When I was about 17 or so, I used to think New Year’s Eve was when all the females in the world lost their minds and handed out kisses at midnight in one special five minute period that didn’t exist the rest of the year.  It was Sadie Hawkins Day baby!  Little did I know the mythical Sadie Hawkins was a cartoon character from the Li’l Abner comic strip.  A cartoonist named Al Capp (shouldn’t he have written Andy Capp?  Oh, that was Jerry Bittle?  Fiddlesticks…) conjured up a 35 year old spinster (Spinster – an old maid, an older unmarried childless woman…can you imagine that concept flying in today’s world full of deliciously ambitious and unbelievably hot 35 year old women?  Man times do change…in 80 years!) who was somewhat less than attractive and turned her loose on the community.  In fairness, women, even fictional women, were not expected to be climbing the corporate ladder the way they do these days.  If you weren’t bearing children, or at least married off, by 25, let alone 35, there was something wrong with you.  I used to work with an Indian woman who had her marriage arranged for her back in India when she was young.  I was dumbfounded to see that the marriage actually thrived over the years.  That has to be the exception no?  I just saw, two years later or whatever, the movie Slumdog Millionaire.   The end result of that was my new found love for Freida Pinto (hello desktop background), but with cultures like that you can sort of understand the Sadie Hawkins thing…sort of.  So it was decreed, that if Sadie caught you you were stuck marrying her. 

I’m no tri-athlete, but if Sexy Sadie was half as hideous as my imagination says she is I would not be caught.  The coolest thing about the Sadie Hawkins myth is that women (preferably not unattractive) allegedly chase average looking men and that they supposedly can propose marriage on February 29th (Sadie Hawkins Day).  At least it’s only once every four years right?  New Year’s Eve?  An annual exercise in this is going to be the year I (fill in the blank).  The biggest let down holiday on the planet…every time!  The only thing it’s good for is keeping me at home.  Times Square?  Not on your life.   I know…old person alert here…

Because The Giant Panther and I write some thoughts down in a post from time to time there seems to be this inherent need to write a best of the year post.  I hate these things.  I obsess, I doubt, I worry, I overthink…I give up.  I always promise myself that I won’t look at anyone else’s choices before I do mine.  That never seems to work.  I always say I’m going to start listening and making notes the first Tuesday in January of the following year (when the releases come out each week in case you aren’t aware).  That NEVER works either.   So here I am, with mere hours to go in a year I survived, let alone think positively about, listening to record after record trying to figure out if what I heard six months ago is still true or whether a new release belongs in my top twenty.  Most years twenty feels like too small of a number.  This year I’m scrambling to find twenty I want to stand behind.  I know that sounds like I didn’t really do my homework, but I see some of these lists and I know damn well the authors just stayed in their musical comfort zone or just wrote about the ten most popular bands.  I detest hype.  I know I’m going to offend somebody right here and now, but hype bands just aggravate me.   One of my favorite examples of this over the past five years or so is The Arctic Monkeys.  I must own two or three of their CDs and for the life of me I can’t find anything I’m really passionate about.   Now, four or five years later, they are all but a footnote as far as I can tell.  Today that band is Vampire Weekend for me.   I don’t get it at all.   I was listening to the WFNX listener’s list of the best 101 songs of 2010 in my car while running errands a couple of hours ago and number eight (8!) on their list was the song “Cousins.”  Brutal.  This just validates my all time theory that if you play it, a good percentage of the population will like it if you tell them to.   That song is horrible.   Save the hate e-mail, it’s only my opinion, which I am entitled to, for now, until Net Neutrality knocks me off the air.

