Phantogram went national with the release of “Eyelid Movies” on Barsuk Records in February.
Sirsy signed a deal with Funzalo Records in March.
And Sean Rowe got signed to Anti- Records in November.
No question about it, 2010 was a bona fide breakout year for local music makers, and yeah, it certainly looks as though right now there’s more reason to be optimistic about the state of the Nippertown music scene than ever before.
But despite all of the national attention, a lot of the best homegrown music of 2010 seemed to fly under the radar with little or no hometown recognition.
We here at Nippertown.com would like to do our humble part to rectify that situation with our own examination of the best Local 518 music that we heard this year. Here’s a list of our faves.
And you can hear selections from the Nippertown Top 10 Countdown tonight on WEXT-FM at 8pm (re-broadcast at 6pm on Saturday):
1. Jim Sande’s “Harvest Bell Ride” (JimSande.org) – It’s subtle, but also richly rewarding instrumental music. Intoxicating, classically tinged chamber music that just doesn’t seem to fit into any particular musical pigeon-hole. And we love it…
2. The Charlie Watts Riots’ “Long Story Short” (The Soundcheck Republic) – The debut album of the year from a group of long-tenured musicians on the scene. Power pop to the eleventh degree.
3. Sensemaya’s “Shake It!” (Lakesound Records) – Another killer debut. Led by keyboardist David Gleason, Nippertown’s premier Latin jazz combo proved that they can do it in the studio – and get funky, too.
4. Jed Davis’ “The Cutting Room Floor” (Eschatone Records) – The fractured pop genius behind Hanslick Rebellion and other local bands returns from his hiatus in Brooklyn and finally unleashes his 10-years-in-the-making masterwork.
5. George Muscatello’s “Angel Dust” (Collar City Records) – Veteran jazz guitarist finally makes his solo debut, and it’s not jazz. In fact, it’s utterly unclassifiable. It may be the most challenging album of the year, but it may also be the most rewarding.
6. Phantogram’s “Eyelid Movies” (Barsuk Records) – No question about it, Phantogram is Nippertown’s band of the year. Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel conjure up some intriguing electro-pop, and we can’t wait to hear what’s coming next.
7. Kevin Bartlett’s “Songs for the Big Kablooey” (Aural Gratification) – After years of electro-symphonic ambient-oriented instrumental music, the Woodstock musical maverick headed back into David Bowie-meets-Pink Floyd glam-pop with glorious results.
8. David Malachowski’s “The Secret Life of Colonel David” (DavidMalachowski.com) – Over the course of his very impressive career as a sideman with everyone from Savoy Brown to Shania Twain, our fave ace guitarslinger-for-hire finally made his solo debut – and he played everything himself.
9. Rob Skane’s “Phantom Power Trip” (LoFi Records) – Having banged around town with bands like the Dugans and the Lawn Sausages as well as a number of solo efforts, Skane finally made the album that he’s always had in him.
10. Tern Rounders’ “Tern Rounders” (TernRounders.com) – Perhaps the most tumultuous release of the year, co-founder Marc Clayton parted company with the alt-country combo just a week before the band’s crackling sophomore album was released. Fortunately, co-leader and vocalist Kim Kilby is determined to carry on.
Matthew Carefully’s “Community Balloon” (Collar City Records)
Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble’s “Live at the Lark Tavern” (KeithPray.com)
Todd Nelson’s “Here” (ToddNelsonGuitar.com)
Elizabeth Woodbury Kasius & Heard’s “Karibu” (HeardMusic.net)
Michael Eck’s “In My Shoes” (Mandala Hand)
Ill Funk Ensemble’s “Catching Wreck” (IllFunk.com)
Swamp Baby’s “All Fours” (Collar City Records)
The Last Conspirators’ “When It All Comes Down” (Driving Rain Music)
Taina Asili y la Banda Rebelde’s “War Cry” (TainaAsili.com)
Fall Harbor’s “Meet Me at the Water” (FallHarbor.com)
Chris Carey’s “Sunset Moon” (ChrisCareyMusic.com)
Bob Warren’s “Bob Warren” (KBW Music)
BAND OF THE YEAR: Phantogram. Do we really need to explain why?
