In a year that has seen new albums by The Hold Steady, the National and (next week) LCD Soundsystem, it's to my great surprise that the two records that I've immediately fallen in love with are from a Jack White side project (I like the White Stripes just fine, but would never call them one of my favorite bands) and a Pitchfork-hyped duo that traffics in loudness and distortion. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Sea of Cowards by the Dead Weather and Treats by Sleigh Bells, my favorite albums of 2010.
Some words of warning: Sea of Cowards is great for anyone who likes sludgy rock, but Sleigh Bells are not going to be for everyone. Be sure your speakers/headphones are set to a reasonable volume, and if you don't like what you hear at first, skip to "Rill Rill," the song least likely to cause offense.
A retro-soul cover of one of the more dour songs on Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is a tricky proposition. At one end of the spectrum, it could end up like one of those tiresome ironic punk or ska cover songs that were all the rage a decade ago.
At the other end of the spectrum, it could be this: