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Best of 2010 Staff Picks

Our favorites from what we've put on the radio this year.

Scroll down or jump to:
Claudia Marshall | Darren DeVivo | Dennis Elsas | Corny O'Connell | Rita Houston | John Platt | Pete Fornatale | Russ Borris | Sarah Wardrop | George Evans | Kara Manning | Alisa Ali | Eric Holland | Anthony DeCurtis | Ben Sisario | Josh Baron | Bob Sherman | Ceol na nGael | Laura Fedele | Joey Delvecchio |

 

Claudia Marshall

FUV Weekday Morning Host

  • Afrocubism, Afrocubism
  • Alejandro Escovedo, Street Songs of Love
  • Amy Correia, You Go Your Way
  • Josh Rouse, El Turista
  • Anders Osborne, American Patchwork
  • Doctor Dog, Shame, Shame
  • Los Lobos, Tin Can Trust
  • LCD Soundsystem, This is Happening
  • Mavis Staples , You Are Not Alone
  • OK Go, Of the Blue Color of the Sky
  • Peter Wolf, Midnight Souvenirs
  • Richard Julian, Girls Need Attention
  • Rogue Wave, Permalight

  • Special Mention: John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Double Fantasy Stripped
  • Special Category: Various Artists, Preservation, Various Artists, FUV Live 13 Duh! (from our studios at Fordham University)
  • Uncategorizable: Bettye LaVette, Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook
  • The great one I missed last year: Devendra Banhart, What Will We Be
  • The great one I missed this year: Jakob Dylan, Women and Country
  • The one EVERYBODY missed this year: David Hidalgo & Louie Perez, The Long Goodbye

 

Darren DeVivo

FUV Weekday Host

In alphabetical order:

  • Mose Allison, Way Of The World
  • Asia, Omega
  • The Black Keys, Brothers
  • Eric Clapton, Clapton
  • Devo, Something For Everyone
  • The Doobie Brothers, World Gone Wrong
  • Fistful Of Mercy, As I Call You Down
  • Peter Frampton, Thank You Mr Churchill
  • Buddy Guy, Living Proof
  • HLMP B (Howland Laug Morrison Pinnick and Babko), Won't Give Up
  • Charlie Hunter, Gentlemen, I Neglected To Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid
  • Elton John and Leon Russell, The Union
  • Freedy Johnston , Rain On The City
  • Jesse Malin and the St. Marks Social, Love It To Life
  • Pat Metheny, Orchestrion
  • Steve Miller Band, Bingo!
  • Mumford And Sons, Sigh No More
  • The Orb featuring David Gilmour, Metallic Spheres
  • Graham Parker, Imaginary Television
  • Robert Plant, Band Of Joy
  • The Posies, Blood/Candy
  • Soulive, Rubber Soulive
  • Ringo Starr, Y Not
  • Sting, Symphonicities
  • Suzanne Vega, Close- Up Vol. 1, Love Songs
  • Suzanne Vega, Close-Up Vol. 2, People & Places
    (I included both Suzanne Vega albums, giving me one extra selection. I did this because both titles are "cut from the same cloth", even though they are two separate releases.)

 

Dennis Elsas

FUV Weekday Host

I like these albums:

  • Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
  • Bruce Springsteen, The Promise
  • Elton John and Leon Russell, The Union
  • Mumford and Sons, Sigh No More
  • The New Pornographers, Together
  • Neil Young, Le Noise
  • Robert Plant, Band of Joy
  • The Black Keys, Brothers
  • Amy Correia, You Go Your Way
  • John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Double Fantasy, Stripped Down

And I like these songs:

  • "Release Me," The Like
  • "Do You Love me," Guster
  • "Nobody," Doobie Brothers
  • "Dog Days Are Over," Florence and the Machine
  • "Bloodbuzz Ohio," The National
  • "Change of Time," Josh Ritter
  • "From Above," Ben Folds

 

Corny O'Connell

FUV Weekday Host

Albums:

