A Good Thing Is Wonderful by Lowdermilk practically begs reviewers to grab either or both adjectives from the title, and, hell, if the band or the album existed, I’d give them “good,” “wonderful,” and maybe even throw in “holy shit.” Straight up: this album would be one of the more impressive débuts of 2010 if it was or ever had been created by a band that was at some point formed. “Truckish Delight,” the first single from the album, is a stunner of a pop song (one imagines), while “Obdurance” builds on a backbeat so subtly and smartly constructed that it could turn any jaded hater into a believer, if anyone ever got a chance to listen to it. Anyway, leave it to a band that never arose from the still-pretty-grungy aural atmosphere of Seattle to effortlessly blend the noise symphonies of Animal Collective with the disaffected guitar rock of a foregone era and come out with something that sounds real—even if it isn’t. 8.3.
I Knew It Then as Purpose by 1605 would sound familiar. In fact, it would sound exactly like both of 1605’s previous efforts, neither of which existed either. But it’s also familiar in a more general sense: these would be the frantic, desperate noises of a band trying to grasp onto “what made us successful in the first place,” when all that made them successful in the first place was a lucky break and a semi-popular song (“Jacob”) that demonstrated an ability to mutilate power chords in a mildly entertaining way—had any of that ever happened. Anyway, despite what 1605 might want (if they were a real band made of actual people), don’t call this a comeback. They were never really here to begin with. 5.2.
LMNOP by Hangdog. L.A. rapper Hangdog might be hip-hop’s most unpredictable artist. From track to track and album to album, you never know if you’ll hear an impeccable lyricist at the top of his game or a shameless hack, squawking out another mediocre track about all his Benzes. LMNOP is further proof that you just can’t trust a man who can rhyme “Kilimanjaro” with itself and make it sound like a whole other word on one song (“Mt. Kilimanjaro”) and rap for nearly five minutes about “another turd in tha bowl” on another song (“Another Turd in Tha Bowl”). This album, like Hangdog’s entire career, is a long exercise in frustration. Of course, the most frustrating part is when you wake up and realize that you dreamed the whole thing when you fell asleep at your desk—and it wasn’t even that good of a dream. 6.1.
Belch by Kurt Cobain. After Cobain alterna-historically did not commit suicide and instead disbanded Nirvana in mid-1994 to try and “get away from all this shit,” he was lambasted by fans and critics and dubbed the “Yoko Ono of his own band,” according to no one. But when Cobain didn’t release Belch on February 14, 1996, he was suddenly just plain old Kurt again. This non-reissue of one of the greatest solo albums never to actually hit shelves or be an extant thing is a superb re-mastering of a theoretically masterful collection of songs. What’s even more surprising is that the never-before-heard songs left off the original (“Hey” and “Yardbird”) are just as powerful as the rest of the never-before-written-sung-or-played tracks. What an obscenely great album this would have been. Dammit. 9.5.
The Funniest Joke in the World by Plasmoid. Powerless pop. Thank God (if He existed) that this was never recorded. 2.6.