While my Top Ten remained pretty solid, I finagled with the rest of the list right up to this posting. Lots and lots of good music this year, some of it was even great. Brits dominated the list this year (I am an Anglophile for sure) with the USA, Canada, Sweden, Denmark and, in a shocker, Australia rounding things out. If you disagree with my choices, I offer this quote from Yukon Cornelius: "You eat what you like, and I’ll eat what I like!" (MP3s are expired, sorry)
Hot Chip – The Warning (DFA/Astralwerks) | Overflowing with ideas, melody and humor, The Warning had it all: killer singles (“Over and Over,” “Boy from School,”), slow jams (the affecting “Look After Me”) and whiteboy funk (“Arrest Yourself”). Hot Chip are like a modern day New Order, and they do it without imitating Peter Hook’s bass style. It’s the sound of real live people playing – not programming – sythesizers, and that human element shines through.
Buy It | MP3: Hot Chip – "No Fit State"
Sloan – Never Hear the End of It (Murderecords) | Canada’s indie elder statesman return after a few years of trying to grab the brass ring and go back to doing what they do best – being themselves. The result is their best album in years; a sprawling, beautiful mess of 30 interwoven songs that never gets boring. Though you never really went away, Sloan, it’s good to have you back.
Buy It| MP3: Sloan – "Set in Motion"
Midlake – The Trials of Van Occupanther (Bella Union) | Yes, Midlake’s songs are often soft. But they’re not soft rock. Michael McDonald never sounded like this… or sang about 19th Century agrarian society. Bookish and beautiful, The Trials of Van Occupanther is a perfect album for Sunday mornings, drives through lush countrysides or doing research for that second doctorate.
Buy It | MP3: Midlake – "Roscoe"
Figurines – Skeleton (Control Group) | Denmark’s Figurines sound like a Best of ’90s Indie Rock compilation all rolled into one band. A little Pavement, some Modest Mouse, with liberal splashes of Teen Beat and Flying Nun thrown in for good measure. More than anything else, Skeleton is loaded with fantastic songs. Great Danes indeed.
Buy It | MP3: figurines – "i remember"
Kelley Stoltz – Below the Branches (Sub Pop) | Here’s a record that took nearly six months to work its magic on me, but has now burrowed deep under my skin and refuses to leave. Below the Branches has a real timeless quality about it, and it’s not just the songwriting. It’s not retro, yet it sounds like it could’ve been recorded any time over the last three decades. Kelley Stoltz is also a real charmer in person — don’t miss a chance to see him play.
Buy It | Kelley Stoltz – "Birdies Singing"
The Knife – Silent Shout (Mute) | Certainly one of the most hyped records of the year, Silent Shout deserved it’s accolades. The Knife‘s music is like one of those sea creatures that lives in the deepest waters: spooky, phospherescent, undulating, mesmerizing. And you can dance to it. Yet for me, this is a perfect record to listen to while walking around the city at night.
Buy It | MP3: The Knife – "Neverland"
Phoenix – It’s Never Been Like That (Astralwerks) | Phoenix started as slick dance-pop and have been devolving their sound ever since. Though we know they are skilled musicians, Phoenix pull off the sloppy, Strokesy rock with much elan. This is just one of those records that just sounds great, and their songs are catchy as ever. One of the most fun albums of the year.
Buy It | MP3: Phoenix – "Rally"
8. Luke Haines – Off My Rocker at the Art School Bop (Degenerate) |
Like Mark E. Smith, I don’t think Luke Haines is ever going to run out
of bile. It fed four Auteurs albums, one by Baader Meinoff, three from
Black Box Recorder, and a flurry of solo work here in the last few
years. And all of it is awesome. That being said, I was a bit taken back
by just how awesome Off My Rocker at the Art School Bop is. Always looking on the dark side of life and England, this
time, Haines fixates on Serial killers, aging rock stars,
the art world, and the music biz — all wrapped up in glammy disco (not unlike Denim) and whispered vocals. This is may be one of the best things Haines has ever done. And that is saying something.
Buy It | MP3: Luke Haines – "Off My Rocker at the Art School Bop"
The Dears – Gang of Losers (Arts & Crafts) | Montreal’s perpetual underdogs are just starting to get some attention (aka play on Grey’s Anatomy) and it’s about time. After touring their asses off in 2005, gaining the reputation as one of the most firey live bands on the planet, the Dears finally nailed it in the studio. (Playing it mostly live with minimal overdubs helped.) Gang of Losers is the post-apocalyptic romantic pop album of the year. Not that there was much competition.
Buy It | MP3: The Dears – "Whites Only Party"
10. Dirty on Purpose – Hallelujah Sirens (North Street Records) | Maybe it’s that Mercury Lounge seemed to be playing this album before every band I saw there this year, but Hallelujah Sirens is one of my most-listened-to albums of the year. Or maybe it’s just that there is no filler here — every song is great. Dirty on Purpose are friends of mine, but listening to this album, I am a mere fan.
Buy It | MP3: Dirty on Purpose – "Light Polution"
Albums 11 – 20 after the jump.