TOP 10 ALBUMS
1. Grandchildren, Everlasting
2. Sun Airway, Nocturne Of Exploded Crystal Chandelier
3. Reading Rainbow, Prism Eyes
4. Summer Fiction, Summer Fiction
5. Strand Of Oaks, Pope Killdragon
6. The War On Drugs, Future Weather
7. Dangerous Ponies, Dangerous Ponies
8. Prowler, Wooly Mammoth
9. Nightlands, Forget The Mantra
10. Purling Hiss, Public Service Announcement
TOP 10 SONGS
1. Sun Airway, “Put The Days Away”
2. Grandchildren, “Cold Warrior”
3. Pissed Jeans, “Sam Kinison Woman”
4. Party Photographers, “21”
5. Kurt Vile, “In My Time”
6. Grandchildren, “Saturn Returns”
7. Reading Rainbow, “Wasting Time”
8. Nightlands, “Suzerain (A Letter To The Judge)”
9. In Grenada, “Hills (Flooded Valleys)”
10. Sun Airway, “Oh Naoko
Earlier this month, while planning out our Best-Of coverage, we reached out to a handful of local scene folks for their input on the best albums to come out of Philly in 2010. Here’s what a couple of them had to say:
Kevin Kennedy,The Swollen Fox Favorite Album of 2010:Strand Of Oaks‘ Pope Killdragon
When recording the follow-up to 2008’s lovely Leave Ruin, Timothy Showatler, the man behind the moniker Strand Of Oaks, made a conscious effort to steer away from the suffering-singer-songwriter (think Bon Iver) image that Leave Ruin gave him. That concerted effort resulted in Pope Killdragon, one of the most beautiful and imaginative albums of the year. With songs about hanging out with JFK, a giant who’s mother was killed by a bowling ball, and Dan Akroyd’s depression following John Belushi’s death, it’s certainly not short on imagination.
It wasn’t just a lyrical change Showalter sought though, he also gave Killdragon a more electric, full-band sound. The one constant is his amazing voice, which was the first thing to jump out at me and the main thing that keeps me listening so obsessively. What all of these elements (the imaginative lyrics, the new sound, and Showalter’s voice) gives us is a collection of devastatingly beautiful songs that will tear your heart out one moment and have you rocking out the next (I’m looking at you, “Sterling”). It also gives us one of the best albums of 2010.
Emily Simpson, Assistant Production Manager at Kung Fu Necktie Favorite Album of 2010:Prowler‘s Wooly Mammoth
When I first sat down to write a blurb about the best local album of 2010, I thought it was going to be next to impossible considering the amount of insanely good tunes being crafted in Philly this year—but then I remembered that hiding somewhere in my collection was Prowler’s most recent release, Wooly Mammoth. Game over. Amongst all of the noise rock, shoegaze, lo-fi, crusty punk, sludge metal, and indie pop that we tend to be overly familiar with, Prowler stands out as being a little weird, but inherently and aggressively unique.
Wooly Mammoth’s longest tune clocks in at a mere three minutes and twenty-six seconds, keeping with the band’s dedication to producing quick, in-your-face dance jams that give you enough time to get into the groove but never wear out their welcome. Percussion throughout the album, courtesy of Tyler Griswald, is consistently innovative and worthy of the dance moves it’ll have you busting in your seat during “Saturnalian.” Ryan Kerrigan’s funky guitar riffs and Mike Stazseski’s bass lines are, as per usual, flawless and perfectly complemented on tracks like “Automagically.” Kat Paffett puts her keyboard skills to use like never before to add that extra bit of boogie, and with a vocalist as captivating and energetic as Keith Greiman, Prowler is almost unstoppably good.
And even so, it gets better. Reef The Lost Cauze and Plastic Little both make appearances on the album in a love-letter-to-Philly kind of way. Colossal, spaced-out, booty-shaking, sassy, and soulful, Wooly Mammoth is the best kind of reflection for the Philadelphia music scene to have in the year 2010.
Prepare yourself to blast off into the funkosphere the minute you press play.
TOP TEN ALBUMS
1. The Chimeras Her (Self-Released)
2. Dr. Dog Shame, Shame (Anti-)
3. Dangerous Ponies Dangerous Ponies (Punk Rock Payroll)
4. Dumhi The Jungle (Self-Released)
5. The Lightning Bug Situation Call (Self-Released)
6. A Sunny Day in Glasgow Autumn, Again (Mis Ojos Discos)
7. Attia Taylor Short Stories and Small Glories (Self-Released)
8. The Roots How I Got Over (Def Jam)
9. BandName Breakfast (Self Aware Records)
10. Summer Fiction Summer Fiction (Self-Released)
TOP TEN SONGS
1. The Chimeras “Audrey”
2. Buried Beds “Steady Hand”
3. Birdie Busch “Joey”
4. Party Photographers “Piano Vache”
5. Free Energy “Bad Stuff”
6. The Spinning Leaves “Bridges For Free”
7. T.J. Kong and the Atomic Bomb “Everyone We Know”
8. Dr. Dog “Jackie Wants A Black Eye”
9. Reef The Lost Cauze “Get Me Outta Here”
10. Audible “The Last Thing I Remember”
BEST NEW ARTIST
2. Oh! Pears
3. The Divine Lorraine
6. Summer Fiction
8. Party Photographers
9. Like Wild
10. The Only Ghost In Town
ARTISTS TO WATCH OUT FOR IN 2011
Hop Along: Frances Quinlan and her band Hop Along have been a massive force on the show scene this year, spinning her earlier folk-leaning songwriting into rumbly distortion pedal rock. They’re probably the Philly band I’m most stoked on at present. They’ve spent the year writing and tracking a full-length that is due out in the spring. It’s going to be explosively good.
