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Trek Light Picks: The Best Albums of 2010

Last year’s post on my favorite albums of 2009 got a lot more traffic than I expected and amazingly I started getting asked about the 2010 edition pretty much as soon as December rolled around.  As I said last year, music plays a big role in my life and is a big part of the Trek Light lifestyle for many of you.  Since I was listening to many of these albums while working, creating and shaping Trek Light Gear this year I’m sure there’s a strong chance they’ve in some way influenced the brand whether I know it or not.   So, here you go, the artists and albums that have been in constant rotation and stood out the most for me in 2010….
ALBUM OF THE YEAR:
In Memory Of Loss – Nathaniel Rateliff
“Like an old time revival
Shake your hands
And shake your hips.
Put up all my armor
Let me stand bare
With just two fists.”

In Memory Of Loss is a polished gem, an old jacket that gets better as it ages, a late-night slow burning cigar that forces you to stop and just be for a while.  It’s intimate, finely crafted songwriting and Nathaniel Rateliff’s delivery gives you no choice but to feel what he feels and believe every note.

“It’s not the notes you play, it’s the notes you don’t play” – Miles Davis

In Memory Of Loss is an album that will have you thinking as much about the production – the mixing, the arrangements, the sound – as the music being played.  And it’s not because of what’s there, it’s because of what isn’t there.   I’ve seen Nathaniel Rateliff a number of times live and all of his songs work great as a full-band production, there’s no question he and his band (formerly known as The Wheel) can rock when they want to (see below).   In any other hands, this album could have been an entirely different beast, but Brian Deck (Califone, Iron & Wine) makes In Memory Of Loss what it is by stripping it all down to the point that would make old Miles smile: the raw, empty space is so potent it becomes as much an instrument as any other.

Do yourself a favor and get this album right now.  Let it grow on you.  Listen to it while swinging in the hammock.  Listen to it with those good headphones you only break out for special albums.  Sip some whiskey and let it burn slowly – In Memory Of Loss is that new desert island album you’ve been looking for.

Brakeman – Nathaniel Rateliff
You Should’ve Seen The Other Guy – Nathaniel Rateliff
Whimper And Wail – Nathaniel Rateliff

Here’s Nathaniel Rateliff in a live setting, playing with a mix of his own band and Delta Spirit:

The rest of the albums on this list come in no particular order since trying to rank them is much too difficult.  I chose to highlight a few and tell you what I love about them, which is followed by a list of about 20 more albums that I loved this year.

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