She & Him – Volume 2
This is definitely up there as my favourite album of 2010. She & Him combines the beautiful voice of Zooey Deschanel and the stunning guitar playing of M. Ward. Their first album ‘Volume 1’ was released two years ago in 2008 and was a fantastic debut record, but ‘Volume 2’ really steps. The album is beautiful, you could put in on repeat for hours and hours and never get bored.
I was lucky enough to see them at the Koko in Camden in May 2010 and they were unbelievable, playing songs from both of their albums along with surprise covers of ‘I Put A Spell On You’ and ‘Rollover Beethoven’. Fantastic. Check this album out now!
Eric Clapton – Clapton
This is probably Clapton’s best studio album since 2004’s ‘Me & Mr Johnson’. The album consists of many songs that Clapton grew up listening to including ‘When Somebody Thinks You’re Wonderful’, ‘Autumn Leaves’, ‘My Very Good Friend The Milkman’ and ‘That’s No Way To Get Along’. Each track is performed beautifully and you can sense that he is only thinking about the music and not worrying about commercial success, which is how it should be. This is a cracking album and shows Clapton at his best.
The Rolling Stones – Exile On Main St. (Reissue)
What can I say about this album? It was fantastic when it was first released back in 1972 and it’s fantastic now. The album came with an additional CD of unheard tracks and alternate takes. This is one of the best albums of all time and is the peak of the Rolling Stones recording career. You need to listen to it from start to finish to understand how great this album is, and you won’t be disappointed.
The Dead Weather – Sea Of Cowards
It seems everything that Jack White touches turns to gold. This is the second album from his ‘side project’ The Dead Weather, released only 10 months after their debut ‘Horehound’, contains some of the best blues/rock recorded. The album combines Jack White’s groovy drumming, Alison Mosshart’s attacking vocals, Jack Laurence’s driving bass lines and Dean Fertita’s stunning guitar work. Highlights include ‘Hustle And Cuss’, ‘I’m Mad’, ‘No Horse’, ‘The Difference Between Us’ and ‘Blue Blood Blues’. It’s a fantastic album. I was lucky enough to see them live at the Roundhouse in Camden and they blew everyone away! Get this album.
Jimi Hendrix – Valleys Of Neptune
This album really hints at the kind of sound Hendrix was going for before he died. The highlights of the album include the title track which can be compared to a dream, and ‘Ships Passing Through The Night’ which has one of the best opening riffs that can be compared to ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘Hey Joe’ in terms of magnificence. Other highlights include ‘Crying Blue Rain’, ‘Lullaby For The Summer’ and the energetic cover of Cream’s ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’. Not all the tracks are unheard and original, there are also alternate takes of ‘Stone Free’, ‘Red House’ and ‘Fire’.
We’ll never know what Hendrix was aiming for musically before he died, but this is a good indication.
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
Some say Damon Albarn is the David Bowie of his generation as far as songwriting success goes, and I wouldn’t disagree with that. The third album from Gorillaz is an absolute classic just like its two predecessors, containing collaborations with Lou Reed, Bobby Womack, Little Dragon, Snoop Dog and Mick Jones & Paul Simonon. However the best work is when Albarn takes lead vocal on songs like ‘Rhinestone Eyes’, ‘On Melancholy Hill’, ‘Broken’ and ‘Pirate Jet’. It’s a magnificent album, sounding nothing like 2001’s Gorillaz or 2005’s Demon Days which is something Albarn has a habit of doing. Whatever he does next sounds nothing like what’s he’s done before, and he’s definitely one of the greatest songwriters that in years to come will be compared more to Bowie, McCartney and Lennon.
Rufus Wainwright – All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu
I saw Rufus at the New Theatre in Oxford and the show blew me away. He played two sets, first of which was this entire album from start to finish, just him and his piano. He asked the audience not to applause at the end of each song, instead asking them to wait until the entire set was finished. It was fantastic. He’s a fantastic showman, pianist and lyricist who definitely deserves more light of day. This album is a must from 2010.