Another year of great music, some from artists I already love and some are new discoveries. I've been sharing my love for music on the blog through an end of the year "best of" list since 2006...
Previous Years -- My Best Albums
As usual I'll give some minimal comments just to get you started. I hope you'll do what I do all year round, which is hit the links, stream some samples, and find something new. I encourage you to buy the music you love and not just stream it online free. Support good art and great artists! If you click on my links you'll be able to buy through Amazon. It's no extra expense for you by using my links and I get referrals which provides me a little Amazon money for books and music. Thanks for your support!
Here we go. Anything that made this list is well worth checking out.
18. Alabama Shakes - Sound & Color | This is a good band making good music. It's a little more deliberate than I want it to be, but it's worthy of the effort.
16. The Gray Havens - Fire and Stone | The best musical storytellers of redemption currently working. Even when they have a stylistic choice that isn't my cup of tea, I finish the cup.
15. Chris Stapleton - Traveller | Nashtastic, beardy, soulful country. Where the rubber meets the stage. Where the boots hit the gravel. You know.
14. Wilco - Star Wars | This dropped for FREE. Wow. And it's purdy good. Dude, it's Wilco. You should own everything they make. C'mon.
13. Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free | Hard to live up to the sweet perfections of last years' Southeastern, but still another great album. Must listen: "24 Frames."
12. Purity Ring - Another Eternity | Goodness, this got a lot of play this year in my house, during work, for fun, with the kids, by myself. It's remarkably catchy. Dreamy beats. Louder the better.
11. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats - Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats | Rollicking fun. Lot's of roll in the rock. Honest. Authentic. The cool buddy we all wish we had. Down to earth.
10. Kamasi Washington - The Epic | Oh, jazz. When you come at me with something classy and creative, something that reminds me of what I love but also gives me something new to love, I do love you.
9. Jamie xx - In Colour | Cool of the cool. Chill. Urban. Sips (no chugging) in the club. Vibe. Flavor. Undercurrent. Emotive. EMOTIVE. Atmospheric.
8. Wolf Alice - My Love Is Cool | Man, this album was begging me to be put higher. It's groovy fun. Hooky goodness. And it rocks plenty hard. It's sweet adrenaline.
7. Tame Impala - Currents | Life-soundtracky. Hip. Looping. Trippy. Great for focused work, chilling out. It's groovy, man. It's an album that I can turn on most any time of any day.
6. Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit | Every early sample of this album ended quickly. But I finally read enough about it to give it a real and thorough listen. Two times through I was sold. It's punkish. The later tracks are the ones that convinced me of Barnett's genius, but she first caught my ear at "Put me on a pedestal and I'll only disappoint you." Almost made the top 5.
5. Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear | Sermonic. Counter-cultural. Every song a stage. Laugh-tracks. Really smart. He takes you on his dramatic trip into the challenging of an idea through supremely glorious musical styles. The gorgeousity of the music should be incongruous with the content, but is actually a wonderful way for FJM to make his move on your heart. He gives you a rose and the stabs you in the eye with its thorn.
3. Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell | Soft and soothing, but not gentle. Beautifully jarring. Broadly finite. Haunted. Entrancing. A warm hug and consoling whisper through the reverberating ache. Isolated & intimate. This guy is a-something.
2. Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Style | The music of Will Toledo that originated from his DIY bedroom recordings as a teenager is quite excellent. This shoegazy rock album is a joy listen after listen. "Anyone new to Car Seat Headrest is, quite frankly, in for a jaw-dropping discovery. The quality of Toledo’s songs is gobsmacking; the lyrics are enthralling, the melodies are to die for, the musicianship is raw yet brilliant." This album is the introverts dreamscape, and cry, and inspiration.
1. Grimes - Art Angels | This album is "utterly uncompromising, imaginative and, somehow, universally accessible." Yes, yes, and yes to the music of Claire Boucher. This is the album that I listen to most, enjoy the most, and makes me want to dance the most. But it's also full of quirk. It's packed with super-duper hooks that aren't easy and cheap. It's fresh and throw-back at the same time. Boucher is a creative genius, "a human zeitgeist, redrawing all the binaries and boundaries by which we define pop music and forcing us to come along."