise that a legitimate Austin madman (and local legend) managed to craft one of my favorite albums of 2010. I’m talking, of course, about Roky Erickson’s True Love Cast Out All Evil, featuring Okkervil River (the album was produced by Okkervil’s Will Sheff). The album is gorgeous and at least partly insane. But Erickson’s (now somewhat cured) madness gives way to sweet truth on this record. He sings the line “we are meant to love each other” with such conviction that you forget it’s a cliche. Incidentally, a lot of really iconic singers (like St. Joe and Mr. Johnny Cash) did the same thing.

I should talk about some of my favorite songs from 2010. The one that’s stuck in my head the most right now is “Fuck You” by Cee Lo Green. Not only is it catchy, but I went through a bad break-up early this year and I can really identify with Cee Lo on that tune. I also really dug “Compliments” by Band of Horses; come to think of it, I really dug their whole Infinite Arms album. It might be one of the most underrated albums of the year. It takes some growing on you, sure, but it’s fucking beautiful.

Whenever I write for Bollocks!, I like to give you living fuckers some grief about all the great music we’ve got going on up here in Heaven, but when I think about what you guys had down there on Earth during 2010, I kinda want to eat my words. There was some amazing music made by living, breathing mortals in 2010, and I bless that shit with my whole heart. Enjoy your music, people. That’s an order.

When I asked Jesus what the “H” stands for, he shouted, “Hold Steady!” at me and walked away, laughing. Like me, Mr. Christ is not ashamed to admit that he cries every single time he watches The Future is Unwritten. That’s all the pre-holiday Bollocks! we have for you this year, folks. See you Monday!

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2 thoughts on “Bollocks! Staffers Pick Their Favorites of 2010 (Part 2: The Reason for the Season)

  1. Pingback: The Lazy Friday Mix: Rapture Edition « Bollocks!

  2. Pingback: Jesus Christ Returns… to Bollocks! « Bollocks!

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