5 Great Albums We Missed in 2010

S. Carey

One of our main aims with belated, baby is to share great new music. But we’d be remiss to hold out on sharing music that we love that isn’t quite as new. The following are five albums that stole our heart this year, but were overlooked in 2010. Of course, it’s likely that you’ve got your act together and have heard most or all of these already. But if just one person discovers in this list what is to them an absolute gem, our mission will be a success.

Nana Grizol – Ruth

Released just 12 days into 2010, Ruth flew under a lot of folks’ radars. But with magical tracks like the opener, “Cynicism”–a literary tune backed by somber guitar-picking and lush horns–and charmingly youthful, high energy tracks like “Galaxies” and “Arthur Hall”, Ruth is remarkably diverse and rich. Also, the fourth track, “Atoms”, is the kind of tune the Repeat button was made for.

How to Dress Well – Love Remains

There’s something remarkable about great music that’s packaged in a relatively familiar form, a la Nana Grizol. Then there are those instances when you put on a record and hear something dizzyingly different than everything you’ve heard before. If you haven’t heard any of the cuts off Love Remains, prepare for such an experience. Tom Krell–HTDW’s creator–specializes in laying down ethereal vocals over super lo-fi, reverb heavy, fogged out instrumentation. Love Remains listens a lot like a memory of R&B songs past that you can’t quite put your finger on. This one is a can’t miss.

Fitz and the Tantrums – Pickin’ Up the Pieces

One should always be weary of the context when saturating themselves in a particular album. Listening to Pickin’ Up the Pieces on repeat during finals last semester seemed like a great idea at the time–now, it’s hard to listen to a great track like “Don’t Gotta Work It Out” or “Tighter” without vaguely remembering staring at a textbook for very long periods. But don’t let my misfortune stop you from enjoying these neo-soul wizards. Squeaky clean Fitz and co. are part of the same revival as Charles Bradley and other Dap Kings affiliates, but are perhaps more suited to play the less seedy, less sweaty joints across town.

Easy Star All-Stars – Dubber Side of the Moon

Easy Star All-Stars blew Derek and me away with their live show at Cat’s Cradle in the spring. The dub reggae collective, known for their tremendous cover albums of classic rock albums (OK Computer into Radiodread, for instance), released a solo album this year, First Year. But I’ve been more fixated on last year’s Dubber Side of the Moon, an appropriately-titled remix album of their Dub Side of the Moon. The original bass-heavy, skanking covers are embellished with all sorts of effects, and the final product is like a 51-minute tour of the Jamaican Space Station (as constructed in NYC, of course).

S. Carey – All We Grow

S. Carey is the moniker of Eau Claire, Wisconsin’s own Sean Carey. And the story behind his rise to prominence is remarkable: He probably could’ve been an incredibly wealthy investment banker. Instead, he bought stock in an artist.

After listening to Justin Vernon’s For Emma, Forever Ago back in 2007, Carey was inspired in a very different way: “They weren’t just good songs, they were great, interesting, unique; it’s a beautiful album. So I spent two weeks holed up in my bedroom with laptop, headphones and notebook, and I wrote down all the drum parts and learned all the lyrics, melodies and harmonies. When the band I was in opened for Justin at his first local show as Bon Iver, I told him I knew all his songs and I wanted to play with him.” Vernon was impressed, Carey was welcomed onboard, and has subsequently been steady reaping all of the benefits of Bon Iver’s astronomical ascension to indie fame.

This association surely is responsible for S. Carey’s 2010 debut release on Jagjaguwar, All We Grow. It’s a beautiful, sleepy affair, clearly influenced by For Emma. But Vernon is absent on the production credits. Instead, All We Grow is a solo show, and a tremendous one at that. “In the Dirt” and “Broken” are highlights.

Download (right click, “save as”): S. Carey, “In the Dirt”