  • The Bamboos, 4
    Australia's answer to the retro-soul of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings.
  • The Black Keys, Brothers
    Good ol' gritty, turn-it-up-to-ten rock 'n' roll.
  • Broken Bells, Broken Bells
    The debut collaboration of The Shins frontman James Mercer and producer Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley, The Grey Album).
  • Marc Cohn, Listening Booth: 1970
    Marc Cohn puts his spin on songs circa 1970 that had a big influence on him.
  • Michael Franti and Spearhead, The Sound of Sunshine
    Uplifting, infectious reggae-rock.
  • Patty Griffin, Downtown Church
    Patty Griffin feels the gospel spirit on Downtown Church.
  • Ray LaMontagne, God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise
    The only complaint I have about Ray LaMontagne is that silly hat and vest his handlers are making him wear.
  • Lissie, Catching a Tiger
    The debut from a versatile songwriter with a powerful voice.
  • The National, High Violet
    You'll spin this again and again and discover something new each time.
  • The Weepies, Be My Thrill
    Sunny folk-pop from this husband and wife duo.

 

Rita Houston

Music Director/The Whole Wide World Host

Favorite Albums:

  • Ray Lamontagne, God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise (especially on vinyl)
    Throw a Ray party - invite your friends over and listen to this album. It's that good. The double gatefold vinyl plays like a lost classic from the mid 1970's.
  • David Byrne/Fatboy Slim, Here Lies Love
    A bold, ambitious, collaborative work that is so smart, so cool and so disco.
  • Maximum Balloon, Maximum Balloon
    Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio makes good use of his phonebook, assembling an all-star lineup of singers for a dance-based studio spree.
  • The National, High Violet
    I was obsessed with this album all year. I know all the words. All. The lyrics and Matt's phrasing just blow my mind.
  • Nellie McKay, Home Sweet Mobile Home
    Nellie takes a huge step forward and proves that her chops and instincts are spot on.
  • Massive Attack, Heliogoland (especially on vinyl)
    This was also one of my favorite shows of the year. Great special guests and real vibe album. The vinyl has a totally different mix and sounds great.
  • Raul Malo, Sinners and Saints
    This one got a lot of play at our house this year.
  • Citizen Cope, The Rainwater LP
    Cope delivers another album of simple yet deep songs that linger with you.
  • Junip, Fields
    Jose Gonzalez and his longtime Swedish friends finally release an album from their 10-year-old band. Jose's signature nylon-string guitar is still at the center, but you'll hear a lot of subtle global influences and a new sense of improvisation.
  • Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
    A great album and one of the best shows of the year, at MSG.

What else?
James Maddock, One Eskimo, Florence and The Machine, and Mumford and Sons (interestingly all British) remained favorites this year, even though I heard them first in 2009.
I also loved: Field Music, Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows, Jonsi, Corinne Bailey Rae, Gaslight Anthem, The Books, Black Dub, Four Tet, Jonsi, and Best Coast.

Favorite songs:

  • Secret Sisters, "Big River" (7 inch vinyl)
  • Elvis Costello, "You Hung the Moon"
  • Robert Plant, "Silver Rider"
  • Keane, "Stop For A Minute"
  • Chilly Gonzalez, "Never Stop"
  • Paul Weller, "No Tears to Cry"

And a few other mentions:

  • The One to Watch: Lissie
  • Biggest Disappointment: M.I.A.
  • Worth Discovering: Luke Doucet, Steel City Trawler
  • Favorite Concert: Stevie Wonder and Jay-Z at Bonnaroo
  • Favorite Interview: Cyndi Lauper, Ray Lamontagne
  • Best Night of the Year: May 11, when I met Keith Richards at a Stones event at MOMA

 

John Platt

Sunday Breakfast Host

The annual ordeal to whittle down my faves to a Top 10 yields the following (in alphabetical order):

