by Dan Bolles
A belated happy holidays, Solid State. I trust everyone is safe and warm somewhere as the weather howls past my picture window. Baby, it's cold outside. Anyway …
With Christmas unwrapped and the new year just around the corner, 'tis the season for music pundits such as myself to don their robes of self-importance and enlighten the masses with picks for the best music they've heard in the year that was.
[Little known secret: said robes are handed out when you accept any music crit job and kind of look like Roman philosopher's robes, but with punk rock patches sloppily hand-sewn about them. True story.]
With regard to the best local music of 2010, this Wednesday's paper will offer a glimpse into my thoughts and ramblings, as well as my picks for the top ten VT-made albums of the year. But man cannot live on localvore tunage alone. So this week, I'll be serving up some of the music that made me swoon, laugh, cry, rock the eff out or otherwise just got a kick out of in the past 12 months. Most of it was released this year. Some of it wasn't, but managed to find its way to me in 2010. You've probably heard of much of it, might not have heard of some of it, but I'm hoping you'll find something in the mix you'll enjoy either way.
First up, Minneapolis-based songwriter Jeremy Messersmith. He kinda looks like Buddy Holly (ooh-wee-ooh!), sings a bit like Paul Simon, and has a gift for irresistible pop hooks that will leave you whistling for days. Or in my case, most of the year.
My much cooler-than-me kid sister, Ari, actually knows the guy and introduced me to his music last year. But I didn't really pay attention to him until he released his 2010 album, The Reluctant Graveyard, this spring. That thing never left my iPod, was a staple on most of my summer mixes and served me well through an unusual fall. It's the kind of record that sneaks up on you, even if you love it immediately as I did. Nearly every time I put it on, I discover something new within Messersmith's deceptively simple pop that gives me a heightened appreciation for his work.
Below are videos for two of my favorite cuts from that record. The first is a sweetly chilling ballad, "A Girl, a Boy, and a Graveyard," that feels appropriate given this bleak midwinter day. The second is the album's lead track, "Lazybones," featuring what may be my favorite single hook of the year. I triple dog dare you to get its jangly genius out of your head before 2011. And if you can't, The Reluctant Graveyard and all the rest of Messersmith's music is available through his website as pay-what-you-want downloads.