Jakob Dylan - "Woman and Country" (6.5 of 10) I was pulling for this - I really was. And the first song "Nothing but the Whole Wide World" is very nice and I perked up. I mean, a T-Bone production, Neko Case adding her vocals here and there - the ingredients were there. But it just starts to drag by the middle and just becomes a gothic, predictable set of songs. Oh well.
Dr. Dog - "Shame, Shame" (8 out of 10) Shame, shame on me...I honestly have no idea whether the score should be higher , lower, or what. Just check it out yourself. I'm at a loss. Maybe they are out of my genre or I hadn't had lunch yet.
Jonsi - "Go" (8.0 out of 10) The Sigur Ros frontman releases his first solo record. And with only 9 songs, I was expecting long, drawn-out stuff with some weird noises accompanied by brilliant moments. But this is more accesible than Sigur Ros - closer to Ok Computer-era Radiohead. And even though you can't understand what the hell he's saying most of the time, it's a pretty good atmospheric ride that always has fresh ideas and inspired hooks. Very impressive.
Matt Pond PA - "The Dark Lyrics" (8.2 out of 10) For some reason it just hasn't been cool to be a big Matt Pond PA fan; they've never really "made it" and, in fact, have sort of faded from view. I mean, I know sorority girls who love these guys, and I'm sure that doesn't help their image. But I think this band (with Matt Pond now being the only original member left), now on their 8th album, might be actually very under-rated. I loved this album. From the jaunty opening song "Starting" to the even more jauntier next song "Running Wild," complete with hand claps, strings, and a background banjo, to the 2 centerpieces - "Remains" and "Sparrows" (which should make my best songs of 2010 list), I love the sound, the confidence, and the craft of this release. What a nice surprise. Wonderful and inspired, even though it sort of gets a little thin towards the end.