  • Caravan of Thieves - Mischief Night
    A "gypsy folk" quartet from Bridgeport with great chops and a sense of humor; their 8-minute acoustic cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody" is a mindblower!
  • Elvis Costello - National Ransom
    Elvis pays respect to an earlier time and makes it sound like his own - and right for today.
  • Carole King & James Taylor - Live at the Troubadour
    A pair of old friends affectionately revisit the venue that helped launch their careers and the songs that have been the soundtrack of our lives.
  • Bettye LaVette - Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook
    After blowing away Daltry and Townshend with her version of "Love Reign O'er Me" at the Kennedy Center honors, she goes on to bring her soulful truth to a whole album of rock classics.
  • Robert Plant - Band of Joy
    T Bone Burnett opened the door to Americana for Plant, now Buddy Miller leads him farther down the path, with Patty Griffin and Darrell Scott as companions.
  • Red Horse - Red Horse
    You might think this collaboration of Eliza Gilkyson, John Gorka, and Lucy Kaplansky is Cry Cry Cry redux, but it's actually pretty different, as the three sing each other's songs, as well as their own and some covers.
  • Red Molly - James
    With their exquisite harmonies and impeccable choice of songs, these three women have earned a place among the elite female trios.
  • Josh Ritter - So Runs the World Away
    Is there anyone out there writing more literate songs than Josh?
  • Sally Spring - Made of Stars
    An underrated veteran from North Carolina with a voice of deep expressiveness and songs of rich experience.
  • Richard Thompson - Dream Attic
    A chance to appreciate a guy who's both a superb songwriter and a guitar hero.

(Note: I would've included James Maddock's Sunrise on Avenue C here, but I was told it was officially released last year.)

Among many others, these were mighty fine, too: Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Age of Miracles; Marc Cohn, Listening Booth: 1970; Paul Curreri, California; Mary Gauthier, The Foundling; Patty Griffin, Downtown Church; Caleb Hawley, Steps; Maura Kennedy, Parade of Echoes; Ray LaMontagne, God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise; Patty Larkin, 25; Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More; Martin Sexton, Sugarcoating; Suzanne Vega, Close Up, Vol.1: Love Songs; Toby Walker, Speechless; Jimmy Webb, Just Across the River; Kenny White, Comfort in the Static; Dar Williams, Many Great Companions; Avi Wisnia, Something New.

 

Pete Fornatale

Mixed Bag Host

Best releases of 2010:

  • Neil Diamond, Dreams
  • Elton John & Leon Russell, The Union
  • The John Lennon Song Project, Imagined
  • Carole King & James Taylor, Live At The Troubador
  • Ray LaMontagne, God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise
  • James Maddock, Sunrise on Avenue C
  • Graham Parker, Imaginary Television
  • Bruce Springsteen, The Promise
  • Brian Wilson, Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin
  • Kenny White, Comfort in the Static

 

Russ Borris

Assistant Music Director and Host of The Alternate Side on FUV

Albums (alphabetical):

  • Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
    The band creates a record that appeals to anyone who's ever been a teenager.
  • Big Boi, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
    While the world waits for a new OutKast album, we have this great solo effort.
  • The Black Keys, Brothers
    Another ridiculously good record from two guys who do more on one album than most bands do in a career.
  • The Gaslight Anthem, American Slang
    Great songs, start to finish. It's GOOD Jersey rock!
  • LCD Soundsystem, This is Happening
    LCD Soundsystem is a party. James Murphy is the host. We all want to go.
  • Lissie, Catching a Tiger
    A really impressive debut. Great voice that can seemingly cover any style and any ground.
  • Janelle Monae, The ArchAndroid
    A hugely ambitious record of futuristic soul. This album is big - really big - on every level.
  • The National, High Violet
    Understated is the new awesome. It's what they do.
  • Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
    I know, everybody hates Kanye. The thing is, everybody also loves Kanye. He has made a record that is too much of everything, yet it works. Completely.
  • Yeasayer, Odd Blood
    A record that stuck with me the whole year filled with keyboards, layered vocals and catchy fun.

