Editor's Pick: It was probably Uncle Tupelo's Anodyne, same as last year. So how about Nirvana's In Utero, which I dragged out of mothballs when we did our article about Nevermind's anniversary in September. In Utero fried my hair all over again, and then got me thinking about the band's cover of Leadbelly's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" from MTV Unplugged In New York... so I'll say that.
Marc Brubaker: Every Time I Die, The Big Dirty. Zeppelin's "Out On The Tiles." Billy Joel. Dan Deacon. Festivals. Distortion pedals. Reverb. Vinyl. Hell, I don't know. Probably the Internet, because of the way it facilitates musical discovery and connections these days. This is such an insane question to attempt to answer. I simply love music, the joy and freedom both inherent within it and that it brings to both the performer and listener. I've got far too many favorites to simply select one thing.
John Seaborn Gray: A dead tie between Pedro the Lion's Control (2003) and The Alarm's Declaration (1984). Control is probably Pedro the Lion's finest work, an angry yet emotionally deadened album about a relationship failing on an epic level. Listening to it allows you to experience the painful disintegration at just enough distance to view it with a redeeming veneer of black humor.
Declaration could have been huge with a proper American radio push back in the day. When they first started out, The Alarm were an intriguing, bombastic mix of London Calling-era Clash and Boy-era U2. I have no idea why the giant, soaring anthems on this album and their others didn't take hold in the consciousness of the world the way other bands did, but they should have.
Craig Hlavaty: Rediscovering Bruce Springsteen's Darkness On the Edge of Town after watching the HBO documentary on it, The Promise. The extra two discs of music from those sessions is brilliant stuff. Even the Boss' leftovers are magical.
Jef With One F: My favorite non-2010 music hasn't been written yet, but I believe that one day it will be. When I entered high school, I owned four CDs, and all of them were from Guns N' Roses. I have been patient because I know that there is one, and only one, more album left in the original writing team. I know that before all is said and done that there will come the Jesus of rock albums. I remain a devoted apostle.
Will it happen in 2011? Probably not, and probably not the next year either. Nonetheless, you have to have faith. Axl will be crazy till the day he days, but it won't stop destiny. We'll see Slash, Duff, Izzy, and Adler - yes, Adler. I always liked his drumming better than Sorum's, sue me - reunited.
The streets will run with the blood of the nonbeliever.
Matthew Keever: My iPod has been out of commission for about a year now, and it's forced me to revert back to listening to CDs in my car. But I'm not complaining.
In the last 12 months or so, after buying a few CD cases and filling them with albums that had been sitting in the closet for a few years, I've rediscovered plenty of music that had been all but forgotten over time. Notably, I've been listening to Third Eye Blind's self-titled album, Red Hot Chili Peppers' Californication and B.B. King and Eric Clapton's 2000 collaboration, Riding With the King, which our dad purchased for us way back when.
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Shea Serrano: I'm tempted to lie and say something cool like the Black Star album or that one Tom Waits album with that "What's he doing over there?" song it, but the one non-2010 album that showed up the most in my ears was Singable Songs for Little Children by Raffi.
I don't think anything in the history of my existence has been more detrimental to my hipness than having to regularly entertain two toddlers. One time in 9th grade I got whooped by my mom - like, actually got spanked - in front of a girl that I was trying to talk into doing some very natural things; being a dad has made me less cool than I was at that very moment.
Brittanie Shey: Favorite is a strong, strong word, but lately I've been into pedal steel and Hawaiiana like Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant, and everything Herb Remington has done from The Texas Playboys to the Swingfield Playboys.
William Michael Smith: It's more than a year since Tim Krekel died, but I keep returning to Krekel's last album, Soul Season (2007). Like good whiskey, this is an album that understands its job and will get you through the night. "Open up, baby, tell me what you like/ I majored in biology and I minored in psych." Rock on, brother, rock on.