BEST COMPILATION: “The 3rd Annual B3nson Family Funsgiving” featuring Scientific Maps, BEWARE! The Other Head of Science, We Are Jeneric, Barons in the Attic, more.
BEST WAX CYLINDER RELEASE: Jed Davis’ “Yuppie Exodus for DUMBO.” OK, there wasn’t much – or, in fact, any – competition in this category. But this was one serious way-off-the-beaten-track effort, and that’s exactly why we love it so much.
BEST RECORD LABEL: Collar City Records for George Muscatello’s “Angel Dust,” Matthew Carefully’s “Community Balloon,” Swamp Baby’s “All Fours,” Mount Mole’s “MMX” and the fact that Anti- Records is re-releasing Sean Rowe’s “Magic” as is in February – without any re-mixing or anything else.
NIPPERTOWN’S MUSIC MAN OF THE YEAR: Matthew Carefully for his all-around Nippertown music scene support; releasing at least four albums of his own – “Live at The Linda: 2/25/10,” “Community Balloon,” “Music to Fall Asleep To, Vol. 1” and “St. Joseph’s Obilivion”; spearheading Collar City Records; and much, much more. In addition to navigating a particularly tricky name change, too.
And just in case you missed any of Nippertown’s other Best of 2010 lists, here they are all in one place for your perusal:
THE 2010 LIST OF LISTS:
2010: The Nippertown Year in Review
Best Art Exhibits of the Year: Get Visual’s David Brickman
Best Concerts of the Year: James Ketterer
Best Concerts of the Year: Fred Rudofsky
Best Concerts of the Year: Nippertown’s Greg Haymes
Best Art Exhibitions of the Year: The Daily Gazette’s Karen Bjornland
Best Concerts of the Year: The Daily Gazette
Best Albums of the Year: Nippertown’s Matt Mac Haffie
Best Concerts of the Year That I Missed: Nippertown’s Greg Haymes
Best Local CDs of 2010: The Daily Gazette’s Brian McElhiney
Most Disappointing Concerts of 2010: Nippertown’s Greg Haymes
Best Albums of the Year: Justin Mikulka
Best Capital Region Theater of the Year: Nippertown’s Greg Haymes
Most Disappointing Capital Region Concert Cancellations of the Year: Nippertown’s Greg Haymes
Best Albums of the Year: Brian Patneaude
Best Concerts of the Year: Nippertown’s J Hunter
Best Albums of the Year: WEXT’s Chris Wienk
Best Concerts of the Year: Nippertown’s Andrzej Pilarczyk
Best Albums of the Year: Tim Livingston
Best Comics & Graphic Novels of the Year: The Village Voice
Best Album Covers of the Year: All Songs Considered
Best Canadian Albums of the Year: WEXT’s Wayne Henning
Best Songs of the Year: Altered Zones
Best New Webcomics of the Year: Wired
Best Entertainers Who Moonlight as Artists of the Year: Art:21
Best Albums of the Year: Spin Magazine
Best Television Commercials of the Year: TV Squad
Best Feature Films of the Year: Roger Ebert
Best TV Character Deaths of the Year: Entertainment Weekly
Best Viral Videos of the Year: Videogum
Best Albums & Best Selling Albums of the Year: Billboard
Best Country Albums: The Boot
Best TV Music Moments of the Year: Treble
Best Book Covers of the Year: The L Magazine
Best Folk Albums of the Year: About.com Guide
Best Albums of the Year: We Are Not a Rock Band
Best Movies of the Year: Christian Science Monitor
Best Television Shows of the Year: Channel Surfing
Best Music Videos of the Year: IFC
Best Books of the Year: The New York Times Book Review
Best Live Acts of the Year: Paste Magazine
Best Poetry Books of the Year: Dan Chiasson of The New Yorker
Best Albums of the Year: Andy Maroney
Best Movie Titles of the Year That Sounded Like Porn, But, Alas, Were Not Porn: Movieline
Best DVDs of the Year: Rolling Stone
Best Albums of the Year: NME
Best Fiction of the Year: Salon
Best Jazz Albums of the Year: A Blog Supreme
Best Albums of the Year: Filter Magazine
Best Albums of the Year: Mojo Magazine