Songs:

  • Antoine Dodson & The Gregory Brothers, "Bed Intruder Song"
  • Cee-Lo Green, "F*&k You"
  • Gil Scott-Heron, "Me and the Devil"
  • Kanye West, "Runaway"
  • Yeasayer, "O.N.E."

 

Sarah Wardrop

Assistant Program Director, FUV Music Weekend Host

Albums (by artist, A - Z):

  • Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
  • Justin Townes Earle - Harlem River Blues
  • Michael Franti & Spearhead - The Sound of Sunshine
  • Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks
  • Sarah Harmer - Oh Little Fire
  • The Mynabirds - What We Lose In The Fire We Gain In The Flood
  • Ozomatli - Fire Away
  • Sleigh Bells - Treats
  • Stars - The Five Ghosts
  • Various - Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: The Songs of John Prine

...and a few other songs (by artist, A - Z)

  • Active Child - "When Your Love Is Safe"
  • Andrew Bird - "The Twistable, Turnable Man Returns"
  • Belle & Sebastian - "I Want The World To Stop"
  • The Black Keys - "Next Girl"
  • Frazey Ford - "Blue Streak Mama"
  • Galactic - "Heart of Steel"
  • Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - "Better Things"
  • Tift Merrit - "Mixtape"
  • Nathaniel Rateliff - "Whimper and Wail"
  • Spoon - "Mystery Zone"
  • Vampire Weekend - "Giving Up The Gun"

 

George Evans

Operations Director, WFUV Guest Host

  • Band of Horses, Ininite Arms
  • Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
  • Josh Ritter, So Runs the World Away
  • Los Lobos, Tin Can Trust
  • Ray Lamontagne, God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise
  • Magic Bullets, Magic Bullets
  • Vampire Weekend, Contra
  • The Black Keys, Brothers
  • Tift Merritt, See You On The Moon
  • Jenny And Johnny, I'm Having Fun Now
  • Alejandro Escovedo, Street Songs Of Love
  • Lissie, Catching A Tiger
  • Laura Marling, I Speak Because I Can
  • Laura Veirs, July Flame
  • She And Him, Volume Two
  • The New Pornographers, Together
  • The Hold Steady, Heaven Is Whenever
  • Frightened Rabbit, The Winter Of Mixed Drinks
  • Ben Folds & Nick Hornby, Lonely Avenue
  • Cary Brothers, Under Control
  • Matt & Kim, Sidewalks
  • Michael Franti & Spearhead, The Sound Of Sunshine
  • Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More
  • Of Montreal, False Priest
  • Old 97's, The Grand Theatre
  • Pete Yorn, Pete Yorn
  • The Weepies, Be My Thrill
  • Weezer, Hurley

Late comers of 2010

  • Dylan LeBlanc, Paupers Field
  • Ferraby Lionheart, Jack Of Hearts

 

Kara Manning

Web Editor for The Alternate Side, On-Air Interviewer for WFUV/The Alternate Side

Here's an unwieldy list of what came most rapidly to mind. Since Arcade Fire's The Suburbs and Beach House's Teen Dream will appear on every 2010 list (and rightfully so), I've bypassed them in favor of other records that might be overlooked. in no particular order:

Albums:

  • Field Music, Measure
  • The Divine Comedy, Bang Goes The Knighthood
  • Foals, Total Life Forever
  • Gorillaz, Plastic Beach
  • Underworld, Barking
  • Corinne Bailey Rae, The Sea
  • Delphic, Acolyte
  • Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, Hawk
  • Wild Nothing, Gemini
  • Massive Attack, Heligoland
  • School of Seven Bells, Disconnect From Desire

Singles:
(Yes, there are more than ten, but that's the way it goes):

