|No Shade in the Shadow of the Top 30|
My 30 favorite albums of the year! With descriptions on the top 10. Yeah yeah.
HONORABLE MENTION: Holly Herndon's beguiling 'Platform' which I didn't always enjoy but was always impressed by, somewhat incongruously.
FAV TRACK: Happy to See Me
|29||The Tallest Man on Earth|
Dark Bird Is Home
FAV TRACK: Dark Bird is Home
What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World
FAV TRACK: Make You Better
|27||Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld|
Never Were The Way She Was
FAV TRACK: With the Dark Hug of Time
|26||Anna Von Hausswolff|
FAV TRACK: Come Wander with Me / Deliverance
Ones and Sixes
FAV TRACK: Lies
FAV TRACK: Pulse Point
FAV TRACK: Dream Genie
|22||Florence and the Machine|
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
FAV TRACK: Queen of Peace
Don't Weigh Down the Light
FAV TRACK: Past Houses
Savage Hills Ballroom
FAV TRACK: Highway Patrol Stun Gun
FAV TRUCK: Lion
FAV TRACK: Softcore
Escape from Evil
FAV TRACK: Ondine
FAV TRACK: Iron Moon
|15||Belle and Sebastian|
Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
FAV TRACK: Enter Sylvia Plath
Pagans In Vegas
FAV TARCK: Fortunes.
Vestiges and Claws
FAV TRACK: Leaf Off/The Cave
FAV TRACK: How Can I
Deep In The Iris
FAV TRACK: Miniskirt
|10||Lianne La Havas|
La Havas improved on her already very good debut album with Blood, a set of soulful, jazz-influenced rock pop, replete with a few folky detours. La Havas has one of the best voices in modern pop music by far, and hearing her belt out funky tunes like “Midnight,” slinky numbers like “Green & Gold,” or out-and-out bangers like “Grow,” is just such a treat. I am thankful for this record. FAV TRACK: Grow.
No Cities to Love
It’s just so damn good to have these ladies back in our lives. There isn’t much I can even say here. This is a kickass rock record, tight and taut, with the same great melodies and virtuosic guitars we’ve come to expect. Just all around solid as fuck. Rock on, SK. FAV TRACK: No Cities to Love.
Torres’ debut was a record I quite enjoyed, but it isn’t really that much of a statement. Sprinter is a statement. This is a fierce, gnarly record with catchy songs and impassioned singing. Songs like “Strange Hellos” and the title track explode, while the more pensive cuts like “New Skin” and (especially) “A Proper Polish Welcome” provide a beautiful counterpoint. I’d bet Torres has even more in her yet. FAV TRACK: New Skin.
I never want to like a Destroyer record as much as I do. I’m not even sure what rationale I have for that, but it’s true. At first listen, I’m like, “Ok that was fine.” But even as soon as the second listen, it’s hook-line-and-sinker. This might be my favorite Destroyer record since Your Blues, with its slow sensuousness and thoughtful song craft. Destroyer is so consistent it’s hard to pin what exactly makes this record better than others, but it just is, ok? FAV TRACK: Girl in a Sling.
This is the most criminally overlooked record of the year. Minimalist disco with indelible grooves and Murphy’s beautiful, sultry voice. It took a long time for her to return, and while this is certainly not as catchy or colorful as her past work, it is definitely a welcome addition to her strong catalog. FAV TRACK: Uninvited Guest.
I feel crazy for putting a Grimes record here, but I have to. I’ve never been a Grimes non-fan, but I never got as wowed by her as everyone seemed to. This time around, I was hesitant, but I quickly grew to love the brash, fun, poppy, bubblegum-and-cyanide update on her sound. Stripping much of the reverb, we’re left with a very catchy, very well-made record. This is Grimes’ real breakthrough, “Oblivion” be damned. FAV TRACK: Kill V. Maim
Another heartbreaker, here. Breakup albums can so easily go maudlin, or at the very least run-of-the-mill. Leave it to Björk to basically reinvent the wheel. This is by some sort of margin her most challenging work yet, both in the intense, seasick strings and beats that never go where you expect them to, and her personal, heartsick lyrics. It acts as a dark cousin to Vespertine, and it’s interesting to see her go from the global (Volta and Biophilia) back to the personal with such velocity, but I welcome it. FAV TRACK: Stonemilker.
Anyone who knows me probably thought I would put this at #1 almost by default, but #3 is nothing to gawk at either. Newsom remains my favorite songwriter, and while Divers might not be her best work, it still packs a dazzling punch. Jumping every which way through time and space, Newsom weaves intricate, fiercely intelligent stories with layers of harp, keys, strings, and even a Marxophone. We waited five years for this, but it was well worth it. FAV TRACK: Divers.
Have You In My Wilderness
There’s a moment in the middle of “Sea Calls Me Home” where Julia Holter stops short of giving us the expected chorus – it builds right up to the precipice, but doesn’t jump. Instead, we get a lovely whistling coda. All right, nice enough, but the chorus is about to come – three, two, one – ah! Nope! We’re foiled again, this time by a luscious sax. This is indicative of why this is Holter’s best work yet, and there are a myriad of other examples scattered throughout. Impeccable production and songwriting, and just so goddamn pretty. FAV TRACK: Betsy on the Roof.
Carrie and Lowell
I knew this record was a Great Record the first time I heard it, but I don’t think it clicked into #1 status for me until after I saw Stevens perform live on his Carrie & Lowell tour. It forced me to look the man singing these desperate, sorrowful songs right in the face, which gave me an even sharper perspective on the album proper. It may be quiet and slow, but this is a profound, wise, nearly perfect piece of work. Nothing moved me more this year. FAV TRACK: The Only Thing.