My 10 Favorite Albums, 2014

10. Wye Oak - Shriek

It's pretty amazing what Wye Oak did with this risky move to synths and bass. They were an identifiably almost rootsy guitar-centric band with morose, haunting vocals. These are qualities that don't translate to the kind of 80s throwback pop you would expect fromSHRIEK's set up, but they proved themselves as flexible genre kings this year. When I listen to a song like "Logic of Color," a dream of post-punk, I can hardly believe they had it in them. "Glory" is an honest to goodness dance track but with darker concerns. Every bleeping key and squishing bass has a sinister tone to it so you can never totally enter the neon world they've created, and that unease is always resolved with refreshing beauty with tracks like "Before."

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My 10 Favorite Albums, 2013

Even though I did a light hearted variation of this for Moxipop, I did it here last year, so I'm doing it again because if I deviate from busy work routines I start to look at my actual life and how it's devoid of any real meaning. So here's 10 things I loved to listen to this year, ranked with great difficulty, but ultimately only reflecting my opinion at this very moment.

10. Bleeding Rainbow - Yeah Right

Proof that advance streaming works. Listened to it on a whim from the newly debuted Pitchfork Advance stream and I fell right into Bleeding Rainbow. Rad nostalgic alternative stuff with airy vocals. I got stuck on the constant beat of songs like "Shades of Eternal Night," or the druggy haze of "Drift Away." Just a cool, raw band with a tool belt of sounds. They build and build and build.

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My 10 Favorite Albums, 2012

10. Tame Impala - Lonerism
When an album entitled LONERISM has song names like, "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards," "Why Won't They Talk To Me?" and "Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Can Control," there are certain expectations to its sound. I'm always down for the sadness — it is actually kind of obnoxious how down I am for the sadness. But separated from its words, LONERISM is a joyous album. Very few albums try to talk about these things like isolation and social anxiety in the framework of bass grooves and upbeat atmospheric melodies, and even fewer manage to be this infectious. Social anxiety you can dance to, it turns out, is a gleeful playground. LONERISM makes me wonder how I would've turned out if in my formative years I had found something like this album to express my teenage angst. I envy the theoretical High School sophomore that discovers this album, and learns to get pain off his chest with multicolored sunlight.

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Liked Best in 2011

I was fortunate enough to be a participant in voting for One Thirty BPM's Top 50 Albums of 2011. Having an inside look at a big site making their big year-end list really made me realize how divergent the opinions of the blogosphere illuminati can be. It seems like I should know that by now — that everyone has wildly different opinions and tastes — but when you're following the currents of the indie rock blogosphere, you sometimes wonder how all these people know what narrative to build. Is it a musical elite thing? Do they have skill sand knowledge and expertise that hone in on the same objectively good album?As it turns out, everyone's just true to their personal tastes, everyone will be apathetic to someone else's #1, and the best album of the year is just whatever landed as everyone's #7. Below is my top 10 albums for 2011 — or at least it is for right now. Arranging the music of an entire year into 10 spots is difficult and sometimes feels arbitrary, so it's hard to stick to one list for very long. This isn't even the exact order I voted on, and if I could go back and change it, this still might not be the order I want. There's a reason I submitted my votes under the wire.

But that's just the run of the mill trouble that comes with thinking about art. It's all just feelings and thoughts, chiseled into defined ideas until it feels right by us. These are the things I liked best in 2011, at this very moment. Card subject to change


10. The War on Drugs - Slave Ambient
When I listen to this album, I think of Bob Dylan. That's not the first touchstone people tend to name, but when I hear opener "Best Night" kick into high gear, it sounds like the modern iteration of the perfect wall of sound in "Like A Rolling Stone." Adam Granduciel doesn't write like Dylan, but there are constant moments where he hits a familiar inflection. He works so well in those strange, weary Dylan melodies, where the vocals don't play as you expect them to, they just sort of swerve and evaporate into the air. It's like if Prime Dylan was backed by Broken Social Scene singing someone else's songs.

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