Everyone's got a best of the year list. Sorry, not here. But you do get a bunch of music that I loved in the past year (some of which may have been released prior to 2010, I don't care), some of which I've blogged about already, and some of which I didn't get around to sharing with you. So here it is, Part Four (and of course by This Year I mean last year).
One thing I listened to a lot is various stuff from captains dead. The guy who blogs under the psychedelic skull with the vinyl halo doesn't try to dazzle with words, just speaks his mind briefly and lets the music do the talking. And singing, whispering, screaming, humming, crying, and so on. Guided by Voices, Twilight Singers, The Replacements, Matthew Sweet are mixed with newer acts I've come to love like Ox. No hipper-than-thou vibe here, the same tunes and artists hyped on every other blog won't be found here, but oftimes a rock combo you don't expect shows up.
The Dodos' Fables is not a new song, in fact their new album will be out March 15, but it's still rattling around my head.
The Dodos - Fables by elysse
Gord Downie & the Country of Miracles' The East Wind threw quickly-strummed percussive acoustics at us, added snappy drums, topped it with a tasty twangy guitar line, then layered on some more shimmery, shaky sounds (I know not what, exactly), covered it with a short, sharp chorus that may be the catchiest in Downie's repertoire, and ended up with a shivery, danceable radio hit. Or a drunken sea shanty for landlubbers and pirates alike. Huh.
Adam Franklin and Bolts of Melody gave us the sublime Yesterday Has Gone Forever (from the album I Could Sleep for a Thousand Years), which nods back to his days fronting shoegazers Swervedriver, but also winks at Teenage Fanclub's Bandwagonesque era, too. Get it free by going to his site. Beauty.
Yesterday Has Gone Forever - Adam Franklin & Bolts of Melody by scruffy the yak
'Nother cool blog Herohill put together Herohill and Oates, which ain't Christmasy at all but is all about artists (mostly Canadian?) covering Hall and Oates. Scruffy faves Brian Dunn and Ox contributed tracks.
Imaginary Cities did not put out an official release yet, but the Hummingbird EP will be out on Grand Hotel Van Cleef Records on January 14th, and the full length album will be out February 22 in Canada on Hidden Pony records.
Imaginary Cities - Temporary Resident by goodsouldept
Japandroids' Art Czars single starts so abrasive, yet hooked me in with bare bones rock and roll. "Here's yer money back, here's yer punk rock back!"
Japandroids - Art Czars by Somethingfortheweekend
Winnipeg's Les Jupes' tune Myth # 3 (The Mountain) was a late addition, with dramatic vocals over a careening carnival keyboard ride
01 Myth #3 (The Mountain) by Les Jupes
Saw some lukewarm reviews for the Freedy Johnston single Don't Fall in Love With a Lonely Girl, but it's prime powerpop to me. Get it free by going here.
La Roux might be the artist most unlikely to be suggested by Scruffy, but that chorus is the catchiest thing going, acoustic or not.
La Roux - Bulletproof by rodeoclown
La Roux "Bulletproof (Acoustic Version)" by OnTheRecord
Music Ruined My Life is a meticulously-researched, impassioned blog, mostly about artists of yesteryore, but sometimes featuring newer troubadours. More punk than you can shake a stick at, more power-pop than you can eat at once, still managing to unearth hard to find boots or rare treats from Springsteen, Dylan, Strummer, Graham Parker, Billy Bragg, DOA, Jerry Jerry, Jason & the Scorchers, Elvis Costello, and so on. Consistently one of the best blogs out there.
The fine Muzzle of Bees blog dropped Wisco, a Wisconsin tribute to Wilco's Summerteeth album. Strange and amazing.
Ottawan Chris Page gave the world a joyous ode in Two Twenty Twos.
Chris Page-Two Twenty Twos by scruffy the yak
The Rowdymen released a fine record, Gas, Liquor and Fireworks, and didn't get the kudos. No one should write songs this good and not get recognized.
The Rowdymen - Ode to Possum
The Rowdymen - Rode Hard
The Shins didn't put out an album this year, but this wistful take on Squeeze's Goodbye Girl turned my crank.
Goodbye Girl - The Shins (Levi's Pioneer Sessions Revival Recordings) by nealroscoe
The Soft Pack. C'mon! I still haven't decided if I like the band name The Soft Pack, but I definitely enjoy the hurry-up-and-get-down vibe, and the chorus says it all. Two minutes thirteen seconds of fuzzy energy and crashing cymbals bliss, who needs Red Bull?
The Soft Pack by The Soft Pack
Call Superchunk's Digging For Something a comeback if you want, it's even more hooky, well-produced angsty lovable yelps. Dancin' on the propane tank, indeed. Oh oh oh!
SUPERCHUNK- Digging for Something by goripack
Teenage Fanclub are still sweet. Baby Lee proves it, chiming guitars, easy harmonies, done.
Teenage Fanclub - Baby Lee by dtamba
Young Rival are still putting out the indie guitar rock Scruffy is a sucker for, and they know it.
Young Rival - Got What You Need by Alexandre Diogo
So there you have it. Honourable mentions go to Hanson for their cover of Radiohead's Optimistic, Jason & the Scorchers return with Moonshine Guy, The Afterbeat's Unity, Alex Gruenberg's Hey Katy Hey, and Luke Doucet's The Ballad of Ian Curtis. If you didn't like anything Scruffy recommended in this series of four posts, you are in the wrong place. Go print out the yak at the top of the post and get your crayons out, there won't be anything for you here. If there was anything for you, feel free to leave a comment, that's what the comments section is for, and my dogs appreciate it.
For 2011, Scruffy's looking forward to (or hoping for) new R.E.M., Sons of York, The Cars, Scott Nolan, Urge Overkill, Apex Manor, Crooked Fingers, Buffalo Tom, Quinzy, Robyn Hitchcock, Rupert Hine, Wilco, Matt Epp, Ox, JP Hoe, Pixies, and The Watchmen. Okay, so we'll probably never see the last two, but I can still hope.