Albums for the New Depression

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I must admit that I’d been feeling pretty daunted about choosing ten of my favourite albums from 2010. However, it wasn’t such a bad year for music after all and it actually took me a while to narrow it down to twenty. In no particular order, here are numbers 11-20, with the Top Ten coming tomorrow. Two of my favourite Scottish bands added to that country’s fine melodic tradition with their most recent efforts. Write About Love by Belle & Sebastian and Shadows by Teenage Fanclub were two of last year’s more uplifting albums. Lowering the Tone by The Brad Pitt Light Orchestra is the first of two Irish debuts in my Top 20. The band is largely composed of the Blake siblings from Limerick and their well-crafted Brechtian songs are equally well-performed on their first full-length record. The total running time of these first three records is just over two hours, which is only slighter longer than Have One on Me by Joanna Newsom. It’s probably going to take me a few more years to really get to know the album as only three of its eighteen tracks are shorter than six minutes. In contrast, each of the next three albums are only slightly longer than 30 minutes in length. Contra is the title of Vampire Weekend‘s follow-up to their eponymous debut album and it suffers from the difficult second album syndrome as I feel it’s not as good as its predecessor. Loudon Wainwright III brings his customary wit and way with words to bear on his collection of 10 Songs for the New Depression. He compares the current economic downturn to the one from the 1930s and includes two songs written back then along with eight of his own originals

J. Tillman is the drummer with Fleet Foxes, but is also an established singer-songwriter in his own right. This year, however, he released his take on a classic album from another singer-songwriter. J. Tillman Sings Tonight’s the Night is a collection of his ten first-take demos of Neil Young’s 1975 original album and is available as a free download here. Neil Young’s Philadelphia is one of a dozen originals that Peter Gabriel tackles on Scratch My Back. His choice of artists to cover range from such established songwriters as Paul Simon and Randy Newman up to more contemporary acts such as Elbow and Arcade Fire. I would have liked to have heard his take on Elvis Costello who followed up last year’s Secret, Profane and Sugarcane with more of the same on National Ransom. Both albums continue Costello’s love affair with American country and bluegrass. Finally, I turn to blues-rock for the final album. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney formed The Black Keys in 2001 and Brothers is the title of the Ohio duo’s latest and most successful album. Below are three borrowed tunes from three of the acts above. Cheryl Cole’s song sounds familiar to me, though I’ve no idea where I heard it and Vampire Weekend do a nice job on it. Four Strong Winds is best known for Neil Young’s version, but was originally a hit for Canadian duo, Ian and Sylvie. Borrowed Tune is taken from J. Tillman Sings Tonight’s the Night. Tune in tomorrow to see if Neil Young made my Top Ten

Fight For This Love (Cheryl Cole cover) – Vampire Weekend

Four Strong Winds (Ian & Sylvie cover) – Teenage Fanclub

Borrowed Tune (Neil Young cover) – J. Tillman

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