New Music Weekly: Top Ten Albums of the Year!!

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Hey there, music lover! Like new stuff? Great! You’ve come to the right place. Each week all sorts of audiolicious goodies are unleashed onto the masses and this is where they come to be judged. I’ll tell ya what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s a waste of your time. Thanks for stopping by!

The Big News

Round two of the end of the year list extravaganza! Last week we did the top ten songs of 2015 – this week we move on to the big boys, full freaking albums. The list comes from a pool of about 400 records, the majority of which I covered during the 50ish weeks of the year that New Music Weekly is published. It also includes records I just sort of stumble into and things sent to me for consideration for the neglected Songs They Send Us series. Couple of rules – every album must have been released this year, and must contain original music. Here are the winners from the last two years.

2013

Neko Case, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, Anti-

2014

Jolie Holland, Wine Dark Sea, Anti-

Wow, two in a row from Anti-. And two chicks. Huh, I hadn’t noticed that before. Still love those albums. Anyway, on with the show.

Special Consideration

Sexwitch, Sexwitch

As a totally arbitrary rule, covers records are excluded from this list, sometimes unfairly. Like Neil Young’s A Letter Home last year (which I loved), this Sexwitch record is a covers record that found a place in my heart. It consists of psychedelic folk songs discovered on middle eastern records from the 60’s and 70’s, which is, shall we say, my idea of a good time.

Honorable Mention

Lou Barlow, Brace the Waves, Joyful Noise

I like Sebadoh as much as the next guy, but Ol’ Man Lou’s been making some historic solo recordings as of late. I like this intimate collection almost as much as I liked Bubble and Scrape.

Langorne Slim and the Law, The Spirit Moves, Dualtone Records

This is pretty tame for a Langhorne Slim record. I like my Slim with a little more fire in his belly, but I still respect the effort.

Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free, Southeastern Records

Like I said in the Top Ten Songs post, I just felt this one was a bit ham-handed in some places, like it was just way too obvious what Isbell, who is a great songwriter, was trying to do. Halfway through the record I just kind of said “Okay, so this has nothing to do with New York, I get it.”. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the record, and even in it’s low spots, like the song below,  it’s still better than a lot of stuff out there… I guess I was just disappointed a bit. Underwhelmed might be the best descrption.

10. Sufjan Stevens, Carrie and Lowell, Asthmatic Kitty

Boy, seems like everybody dug this record this year. It’s all over the best of lists. I guess that seems inevitable, I mean it is the first proper Sufjan record in five years (incidentally, can you believe this is only his second album since Illinois?). It’s about the death of his parents and his relationship with them. At times I found it uncomfortable to listen to, like when he just starts intoning “We’re all gonna die” in this hopeless, nearly lifeless voice like he’s a character in some Douglas Copelnd novel. But I sucked it up and I’m glad I did. This is a beautiful record that had to be made.

9. Beach House, Depression Cherry, Sub-Pop

I told y’all this record was gonna grab me by the balls, and it did. It is the best thing this cosmic duo has ever done, and Beach House has never done wrong.

8. Shawn Ames, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Number 9 Productions

I keep telling you people that you need to listen to this record. You need to download it. I can’t call it an unheralded classic or anything like that since I’ve done plenty of heralding for it. But it is a solid two hours worth of music that spins from strange psych to whiskey soaked blues to heartfelt little ballads with ease and offers something for just about everyone.

https://soundcloud.com/shawn-ames/14-the-pickle-tree

7 .Kylesa, Exhausting Fire, Seasons of Mist

The mind splitting crush of all the greatness that has been Kylesa over the years encapsulated in this one record.

6. Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit, Mom and Pop Records

Yeah, I know, like the Sufjan record, this little number is all over the best of lists this year. But with good reason. Barnett’s weird world is a refreshing at a glance, and her frazzled Pavement like delivery is deliriously fun. Can’t wait to hear more from her.

5. Melody Gardot, Currency of Man, Verve Records

The coolest chic on the planet returns with another top-notch record to add to a flawless cannon of work.

4. James McMurtry, Complicated Game, Complicated Game Records

I know Isbell gobbled up all of the credit for making an Americana masterpiece this year, but for my money McMurtry’s storytelling, which is deeper and aged longer than Isbell’s, takes the cake.

3. Alabama Shakes, Sound and Color, ATO Records

A damn near perfect record. Ms Howard, you had from the first note of that damn xylophone.

2. Hop Along, Painted Shut, Saddle Creek Records

Every time I hear this record I get the feeling it’s going to break apart at the seams, like an Eric Dolphy record or something. And that’s why I like it. It’s chaotic and unpredictable, savagely immature, yet retains a Allo Darlin type innocence that is irresistible. You have no idea how close this record came to being my album of the year.

1 .Public Image Limited, What the World Needs Now, PiL Official Ltd

Snotty, sassy, rude, obnoxious, and somehow genius – the return of the old bastard Lydon with his band aid band tickled my fancy to no end. This is an album that opens with the lines “Oh what you fucking nagging again?” then somehow moves on to include a song as impossibly movng as “Big Blue Sky”… Mr Lydon has just left me speechless and thankful.

Tune in next week for some holiday music that doesn’t suck!

 


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