3hree Things: My 9 Favorite Albums Of 2010, Vol. 2 of 3

Watch out for 3hree Things every Tuesday, in which Riley Breckenridge, the drummer of Orange County's favorite alt-rock band, Thrice, gives his take on life in Southern California as an OC native.

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I've been writing and publishing "Best/Favorite Of..." lists for music sites and/or blogs for several years, and while it's never all that easy, I found this year to be particularly tough. And posting this year's list in three installments has made it even tougher.

I mentioned a handful of records that just missed the cut when I posted the first three of my Top 9 Albums of 2010, and, as the week progressed, I realized that I blew it and left a few others out of the "near miss" category. Whoops. Namely, Circa Survive's Blue Sky Noise, Sleigh Bells' Treats and Torche's Songs for Singles. Add to that the fact that I slept on Animal as Leaders' self-titled debut record (released in April of '09) and didn't give it a chance to really dominate my playlists until earlier this year, and I've got my brain in knots trying to commit to an ordered list of favorites.

That said, I'm still fairly confident that the remaining six albums are in the proper order. I strongly encourage you to give them a spin for yourself, provided you like what you hear and haven't heard them already.

With "Disclaimer v 2.0" out of the way, here is Vol. 2 of my Top 9 Albums of 2010.


6) Daughters - Daughters
Favorite Track: "The Hit"



Daughters is twenty-eight minutes of semi-controlled chaos captured on record. It's certainly not for everybody, but, as a fan of brutally heavy music that isn't your run-of-the-mill sludge and chug, I can't get enough of it. I dare you to listen to "The Hit" and not want to bang your head until it falls off. The riff that opens the song might be my favorite riff of the year. I can't get it out of my head. It's the kind of riff that comes over the stereo in your car and, before you know it, you're barreling down the 55 going 90 miles per hour and hoping OC's finest don't show up as red and blue flashing lights in your rearview mirror. Apparently, creative differences over the direction and accessibility (read: reasons that I love this record) of Daughters led to the demise of Daughters as constituted on this recording, but rumor has it the two remaining members, Alexis Marshall (vocals) and Jon Syverson (drums) are working on new material. Whatever direction they choose to go in next, I'm on board.


5) Deftones - Diamond Eyes
Favorite Track: "976-EVIL"


I touched briefly on just how much I love this album in my first 3hree Things column; since its release in May, my appreciation for it has only grown. No Deftones record since White Pony has had the staying power that Diamond Eyes has had. I've found myself listening to some, if not all, of it once a week or so. If pressed, I might even say that I think this is the best album they've ever made. It's a remarkable feat given the difficulty they've had to endure following the car accident in 2008 that left bassist Chi Cheng in a "minimally conscious" state. Diamond Eyes is everything I love about the Deftones; beautifully atmospheric sections, crushingly heavy choruses and breakdowns and soaring melancholic melodies, all kicked up a few notches from their prior releases.


4) Cloudkicker - Beacons
Favorite Track: "Amy, I Love You"


I found out about Cloudkicker in February via a tweet from a friend, clicked on a link, and was introduced to what is, without a doubt, my favorite new "band" of 2010. The reason "band" is in quotations marks is because Cloudkicker is actually not a band at all, but rather the work of one man: Ben Sharp. My first exposure to Sharp's work was the three-song EP, ]]][[[which has since been remixed, remastered and re-titled to A New Heavenly Body. It was everything I'm really drawn toward in music--heavy, odd metered, melodic, atmospheric and moody--and I couldn't stop listening to it. I must have had those three songs playing on a loop for weeks. That led me to snatching up every piece of music he'd made available online (all free downloads, by the way), be it early work under the Cloudkicker moniker, or mellower ideas he'd posted under the name B.M. Sharp. I loved all of it. Needless to say, when I found out another full-length, Beacons, would be released in September of this year, I had lofty expectations and couldn't wait to get my hands (or ears) on it.

It was worth the wait. Beacons is fantastic. 

There's something I love about about Cloudkicker that is difficult to describe, but I think most of it is in part because my brain works in a similar fashion to Sharp's in a melodic sense. When I actively listen to music (meaning, really listen), sometimes I can feel a movement note coming, or a shift in mood about to happen, and Cloudkicker hits that movement or shift on the head almost every time. It just feels "right" to me (for lack of a better term.) That's not to say it's predictable--because it most certainly isn't--it just satisfies me in a way that only a handful of artists' work can. Maybe it'll do the same for you. Pay what you want for Cloudkicker's music here

Next week, Vol. 3...


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