Anais Mitchell‘s folk-rock opera Hadestown was one of my favorite records of 2010, and the spritely singer returned this year with Young Man in America. I don’t think it tops something as rich and varied as Hadestown (a quasi-modern day re-imagining of the Orpheus/Eurydice Greek tragedy), but it’s a strong record from a strong songwriter nonetheless, and I relish the chance of seeing her do her thing at the Rumba Cafe on Wednesday (9pm with Cuddle Magic, $10). Also, for public radio nerds: Mitchell sings in the way Sarah Vowell speaks, which is an acquired taste but, for me, a good thing.
Above you’ll see the video for “Coming Down,” and below you’ll see Bon Iver covering the same tune recently for Australia’s Triple J. (Justin Vernon collaborated with Mitchell on Hadestown, singing the role of Orpheus.)
If 2009 was the year of Larry Jon Wilson, 2010 was the year of Bill Fox and the Gibson Bros. I think I listened to Bill Fox’s two reissued albums — Shelter from the Smoke and Transit Byzantium — more than anything else. (Shelter got a deluxe vinyl reissue, and Scat promises a similar treatment for Transit in 2011.) Go get ‘em. And working on a story about the Gibson Bros. reunion show back in July occupied my brainspace and held my interest for months. I don’t know if CDR has any copies of the Build a Raft reissue left, but if they do, it’s required listening for any Columbus music fan or anyone with a passing interest in twisted, noisy country/blues/rock.
But in terms of new stuff, here’s what I liked this year, starting with national releases and ending with Cowtown LPs.
1. Strand of Oaks – Pope Killdragon
I didn’t immediately hit repeat when I heard this album, but once I came back to it, I never stopped. Who knew a record with songs about John Belushi (from the perspective of Dan Akroyd), a 12-foot man and JFK could be so engrossing. Devastating, too. If you think Tim Showalter is just another pretty-voiced folkie, the layers of synth and Sabbath-like riffs on “Giant’s Despair” prove otherwise. The best way to get Killdragon digitally or on vinyl is through Strand of Oaks’ Kickstarter page.
2. The Black Keys – Brothers
Posted in 2010 Favorites, Columbus, Review
Tagged Anais Mitchell, Andrew Graham, Bill Fox, black keys, Black Swans, Deathly FIghter, Deerhunter, earwig, Ghost Shirt, Gibson Bros, Hadestown, Jana Hunter, Justin Townes Earle, Kanye West, Kyle Sowashes, Local Natives, Lost in the Trees, Love Language, Lower Dens, Mavis Staples, Micah Schnabel, Mountain Man, mumford and sons, Nick Tolford, Patty Griffin, Sam Amidon, Shearwater, Spoon, Strand of Oaks, Sufjan Stevens, Sun Kil Moon, super desserts, surfer blood, Time and Temperature, Vampire Weekend