1) Rilo Kiley: Under the Black Light — I was awestruck by this group’s fourth release. Pop music today is gross, I thought. Predictable. Over-produced. Robotic. Until … Rilo Kiley showed me what they discovered under a black light — fresh, appealing lyrics in bed with funky, raw beats and a naughty spanking from Amy Lewis’ mesmerizing, unrefined vocals. Turn off the radio and give your ears this much-needed respite from the same old, same old.
2) Uh Huh Her: I See Red — It’s a sad day when bands break up. It’s a happy day when disbanded band members find other disbanded band members and learn how to make sweet, sweet music once again. As is the case with this group, which formed when Camila Grey (of Mellowdrone) met up with … uh huh, her … Leisha Hailey (of The Murmurs). Although neither had frontman experience — Grey played bass and dabbled in production (Dr. Dre, Kelly Osbourne) and Hailey has been on a five-year music hiatus doing time on the boob tube (as Alice in “The L Word”) — both have effortlessly stepped up front and center with this electro-pop EP. It’s edgy without being loud. Surreal without being cryptic.
3) Ryan Adams: Easy Tiger — He’s an asshole, no doubt. But that doesn’t mean he can’t make great music. Adams defies music-industry rules, molds and etiquette. He always has. I’ve got friends who are still bitter over his overly short stint closing out this year’s Non-Comm. Of course they didn’t bother to fork over some dough for his make-up show a few months later, which was amazing, being that most of the playlist came from Easy Tiger.
4) The Fervor: Bleeder — I’m gonna put this out there: The Fervor is Louisville’s version of Rilo Kiley. Which is neither a knock nor a surprise that both are on my Top 5 list. Bold female vocals (courtesy of Natalie Felker), innovative melodies and solid subject matter make for a refreshing 10-song drag from an inhaler. Loosen it up. (BTW: LEO music editor Mat Herron plays the drums in this band, but that didn’t influence my pick, I swear. But the drumming is quite good.)
5) Bruce Springsteen: Magic — Remember when music was just music? No bling. No frontin’. No celebrity. Just music. Pure and simple music. Bruce Springsteen does.