Andrew Lipke: He’s been hard at work on his next album, The Plague, for almost three years now. It’s going to be a song cycle of apocalyptic vignettes, and I’ve joked with him that it won’t be finished by the time the world ends 2012. But it’s looking like I’m wrong; Lipke is planning to release the record by next summer. I caught a Tin Angel show he played with The Azreal Quartet (his string section) and the new songs are sounding phenomenal. Can’t wait to hear how they sound on record once they’re dressed up with the rest of his band, The Prospects.
Moon Women: This throwback noise rock trio blew minds with the YouTube clip for their song “Listen Closely,” a video assembled entirely of found VHS footage. Their cassingle release Tape showed that it’s not just the visual gimmick, though – the songs are strong. The band has a 7″ release early next year on new local imprint Ian Records, with a full-length to follow by year’s end, and reportedly some plum local support slots opening for Vivian Girls and Gang of Four.
Res – The eclectic rock-pop-r&b-funk singer is back in Philly, and Reset – her regular Silk City showcase of women in independent music – had some of the strongest lineups and fiercest performances I caught this fall. She’s gearing up for a big year in 2011, first with an EP of Fleetwood Mac covers called Refried Mac, and then with Reset the album. Based on the sets I saw at Silk City, her new band is sounding tight and the songs are sounding huge.
Res: The eclectic rock-pop-r&b-funk singer is back in Philly, and Reset – her regular Silk City showcase of women in independent music – had some of the strongest lineups and fiercest performances I caught this fall. She’s gearing up for a big year in 2011, first with an EP of Fleetwood Mac covers called Refried Mac, and then with Reset the album. Based on the sets I saw at Silk City, her new band is sounding tight and the songs are sounding huge.
Best Album: Kuf Knotz, Boombox Logic Dutch, A Bright New Day Sun Airway, Nocturne Of Exploded Crystal Chandelier Good Old War, Self-titled The Great Unknown, Tonight, Let’s Pretend Kingsfoil, On Our Own Together Dr. Dog, Shame, Shame Ben Arnold, Simplify John Francis, The Better Angels Talain Rayne, Attic Lights
Best New Artist:
Johnny Miles And The Waywards
The Fleeting Ends
Sonni Shine & The Underwater Sound
The City Music Project
“Give It Up Now,” Kingsfoil
“Simplify,” Ben Arnold
“Put the Days Away,” Sun Airway
“When the Saints Sleep” Johnny Miles & The Waywards
“The Way the Empire Fell,” John Francis
“Joey,” Birdie Busch
“Clock Tickin’,” KuF Knotz
“Windows Are Rolled Down,” Amos Lee
“The Story of the Sea Green Sky,” Adam Taylor
“Free,” Liz Longley
Bands/Artists To Keep Your Eye On In 2011: Matt Duke, Andrew Lipke, Kingsfoil, Hezekiah Jones, Liz Longley
There’s no doubt that the local music scene in Philly has busted out. This year, led by our faves including Dr. Dog & Free Energy the local scene is center stage nationally and for many of the reasons below. Here were some of the records this year that were of the best of the local music scene.
In my very subjective opinion, 2010 was a high water mark banner year for local music created by Philly bands. For the last few years in particular the scene has been extremely happening, fertile and diverse. Nationally, Philly’s prowess is being felt cross many genres; from indie-rock and R&B to tomorrow’s classic rock today, singers and songwriters, hip-hop and some of that old time rock and roll. It’s (mostly) all good in the hood. So who made some of the best music in Philly this year? Read on.
For our first round of Best-Of coverage, we asked you—our dear readers—to submit your votes for the Best Album, Best Debut Album, and Best New Artist. And, to our surprise, you came out in full force. The number of votes we received surpassed our most optimistic hopes. (We have, after all, only been around for four months…) And the best part is that less than half of the votes we received were of the obvious ballot-stuffing variety. (Lesson learned for next year: Put together a list of 20-30 local albums for people to choose from instead of a blank form.) After combing through the results, these are your favorite local albums of 2010 (as best as we can tell).