In comparison to past years, I didn’t make listening to new albums a huge priority. I love being exposed to new music, but I think to a degree it can become sort of taxing- always trying to find the best new stuff can become a bit tiresome. This year I was just content listening to what I was compelled to listen to and left the other stuff for later. Maybe this makes me less of a music connoisseur, but despite not listening to every new release, I still found some gems that will become staples in my music catalogue.
I can’t truly rate them 1-10, simply because every album has it’s place and has been equally valuable to me in different ways this year.
Poliça - Give You The Ghost
Poliça produced some of the best jams of the year. Channy Leaneagh’s auto-tuned vocals paired with the bass and drums create for the perfect atmosphere for an evening drive or an impromptu dance party. Excellent contrast between the intensity in the beats, lyrics, and the clarity of Channy’s voice.
Frank Ocean- Channel Orange
If I were to put this album into a genre, I would put it in the “Sassy Bluegrass” category. This album 1) Contains incredible musicianship and therefore sounds beautiful and 2) Is so, so sassy from a lyrical standpoint. If you just look at Chris Thile’s twitter you’ll quickly catch onto his wit and sarcasm. Because of the humor, it’s a really fun album, but it’s also balanced out by a couple songs that are a little bit more relaxed.
Here We Go Magic- A Different Ship
This album was produced by Nigel Godrich, a longtime collaborator with Radiohead, if that’s any indicator that it might be a good one. It’s a clean sounding album that contains some groovy beats that give it a nice poppiness while maintaining super solid bass lines and overall sound.
Usher- Looking 4 Myself
I’m somewhat surprised I love this album as much as I do, but knew it would be a favorite the moment I first heard the song “Climax”. I can’t say that every song on this album is noteworthy (it’s got 18 songs…) but there are definitely enough to earn a spot on this list. This is a diverse album, Ursher incorporated dub-step sounding elements, piano bits, electronic beats, pop-heavy songs and hip-hop-heavy songs.
Andrew Bird- Break It Yourself
This album took on a more organic, homegrown sound in comparison to some of Andrew’s previous albums. There’s more upright bass and personal lyrics, and less electric guitar and scientific talk. Somehow this album sounds homier, more inviting and lighter than some of his other work.
Kishi Bashi- 151A
K Ishibashi aka Kishi Bashi arrived on the scene this year with his first full length album that came about through Kickstarter fund. His main instrument is the violin, but he also utilizes loops for his beat boxing, vocals, and violin. The album is full of bright, happy sounding orchestration and the occasional japanese lyrics. Kishi Bashi is definitely doing something new and I’m excited to see where he takes his work in the future.
Lord Huron- Lonesome Dreams
Lord Huron took darn long enough to release their debut record, but it was worth the wait. Their EPs are just as good as the album and in Lord Huron style, it’s a great mix of beachy folk and whimsical pop.
Dirty Projectors- Swing Lo Magellan
This album is quirky and catchy. The Dirty Projectors are always doing something interesting and this album is perfectly poppy, perfectly rocky, and perfectly orchestrated with the help of the ever-so-excellent yMusic. Beautiful harmonies, weird sounds, and fantastic lyrics.
Sufjan Stevens- Silver & Gold
Yep, it’s a Christmas boxset, and yes, it’s a collection of 58 songs (doesn’t quite fall into the category of “album”), but I can’t not have this on my list. The five EPs inside are a representation of music he made for friends and family during the holidays each year from 2007-2011. This album is full of ridiculous quasi-christmas songs as well as some lovely renditions of classic Christmas songs. Put it on your list for next year’s Christmas music.
Here are a couple releases from this year that I plan to spend some more time with in the coming months: David Byrne and St. Vincent- Love This Giant, Grimes- Visions, Perfume Genius- Put Your Back N 2 It, Liars- WIXIW, Grizzly Bear- Shields.
This year I made it to a point to go to a lot of shows. Some were awful, most were good, but there are a few that really stood out. Here are my nine favorites from this year:
1. Bon Iver- My thoughts on the show
2. My Brightest Diamond- My thoughts on the show
3. St. Vincent- My thoughts on the show
4. Son Lux- My thoughts on the show
5. The Welcome Wagon- My thoughts on the show
6. Kopecky Family Band- My thoughts on the show
7. The Civil Wars- My thoughts on the show
8. Lord Huron- I saw these guys back in April opening for Rural Alberta Advantage, and I cannot wait to see them again. The already small set was cut short due to technical difficulties, but the songs they did get to play pulled me into their folksy beach tunes right away.
New Lord Huron music video for “Mighty”.
Excited to hear St. Vincent is touring in October and a bit of November in support of her new album coming out in September. If I can’t make it to the STL show I’m going to try and go to the Kansas City show… really hope I can make it to one!
Other upcoming shows I am definitely going to or might be going to:
-Tonight I am going to see Timbre, who I saw in April open for The Welcome Wagon.
-July 19: Fleet Foxes-I need tickets
-August 4: Lord Huron-might be out of town
-August 8: My Brightest Diamond with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra- not sure if I’ll be in Chicago yet
-September 11: Bon Iver- I have tickets!!
-October 6 or 7: St. Vincent- We’ll see…
I just got back to my dorm from being gone all day, and I had a letter waiting for me. This was in it…my wonderful, amazing sister sent the Into the Sun EP by Lord Huron to me…and signed! Made my day… and made studying for finals, not as bad.
I saw Lord Huron open for The Rural Alberta Advantage on April 22 and it was fantastic, except for the fact that Lord Huron, who was the reason I really went to the show, only got to play 3-4 songs because of technical difficulties. My sister hadn’t listened to Lord Huron’s music, but she went with me anyway and we got to talk to Lord Huron (aka Ben Schneider) a bit. He was very nice…and they put on a rad show. She then went to his headlining show in Chicago, and got this for me.
Thanks sister! It really means a lot!