A big thanks to all these artists for putting out great music this year. I had a lot of fun listening to music this year...
20) Jamey Johnson: The Guitar Song (Mercury) – I was initially interested in this for the packaging. It’s a 3LP set with the first disc on black vinyl, the second disc on half white/half black vinyl and the third disc on white vinyl. It’s shitkicker music, but ambitious shitkicker music in the tradition of Merle Haggard. Across 25 songs, Johnson shows his tender side, his sense of humor and his pissed off blue collar, ex-Marine, Southerner side. Points off for being the co-writer of “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” (although he made more in the hour it took him to write that than I’ve made all year).
19) Aloha: Home Acres (Polyvinyl) – They’re such an underrated band. It’s layered, emotional indie rock. Click through to listen on Polyvinyl’s band page.
18) Pernice Brothers: Goodbye, Killer (Ashmont) – I still like Joe Pernice’s wordplay. Who else writes a song called “Bechamel?” Highlights are “The Great Depression” and “Something For You.”
MP3: Jacqueline Susann
17) The Moondoggies: Tidelands (Hardly Art) – This one’s not as loose and carefree as their debut, but it is quality roots rock that’s been growing on me since its release.
MP3: It’s a Shame, It’s a Pity
16) Futurebirds: Hampton’s Lullaby (Autumn Tone) – Tasty Americana with no pretense. Aquarium Drunkard’s got some downloads HERE.
15) Roky Erickson: True Love Cast Out All Evil (Anti-) – This is the best thing Erickson’s done since 1967. A lot of the credit has to go to his backing band, Okkervil River. “Goodbye Sweet Dreams” is the standout track. Left click HERE to stream tracks from Anti-
14) Dungen: Skit I Allt (Mexican Summer) – Swedish psych mang. This one’s a little mellow and free. Tame Impala may be getting all the attention right now, but I still like Dungen better.
13) Sleigh Bells: Treats (Mom & Pop Music) – For people who know me, this is probably the most surprising inclusion on this list. They push everything to the point of complete distortion but keep it fun. Their eyesore of a website is the visual equivalent of their music, yet somehow it works (the music, not the website).
12) Le Switch: The Rest of Me Is Space (Self-released) - These local guys were also #3 on my LA best of list. Stream the whole album HERE.
MP3: All About Heart
11) The Soft Pack: The Soft Pack (Kemado) – A 33 minute blast of simple, hooky rock ‘n’ roll songs. No affectation – just fun. The vocals are high in the mix and his voice is sort of a cross between Julian Casablancas and Jonathan Richman. I guess they live in LA now, I still think of them as a San Diego band, so I left them off mine. Highlights are “More or Less” and “C’Mon.” Stream songs HERE.
10) Surfer Blood: Astro Coast (Kanine) –The easiest (and most reductive) way to describe them is Weezer meets the Shins. The vocals are processed and buried in the mix but come through clean on the choruses. The occasional bit of tropical percussion creeps through from time to time. Bonus points for the David Lynch and Twin Peaks references. Highlights are “Swim” and “Harmonix.”
9) Menomena: Mines (Barsuk) – This record is a bit depressing, so I don’t listen to it as much as some of the other stuff on this list. It’s chaotic, unpredictable and has quick time signature changes. Menomena once again prove there’s a place for saxophone in indie rock.
MP3: Five Little Rooms
8) The Besnard Lakes: The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night (Jagjaguwar) – They build songs like nobody else. Swirling guitars, falsettos and intense as shit. See them live because it’s always a highlight of the year.
7) Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings: I Learned the Hard Way (Daptone) – Retro soul done so well. Great voice, great band and really good songs add up to repeat listening.
6) The Black Keys: Brothers (Nonesuch) – It’s blues rock so you’ll hear some copped riffs. On this record you might also hear some Tom Jones, T. Rex and Cold War Kids.
5) Radar Brothers: The Illustrated Garden (Merge) – This was #2 on my local list. It might be my most listened to record of the year.
4) Aloe Blacc: Good Things (Stones Throw) – This was #1 on my local list. Like a lost Bill Withers’ record from 1973.
3) Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest (4AD) – This guy should not be allowed to sequence his own records. It starts out slow and then really hits its stride around track five. “Helicopter” and “Desire Lines” are two personal favorites.
2) Kelley Stoltz: To Dreamers (Sub Pop) – I just enjoy the shit out of Kelley Stoltz’s music. Hipsters would probably rather listen to the other band he plays with, Sonny & the Sunsets (and they’re pretty good too) but I love this. Maybe I love the 1960s too much?
MP3: I Don’t Get That
MP3: I Don’t Get That
1) Phosphorescent: Here’s to Taking It Easy (Dead Oceans) – On wax their laid back grooves make them seem like a modern day Willie Nelson. But live, his superb band completely annihilated the Troubadour earlier this year. There’s tons of beautiful pedal steel on this record. Highlights include “Tell Me Baby (Have You Had Enough)” and “The Mermaid Parade.”
MP3: The Mermaid Parade
MP3: The Mermaid Parade