I sure can babble huh?  OK, complete with the necessary T’s & C’s and disclaimers here is my top twenty.  Again, the order is not an exact science.  I just thought they were worth mentioning.   And I don’t want this post hanging over my head one second longer.  It’s like a big monkey on my back every December since I became a Giant Panther contributor.  I have a good mind to let Ryan do it by himself going forward.  Nobody cares what I think anyway.  I’m just a music fan on steroids and my body is breakin’ down.  Lover please, Stop Breakin’ Down.  Stuff is gonna bust your brains out baby.  Yeah, it’s gonna make you lose your mind!…Here we go…

20. Young The Giant – Young The Giant

Young The Giant – 12 Fingers.mp3

Buy or Download Young The Giant From Amazon Here.

It seems that, officially, YTG may not be released until January 2011.  I am not at liberty to say where I got my copy, but we bloggers get some perks from time to time.  I’m not the only one; if you read the reviews on Amazon at least four other folks have a copy of this record.  What I am at liberty to say is, and don’t hate me YTG!, this record is for fans of Coldplay.  The sound is majestic and the record is tight.  I’m already a fan.  Better yet, Massachusetts dwellers, YTG will be appearing January 18, 2011 at Allston’s Great Scott club.  See you there.

19.  Jenny and Johnny – I’m Having Fun Now

Jenny and Johnny – My Pet Snakes.mp3

Buy or Download I’m Having Fun Now From Amazon Here.

Jenny Lewis is the voice of Rilo Kiley.  Sexy.  Jonathan Rice is a friend of hers and a fellow musician.  Lucky guy.   He has a record from 2007 called Further North.  I should probably look into it as much as I enjoyed this one.  This one is good clean fun.

18. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Mojo

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Good Enough.mp3

Buy or Download Mojo From Amazon Here.

It warms my heart to see Tom Petty soldier on making records even though nobody is playing them anymore.  This one is slowed down and bluesy, but as I’ve said many times in the past, Tom Petty could be pushing shoe leather and I’d be buying it sight unseen.  He’s brought me that much joy over the last 35 years.  And he went down…Swingin’!…Like Sonny Liston…

17. Black Country Communion – Black Country Communion

Black Country Communion – Down Again.mp3

Buy or Download Black Country Communion From Amazon Here.

Well, you can take the Classic Rock out of the boy, but…oh, maybe not.  What do you expect to hear when you pair Joe Bonamassa, Glen Hughes, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian?  Equal parts Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Foreigner, Trapeze, Billy Idol and Dream Theatre?  Kind of, but it’s lumbering and heavy and everything I was expecting.  Love Live Rock!  I need it every night.

16. J.J. Grey & Mofro – Georgia Warhorse

J.J. Grey & Mofro – The Sweetest Thing.mp3

Buy or Download Georgia Warhorse From Amazon Here.

I think many of you know I’m disgusted with the programming at my local Rock, Classic Rock and Alternative radio stations here in Boston.  I’ve been listening to my (Emerson) college radio station, WERS, for a change in perspective.  They kept playing this song called The Sweetest Thing and of course I kept listening for U2 like a fool.  One day I just decided to go to their web site and find out what the DJ was actually saying when he mumbled J.J. Grey & Mofro.  Could you spell that please?   This record could have been made in the 60′s.  It’s all Gospel and Soul.  Know what?  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

15. Spoon – Transference

Spoon – Written in Reverse.mp3

Buy or Download Transference From Amazon Here.

If you aren’t buying Spoon records by now I’m sorry for you.  Texas has a boat load of great Indie bands and Spoon is undoubtedly one of them.   This is their seventh release and they never fail to deliver some smart Indie pop that actually rocks.  The thing is, unlike a ton of their contemporaries, they really don’t sound like anyone else…at least that is the way I hear it.

14. Ghostland Observatory - Codename: Rondo

Ghostland Observatory – Codename: Rondo.mp3

Buy or Download Codename: Rondo From Amazon Here.

I almost opted for Crystal Castles 2 here; I can only put so many of these techno bands in my top twenty, but this song is one of those rare songs that I liked after two techno notes.  And I’m not even a Celtics fan.  Whatever that means…

13. Janiva Magness – The Devil is An Angel Too

Janiva Magness – I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down.mp3

Buy or Download The Devil is An Angel Too From Amazon Here.

