In this 3 part series, I will explore some of the best of 2010. These selections are based on things I experienced in 2010, not necessarily things that came out in 2010. Please feel free to discuss my list and what you would add in the comments section.

John Mark McMillan: The Medicine

My first encounter with John Mark McMillan came when I purchased  “Song Inside the Sounds of Breaking Down” on a whim. I fell in love with this album when it became the soundtrack to a retreat I took part in at Manresa, a Jesuit retreat house in the Detroit suburbs. His organic, rootsy, rock and roll hymns didn’t seem to be confined by the usual Christian worship formula. When his album “The Medicine” was re-released by Integrity this past year, I pre-ordered two copies just so I could get the double-volume, limited edition, live LP’s included with preorders. Here’s a taste:

Sufjan Stevens: Performing the Age of Adz Live

Sufjan Stevens is a genre-defying anomaly. Topically and sonically he’s been all over the map, trailblazing new paths through the indie-rock world. I have learned to think of Sufjan Stevens as more of a composer of large-scale performance art rather than a mere songwriter. His latest album, The Age of Adz, seems to have been created for the live experience. The record is interesting, combining his soaring melodies with electronic accompaniment but in this format you only get half of the experience. The live show I attended at the Royal Oak Music Theater, on the second night of his 2010 tour, was a multimedia  event. Themes of creativity, brokenness, and redemption were presented in neon, pop-locking included. If you expect a greatest hits concert when seeking out a Sufjan Stevens performance, you’ll be disappointed. But if you are open to an experience that engages the senses, you are in for a special night.

Avett Brothers: Live Vol. 3

My favorite band of the last few years, the Avett Brothers released a record that shows off their grace and expert craftsmanship in front of a hometown audience. While Sujfan Stevens creates large-scale pieces of art, the Avett’s provide emotion and authenticity (not unlike that of Johnny Cash) in 3-minute increments. If you haven’t experienced the Avett Brothers, this album provides a great introduction to some of the best songs written in the last 5-10 years, in my humble opinion.

Mumford and Sons: Sigh No More

These Englishmen are the latest group to steal my musical heart. Folksy, pub-rock with rich themes and undeniable energy characterize the Mumford and Sons first album for Island Records. I don’t know much about these guys other than that they make me want to go for a drive in the country and sing at the top of my lungs. Check it out to see if they make you feel the same way:


What are your favorite musical moments of 2010?

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