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10 (ish) Reasons Why Sub Pop May Dominate 2010 [Label Spotlight In A List]

Earlier this week I noted in my review of Avi Buffalo that Sub Pop may very well dominate my end of year list, and that being notable as we near the 1/3 mark of 2010. After thinking about it, I figured it was time for another list in Label Spotlight form. Now, the typical Label Spotlight covers the unknown record collectives throughout the world, but as some of my favorite releases so far this year have come from Sub Pop, I figured What the hell… Let’s go for it!

So here are ten simple reasons why Sub Pop may dominate my end of year list for 2010, in order of pretty awesome to jaw-dropping-ly, eye-popping-ly, pants-loading-ly amazing.

Happy Birthday

10… Happy Birthday

I haven’t fully digested Happy Birthday’s self-titled LP yet, but what has gone through my system I’ve enjoyed. The songs are filled with a 90s sound and that means they fit right in on Sub Pop. “Subliminal Message” and “Girls FM” are youthful anthems for the kids in the suburbs come fifteen years too late, meaning it’s just in time to return to that style (or just about).

Male Bonding

9… Male Bonding

Never thought I’d be into these guys. After all, their name, for some strange reason, reminds me of Pissed Jeans, which was a bit out of my league (and perhaps the only Sub Pop full-length I didn’t cover in some form or another from their releases in 2009). Well, presumptions aside, Male Bonding is pretty rad, as can be heard on “Year’s Not Long” off their upcoming LP Nothing Hurts. Sleepy vocals are countered by edge-of-the-seat, driving percussion and LOUD guitar riffs. Contradictory, yes; it’s also quite pleasing.


8… CocoRosie

So I never took the time to check out CocoRosie before now, and I’m starting to wonder why. The album cover for Grey Oceans kind of creeps me out, but then again so does their first single from the release, “Lemonade”. It has that eerie female vocal styling of a band like The Knife, but there’s actual instrumentation (rather than electronics) and it hints of a long-ago sound filtered into the future — and a terrifying future at that. Eerie, but beautiful.


7… Jaill

Listening to “Everyone’s Hip” by Jaill off their soon-to-be-released LP That’s How We Burn, I’m not quite sure what to think. What I can comprehend is that I like it. It’s a bit strange, a bit unique, a bit comforting, a bit commonplace but not entirely. It’s quite catchy thanks to plenty of vocal hooks, no matter how pointed. And the backing guitars fit in perfectly. I didn’t think I’d like it when the song began, but I was a fan by the end.

Blitzen Trapper

6… Blitzen Trapper

In retrospect, I didn’t think I could fathom Blitzen Trapper topping “Black River Killer” and with the new song off their upcoming album Destroyer Of The Void, “Heaven And Earth”, they don’t. But that doesn’t mean they won’t. “Heaven And Earth” does come quite close and, given the test of time, it may come to hold a higher power than the last favorite. We’ll see. The truth is that Destroyer Of The Void is yet another highly anticipated release coming soon thanks to Sub Pop.

Retribution Gospel Choir

5… Retribution Gospel Choir

Oh God, there it is… that inevitable guitar solo. It’s totally freakin’ genius. Is it me, or does Sub Pop tend to put out an album every so often that has one of these things? (I still get excited when “Peninsula” by Death Vessel pops up on my iPod.) I mean, it’s totally gripping and totally epic. It gives me butterflies. I, of course, am talking about the solo in “Poor Man’s Daughter”. Righteous. Also, the rest of 2 was entirely solid.


4.5… Papercuts

Yeah, Jason Quever isn’t slated to give us his follow up to last year’s You Can Have What You Want until 2011, but we received the most excellent news that the album will be released on Sub Pop in 2010 and that makes it noteworthy.

Dum Dum Girls

4… Dum Dum Girls

Following my several-year-long obsession with garage pop, Dum Dum Girls continues my quest to satiate my garage longing. The band features a few notable musician names who belong to a few other notable band names, but Dum Dum Girls just might be my favorite of the collective. I Will Be is an excellent release as heard in single “Jail La La” but perhaps even better in songs like title track “I Will Be” and album opener “It Only Takes One Night”.

Avi Buffalo

3… Avi Buffalo

AGAIN!!! They did it again, this time in “Remember Last Time” by Avi Buffalo — that guitar solo! Avi Buffalo, the debut LP by the band, has been dominating my playlist of late, and there’s good reason why. Immensely poppy and filled with the style of hooks you’d expect from seasoned musicians, it’s hard to believe this is the band’s debut album. Truly astonishing.

Beach House

2… Beach House

Last weekend I visited Avalon Records in Bellingham and they were playing Teen Dream by Beach House. A customer commented about the music and I chimed in, stating that it is one of the best releases of 2010 thus far. Thinking about that statement a bit more, I think I was slightly off. It is the best release thus far. I was lucky enough to snag a copy of the Sub Pop 12″ featuring “Zebra (UK Edit)”, which can be heard below.

1… Sub Pop’s Not Done Yet

What may be just as impressive as the items above is that Sub Pop has a lot more in store for us in 2010. I get giddy just thinking about it. And that, too, is excellent news.

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