I had planned to do this around June 30th, but that turned out to be a crazy time of the year for me. The order is subject to change.
1) Kelley Stoltz Below the Branches (Sub Pop) – At a time when most popular artists’ knowledge of music doesn’t seem to go before 1985, Stoltz’s music is informed by mid-period Kinks and late period Beatles. He puts his own stamp on his influences and avoids mimicry. Download "Memory Collector"
2) Aloha Some Echoes (Polyvinyl) – Good news, their music is no longer dominated by the vibraphone. The lyrics convey emotion and largely avoid cliché, which isn't an easy thing to accomplish. Downlaod "Your Eyes"
3) Belle & Sebastian The Life Pursuit (Matador) – This is not my favorite Belle & Sebastian record (Tigermilk and If You’re Feeling Sinister beat it) but these songs translate extremely well when performed live. Download "Another Sunny Day"
4) Grandaddy Just Like the Fambly Cat (V2) – I loved this record before it came out and I haven’t really listened to it much since it came out but I'm sure I'll pick it up again.
5) Band of Horses Everything All the Time (Sub Pop) – In a year without a My Morning Jacket (I'm talking about Z) or Shins’ record, I’ll settle for this. His lyrics aren’t as interesting as Mercer’s and the instrumentation is not as good as My Morning Jacket’s, but it’s still better than most stuff out there. While their live shows have disappointed me, they keep moving up to larger venues. See them at the Avalon on 10/2. Download "The Funeral"
6) Voxtrot Mothers, Sisters, Daughters and Wives EP (Cult Hero) - Solid Smiths-inspired music. See them at the Troubadour on 11/1. So far they've self released their music and they still have major label bands opening for them. Download "Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives"
7) The Little Ones Sing Song EP – They pleasantly caught me off guard the first time I saw them live. In a year with a Fruit Bats or Shins’ record... see them each Monday in August at Spaceland. Supposedly they're on the verge of signing with a big label (but I won't tell you who). Download "Lovers Who Uncover"
8) The Sword Age of Winters (Kemado) - This is my favorite of the new heavy bands. Seeing them live will help you appreciate them.
9) Built to Spill You In Reverse (Warner Bros.) - Not my favorite BTS record, but still really good.
10) Silversun Pickups Carnavas (Dangerbird) - See them at the Troubadour tonight or the Echo on Saturday or the Echo on 9/30.
Near misses: Ghostface Killah Fishscale (Def Jam), Serena Maneesh Serena Maneesh (Play Louder)
Most Overhyped: Tapes’n’Tapes, Lily Allen, CSS