standout albums of 2010 (in my humble opinion)

It’s 2011, and these are the albums of 2010 that I’m still listening to on a weekly basis.

I haven’t listened to every album that was released last year. Who has the time? I have, however, listened to quite a few of the 2010 releases over the year, both out of personal interest and for the local community radio station where I volunteer.

There were quite a few surprise favorites among the bunch. Surprise in that I didn’t expect I’d like them, much less become obsessed with them and continue to listen with great pleasure months later. So, with that, I bring you the top unexpected favorite album of 2010.

Dan Black – ((un))

Released in the UK last year, the album made its way to US shores in February this year. I saw the press releases due to my work with Blogcritics, but nothing about them made me think this would be an album I’d enjoy. However, when I saw it on the “to be reviewed” shelf at the radio station in April, I gave it a cursory listen and decided it might be worth giving more attention.

Eight months later, I’m still listening to it, and count it among my go-to albums for when I need energy and a happy mood. Black has successfully melded synthpop, creative lyrical songwriting, and addictive hooks. This is no flash in the pan album/artist — there’s potential for longevity and continued freshness in Black’s sound.

Marina & the Diamonds – The Family Jewels

Marina Diamandis released her debut album in March, but I didn’t notice it until a friend sent me a link to the video for “I Am Not a Robot.” This sparked my interest enough that when I had the opportunity to review it for the radio station, I gave it a few spins. It’s still spinning on regular rotation in my personal library now.

The album is chock full of pop hooks, delivered by a woman who’s vocal range and technique is impressive in this age of female pop stars who are more popular for their paparazzi photos than their musical talents. She frequently belts out higher notes that make my cats cringe when I attempt to sing along. Marina can hit them with ease. I cannot. This is probably why she’s a huge UK pop star and I’m some shmuck writing music reviews.

Phantogram – Eyelid Movies

I can’t remember how I first ran across this album — whether it was one I picked to review for the radio station or one that a music director handed to me thinking I’d like it. Regardless, I found myself listening to Phantogram on repeat for a week or so in May, and few things will make me happy in the way I am when I hear the first few bars of “Mouthful of Diamonds.”

Sarah Barthel’s sweet and pure vocals are a nice balance to the rough (and often bizarre) vocal delivery from her partner, Josh Carter. The arrangements are a meld of synthpop, hip-hop, and singer/songwriter folk/pop. It’s similar to Dan Black, but a little more digitized and dirty.

Honorable Mentions:

Jennifer Knapp – Letting Go
I reviewed this for Blogcritics back in May, and you can read the full review if you like. In brief, this is her best album to date, and well deserving of a listen for anyone who enjoys thoughtful lyrics, strong female vocals, and music that straddles the line between acoustic and electric folk-pop.

The Like – Release Me
From what I understand, this is nothing like their earlier releases. The album has a 60’s girl-group sound with a modern attitude, similar to the Pipettes.

Indigo Girls – Staring Down the Brilliant Dream
Of course I have to include this in my list, but mostly because I’ve been a long-time fan of the group. This is a live album, and serves both as a gift to fans and as an excellent “best of” album to introduce the group to new listeners. I gave it a full review in August, if you’re interested in reading more.

Yolanda Be Cool & Dcup – “We No Speak Americano
I discovered this song when a friend linked to a video created by Irish step dancers Suzanne Cleary & Peter Harding doing their hand dance to this track. I watched the video countless times before researching and discovering that the track is an international hit. Even without the hand dancing, it’s still one of my favorite dance tracks of 2010.

Article first published as Standout Albums of 2010 (In My Humble Opinion) on Blogcritics.

ala midwinter seattle — the end

I was up bright and early Saturday morning. Despite having drifted off to sleep around 11pm, my body decided that it was time to wake up around 5am. We ended up compromising and I got up at 6am. This allowed me time to drop by the convention center and use the wifi for a bit before my 8am ALCTS Serials Section Acquisitions Committee meeting. The meeting was moderately productive and also happened to be my first ALA committee meeting (I’m an intern).

After that, I headed back to the convention center to meet with my Dean and a potential candidate for a position we have open at my library. It was a good meeting and I learned a lot about how these sorts of things work. Very useful information if/when I decide to go into library administration. We also met with another potential candidate in the afternoon, and that, too was a good and informative meeting.

I ended up skipping the CSA lunch, the Google Tips for Librarians session, and the III e-resources sessions that I had planned to attend over the next few hours. Instead, I lunched with my Dean and met up with some friends for further lunching (desert for me, lunch for them). In between that and the afternoon meeting, I wandered around the overwhelmingly large exhibit hall and talked to some vendors.

In the evening, I attended the NMRT social at the Elephant and Castle Pub, met a few folks I didn’t know, and ended up having and unexpectedly good time. My usual posse were off at other events, so it was a bit of a struggle to feel comfortable on my own and to meet new people. And I’m subscribing to the Young Librarian‘s blog.

