Columnist James Raeney of the London Free Press recently released his top ten albums of 2010, and six was thrilled to see their name at, of all numbers, 6 (we think that's not coincidental). Read the article below or click to read it at the London Free Press London Free Press website.
The London hit parade for 2010 is here. Once again, we celebrate an outstanding year by London artists with The Free Press Top 10 of local albums. All 10 albums here meet the basic criteria -- musical excellence somewhere in the popular field, an identifiable London base in 2010, at least 25 minutes of music delivered by a Nov. 15 deadline and a quality that connects with me. Congratulations to 2010's winners Raised By Swans for No Ghostless Place. Once again, these basic truths can use repeating. All 10 artists are strong live performers. All 10 recordings would make excellent gifts. All 10 should be available from independent local retailers or the artists. As always, there were many other contenders and a fine crop of No. 11s.
1. Raised By Swans No Ghostless Place Selected credits: All music and lyrics written by Eric Howden Recorded at House of Miracles -- www.raisedbyswans.com Atom Egoyan's house band charts a course across eternity in its own cinematic way. Lead voice Eric Howden sings about the Earth's core, being safe for a while, love, hope and other discoveries along the Swans' way. Surrounding his haunting voice are delicate or driving patterns of guitar, drum and outer space textures that really do sound like music of the spheres for more than 50 minutes. Howden, Andy Magoffin, who plays bass and also drums on some No Ghostless Place tracks, drummer Brady Parr and guitarist Alex Wright are the core Swans. With film director Egoyan as their biggest fan, Raised By Swans should always be playing somewhere in your soul.
2. Olenka & the Autumn Lovers And Now We Sing Selected credits: Produced by Olenka Krakus All songs written by Olenka Krakus Recorded at House of Miracles -- www.olenkalovers.com Listening to this nation-wide hit one more time for the The Free Press Top 10, I was amazed at hearing new beauties: How much guitar and swirl there is on And Now We Sing; How this indie folk orchestra rawks; How a song is Beatles-lyrical for a moment and then Eastern European stomping later on. And how it all sounds seamless. Olenka Krakus provides the songs about refusing to wear buttercups, Berlin in 1989, the east end and kids being drilled into eerie harmony -- and The Autumn Lovers match her star-power with their own charisma. Beloved by CBC Radio for a reason.
3. Lido Pimienta Color EP 2010 Selected Credits: Voice Music Lyrics by Lido Pimienta Music production Michael Ramey All songs homebaked in London -- myspace.com/lido-Pimienta Maybe the titles -- Humano, Mueve, Aqui Conmigo, Progreso, Vida, La Minga, La Rata and Freedom -- are all you need to know. Here's more: Lido Pimienta has made more than 30 minutes of ultra-catchy dance/electronica/Latina joy. Even when it's just Pimienta's voice, the beat and raw power is undeniable. Her husband, London musician Michael Ramey of Golden Death Music, is a key ally. Pimienta, the visual artist, designed each album jacket/work of art. Mine is a snappy orange. Love the outside, shake to the inside.
4. The Rizdales How The Marriage Ended Selected Credits: All songs written by Tara and Tom Dunphy Produced by Tara and Tom Dunphy Recorded, mixed and mastered at Willyboy Recordings, London -- www.rizdales.com The Rizdales are a band that sometimes seems to be revered more in such places as Austin, Tex., and Toronto's tonk community than in sweet home London. Well. Listen up. The married front couple Tara and Tom Dunphy are masters of twangsty tunes about romance gone sour and the band -- Blair Heddle, Oscar Macedo and Steve Crew -- is an all-star London affair. See if you can listen to The Last Time You Put Me Down without going wow when the song takes a perfect country twist. The same is true of My New Wife's Kids and It's Not The Baby, Baby. So. Listen up.
5. Baptized In Blood Baptized In Blood Selected credit: Record label Roadrunner Records -- www.baptizedinblood.com Thrashing away as seriously about Gothenburg metal as a string quartet is about its Bach, Baptized In Blood has a big label -- Roadrunner Records -- on its side. Given this important ally, the London metalmen have stepped up. The guitars, drums and vocals on the self-titled Roadrunner debut never pause. Lyrics about walking out the door and self-destructing sometimes surface in the blissful roar. The band myth goes something like this: Frontman Johl Fendley is a major hockey fan -- and started the band due to boredom during the 2004-2005 NHL lockout. Sluggish NHL teams should feed off the energy here.
6. Six Vocal Ensemble Swept Away Selected credits: Produced by Andre Doucette and Brad Rostas Recorded and mixed by Andre Doucette at Charterhouse Studios -- www.sixvocalensemble.com The most daring London pop album of the year. Think not? How about this for a motto: "No instruments were used on this album." The six singers take the inspiration of Finnish vocal sextet Rajaton and others -- and soar in their own way with vocal sounds taking instrumental roles. Good originals and sublime covers including a Yeats lyric, a Jeff Smallman setting of Pauline Johnson and I Want You Back. Oh, and while you marvel at the sextet's Jackson 5 move, check out Six's fun side with Video Killed The Radio Star. Here are six more good reasons London is Choral City Canada.
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