  • Twin Sister, "All Around And Away We Go"
  • Avi Buffalo, "What's In It For?"
  • The Radio Dept, "Heaven's On Fire"
  • School of Seven Bells, "I L U"
  • Autolux, "High Chair"
  • Four Tet, "She Likes To Fight"
  • Tracey Thorn, "Oh The Divorces"
  • Tame Impala, "Solitude is Bliss"
  • Gorillaz, "Stylo"
  • John Legend and The Roots, "Wake Up Everybody"
  • Underworld, "Scribble"
  • Tunng, "Hustle"
  • Laura Marling, "Rambling Man"
  • Sleigh Bells, "Ring Ring"
  • Charlotte Gainsbourg, "Trick Pony"
  • Jonsi, "Go Do"
  • Janelle Monae w/Big Boi , "Tightrope"
  • Crystal Castles with Robert Smith, "Not In Love"
  • And the track I'm most embarrassed to admit liking a lot: Katy Perry, "Teenage Dream"

 

Alisa Ali

The Alternate Side Host, Producer & On-Air Interviewer for WFUV

This may change. But here it is for now:

  • The National, High Violet
  • The Black Keys, Brothers
  • Phantogram, Eyelid Movies
  • Shout Out Louds, Work
  • DangerMouse & Sparklehorse, Dark Night Of The Soul
  • Broken Bells, Broken Bells
  • The Morning Benders, Big Echo
  • Broken Social Scene, Forgiveness Rock Record
  • Holly Miranda, Magician's Private Library
  • Sufjan Stevens, The Age of Adz
  • Sharon Van Etten, Epic
  • Local Natives, Gorilla Manor
  • School of Seven Bells, Disconnect from Desire

 

Eric Holland

Host, WFUV, FUV Music and The Alternate Side

  • Spoon, Transference
  • Corinne Bailey Rae, The Sea
  • Grinderman, Grinderman 2
  • Black Keys, Brothers
  • Erykah Badu, New Amerika 2 - Return of the Ankh
  • Broken Bells, S/T
  • Dead Weather, Sea of Cowards
  • Citizen Cope, The Rainwater LP
  • The Hold Steady, Heaven is Whenever
  • Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, I Learned the Hard Way
 

Ben Sisario

WFUV Music Reviewer; Music writer, The New York Times

The Top 11, subject to change:

  1. Sufjan Stevens, The Age of Adz
  2. Laura Marling, I Speak Because I Can
  3. Sleigh Bells, Treats
  4. Sharon Van Etten, Epic
  5. Teenage Fanclub, Shadows
  6. Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
  7. Best Coast, Crazy for You
  8. Sade, Soldier of Love
  9. Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
  10. Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More
  11. Beach House, Teen Dream
 

