I meant to post this a while ago, but it's been a busy time of year. I hope everyone has had a very nice holiday and here's to having a very safe and happy new year! Enjoy, JP
1.Okkervil River – The Stand Ins
Fuck yeah! I love this album. Their last album was hyped up, so naturally I dismissed it for being acclaimed by all the so called critics, but I can openly admit now that I was wrong, because the “Stage Names” has become one of my favorites. Needless to say, when the new album came out, I got it the day it was released. There was a point where it was all I listened to for days. Great lyrics and incredible songwriting overall make this my favorite album of the year. If you don’t have a copy of it, get it and sit back and listen. I think you will like it.
Key Tracks – Lost Coastlines, Singer Songwriter, Calling and Not Calling My Ex, Pop Lie
Calling and Not Calling My Ex
2. Portishead – Third
Like the rest of their fans, I have been waiting with great anticipation for this album to come out and thank god it was no Chinese Democracy. Unlike Axl, these guys make it worth the wait. A very complex album with a ton of noises going on in the background that seems difficult to pull off, but that is why I attached the live takes of some of these songs because it is quite impressive to see how they pull this off. A great dark trip hop album that will haunt you and make you move. It should not cause night terrors though.
Key tracks – Silence, The Rip, We Carry On & Machine Gun
We Carry On
3. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
Beautiful harmonies accompanied by very well orchestrated music is why this was the year’s biggest surprise for me. In fact, I am still kicking myself for not going to see them play a free show at the Petrillo Band Shell this summer. Imagine you caught the beach boys and put them in a cage with Dylan back in the day. It might sound something like this. It also goes extremely well with the holidays.
Key Tracks - He Doesn’t Know Why, White Winter Hymnal, Ragged Wood
White Winter Hymnal
4. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
This album was a very nice surprise for this year. This came out with a lot of hype and as always with a lot of hype there is a long way to fall, but this album actually did a pretty good job of living up to it. Picture yourself listening to this while wearing a pastel colored polo with a white sweater tied around your neck lying nicely on your shoulders while walking around with your brand new top of the line Sony walkman. It’s a good feeling!
The album combines simple David Byrne pop with a world music influence to it. I guess if you took the Talking Heads and had them make an afro-beat album; it would sound similar to this. Whether that is your thing or not, this is a very good album and one of my favorites of the year.
Key Tracks – Mansard Roof, Oxford Comma, A-Punk, M79, Campus & The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance
5. Girl Talk – Feed the Animals
No other album this year put a larger smile on my face than this album did the first time I heard it. A mash up dance album that is absolutely perfect. Let me tell you the first time I heard Big Country’s “In a big country” mixed with “whoop, there it is!” my mind was freaked.
Key Tracks – Play your part (part 1), Set it Off, No Pause & Hands in the Air. Really, this album should be listed in one take from beginning to end.
Hands in the Air
6. Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Flight
This was given to me by a friend this fall and I couldn’t have been happier to receive it than I did. It was something new that I had not heard but with a sound that was very familiar to what I am used to. This Scottish band blends sounds from bands such as Travis, Arcade Fire, The Shins, Badly Drawn Boy and there is even one song that has a bit of a Ned’s Atomic Dustbin sound. Now, I am just waiting for them to tour with Travis and the Mull Historical Society and call their tour the “If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap” tour. I’d go!
Key t racks – The Modern Leper, Heads Roll, Twist, I Fell Better
Heads Roll Off
I Feel Better
7. Sea and Cake – Car Alarm
What could be labeled as Chicago’s very own supergroup, the Sea and Cake continue to keep putting out quality albums that sound completely different than what is out on the music market these days. The musical stylings of Archer Prewitt and Sam Prekop have not sounded better in years and that is exactly why this album has made my top ten. Individually, these guys are absolutely amazing musicians and together they can almost form the Voltron robot of the music scene. If you are unfamiliar with these guys, think of smooth experimental mellow rock and roll.
Key tracks – Aerial, On a Letter, Car Alarm, Weekend
On a Letter
8. Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul
OK, I am not going to write much about this, because if anyone knows me they know I love this band and are also probably surprised I didn’t make it my album of the year. Well, although it is good, it is not as good as the others on the list ahead of it.
In this album, Noel and Liam continue to prove that they can write quality songs and are now receiving help from Gem and Andy Bell. Overall, a very good album that shows these guys can still rock.
Key tracks – Shock of Lightening, Waiting for the Rapture, I’m Outta Time, Bag it Up, Falling Down
Shock of Lightening
Waiting for the Rapture
9. The Dodos – Visiter
This Bay Area duo released one of the best new albums of the year and it was the perfect time for this band to hit the streets. Giving the kids who bought the Vampire Weekend album something else to listen to, these 2 guys made a great album that could appeal to the mainstream and all those indie rock nerds too. Sort of an artsy alternative folk act, the dodos can make a pretty big sound with 2 just pieces. Think of something in-between the violent femmes and wilco, with a hint of Elliott Smith.
