Sunday, December 19, 2010

Best Albums of 2010

As the year comes to a close it's that interesting time with all of the "best of" lists that are out there. In my opinion this was a very good year for music (except the whole Justin Bieber thing - sorry kids, that kid may be cute but if you actually listen to him sing for real he is NOT GOOD!) and was especially good for those of us who try to help emerging bands - there were a lot of good ones!  So with no further ado this is my first Best of 2010 list - the best ALBUMS of 2010. For the most part I only focus on lesser known artists - this list mostly stays true to that with one exception - Mumford and Sons, who were just nominated for 2 Grammys, but a lot of people still don't know them and their album is SO good that it deserves to be on any and every list.

The list is in alphabetical order (by first name/band name) only - picking between the top albums and songs is like picking favorite children.

1.       Amely – Hello World (
2.       Ben Rector – Into the Morning (
3.       He Is We – My Forever (
4.       Ian Axel – This is the New Year (
5.       Jaron and the Long Road to Love – Getting Dressed in the Dark (
6.       Jennifer Knapp – Letting Go (
7.       Lelia Broussard – Masquerade (
8.       Marc Collis – Louder on the Inside (
9.       Marianas Trench – Masterpiece Theatre (
10.   Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More (
11.   Not Advised – After the Fight (
12.   Pegasus Bridge - While We’re Young (
13.   Ryan Star – 11:59 (
14        Shayna Goldstein – Painted Blue (
15.   The Heyday – Till We See The Sun (
16.   The Rescues – Let Loose The Horses (
17.   The Rocket Summer – Of Men and Angels (
18.   The Scene Aesthetic – Brother (
19.   Tyrone & Eliana – Different As Can Be (
20.   We Are The In Crowd – Guaranteed To Disagree (

 A few things to note about this list....

Ian Axel's album "This is the New Year" was released way back in January but is currently not available. He will be re-releasing it sometime in early 2011 (hopefully) and right now there is a 3 song sampler you can buy on the various download sites. This is the way of the music business as independent artists sign deals, etc. but go ahead and check out what's available now and get ready for more good stuff soon!

Marianas Trench - for those of you who have followed me for over a year you may remember that they appeared on last year's list. But their album wasn't released in the US until 2010 (it was out in Canada in 2009) and it's still SO amazing that I took that opportunity to mention it again on this year's list. There is an extended "director's cut" that includes a few bonus songs and also an AMAZING acoustic/a capella version of Billy Joel's "And So It Goes."

Marc Collis is a quickly rising Australian artist who I hope makes a splash here in the next year. His voice and album are fantastic and I think his songs would take off on US radio, etc. This album has so many good songs that I could have picked almost any of them for my end of the year Best of 2010 Song list.

Ben Rector is my favorite singer-songwriter of the year - his voice is captivating!

Tyrone & Eliana's album is the perfect relationship album. Not a good album if you're in the midst of a break up but a great gift for someone to show them that you care.

The Rescues not only put out one of the best albums of the year but also put on the best live show I've seen!  4 incredibly talented musicians and singers all doing everything throughout the show. They trade lead and backing vocals, they trade instruments, etc. etc. Simply amazing!

Every album on this list has something special about it - so refer back to it and over time please check some of these out and let me know what you think!

I'd love to hear about your favorite albums from this year so please comment on this post and tell me what album and/or artists you couldn't get enough of in 2010!  Happy New Year everyone and as always, enjoy the music!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Give yourself the gift of StageIt!

I am SO excited to share this information with everyone and hope you will go check out this incredible new opportunity to see live music and connect with the artists who make it.

StageIt ( is a relatively new website that was started by Evan Lowenstein (best known for his time in the pop group "Evan and Jaron" ("Crazy for this Girl", etc.).  Evan's goal is to "reignite the romance between artists and fans." He's doing this by creating online opportunities for you to see incredible musicians share their music in real time, intimate settings. The best way I can describe it is "a house concert on your computer."

I've experienced two concerts this past week and enjoyed both very much! The first was with a very talented singer songwriter, Matt Ryzcek ( This online show (which cost $2) included about 20 people and Matt who was performing live from his apartment (or wherever he was). He sang, he shared storied about the songs, and one of the best parts is that he was able to see and respond to the ongoing chat that was happening on the screen just below his performance. Have a request - make it, want to ask a question about a song or an upcoming tour - ask it, want to show your appreciation - tip your performer (yes, you can send a virtual tip which allows an artist to earn a little extra money from the show), etc. etc.  Or just sit back and enjoy the music.

I have to be honest that I wasn't so sure about "going" to an online concert until I tried it out - and now I'm pretty hooked.  This is a great and very inexpensive way to hear live music. For artists, this is an incredible tool to reach your fans without the expense of touring. And for everyone, it is a fantastic opportunity to feel connected. Artists can get instant feedback from the audience - what a great opportunity to try out a new song and have people comment. For fans, this is a chance to be connected to an artist you enjoy. There is nothing quite like having an artist respond to your question or comment that you've posted.

Is there money involved - yes. After you sign up you buy "notes" which can be used to get tickets to shows and to tip performers. But it is very reasonably priced (I saw Jaron and the Long Road to Love (his song "Pray for You" is one of the biggest country hits of the year) for $5) and the shows are not recorded or archived so it truly is a unique experience.  It's worth every penny and then some.

If you like live music I would urge you to check it out. If you are an artist please also check it out and sign up (first sign up as a member and then you have the option to become a performer).  There is a lot to like about this platform and I am eager to see what happens in the months to come. 

If you have any questions about StageIt please post them in the comments for all to see and we'll get answers to you.  Meanwhile go check out and check it out for yourself!

Have a great week and enjoy the music!