Anthony DeCurtis

WFUV Music Reviewer; Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone

  • Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
    The Suburbs are a metaphor on Arcade Fire's third album, which, according to singer Win Butler, is "neither a love letter to, nor an indictment of, the suburbs - it's a letter from the suburbs." As such, the album is suffused with the feeling of unknowingly being on the edge of something larger, more meaningful and more foreboding. The Suburbs explores the disquieting aspects of modernity -- a sense that apocalypse may lie just around the corner, the hope that perhaps something better lies just within or beyond our reach. "Rococo" looks at the postures of the "modern kids...using great big words that they don't understand." The band understands that those poses are protective, that it's the world careening out of control, not the kids.
  • Jakob Dylan, Women + Country
    It certainly opened doors for him, but being Bob Dylan's son also created problems for Jakob Dylan. He scored big with his band the Wallflowers in 1996 with the album Bringing Down the Horse, but since then, while he's consistently made good music, he's had trouble finding his footing. On Women + Country, he teams up again with T Bone Burnett, who produced Bringing Down the Horse, but this time Dylan doesn't seem to be trying so hard. That's a good thing. The alt-country sound of these songs is spare and unaffected, and background singers Neko Case and Kelly Hogan provide a sweetness that smoothes out the grain in Dylan's voice. The result is an album that's easy to like, and difficult to set aside.
  • John Legend and the Roots, Wake Up!
    This album got its conceptual start during the 2008 presidential campaign, when singer John Legend and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson of the Roots began to feel that young African Americans needed to learn more about their history in order the appreciate the significance of Barack Obama's rise to political prominence. Eleven of the twelve songs on Wake Up! are versions of songs originally recorded in the Sixties and early Seventies, when the civil rights movement and soul music moved hand in hand. Ernie Hines' "Our Generation" was a call to arms when he released it in 1972, and it remains one today.
  • John Mellencamp, No Better Than This
    No Better Than This is John Mellencamp's second collaboration with (ubiquitous) producer T Bone Burnett, and it continues a run of strong outings from him. Typically, Burnett convinces Mellencamp that less is more, so these songs speak eloquently in a straightforward musical language that suits the singer's no-nonsense Indiana roots. Some of the tracks here were recorded at Sun Records in Memphis and in the San Antonio hotel room where Robert Johnson laid down his heart-stopping songs. But the album ends with Mellencamp on acoustic guitar, singing "Clumsy Ol' World," a lovely tribute to his wife, Elaine Irwin, that is as much a testament to marriage and the silly ways of this life as it is an autobiographical statement.
  • Natalie Merchant, Leave Your Sleep
    Leave Your Sleep, a two-disc set (a single-disc version is also available), is Natalie Merchant's first studio album since 2003, and it's a bold statement. Working with a wide variety of players in a broad range of styles, Merchant sets poems and stories by the likes of Ogden Nash, Robert Louis Stevenson and Gerard Manley Hopkins to music. It's an album for children with a pre-modern agenda: To convey the sly wisdom of folk tales and nursery rhymes rather than the easy right-mindedness of so much contemporary music for kids. Consequently, the album conveys the mystery, wonder and surreal logic of childhood in a way that is childlike in the best possible sense.
  • The National, High Violet
    With titles like "Terrible Love," "Sorrow," "Anyone's Ghost," "Afraid of Everyone" and "Bloodbuzz Ohio," High Violet is clearly no laff fest. The National, a quintet based in Brooklyn, but with roots in the Midwest, specializes in a free-floating atmospheric dread that is well suited to this time of a teetering economy, a precarious environment and profound political mistrust. None of those issues emerges in any overt way in the eleven songs on High Violet; singer and lyricist Matt Berninger is deft at communicating the subtle ways in which those larger anxieties manifest themselves, beneath our consciousness, in our emotional lives. No mere fear-slinger, he earns his perspective through the depth of his insights and the originality of his imagery. Joy Division and Depeche Mode are among the sources for the band's rich, gloomy musical textures, but the National sound as vivid - and unsettling -- as this immediate cultural moment.
  • Bruce Springsteen, The Promise
    The 21 tracks on this two-disc set were recorded while Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were working on the album that would become Darkness on the Edge of Town, which came out in 1978. Legal problems with his former manager had kept Springsteen out of the studio for two years, and by the time he returned he was bursting with ideas - and anxieties about the statement he needed to make as a follow-up to Born to Run (1975). Among Springsteen's concerns at the time was being perceived as a "revivalist," and, no doubt, many of the songs on The Promise reveal Springsteen's obsession with Sixties soul, British Invasion pop and Phil Spector's girl-group grandeur. Darkness on the Edge of Town turned out to be one of Springsteen's best and most rigorously focused albums, and, now that his originality has long been established, it's possible to enjoy the sheer musicality - and the surprising depth - of these additional songs.
  • Mavis Staples, You Are Not Alone
    Ever since producer Rick Rubin re-energized Johnny Cash in the Nineties, it's become commonplace for alternative artists to undertake renovation projects on the careers of older legends. Happily, gospel goddess Mavis Staples hardly required such attention, but Jeff Tweedy of Wilco does an admirable job of showcasing her spellbinding voice on You Are Not Alone. Among other things, he wrote the moving title track, which sits comfortably among more traditional fare like "Don't Knock," which was written by Mavis's late father, the gospel giant Roebuck "Pops" Staples. On this album, Mavis Staples stares down the snares of the modern world, and offers soulful redemption in their place.
  • Tracey Thorn, Love and Its Opposite
    Tracey Thorn, best known as the singer in Everything But the Girl, takes on the difficult subject of divorce on her third solo album, Love and Its Opposite. The arrangements here are beautifully understated, and Thorn sings with a restraint that only makes the underlying emotions of these songs more powerful. "Can you guess my age in these jeans?/Can you tell me what any of this means?" she asks poignantly in "Singles Bar." Those questions rub against the larger one implied in the album's title: What is the opposite of love? Hate? Indifference? Isolation? Thorn makes such philosophical inquiry beat on her pulse, along with the sense of loss and the frightening freedom of suddenly finding yourself alone and unaccountable.
  • Vampire Weekend, Contra
    Consisting of four high-IQ New Yorkers, Vampire Weekend takes its inspiration from other high-IQ New Yorkers who preceded them, most notably Paul Simon and David Byrne, whose globe-trotting musical ways are reflected all over Contra, the band's second album. Skittering Afro-pop rhythms and smart cultural references abound. The combination makes for a glossy, easily accessible surface, but the ten songs on Contra get surprisingly deep. You just need to pull away from the joyful grooves long enough to discover what's going on underneath them. But Contra's sounds are so infectious that that's easier said than done.

