Since we’re talking today about the best releases of the year so far, let me throw out a few contenders of my own. First, Laurie Anderson's Homeland - brilliant, funny, dark, unflinching, and full of great stories and musical guests.
In the indie rock world, the heavy hitters all released new albums: New Pornographers, The Hold Steady, and The National are three of my favorite groups, and all did solid followups to previous albums that I thought were, in all three cases, their best work so far. What I’ve heard of the forthcoming Arcade Fire disc sounds great, too.
But I especially loved The Creatures In the Garden of Lady Walton, by the chamber-rock band Clogs, which shares members with The National. A beautiful song cycle by keyboardist/violinist/singer Padma Newsome, it features a top drawer list of indie rock guests.
A bright new star on the classical scene is Timothy Andres, pianist and composer. His debut, Shy and Mighty, on the prestigious Nonesuch label no less, is full of diverse, inventive, and surprising works for two pianos.
And since our guests’ lists don’t really touch on world music, here are two worth seeking out. From South Africa, home to 2010’s big event so far, the World Cup, comes Amabutho, and their Sikelela LP. Great South African choral singing and relentless percussion.
But my favorite world music album so far this year is Ali + Toumani, which is in effect the musical last will and testament of the great Malian blues guitarist Ali Farka Toure, with his countryman Toumani Diabate, widely considered to be the greatest living master of the kora, the West African lute-harp. Check it out.
What’s your favorite music of 2010 so far? Leave a comment.