This was the first year in quite a few that I consumed less music. I saw fewer shows, bought less music and probably missed quite a few great albums. This year I listened to music a little different too. Since I moved into my new place in March, I don’t have quite the same amount of room to put CDs, so most of them got put in boxes (after I ripped them into iTunes) and are sitting in my closet. I continued to make my monthly mixes, if only for myself. So many good songs this year didn’t exactly translate into great albums. I’m not sure if it was simply because I wasn’t as entrenched, but it didn’t seem like there was a ton of great stuff released this year. There were plenty of disappointments and a few surprises.
I’m in the process of putting together the special year-end compilation. Since there hasn’t been much in the way of releases over the last month, I think I’m going to just do a single disc this year. Michael Miller has agreed to do the artwork once again.
T O P 1 0 A L B U M S
10. Iron & Wine : Our Endless Numbered Days – Sam Beam (a.k.a. Iron & Wine) plays some of the purest melodies I have heard in some time. It’s all stripped down to its barest essentials and continues to hit where it counts most. The heart. I was lucky enough to see Sam play live a couple of times this year and on both occasions, he was nothing short of gorgeous.
09. The Veils : Runaway Found – I think I originally ran across this band at work. Again, another band I had no clue about before I heard this album. Finn Andrews’ voice is center stage and almost makes the rest of the band meaningless. He’s just one of those vocalists that could do whatever he wanted to with anyone and it would probably sound good.
08. The Streets : A Grand Don’t Come For Free – When the first album came out, I was a little late to the game. I didn’t really like it at first, but it ended up growing on me quite a bit. By the time this album was released, I was a fan. I didn’t really expect to like it much though. There’s nothing to sing along to, but Mike’s MC and storytelling skills are difficult to deny.
07. Ray LaMontagne : Trouble – I likely heard Ray before he was a blip on anyone’s radar. Through work, I got a copy of the album long before he was signed. I remember sitting down in front my stereo and putting it on for the first time. I was instantly blown away and moved to tears. Ethan Johns (producer) could not have done a better job with this album either. Beautiful songs and a voice to match.
06. The Killers : Hot Fuss – There was a 5-song demo floating around before the album was released. I took one listen to that demo and threw it in the trash. I think I just skimmed the songs and decided it was shit. I was tired of this 80s throwback bullshit that seems to be infecting music and fashion. A couple of months later I saw the full album and everyone I knew was raving about them. I gave it another chance and listened to the entire album, start to finish. I’ve since listened to it way too much.
05. Earlimart : Treble & Tremble – Their last album was fantastic and made me a fan of the band. My dear friend Joel gave me a copy of the album and my heart sank to my knees by the end of the first track. I knew that Aaron was close with Elliott Smith, but I wasn’t quiet expecting something so personal. I wish that it rocked a little more and was perhaps a bit more playful, but you can’t go wrong when you’re coming from a place of love.
04. Razorlight : Up All Night – I picked this album up on import after reading a stellar review in a U.K. music magazine. I was a tiny bit put off by the fact that they looked and sounded kinda similar to a certain New York City band, but I couldn’t stop listening to the album. It made me want to jump up and down. I was singing along to the entire album in a matter of days. That’s really all there is to say.
03. Snow Patrol : Final Straw – Simple songs here. Nothing off the beaten path, really. While I never would have guessed this would go a little mainstream, it’s not surprising at all. American rock influences are pretty obvious for this U.K. band and that’s certainly not a bad thing. I have probably listened to this album more than any other this year and I can still put it on and love every song.
02. Matt Pond PA : Emblems – The first band I read about on the internets that actually ended up being something that I fell in love with. I had never heard of Matt Pond PA or read a single thing about them. I think it was actually Largehearted Boy that turned me on to them. Thank you! I don’t quite know why this album resonates so much with me, but it does. I knew the moment I heard the album, it would be one of the best.
01. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists : Shake The Sheets – One of the greatest recent songwriters. I consistently enjoy what Ted Leo does. Moving forward, this album will be seen as a turning point in his career. It’s with this album that he finally reaches out, however unintentional, to the kids that aren’t picking up albums exclusively from below the radar. This album illustrates that Ted Leo is moving forward, making music that matters.
Albums that were great, but not great enough
Modest Mouse : Good News For People Who Love Bad News
Lovedrug : Pretend You’re Alive
Hope Of The States : The Lost Riots
Moonbabies : The Orange Billboard
Thermals : Fuckin A
Scissor Sisters : Scissor Sisters
Albums that were terribly disappointing
PJ Harvey : Uh Huh Her – Nuh uh!
Sonic Youth : Sonic Nurse – I keep trying, but I just don’t think I’m ever gonna get it
Paul Westerberg : Folker – Fucker
The Hives : Tyrannosaurus Hives – Zero growth
R.E.M. : Around The Sun – Wake me when it’s over
Beastie Boys : To The 5 Boroughs – Stop it. Just stop.
Wilco : A Ghost Is Born – I’d rather listen to paint peel
Rilo Kiley : More Adventurous – More nothing