Alligator Records is the place to be if you are a Blues artist.  Check.  Los Angeles resident Janiva Magness has got some Blues built right into her bloodstream.  Apparently both of her parents committed suicide.  That’s gotta weigh heavy on a person huh?  She’s got a fantastic voice and as long as their are female Blues singers I’ll be soaking them up like the quicker picker upper of Blues that I am.

12. Free Energy – Stuck On Nothing

Free Energy – Bang Pop.mp3

Buy or Download Stuck On Nothing From Amazon Here.

Remember what I said about Codename: Rondo above?  When “Bang Pop” started playing on my computer I was like yeah man!   I have to tell you this record is very solid through and through.  I didn’t rate it higher because I just discovered it and didn’t want to be second guessing myself until next year if it turned out to be something I liked and then didn’t…as much.  Have some fun, buy this sucker…

11. Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart

Black Mountain – Buried By The Blues.mp3

Buy or Download Wilderness Heart From Amazon Here.

More Rock music for you here.  For fans of Soundgarden, although this song sounds like The Cowboy Junkies meets The Moody Blues.  Not indicative of the record, but I did like the song.  They are from Canada.  Does that explain anything?  No?  Oh well.

10.  LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening

LCD Soundsystem – Drunk Girls.mp3

Buy or Download This is Happening From Amazon Here.

I don’t think I could have faced The Giant Panther if I hadn’t included what is surely to be his favorite release of 2010.  I enjoy LCD Soundsystem, I thought their last record was excellent, but I sense some commercialization going on with them.  No worries though, nobody’s doing what they do any better.  You’re welcome Ryan.

9. Florence & The Machine – Lungs

Florence and The Machine – Dog Days Are Over.mp3

Buy or Download Lungs From Amazon Here.

What can I say about a record that technically was released in 2009?  Nice Lungs?  Well, I didn’t want to like The Machine, but I’ve been a fan of drum machine bands like Sisters of Mercy before so what’s the problem now?  Nothing really, but I want it done right.  Does that make any sense whatsoever?

8. The Black Crowes – Croweology

The Black Crowes – Hotel Illness.mp3

Buy or Download Croweology From Amazon Here

I can see where folks might have a problem with this choice.  Too bad.  If I had to throw out ten of my top twenty; this CD would survive.  So there.   This is a distilled version of The Black Crowes at their finest.  I love this band and I don’t care who knows it.  I would have rated it higher, but I had you folks to concern myself with.

7. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach

Gorillaz – Rhinestone Eyes.mp3

Buy or Download Plastic Beach From Amazon Here.

I don’t know what to say about Gorillaz.  I heard “Clint Eastwood” in a bar, about a month after I bought their first CD, and I was a convert.  I liked Blur, but not nearly as much.   This was a song two albums, minimum, from the last song by Gorillaz I worshipped and wouldn’t you know it?  Another great danceable track.  I don’t have any problem with the whole cartoon band thing.  I still think of The Monkees, The Partridge Family and The Archies as real life entities.   OK, I’m dumber than I give myself credit for.

6. Robert Plant – Band of Joy

Robert Plant – Angel Dance.mp3

Buy or Download Band of Joy From Amazon Here.

So you thought I wouldn’t notice Chauncey The Gardener had released a record in 2010?  Shame on you.  There is no way Robert Plant releases anything prior to the onset of senility that slips past me.  Even if he decides covering Los Lobos is the way to go, I’m in.  I love Los Lobos anyway; in fact I Was Born In East L.A….OK, kidding about that, but any friend of Alison Krauss’ is a friend of mine God damn it.

5. Joanne Shaw Taylor – Diamonds in The Dust

Joanne Shaw Taylor – Can’t Keep Living Like This.mp3

Buy or Download Diamonds in The Dirt From Amazon Here.

