Each year for the past few decades, I've voted in the annual Village Voice Pazz & Jop music critics poll. Here is this year's ballot.
I didn't vote for singles this year, because it was an album year for me. Though I was fond of some non-traditional reggae singles, like Gappy Ranks' "Pumpkin Belly," using a classic Studio One riddim and Sicilian-born, Jamaican-based Alborosie's "Kingston Town."
And I gave only one space to old music -- the amazing reissue of Bruce Springsteen's "Darkness On the Edge of Town." In the past reissues were a separate category but more recently they've been merged into the main albums section.
There have been great reissues this year but I didn't want to reward them at the cost of including new music made in 2010.
While I'm certain there are great records I didn't include, I never let my ballot serve as a referendum on what other people loved this year. It's a personal list that reflects what's been playing on my computer, in my car and on my iPod.
These are not listed in any particular order and I assigned them all 10 points (voters have 100 points to work with in the poll but must give at least 5 to each CD).
- Justin Currie -- The Great War (Ryko). The fine, more upbeat, second solo outing by my friend and former Del Amitri frontman.
- Jaill -- That's How We Burn (Sub Pop). Local boys done good by signing with Sub Pop and bringing their minimalist melodic guitar-driven pop to the world.
- Tracey Thorn -- Love & Its Opposite (Merge). Former Everything But the Girl frontwoman drops her second great solo record.
- Nathaniel Rateliff -- In Memory of Loss (Rounder). Yes, he came to town like four times and I missed him every time. But I rarely missed a chance to play this dark, intimate cycle of modern folk.
- Stars -- The Five Ghosts (Vagrant). Montreal's dance pop masters played a great show at Turner Hall and this one is infectious from top to bottom.
- Paul Weller -- Wake Up the Nation (Yep Roc). I finally got to interview the one guy whose career I have followed without fail since 1978. I'm happy that it was for one of his best solo records.
- Kings Go Forth -- The Outsiders Are Back (Luaka Bop). More local boys done good, makin' Milwaukee proud.
- The Acorn -- No Ghost (Bella Union). Another new folk gem, this time on the label that is home to Milwaukee's Stephanie Dosen and Heidi Spencer.
- Bruce Springsteen -- The Promise (Columbia). My favorite Boss record got a boss makeover.
- Band of Horses -- Infinite Arms (Columbia). I admit this one is a rollercoaster of quality, but the tunes that I do like, I really, really like. And after Tweedy's awesome solo set, they were my Farm Aid 25 faves at Miller Park.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.