What a fantastic year for music. I was so disappointed last year. I didn’t like very much last year, but this year time after time I kept being pleasantly surprised. I couldn’t believe how high the quality was. Everything in the top ten this year is probably better than any of the top 3 from last year.
Without further delay here is my top 10:
1 Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
2 Dillinger Escape Plan – Option Paralysis
3 Owen Pallett – Heartland
4 Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz and All Delighted People
5 The Whiskers – War of Currents
6 The Head and the Heart – Self-Titled
7 Dirty Projectors/Bjork – Mount Wittenberg Orca
8 Kayo Dot – Coyote
9 Land of Talk – Cloak and Cipher
10 Moonface – Dreamland EP
The Tallest Man on Earth
The stuff that was pretty good, but just had a enough things I didn’t like that made it hard to listen all the way through:
Corinne Baily Rae
Antony and the Johnsons
The bottom 5 in order:
Band of Horses
Now for a few words. I’ll start with the bad. Honestly, I’m really disappointed about Band of Horses. I really loved their previous release, but this one consisted of some songs that became annoying after a few listens or were just plain boring. There were a few gems on it, but overall I can’t listen to it. Spoon was horrifyingly bad. It is filled with cliche riffs and progressions. The lyrics are childish and petty. The repetition is annoying. I truly dreaded listening to it again to put into the list. Same goes for LCD Soundsystem. I liked their last album, but this one the repetition exceeded Philip Glass and wasn’t as interesting.
For the good, I’ve posted many times about Joanna Newsom. She is one of the greatest musicians alive right now. This album is so intricate and perfectly put together. The songs reference eachother and repeated listenings are constantly rewarded. This was the first year I’ve had to deal with single artists releasing more than one album. Sufjan Stevens and The Tallest Man on Earth both did this.
The Sufjan album is so good. If you’ve liked his stuff in the past, then don’t miss this. If you only want to get one of them, get The Age of Adz. It is full of heartwrenching ballads and electronic hip-hop and full orchestra arrangements and just him and his acoustic guitar. Basically it the most diverse album listed here.
Now for my favorite tracks:
1 Impossible Soul or All Delighted People – Sufjan Stevens
2 Tornado – Jonsi
3 California – Joanna Newsom
4 Marsh Blood – Whiskers
5 Lewis Takes off his Shirt – Owen Pallett
6 Gold Teeth on a Bum – Dillinger Escape Plan
7 Color Me Badd – Land of Tallk
8 Afraid of Everyone – The National
9 Down in the Valley – The Head and the Heart
If you don’t want to get a whole album listed above, and only want the best song on it here’s my best guesses. Impossible Soul is just an epic song. It is over 20 minutes if I remember correctly and pulls you through every style imaginable. It is something everyone should hear once. My jaw was dropped the whole time my first time through that he could actually transition through all these styles in a single coherent song.
Another mind blowing song is Tornado. I’ve never heard someone so perfectly make the form of the song mimic the content. Tornado refers to some internal struggle Jonsi has with himself. The lyrics refer to two competing parts of himself to get control. He uses two different time signatures that are both always present. When the one side is winning the one is more prevalent and the other is only background, but then the other comes to the front. It is truly mind blowing how well this gets pulled off and it isn’t even noticeable the first few times you listen. It is also just a really moving song overall with a great powerful climax.
Lastly, I listened to several more albums than listed above, but they were just blah and didn’t fit the above lists. I also didn’t get around to lots and lots of stuff that looked really good. As always if your list is similar to mine and you think I missed something awesome, please leave it in the comments. I’d love to hear more. Also, if you disagree with anything I’d like to hear that as well.