Published: December 29, 2010
7. Rhythm Corps, Arts, Beats & Eats, Sept. 4: The hair may be a little smaller than it was in their '80s prime, but the Rhythm Corps were still able to put in a set of nostalgia-fueled joy on the main stage of Arts, Beat & Eats this year.
8. Goober & the Peas, Ferndale DIY Festival, Sept. 17: Yet another reunion show, but who can deny the fun that will inevitably be had at a Goober show. Goober will prance, gurn and high-kick through the whole thing, and they turned a mid-September evening in Ferndale into a hoedown.
9. The Ruiners, Paycheck's, April 10: The Ruiners are undeniably one of the best live bands in Detroit, and they proved that over and over again this year. This Paychecks show in April was just one of the good ones.
10. Pink Lightning, the Belmont, Aug. 27: Pink Lightning is definitely going to be one of the bands to watch for 2011, thanks in no small part to live performances like this one. There's a Gogol Bordello-ish, gypsy feel to their frenetic punk rock that turns every one of their shows into a party. Keep an eye out for them.
Brett Calwood: Best albums
1. Electric 6, Zodiac (Metropolis): Dick Valentine and his Electric 6 are getting pretty damned good at this songwriting business, and this year's Zodiac is simply flawless. The cover of the Spinners' "The Rubberband Man" is spectacular, but it's no better than their original stuff. Take a bow, boys.
2. Eminem, Recovery (Shady): Not only does Eminem admit that his last two albums were below par, he admits it in the form of rap on his new album. That takes some balls, but then nobody ever accused Slim of having tiny testes. Thankfully, Recovery sees the rapper back to his best.
3. The Brought Low, Third Record (Small Stone): As ever, Detroit's own Small Stone records released some great albums this year, including releases by Sasquatch and Solace. The Brought Low top the pile though, with an album that straddles the line between hairy stoner rock and dirty blues.
4. Slash, Slash (EMI): Slash packed his debut solo album with guests, from Fergie to Ozzy, and while the results are mixed, the good songs outweigh the average. He gets extra marks for including Detroiters, Iggy Pop and Kid Rock, on the two best songs.
5. Gogol Bordello, Trans-Continental Hustle (Columbia / DMZ): These gypsy punks continued to spread the gospel of their stomp-heavy party music this year, and their latest album delivers the goods in fine style. Not many bands make the accordion sound cool, but these raggedy-assed, moustachioed crazies do.
6. Deftones, Diamond Eyes (Warner / Reprise): Forget the term "nu-metal."The Deftones left that behind years ago (even if the likes of Korn didn't). Rather, Chino and his crew have continued to evolve and put out challenging, hard-hitting and emotional (as opposed to "emo") metal albums like this one.
7. Tracy Kash Thomas, Sound Truth (Cytra): Local lass Tracy Kash Thomas was like a breath of fresh air when she unleashed this gem of an album earlier this year. Honest, heart-wrenching and very real, Sound Truth hasn't been heard by nearly enough people. It might not change your life, but it'll add some perspective.
8. Arcade Fire, The Suburbs (Merge): There's really little left to be said about the Arcade Fire that millions of hipsters haven't already said. However, this time it's safe to believe the hype. The Suburbs might not be as good as the previous two albums, but it is still inspiring enough to make this list.
9. Ratt, Infestation (Roadrunner / Loud & Proud): On the contrary, few hipsters are talking about Ratt and that's OK with Ratt fans. Infestation came out of the blue after years of average solo releases and on-again-off-again reunions, but against all odds, it's a beauty. Who saw that coming?
10. Switchblade Justice, Let's Destroy The World Tonight (Real Punk Radio): Right at the tail-end of the year, these local rockabilly-inspired punks smashed one out of the park. Switchblade Justice is part Misfits, part Social D, and all class. Best of all, they play out a lot all over town so you can catch them at a venue near you soon.
1 Arcade Fire, The Suburbs (Merge): It's not often that rock grandiosity equals genuine rock grandeur — but Win Butler and crew managed to deliver the "art"-rock goods for the third time in a row with a concept album (what a concept!), assuring their place in music history as one of the finest bands of the new millennium. Spend a little time with this and the hooks are there, be they reminiscent of the Velvets, Yoko Ono or a Bizarro World Raspberries. In spades.
2. MGMT, Congratulations (Columbia): Overnight sensations throw caution to the wind and deliver a psychedelic bubblegum masterpiece that immediately takes a place on rock's rich tapestry. The title track sounds like what might have happened if Brian Wilson and Robbie Robertson had fronted the Band together, following that excursion to England with Mr. Dylan.
3. Bruce Springsteen, The Promise (Columbia): These songs just aren't outtakes from Springsteen's best album, which, of course, means one of rock's all-time greatest albums. They actually constitute a terrific "new" double album on its own terms, the missing link between Darkness and The River and probably better than the latter. The optional Darkness box set, which includes this two-disc set among its treasures, is pretty damn terrific as well.
4. Roky Erickson with Okkervill River, True Love Cast Out All Evil (Anti-): Welcome to his nightmare. With the help of album producer and backup bandleader Will Sheff, the psychedelic rock pioneer has crafted the closest he'll probably ever get to an autobiography on his first new album in 14 years. Harrowing in the memory of the demons that plagued him but equally life-affirming in the redemption he's found via love and family, not to mention Buddy Holly riffs and the Byrds-meets-BOC minor-chord glory of "Goodbye Sweet Dreams.
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