 

Josh Baron

WFUV Music Reviewer; Editor-in-Chief, Relix

  • The National, High Violet
  • Matt Costa, Mobile Chateau
  • Tallest Man on Earth, The Wild Hunt
  • The Black Keys, Brothers
  • Jimi Hendrix, West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology
  • Gaslight Anthem, American Slang
  • Vampire Weekend, Contra
  • Jonsi, Go
  • Maserati, Pyramid of the Sun
  • She & Him, Volume 2

 

Bob Sherman

Woody's Children Host

  • Linda Allen, Here's to the Women (October Rose)
  • L.J. Booth, The Road That Leads Me Home (Firefly)
  • Tom Chapin & John Forster , Broadsides (Sundance)
  • Steve Deasy, People Were Once Welcome Here (Red Cedar River)
  • Steve Gillette, The Man (Compass Rose)
  • Golden Bough, Winding Road (Arc Music)
  • Si Kahn, Courage (Strictly Country)
  • Christine Lavin, et.al., Just One Angel (Yellow Tail)
  • Kristi & Steve Nebel, Raven Speaks (Icebird)
  • Pete Seeger, et.al., Tomorrow's Children (Appleseed)

 

Ceol na nGael

Celtic Sunday afternoons

  • Altan, 25th Anniversary Celebration
  • Black 47, Bankers and Gangsters
  • Danny Quinn, Tis a Fine Soft Day
  • Gaelic Storm, Cabbage
  • Grada, Natural Angle
  • Karan Casey & John Doyle, Exiles Return
  • Lunasa, La Nua
  • Old Blind Dogs, Wherever Yet May Be
  • Solas, The Turning Tide
  • The Chieftains, San Patricio

 

Laura Fedele

New Media Director

I was sorely tempted to list High Violet 10 times, but I resisted. So...Favorite Albums:

  1. The National, High Violet
  2. Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More
  3. Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
  4. Josh Ritter, So Runs the World Away
  5. David Byrne And Fatboy Slim, Here Lies Love
  6. Indigo Girls, Staring Down The Brilliant Dream
  7. Ray Lamontagne, God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise
  8. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, I Learned the Hard Way
  9. Peter Gabriel, Scratch My Back
  10. Raul Malo, Sinners & Saints

Plus:

  • To move to: LCD Soundsystem, M.I.A., Massive Attack
  • To listen to: Amy Correia, Nathaniel Rateliff, James Maddock, Robert Plant, FUV Live 13
  • These rock: Matt & Kim, Alejandro Escovedo, Spoon, The Black Keys

 

Joey Delvecchio

Traffic and Continuity Director

For me, 2010 was definitely a year of favorite singles more than albums. Here goes:

Albums:

