Reviews of good albums we overlooked this year...
In 2010, the tape deck kids triumphed.
The two biggest, Wavves' Nathan Williams and Avi Buffalo's teenage frontman Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg, were more alike than different. Both were SoCal misfits and singer/songwriter/stoner types, the products of basement practice rooms and bedroom MacBooks.
Their influences were neon signs: For Wavves, it was the Beach Boys and No Age. For the somewhat milder Avi Buffalo it was the Shins, whose influence is felt throughout its self-titled April debut alongside early Built to Spill and Jane's Addiction, whose "Jane Says" surely provided the blueprint for the band's first single, the acoustic jangle-pop track "What's In It For?"
"What's In It For?" is dada-esque and awkward, moving and strange ("All these things that you learn/I've been knowing since my childhood/You are tiny/And your lips are like little pieces of bacon"), which is a good enough description of the rest of the album, too, though the proportions vary.
"One Last," a duet with now-departed keyboardist Rebecca Coleman, has all the hallmarks of a great Avi Buffalo song: the multiple layers of effects, the high vocals, the palpable nostalgia for the late '60s and the early '90s. Others (such as "Five Little Sluts," as unappealing as its title) are yearbook photos Zahner-Isenberg and company will one day wish never existed.