Key tracks – Walking, Red and Purple, Fools, Winter and Jodi
10. Dr. Dog – Fate
This was one band that I always had on the backburner. Always meaning to listen to them, but never getting around to it. Well, this year I finally did and I found one of the best surprises of the year. This Philadelphia band takes a lot of cues from great American rock and roll legends such as Bob Dylan and the Beach Boys and combines them with some good soulful sounds. Philly Dans La Maison!!!
Key Tracks – The Breeze, Hang On, The Rabbit, The Bat & The Reindeer, From & Uncovering the Old
The Rabbit, The Bat & The Reindeer
11. Spiritualized – Songs in A&E
Last year I went to go see Spiritualized play an acoustic show at the Apollo theatre and since then I was sitting with great anticipation to hear this album. When it came out, I was extremely pleased with the final product. As Spiritualized is one of the reasons that I am in love with music, I am also very critical of the things that Jason Spaceman releases because I try to compare everything to his first album Lazer Guided Melodies and I need to learn that nothing will ever be as good as that album.
Jason does continue to blend a very solid balance of drug induced rock and roll with gospel tones. Some may say sacrilege, but I say genius.
Key tracks – Soul on Fire, You Lie You Cheat, Yeah Yeah, I Gotta Fire, Borrowed Your Gun
Soul on Fire
You Lie You Cheat
12. The Raveonettes – Lust, Lust, Lust
It is no secret that I am a sucker for distortion on a bass guitar. When it is done correctly, it can provide you with the COOLEST FUCKING SOUND ON THE PLANET. Now when you accompany that with a hot bass player and REALLY LOUD FUCKING GUITARS, you get the Raveonettes.
Key tracks – Aly, walk with me, Hallucinations, Dead Sound, Blush & You Want the Candy
Aly, Walk With Me
13. British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music?
Yes, Yes I do! And if you do too, you will listen to this album.
Key tracks – No Lucifer, Waving Flags, Canvey Island, A Trip Out & All In It
14. Liam Finn – I’ll Be Lightening
The son of Neil Finn, Liam is starting to separate himself from his dad’s shadow and make a pretty solid name for him. In this album, you can hear how his dad has influenced his songwriting by showing him how to write beautiful melodies, but you can also hear how musicians like Elliott Smith and John Lennon have influenced him as well.
This album is filled with great songs that can lead one to believe that this kid has a long future in this business.
Key Tracks – Better to Be, Second Chance, Lead Balloon, Wise Man & I’ll Be Lightening
Better to Be
15. Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer
Canada strikes again! Not only do our neighbors from the north take care of their residents with health benefits, but they are also exporting awesome these days too. The sophomore album by these French Canadians proves to be a successful follow up to their last album while keeping their quirky heavy rocking synth sound.
Key Tracks – Soldier’s Grin, Language City, California Dreamer, The Grey Estates
The Grey Estates
16. Broken Social Scene Presents…. Brendan Canning – Something for All of Us
The second album in the series of “solo” albums called Broken Social Scene Presents, Brendan Canning takes us on a tour of his contributions to the Canadian Rock and Roll Collective. Showing that he is the Ying to Kevin Drew’s Yang, Brendan puts together a collection of different types of sounds ranging from experimental and straight forward rock and roll to even a disco tune. More of a composer than a front man, Brendan shows all the broken social scene fans with this album that he is one of the main reasons the band has such a fantastic sound.
Key Tracks – Something for all of us, Hit the Wall, Churches Under the Stairs, Love is New
Hit the Wall
Churches Under the Stairs
17. Tokyo Police Club – Elephant Shell
A fun little band from Canada. I know it seems like all things coming out of Canada are pretty fucking cool these days, but these guys can actually stand up and prove it. I’ll admit it that these guys are not for everyone, because they can be a little teeny boppy, but on a whole they have a nice blend of 80’s synth pop and punk rock. Normally I would say this combination would be annoying, but they seem to pull it off pretty well. Think of a more rocking version of the Rentals.
Key Tracks – In A Cave, Juno, Tessellate & Your English is Good
In A Cave
18. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Real Emotional Trash
The former lead singer of Pavement comes out with possibly his most accessible album since the last Pavement album. Still showing off his quirky side, Malkmus combines that talent with some amazing pop and rock and roll hooks. A pleasant surprise for the year and still keeps hope alive that one day a new Pavement album will arrive.
Key tracks – Dragonfly Pie, Hopscotch Willie, Gardenia & We Can’t Help You
We Can’t Help You
19. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
The big “IT” album to start off the year, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked this album from this dance group from New York. A lot of hype, but still a lot of good tunes on this debut album. Overall this is just a fun piece of work that will make you get up and move. Great listening to have a party to or to even just clean your home too.
Key tracks – Time to Pretend (one of the best singles of the year in my mind), Kids, Electric Feel & Weekend Wars
Time to Pretend
20. Travis – Ode to J. Smith
Ah, OJ Smith, he just can’t go away, well until this album came out. Has anybody else noticed that it was only a matter of weeks after this album was released in the states that OJ was finally put behind bars? Coincidence? Not sure, but either good job! Anyway, the Scottish rock sensation known as Travis, follows up last year’s album with another great piece of work. If these last two albums would have followed “The Man Who,” these guys would still be playing large venues in the states.
Key tracks – Something Anything, J. Smith, Chinese Blues, Long Way Down & Last Words