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Cowbell’s guide to the best music of the last 12 months

hat did music, whether indie or pop, mean in 2010? That’s a hard

question to answer every year, but in 2010, it seemed particularly hard to pin down what bands, moments or movements (if any) truly had an impact on the public’s consciousness. That said, it’s always fun to try. Back in late October, I sent an email to Cowbell’s regular contributors: “Send me a list of your 10 favorite albums of 2010.” A simple request, really, the kind most music writers expect to start getting as the year draws to a close. I didn’t think there would be an obvious consensus pick for the best album of the year, and there wasn’t. Instead, the lists reflected a fact that almost everyone now takes for granted: There are so many listening options out there, almost all of them easily (if not instantly) accessible, that people are less willing to argue for any one album as “the best,” than extol private pleasures that move their world and hopefully might move yours as well. Still, there are always standouts. If anything, the sheer amount of music available to listeners in 2010 means any records that achieve some groundswell of support (or appear on numerous writers’ lists) must have something going for them, even if that something might not be your particular thing. Cowbell’s rundown of the best music of 2010 ranges widely, from politicallyminded pop-punk to roaring stoner metal to R&B that sounds more like ’60s psychedelia. In each of their particular fields, these artists are pushing themselves a little harder than everyone else. Some of these records were made by longtime huge names, others by folks who were nobodies working day jobs a year ago. What they all share, though, is personal vi-

sion. They may draw from the music of the past, but they’re also hard to mistake for work of anyone else. It may be a perfected version of the kind of records they’ve been making for decades, or it may be something that’s new, not just for them, but for music in general. Take a listen to any or all of them, especially the ones that seem like they might not be your Top thing, and if nothing else you’ll find artists chasing something top unique, something that was rattop tling around obsessively in their heads and had to be put to disc. top In addition to our Top 20 Albums, we’re offering a series of lists designed to expose music that might have been hidden, whether in plain view on pop radio or deep in the specialty genre racks at your local indie record store. And remember: This is just a small sampling of the good music that came into the world this year. The naysayers might be right about the health of the industry in 2010, but music itself feels richer than ever. —Jess Harvell

20 Albums 10 Lists 10 video games dvds

COWBELL

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Dimple Records' In-Store Magazine, December 2010  
Dimple Records' In-Store Magazine, December 2010  

"Indie Rock with a Slice of Green." Cowbell Magazine features Cee Lo Green, Daft Punk, plus our lists of the top albums, games and dvds of t...