For the second consecutive year at Hidden Track, we concocted our innovative little experiment for the year-end Best Albums list. Instead of picking the old fashioned way – subjectively – we opted for something a little different: a collaborative, collective list that incorporates the opinions of everybody here at HT.
To begin, we devised an all-encompassing list of well over 100 nominees, whereby most everything our contributors recommended made the list. Then we invited our crew of writers to independently and blindly vote on the whole list on a scale of 1 to 20 (20 = five stars). We ended up with varying degrees of familiarity with the nominees as some folks voted on just about everything, while some just a few. From there, we deployed our egghead algorithm for rating albums: (two times the average rating) + (the total number of votes). At that point, we took the top 25 highest scores and presto: the Hidden Track 25 Best Albums of 2010. No bullshit, no big opinions; just the results.
We’ve come to the end of our week long countdown, let’s check out our Top Five…
Sounds Like: Dance Yrself Clean, I Can Change
Key Tracks: Modern spacefunk, Talking Heads with an indie twist
The Skinny: James Murphy and company’s third full-length finds the eccentric front man exploring the benefits and trappings of stardom accompanied by the funky dance-pop we’ve come to know and love. Not at all a departure from the first two records, This Is Happening takes the LCD sound in a slightly more laid-back, introspective direction. Gone are some of the dancehall sounds in favor of a more organic, live band-sounding approach which brings the seemingly more personal material to life beautifully. Murphy’s impassioned vocals are direct and honest, particularly on the monstrously catchy single I Can Change. This record has all of the things we love about LCD – the Talking Heads-esque bounce, Murphy’s staccato delivery, thick, ever shifting soundscapes – but with a maturity and comfort that shows Murphy growing as an artist and a person.
READ ON for the final four albums in our countdown…
Wow, I can’t believe we’ve made almost three-quarters of the way through the year and we’ve haven’t had the time to get the HT Crew together for a solid hang to talk music, while chowing down on a tasty spread of burgers, dogs, kebabs and whatnot. With summer officially coming to an end yesterday, we thought we’d invite the gang over to HT Headquarters to enjoy the quickly disappearing last warm days of the year, throw some large hunks of meat on the grill and crack open a few Long Trail Harvest Ales for another rousing edition of At The Barbecue.
This time around we’re having everyone share with the class what they did on their summer vacation by discussing their favorite show of the summer – which we’ve roughly defined as anything seen between Labor Day and Memorial Day weekends. So with that in mind let’s get to it…
Scott Bernstein – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers / MMJ – August 24 – Izod Center – East Rutherford, NJ
Picking my favorite concert of the summer wasn’t easy as there were about five concerts that all could’ve easily been my choice. While Phish’s second Camden show was fairly epic, God Street Wine’s reunion shows were a blast and catching Squeeze in the middle of Bryant Park was sublime, I’ve decided that the My Morning Jacket/Tom Petty show I saw at the Izod Center on August 24th was my favorite concert of the season. MMJ tore through all of their classics and didn’t hold anything back in tackling their best material, while Petty did a great job of presenting a mini-set of songs from his latest album smack dab in the middle of a flawless greatest hits set.
Not only was the music great but I was very surprised by the enthusiasm displayed by the concertgoers in my section. I expected a crowd of folks who were content to sit all night and instead most stood and danced with joy and excitement. I took great pleasure in watching MMJ win over Petty fans and I do believe The Heartbreakers are extremely underrated as musicians, especially keyboardist Benmont Tench. I tend to focus on the details and watching Tench come up with innovative fills on a variety of vintage keyboards was a revelation. I would’ve never guessed going into the show that MMJ/Petty would be my favorite gig of the summer, but perhaps the lack of expectations and a full, rocking arena led this night to a special place in my heart. Plus, I’m just a sucker for arena rock.
READ ON for more of the HT Staff’s favorite shows of the summer…
Crimson and Clover is the title track from a 1968 album by Tommy James & the Shondells. Most interesting in this week’s covers is how the artists tackle the outro section, which on the original recording features vocals run through a guitar amplifier with a heavy dose of tremolo. Also of note, the album version of Crimson & Clover clocks in at almost five and a half minutes. Somewhat surprisingly, only one of the covers surpasses that length.
Broken Bells, which features James Mercer of The Shins on Guitar & Vocals and Dangermouse on Drums, is on tour supporting their self-titled album and are working in a couple of well-selected covers. In addition to Crimson and Clover, which they do a great job with, they are also playing the 1962 hit by The Miracles You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me.
READ ON for the scoop on the rest of this week’s contestants…