New Music Monday: Top 10 Albums of the Year!

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Happy Monday music maniacs! Just like last year – my ten favorite records of the year, with a few honorable mentions tacked on that I’d feel shitty about if I didn’t include them. In ascending order. Last year I named Neko Case’s The Worse Things Get… album of the year, not only in this list but in others as well. No one else did, but I stand by my nomination without regret. What’ll I choose this year? Will I be wrong again? Will I surprise everyone and name that Jennifer Lopez album best of the year? Come see!

Honorable Mention

Allo Darlin’, We Come From the Same Place, Fortuna Pop!

The cutest band in the world produces a mature and sensible pop album for their sophomore effort.

Truckstop Honeymoon, The Madness of Happiness, Squirrel Records

For me, this was the most entertaining record of the year. Every time I needed something to listen that wouldn’t let me down I put this one on and it never disappointed. Kind of sums up my feelings about this Lawrence, KS based duo in general.

Maggie Bjorklund, Shaken, Bloodshot Records

Jack White collaborator makes a mysterious, beguiling near masterpiece. And collaborates with THE MAN Mark Lanegan in the process.

Morrissey, World Peace is None of Your Business, Harvest

All y’all can suck it. Morrissey is the master and can do whatever the fuck he wants. And all of the controversy surrounding this album doesn’t negate the fact that it’s a luxurious, grandiose trip through the most interesting mind in music.

10. Justin Townes Earl, Single Mothers, Vagrant Records

A whole album of slinking country blues dedicated to single mothers, featuring JTE’s world weary drawl? That’s my idea of a good time. After a confusing battle with a record label a lot of people didn’t know if we’d here from Earl again for a long time. Thankfully he reemerged with this subdued classic.

9. Spoon, They Want My Soul, Loma Vista

Overall, a very strong, very listenable record that I know I’ll be rocking for years to come. No Spoon record is bad, but this one seemed to rise above. Also, included my favorite lyric of the year: “I remember when you walked out of Garden State / You had taste, you had taste / You had no time to waste”.

8. Sun Kil Moon, Benji, Caldo Verde Records

I’ll be honest – I’ve listened to this album five time since it’s release. Plus right now, so that’s six, or five and a half. That’s it. And every single time I listen to it I’m floored by it, from the wrenching opener “Carissa” through the cataclysmic “Richard Ramirez Died Today” and stark “My Friend Ben”. Which is why I’ve don’t listen to it often, it’s sometimes too much.

7. Lydia Loveless, Somewhere Else, Bloodshot Records

While Ms Loveless’ latest opus lacked the psychotic, drunken abandon of her previous masterpiece, Indestructable Machine, the Columbus, Ohio based songwriter still produced some of the most clever and heartfelt Americana this year.

6. Jack White, Lazaretto, Third Man Records

Jack got some swagger here, don’t he? Some of the lyrics were clunky and awkward, but otherwise the record was weird, warped, and wonderful – great stuff!

5. Xiu Xiu, Angel Guts: Red Classroom, Polyvinyl

When you confront an album that offers the phrase “black dick! dick! dick!” as the closest thing to a sing-a-long moment, you’d better be in Xiu Xiu territory. Otherwise you’re in trouble. The mythology behind this album is amazing – head Xiu Jamie Stewart moved into hell and produced a harrowing album that won’t soon be forgotten.

4. Fucked Up, Glass Boys, Matador Records

The highly anticipated follow up to the highly praised David Comes to Life wasn’t nearly as ambitious as it’s predecessor, and that was a good thing. While David might leave rock academics debating for years to come, the shattered dissonance of Boys might make them shake their head and walk away. Which is a good thing.

3. The Tiger Lillies, A Dream Turns Sour, Misery Guts Music

If you have yet to discover the UK’s The Tigerlillies you are missing out. This record, which features lyrics inspired by journals of World War I soldiers, may be the best in their long, hyper-productive career. The Lillies are one of thse bands like Pink Floyd, Jandek, or Fugazi that have created an entire world of unique, one of a kind music all their own and you really can’t judge their work against what everyone else is doing. It can only be admired against a backdrop what the band has already done. This may be their crowning achievement.

2. Shovels and Rope, Swimmin’ Time, Dualtone Records

Okay, I’ll be honest. If you open the first verse of your record with the lines “I got wasted / And I sat around the fire all day / Seein’ if I could find someone to make love to”, like this South Carlina based alt-country duo did, I’m probably gonna really, really dig the record. In fact, if they’d continued that lyric with “But ended up watching Kansas Jayhawks basketball” Swimmin’ Time would be record of the year. But that’s just me. Anyway, this record had more twang, moxy, and grit than most, and the genius of Shovels and Rope is that they consistently find a way to turn their sweaty work into a hoedown.

1. Jolie Holland, Wine Dark Sea, Anti-

Some loved it, some hated it, but everyone talked about the latest Jolie Holland opus, Wine Dark Sea. Myself? I felt both. The first single “Waiting for the Sun” wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, and some of the songs were a bit too jagged and torn on first listen. And it didn’t sound like a Jolie Holland record. But as I let the record settle in I began to appreciate the warmth in the guitas, the quiverring dissonance and shaking discomfort forms the backbone of this grand record.

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