Year end lists are probably the last thing you want to read right now. I moan about the internet’s saturation with them myself. Alas, I am a music editor and spend alot of the free time usually reserved for being productive or building things to daydream about listening to music.
I promise not to be boring. I promise not to push anything fed to me by others that I was just “meh” about. And finally, I promise to explain my reasoning behind every choice.
I anticipate alot of this is new to y’all because I seek out alot of things that aren’t Southern music made good, faux bluegrass or YEEEEEEEEEEZUS because there’s an entire internet dedicated to that, mmkay.
“Holy Fire” – FOALS
This past summer, I stood in with some studio & session musicians in town and was asked to suggest and sing “indie” songs in a more soulful Southern style.
That’s yet to be released so I can’t share (meehhhhhh) but I think that gives you a glimpse into my love of Foals. I’ve been with them ever since their first single “Cassius” and have all three albums on vinyl. Their lead singer famously declared that math & indie are dead in NME magazine, going on to say that their band was “unashamedly funk”. See? That shit’s enough to turn you off, but please don’t.
It’s glorious and cinematic and allows you to embrace that last little bit of math rock you’ve been embarrassed to enjoy since freshman year of college.
The have a long history of sweeping sounds and kickass videos. Get after it.
“6 Feet Beneath The Moon” — King Krule
I wrote a piece on King Krule when we first relaunched this site, so take a read and then listen below. The kid will blow you away. I have a feeling this is the album from this year that will stick with me for a looooooong, long time. Warning though: you’ll get caught up in your feelings so hard with this one.
“AM” – Arctic Monkeys
Again, my long and obsessive unrequited relationship with the Arctic Monkeys is well documented. This year, they snuck their 5th studio album on us and it was amazing. Josh Homme (QOTSA, Them Crooked Vultures) had a heavy hand on this record and thank God above it shows. AM is on Spotify and available to purchase now, too.
Here, watch them covering Drake. LOL.
“Drenge” – DRENGE
I fell in love with DRENGE during a music drought. I hadn’t listen to anything new in a month or so and so I set off on my own to find out what the hell I could tolerate. DAMN. I did not expect a band this heavy and genuinely rock to exist. Especially held up by two British teenage brothers. Every song is catchy. Except maybe Dog Meat. Ugh. Look at this cool ass video with a moody & violent ending though….
“Dromes” – Younghusband
Back before Thanksgiving, I discovered what might be my cure for James Mercer withdrawals. If you like dreamy pop that’s kinda upbeat but still garage-y, holler at em.
“Optica” – Shout Out Louds
This is hands down my most listened to album of the year. I was inside of a deadend job and listened to “Hermila”, “Where You Come In” and “Destroy” every gray and cloudy lunch for MONTHS. If you’re a fan of the band’s previous albums though, you might not be as big of a fan as I was. It’s much more gloomy and less of the dude singer. Sorry bout it?
“Feast of Love” – Pity Sex
This was my surprise favorite album of the year. I’ve heard rattlings of an emo revival and these dudes (and lady) stand a good chance of snatching From Autumn to Ashes’ legacy if I’m being real with myself. HOWEVER, it’s redeemed by the fact that it’s vaguely psychy surf rock and alt 90s, so I’m very very very much in. So wow. (If you’re under the age of 25, just keep scrolling. You have no idea what I’m talking about.)
You can hear THE ENTIRE ALBUM here:
“180” – Palma Violets
Probably (AM excluded for legacy purposes obviously) my favorite British export of the year. Somebody’s older siblings listened to The Ramones, The Clash and The Smiths all at once. And good for them. I pre-ordered this and blasted it on the record player the day it come out on “Best of Friends” influence alone. I’m so in love with the singer’s wailing. BRITISH SCREAMS AND REVERB, I REQUIRE ALL OF THEM!
“Body Music” – AlunaGeorge
By far the best pop album of the year. Forget Ariana Grande, ol Mariah Carey impersonator. Aluan George is a dancey duo that is fronted by the adultest most beautiful woman baby ever. Her force is so infantile and the beats are so addictive that you acquire positive moods and start singing along like you’re on a party drug. Disclaimer: I bet this album is very good with party drugs, too.
“Clash the Truth” – Beach Fossils
This record must be listened to all the way through. It was my summer soundtrack. I even remember recalling at the time “this is perfect winter music”.
If you miss Pretty In Pink, Annie Potts being a punk and Ducky, this one’s for you.
NOW FOR A SHORT INTERRUPTION!
These three albums are the biggest bangers that you already know about, so you don’t really care what I gotta say. Listen again anyway!
“Don’t be S.A.F.E.” – Trinidad James
“The 20/20 Experience” – Justin Timberlake
“B.O.A.T.S. #METIME” – 2Chainz
_____________BACK TO THE MUSIC Y’ALL__________________
“Pollen” – Wave Machines
Here I am again, looking for music that can only be described as “lovely”. And Wave Machines succeeded. It’s like if Flight of the Conchords had serious lyrics. Or if Blood Orange were any good whatsoever.
“Devotion” – Jessie Ware
The best R&B album of the year. She’s a buzzhound, so just wonder on over to any other site on the internet if you don’t believe me.
Her voice is ageless and stately. I love it. I love her persona. Her lyrics are muted and the subtly in her voice would normally be such counterpoint, but with the massive bass and heavy sounds, it gives it more meaning. The sincerity in her voice is contagious and your brain turns into Aretha Franklin after a few listens.
Here’s my favorite track from Devotion, “If You’re Never Gonna Move”:
“Bad Blood” – Bastille
In typical “best for last” scenario, I bring to you Bastille. He is a genuine pop star in the UK. His singles Pompeii and Bad Blood have made it all the way to #1. Very, very refreshing to hear vaguely choral, electronic, Tears for Fears shit on the airwaves. Maybe the movement will cross the Atlantic. It certainly did for me.