Best Twin Cities albums of 2010

Dessa, BNLX, Kristoff Krane, and more

Rogue Valley
Crater Lake

Three-quarters of the way through their ambitious album-per-season goal, Chris Koza's Rogue Valley piled up a staggering output in 2010. But while their second and third albums had their standout tracks ("Racecar Driver" from The Bookseller's House and "Cleaning Slates" from Geese in Flyway were both excellent singles), it was their first album of the year that so succinctly captured the band's earthy, romantic aesthetic. Like a mission statement, Crater Lake set the bar high for Rogue Valley's epic anthology of imagery-laden, literary folk rock, and gave the band plenty to strive for as they labored through their most prolific year. —Andrea Swensson

Roma di Luna
And Then the Morning Came

On their most confident and soulful release yet, and their third full-length, Roma di Luna have blossomed into a powerhouse act. What began as a sweet and intimate folk collaboration between husband-and-wife duo Alexei and Channy Moon Casselle has grown into an arresting blues-, Gypsy-, and gospel-influenced Americana band, with the focus staying wisely trained on Channy's throaty, wrenching wail. Morning runs the gamut of emotions, too, with songs like "Baby Hotel" reveling in the joy of new parenthood while "Miss You Too" and "Below Our Feet" are more mournful, morose reflections on longing and loss. With the help of an adept backing band, Roma di Luna have found their footing with one of the best roots releases to come out of the Twin Cities this year. —Andrea Swensson

Various artists
Regolith Vol. 1

Leading the local analog renaissance, the Moon Glyph label's cassette-only output appeals to far more than the average bargain-bin-diving audiophiles. The limited-edition vinyl comp Regolith Vol. 1 demonstrates that in spades, boasting cuts from 10 of the area's most recognizable psychedelic rock bands—from Leisure Birds to Vampire Hands to Skoal Kodiak—and making a damn strong argument for just how spoiled we've come to be of late (a fact even acknowledged by ye hallowed scribes at Pitchfork). Side one's charms are the most obvious, with its sun-smeared, retro-pop leanings and a guest spot by weirdo par-excellence Ariel Pink. But it's the experimental clatter of side two that reminds us that, no matter how you spin it, the most adventurous and forward-thinking bands will always deserve more than a mouse click and a download. —Jeff Gage

Various artists
Minnesota Beatle Project, Vol 2.

It's a tricky thing, covering the Beatles. The Fab Four's output has been so studied and rehashed that their songs are among some of the most frequently covered of all time. Nevertheless, local nonprofit Vega Productions persevered to put together a second volume of Beatles tunes sung by locals to benefit music educators in Minnesota, and it managed to create one of the most airtight compilations of the year. It's hard to choose a favorite: Lookbook's spare and sultry "Real Love," P.O.S.'s skittering and funky "Dear Boy," Mason Jennings's folky "Child of Nature," and the New Standards' buoyant "Michelle" explore the more romantic side of the Beatles' catalog, while A Night in the Box turn it up to 11 with "Happiness Is a Warm Gun," and Meat Puppets get trippy on "Tomorrow Never Knows." From front to back, it's a surprisingly diverse and well-executed collection of covers showcasing just some of the state's most talented players, along with a few non-Minnesotan guests. Here's looking forward to Volume 3. —Andrea Swensson

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