On Sunday morning, I attended the Electronic Resources Breakfast hosted by Ebsco. It was an interesting discussion, much like what I encounter regularly at NASIG. It surprised me to learn that this sort of thing is uncommon for ALA events. That’s a pity.

I had intended to go to the ACRL presidential candidates forum lunch, but I ended up in the exhibit hall instead. After snagging a few more advance reader copies of interesting books, and picking up a bit more swag, I headed back to my hotel to unload everything. I also stopped at Rite Aid for some aspirin (the previous night’s events had left their mark in the form of a killer headache) and shoe inserts for my tired feet. This turned out to be a very good move, since according to my pedometer, I walked a little over six miles by the end of the day.

Refreshed, and carrying a much lighter load, I returned to the convention center for what I thought was a meeting there. Turns out WEST meant the Westin, but I didn’t find that out until after the Academic Librarians advocacy group was supposed to be meeting. I trekked down to the Westing in a rush, only to discover that either the meeting was canceled or moved or no one else had shown up. Disappointed, I returned to the convention center and chatted with a vendor until it was time for my backup meeting — ALCTS Serials Section Journal Costs in Libraries Discussion Group.

I stayed for about twenty minutes until it became apparent that the meeting was more about Selden Durgom Lamoureux and Judy Luther’s project to develop a standard “best practices” license agreement that publishers and libraries could choose to invoke rather than spending time and money on the license negotiation process. It’s a good idea, and at some point this week it should be up on the NISO website. I would have stayed longer, but I received a phone call and the session wasn’t what I was expecting it to be.

After a bit, I met up with Karen Schneider and a friend, and the three of us went to the Seattle Public Library for the GLBTRT social. The room was packed and I felt very out of place, for some reason. I ended up exploring the library, mostly on my own, instead of staying in the room for very long. When I get home, I’ll upload the pictures I took.

I snagged a cab instead of walking the mile or so to the Space Needle, and my feet thanked me. I wish I had thought to take a picture of the dessert tables at the III dessert reception, but I was so overwhelmed by the array of decadent chocolate (and other) desserts that it completely slipped my mind. This would also be the reason why I didn’t take pictures from the tower, either. By the end of the night, the sugar and wine combined to make me feel so exhausted I was almost ill. Yet another thing that was fun while it lasted, but the after-effects left much to be desired. Next time I won’t have the glass of wine.

My Monday morning meeting was canceled, which allowed me to sleep in (yay!) and sit here writing all this up. All I have left is a CMDS forum on collecting e-resources use, and then I go catch the shuttle home.

I feel like it’s been worthwhile for me to be here, but I’m also frustrated that so many of the things I would have attended conflicted with things I had to attend, and that there were a lot of gaps of nothing in between that could have been filled with meetings and sessions. I realize that ALA is a large organization and that scheduling is difficult under the circumstances, but it sure would be nice if some of the sessions and discussions were scheduled later in the day rather than at the same time as scheduled committee meetings. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that everything I’m interested in will be covered at NASIG, so I guess should just approach midwinter as a business meeting rather than professional development.


I just read Michael Gorman’s scathing critique of the librarian blogosphere’s response to his op-ed piece on Google in the December 17th edition of the Los Angeles Times. If you have access to the February 15th issue of Library Journal, it might be worth your time to give it a read. Aside from snubbing his nose at the “Blog People,” Gorman writes the entire lot of us off as non-intellectuals in the following few sentences:

“Given the quality of the writing in the blogs I have seen, I doubt that many of the Blog People are in the habit of sustained reading of complex text. It is entirely possible that their intellectual needs are met by an accumulation of random facts and paragraphs. In that case, their rejection of my view is quite understandable.”

I vaguely remembered reading some thoughtful critiques of his op-ed, but in searching for them, I could find only this one. Granted, there are quite a few bloggers who may fit his description of the Blog People. However, if he thinks that all of the so-called Blog People are that intellectually dull, I shutter shudder to think what will come of ALA with this egotistical snob as the president.

Update 4:17pm: The Digital Librarian has linked to the LJ opinion piece by Gorman, which I didn’t realize was also online.

dixie chicks on the next geraldo!

It’s so beautiful outside today that I wish my campus had a campus-wide wireless network. That way, I could borrow a laptop and work on the lawn. Ahh… one can dream…

The Specious Report has written a satire of Natalie Maines’ apology. I think it is much more appropriate.

Geraldo Rivera has “volunteered” to leave Iraq after broadcasting the location of the Army troops he was quasi-embedded with, as well as their possible future movements. I thought that the Fox News Channel was the breeding ground for conservative war hawks. I had no idea that they were actually working for Saddam!

Ever since the Patriot Act was passed in Congress, librarians have been discussing what to do about patron privacy. Booksellers have also been concerned, but their situation is somewhat more complex than libraries, since they have a history of using their customer histories to provide more customized service. One bookstore owner in Washington State has decided to not follow many libraries’ leads and is retaining his customer records in full. He briefly explains why he has made this decision, despite privacy concerns surrounding the Patriot Act.