  1. Stone Temple Pilots, Stone Temple Pilots
    Those who know me well will not be surprised that this tops my list. True, I have a never-ending love affair with the 1990s, but whereas I thought the Smashing Pumpkins comeback was terrible, Stone Temple Pilots was as good a record as the band has ever made. And as Scott Weiland sings in the intro track and lead single "Between the Lines", "You always were my favorite drug / Even when we used to take drugs", well, you just can't beat a lyric like that.
  2. The Gaslight Anthem, American Slang
    It's one thing to be influenced by Bruce Springsteen (who is himself #2 on my all-time favorite artists list), but it's another thing to be Bruce Springsteen. The first time I heard this record, I was actually turned off by the fact that I felt like I was listening to a lost Springsteen record. I had to constantly look at the CD case to remind myself it wasn't the boss - and yes I still listen to CDs sometimes). Even still, although my initial reaction was negative for that fact alone, this is a damn good record. And, as I always say, most artists are derivative to some extent, so if they're good at it, more power to them. The Gaslight Anthem certainly have the Springsteen sound down pat. Every song on this record is quality art. It's a record about New York, music, partying, and, of course, women (as a Bronx native, I love "My queen of the Bronx / Blue eyes and spitfire", in "Bring It On", but that's just me).
  3. James Maddock, Sunrise On Avenue C
    The fact is, the title track of this record is so good, that it manages to radiate and carry the entire record to my #3 album of 2010. There are other good songs on the record, but they all build up to, and lead away from, the centerpiece. "We came to make this place our home / You say you've had enough you're moving on...Ain't you got a kiss for me? / The Village is a symphony / Where else would you wanna be? / It's sunrise on Avenue C". Yes.

Songs:

  1. Stars, "Fixed"
    A continuation of the artistry of In Our Bedroom After the War. This track has what is seemingly a rare combination these days of both sincerity and pop accessibility.
  2. Nellie McKay, "Bruise on the Sky"
    I had to eat major crow on this one, because up until this point, I haven't been Nellie's biggest fan. But one day during Darren's shift, I was sitting at my desk and thought "This song is awesome", before I even knew who it was. Never would've thought "Nellie McKay"/ It's nice to hear her rocking out. This new direction works (for me, anyway).
  3. Train, "Marry Me"
    If I was ever going to get married (what a thought) this would definitely be my top choice for wedding song. But unlike other wedding songs, this one successfully avoids being cheesy (well, for the most part, I mean it is called "Marry Me", so one must expect a slight cheese factor). But really, consider this, "Marry me / Today and every day / If I ever get the nerve to say hello in this cafe or "You wear white / And I'll wear out the words I love you / And you're beautiful". Not cheesy, just honest and direct. Listen before you judge!
  4. Third Eye Blind, "Bonfire"
    "Lightning comes and lightning goes / And it's all the same to me...We'll stop the flames at dawn / But I'll keep burning on and on and on". That's the stuff dreams are made of my friends. Steven Jenkins has always been grossly underrated as a songwriter. This is some of his best lines since the band's 1997 self-titled debut album's "Motorcycle Drive-By"
  5. Pete Yorn, "Precious Stone"
    I love pretty much all of Pete Yorn's music. Still, this track has the sand of Musicforthemorningafter". And following a nice, crunchy riff, it's just Pete's voice and the drums to bring it home.
  6. The Posies, "So Caroline"
    Nice art-pop a la "Stars" (see above).
  7. Kings of Leon, "Pickup Truck"
    After I intentionally played this record about five times, ironically, this song (the record's closer) didn't catch my ear until it happened to come on my shuffle, at which point I thought "Wait a minute, this song's nice!" As I tend to do with songs I love, I played this to death. Despite the new-found mass appeal of this band, they still play with notable sincerity and fervor. "I hate to be so emotional / I didn't aim to get physical....A little piece of a bloody tooth / Just so you know I was thinking of you." Now, a bloody tooth is not a pleasing visual to be sure, but it is genuine. I like that.