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New Music Coffee Break

 Taking a small break from the R.E.M. posts to discuss the best albums so far this year. I bring this up because I am sitting here working on my vacation mix and find myself digging into the 2010 releases and noting my preferences for the trip. Since my wife and I typically spend quite a bit of time driving around on our vacations, what’s better than creating a nice-sized playlist for the trip and then exploring the music together and to be honest, it’s a great way to involve your significant other in the process.
While some of you purists out there prefer the idea of playing albums straight through, as do I, a playlist at random allows for the trip to be more enjoyable for both parties because as much as I might want to listen to an R.E.M. album straight through, your significant other might prefer Phish and an hour of Phish is, in my honest opinion, mind-numbing.
Compromise allows for our minds to expand in the peace and relaxation of company and good music. Onward and Upward.
Ok, onto the best so far….
1. Beach House – Teen Dream
Best release so far this year by a mile. Quaint, dreamy and reflective. While I would hate to call this album a folk album, because I think it would give the wrong impression but in many respects it reminds me of the Fleet Foxes.
2. Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM
With the help of Beck, Gainsbourg’s album is reminiscent of St. Vincent’s ‘Actor’ in allowing for her to explore different personas.
3. Owen Pallett  - Heartland
This feels a little bit like what Zach Condon, with Beirut is doing albeit with strings and keyboards and crooning.
4. Spoon – Transference
Somehow Spoon is finding a way to sound fresh by coming out with solid rock and roll albums.
Some of the more disappointing albums so far include:
1. Massive Attack – Heligoland
Massive Attack is another band that has not been the same in the 21st century. I feel this album feels inconsistent, in some respects, featuring too many disparate lead singers to backdrop their sound.
2. Peter Gabriel – Scratch My Back
I found this album depressing and a headscratcher. Gabriel decides to come out with an album of covers but does so only with his voice and a symphony which is a headscratcher.  Standout tracks like Bon Iver’s ‘Flume’ and Magnetic Fields ‘Book of Love’ are not worth the forgettable tracks like David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ and Radioheads ‘Street Spirit’
3. Surfer Blood – Astrocoast
I found this album to feel like your typical “Indie Rock Flavor of the Week”; an album that tries too hard and ultimately is pretty bland.