I hope this woman comes to Boston sometime soon so I can start stalking her.  You know how guitar Gods have all these women flocking to them?  Is there anything sexier than a smokey bourbon soaked voice and guitar skills in a female?   If you don’t agree I couldn’t possibly explain it to you, but this woman rocks my world.

4. Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More

Mumford & Sons – Little Lion Man.mp3

Buy or Download Sigh No More From Amazon Here.

I have a friend who goes to The Bluegrass Festival in Telluride, CO each year.  I keep threatening to go with him, but I never do.  However, if there is a genre that has grown on me over the past five years Bluegrass is it.  Mumford & Sons single handedly made Bluegrass cool again.  I know everybody is Pickin’ on somebody for a buck these days, but I get the biggest kick out of Hayseed Dixie I have to admit.  Maybe it’s because I can understand the words now.  Whatever it is this record was played and played on my local Alternative radio station and about four months in, it hit me; these guys are good.  Even if they bleep out the good stuff.  Not here on The Giant Panther.  We are foul mouthed MFers.  P.S.  This is not the only good track on this baby.

3. Broken Bells – Broken Bells

Broken Bells – The Ghost Inside.mp3

Buy or Download Broken Bells From Amazon Here.

So Danger Mouse meets The Shins huh?  I’m down with that.  I’ve been impressed with some of the stuff Modest Mouse has released over the years.  “The Ghost Inside” might well be my favorite single of 2010.  It’s catchy as all get out and has none of that whiny stuff you sometimes get with your Indie Rock.  This year’s MGMT?  Hey, wait didn’t MGMT release a record too?   I’m still digesting it to be honest, but it has a lot to live up to.  This record though is fun as hell.   Sometimes the spin-off records, like The Postal Service years back, are better than the main event.  I’m a big Death Cab fan, but I’d sure like to hear more Postal Service.  Regardless, congrats to BB on a very cool record.

2. Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown

Kings of Leon – Radioactive.mp3

Buy or Download Come Around Sundown From Amazon Here.

I can imagine some of you might think Kings of Leon are of the hype band variety.  Sometimes they are not the easiest band to wrap your ears around, but these guys are supremely talented in my book.  I saw them play this song on Saturday Night Live recently, like I’m sure many of you did, and they were really tight.  I still haven’t seen them live, can you believe that?  Mr Concert and no Kings?  I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.  I like that they march to their own drummer.  No stinkin’ record company is going to tell these guys how to sound.  Good for them.  Rock on boys.

1. The Black Keys – Brothers

 The Black Keys – Howlin’ For You.mp3

Buy or Download Brothers From Amazon Here.

Let’s get one thing out of the way; I know The Keys were trying to be different here, but I’m not big on this album cover.  It might have been funny for a couple of minutes, but an album cover, even a thumb nail CD cover, is not a throwaway item.  It can still sell units.  This is a mail it in job.  Sorry boys.  Now, I picked a throwaway track off of their excellent record in protest.  Gary Glitter is pissed!  Still, I love The Keys.  I’ve seen them six or seven times now and I always thoroughly enjoy them.  I can’t believe I stumbled onto them by accident in a Newbury Comics.  The Big Come Up was in the cut out bin, but it had those movie like trailer quotes still stuck to the cellophane.  I think I saw the word “Blues,” LOVED THE COVER and threw it in my pile for fun.  Sometimes you just get lucky.  I remember buying Built To Spill Live thinking it was the new Live record.  Now I like them much better than I ever liked Live. 

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OK, that’s a wrap (Thank God) for another year.  I’m sorry Arcade Fire, The National, Hot Chip, Broken Social Scene and the rest of your favorites didn’t make it into my top twenty.  It is MY top twenty right?   Ryan will have those and much more when he gets around to doing his top twenty.  Let me tell you though, these babies take hours to put together and we all know it’s a thankless task.  I’m no critic, just a fan.  Go easy on me.  Thanks for reading and Happy New Year to all of you from The Giant Panther!