I’ve been trying to expand what I listen to, so I haven’t been keeping very good track of what’s been coming out this year. Instead I’ve mostly been listening to people I haven’t heard before and catching up on their back catalogue. I’m kind of bored with continually getting the same bands in two or three year cycles. Due to this I’m going to include things in this post that didn’t come out this year, but they are things I got this year. I’ll indicate them with parentheses and they won’t count in the actually numbering.
1. T.R.A.M. – Lingua Franca
(1.5 Noah and the Whale – First Days of Spring)
2. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do
(2.25 Joseph Arthur – The Graduation Ceremony)
(2.5 Ben Howard – Every Kingdom)
(2.75 Parachute Musical – Everything is Working out Fine in Some Town)
3. El-P – Cancer for Cure
As we see, only three things from this year made it into the excellent category. My goodness T.R.A.M. is amazing, though. It is classified as “jazz metal”, but I’d just classify it as a jazz quartet made up of members that are known for their other acts with metal bands. I haven’t spent much time with the Fiona Apple, since it came out four days ago. The high ranking might just be initial excitement, but I doubt it. As usual the lyrics are often disturbing and the singing is so passionate that I’m sometimes embarrassed listening to it due to witnessing someone exposing themselves that openly. She also uses lots of cool chromatic tonalities.
I can’t believe I had never heard of this Noah and the Whale album before this year. It is art at its greatest. The lead singer chronicles the ups and downs of the year following a devastating breakup. The album as a whole is extremely cohesive in this respect and the songs so well done that you really go through the roller coaster with him.
4. Mount Eerie – Clear Moon
(4.5 Aqualung – Magnetic North)
5. Moonface – With Sinaii: Heartbreaking Bravery
I love Mount Eerie, and I could foresee this moving up to Excellent with more time. I have also loved Moonface in the past, but now that he is with Sinaii (i.e. has a band rather than a solo act) it seems like he has settled into much more conventional indie rock. What made him so great earlier was the complete originality that came from not being tide down to the sounds a band can make. Still, it is overall quite good, but it was just a little bit of a letdown from what I expected.
6. Meshuggah – Koloss
7. Lana del Rey – Born to Die
(7.33 Greg Laswell – Take a Bow)
All three of these suffer the same problem. They contain a few really amazing songs, most of the rest are forgettable, and there a few songs that are bad enough that I have to skip them. I always start really excited while listening to the Lana del Rey. If the album ended after song 6 or something it would be amazing. But then it just drags on and on with songs that all sound exactly the same to me. I usually zone out for a few songs and then just end listening to it prematurely. The Meshuggah might move up after some more listens. I’m not sure I’ve even made it through the requisite 5 listens policy to rank it.
(7.66 Peter Bradley Adams – Leavetaking)
8. The Shins – Port of Morrow
9. Counting Crows – Underwater Sunshine
10. K’Naan – More Beautiful than Silence
I was essentially bored to tears by these. Peter Bradley Adams used to be a part of Eastmountainsouth which was a band I loved years ago. I was so excited to learn that he had put something out, but it didn’t compare. I also love most of the old Shins stuff, but this was such a boring album for me. I love K’Naan’s last album too, but this turned super-poppy. I may as well turn on the radio if I wanted to listen to that crap. I never really liked Counting Crows as a whole, so I’m not sure why I got this one.