As I said, I was operating at reduced capacity last year, so I've decided to do a top 20 of albums that I really honestly listened to a lot. I think I did 25 last year. The countdown will begin soon, but meanwhile, here are my honourable mentions for 2010—great albums that I didn't give enough attention to, or albums that simply landed outside of my top 20, but were otherwise so honourable that I had to mention them.
Blood Cult—We Are the Cult of the Plains (Moribund)
I have to thank Kyle Harcott's hellbound review for turning me on to this grimy work of black-rocking madness. Imagine new-school Darkthrone and Sigh shacking up in a trailer park, and you're close to capturing Blood Cult's drunken, eccentric mayhem. The wild guitar solos are a bonus.
Nels Cline Singers—Initiate (Cryptogramophone)
Atheist—Jupiter (Season of Mist)
Cathedral—The Guessing Game (Nuclear Blast)
Cathedral’s double album might as well have been titled Daft Side of the Loon. Draped in wonky Mellotron and sporting songs filled with surprising turns, Dorrian, Jennings and co. sound like they’re more enamoured of their Spring and Gracious LPs than any of their peers in the current doom scene. I support this kind of thing, although Dorrian sounds a little weary and a couple tracks could have been left locked up in the attic with all the other mad aunties. They still cough up some great songs in “Painting in the Dark” and “La Noche Del Buque Maldito (Aka Ghost Ship of the Blind Dead)”.
Grinderman—Grinderman 2 (Anti)
Nick Cave and his Grindermen are loud 'n' lusty, pounding out raw rockers like a paunchy, well-read JSBX. I didn't pick up their first album; this follow-up sounded like the one to get. Coming in the wake of Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, Grinderman 2 makes sense. It's a good time, and "Palaces of Montezuma" is downright tender and heartfelt.
District 97—Hybrid Child (Laser’s Edge)
Emeralds—Does it Look Like I’m Here? (Editions Mego)
I got this at Soundscapes in Toronto, fittingly enough. Synths and guitars fight it out for space-rock supremacy. Emeralds keep the tracks short and melodic; aimless doodling this is not.
Moon Duo—Escape (Woodsist)
Super cool space/trance/kraut jams from Erik Johnson (Wooden Shjips) and Sanae Yamada, carving canyons o' sound with organ, guitar, and drum machine. This is one of those records where you might say, "I can do that," but you totally can't.