This year has taught me a lot about what I want to do with my future. See, there are a lot of albums I have cease to hear yet, for one reason or another. Every year, the following year opens those albums up to my ears, and I realize that "at least" one of them should have cracked my end of the year Top Five.
So, with that being said, here, from the hoard of music I HAVE heard this year, are my Top Five Favorites.
There was a lot of great things out there this year, and by the looks of a few list on this site as well as others, it seems there's plenty of diversity and gems some of us found, while others have not yet put an ear to.
Looks like at least the first two months of my new year will be doing just some catching up.
5. Mock Orange - Captain Love
I came across this record through my own profession. I hadn't read one bad review of this album. Captain Love sounds like a soundtrack into Dr. Seuss's Whoville crafting a new breed between the fun harmonies of The Shins and the loose enjoyment of The Dismemberment Plan. The title track is the hook, while songs like "Song in D" and "Supergang" play like sing-a-longs. The album begins to slow in the end, but keeps you gripping into its exposition. Key tracks: "Captain Love" "Smile On" and "Old Movies"
4. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
A damn gem. Never have I wanted to skip town and go lay out by a lake in the middle of the forest somewhere in the Midwest. The band lay down marvelous guitar riffs that act like the rapids of river only to be calmed vocally, a transition that teeters heavily back and forth throughout the band's self-titled debut full-length. The mountainy Gregorian Chant that encompasses this record is nothing short of breath taking and a true testament to good music - period. Key tracks: "Sun It Rises" "Heard Them Stirring" and "Blue Ridge Mountains"
3. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
I should thank my roommate for introducing this one. I wasn't a big fan of the last two releases, but this album's opening riff and rallying cry is how American rock used to be: an honest story of the average hopes and dreams of the human nature. While a direct comparison to Springsteen is either on tact or a bit much, the band rock through a record's worth of ups and downs that doesn't hold much water in the Winter, but will make for a great return listen this coming Spring. Key tracks: "Constructive Summer" "Lord, I'm Discouraged" and "Stay Positive"
2. Colour Revolt - Plunder, Beg and Curse
A definitely underrated release this year. With as much garbage as I've heard here and there for the past twelve months, this album shines. Lyrically, it weaves the binding of the back of an ancient storybook, masked in parables and life lessons. Musically, each instrument builds each song along nicely, cutting times here and there, while speeding back into another quick ride. The album sounds raw, because it is raw. No gimmicks, just pressing record and playing straight. I'm interested in where the band will take direction, but this shows no signs of becoming a dull blade anytime soon. Key tracks: "Naked and Red" "Elegant View" and "Moses of the South"
1. Portugal. The Man - Censored Colors
Like a good book, this was about being enthralled from beginning to end. Admitting though, the first time I heard the online stream, I was scratching my head because the band had changed things up yet again. Once the rush of harmonies, guitar swoops and background horns and cellos set in, it was a ride that I enjoyed over and over again. Easily, the band has cracked its way into my top five favorite bands of all time - in such a short career. This is what being creative, but accessible is all about. This is rock and roll simplistically intricate and detailed into a a true work of art. Key tracks: "And I" "New Orleans" and "1989/Our Way"
now...duran duran, neither duran nor duran...discuss....
I will reveal my top five soon. But here are some records that didn't make the cut, but still loved.
Right Away, Great Captain! - The Eventually Home
Andy Hull is becoming one of the best songwriters out there. There's something so simple, yet so honest about the next chapter in his three part side project. Hull sends chills down the spine and can make hearts stop ticking for seconds on end, all lending to an uncomfortable, but enticing listen. I can only see the final chapter as being the light ahead of a dark tunnel, or the bleak brick wall that takes us all be surprise.
These Arms Are Snakes - Tail Swallower and Dove
Post-Hardcore is wrapped completely in Post-Punk in the fourth full-length by these Seattle giants. It's dark, calculated and a clean cut of fat, leaving raw meat. Snere's voice is cold, angry and confused while Cook's line's standout like dark thumps of a madman wandering the Earth. The band take a more straight forward approach to song-writing, without loosing the ferocious snarl that makes them great. Like an updated Suicide album, TAAS have done their best to remind the world what "post" is all about.
Russian Circles - Station
I love instrumental bands. While not all of them are really all that great, Russian Circles stand out as a new kid with simple builds that create bigger structures. Taking a more melodic approach at times, Station solidifies the band as a new birth to the genre, and future releases will be greatly anticipated at this point.
Department of Eagles - In Ear Park
I absolutely re-fell in love with Grizzly Bear's Yellow House this year. Daniel Rossen and Fred Nicolaus craft some more melodic soundscapes across the 42 minutes that is In Ear Park. There's windy breezes, crescendos and plenty of strings to keep the heart and soul floating for a little under an hour. Like a fine wine, the album grows on repeat listens, but sometimes leaves a bitter taste of confusion with some selections. This is a fine album to hold over until the next GB record.
Dear and the Headlights - Drunk Like Bible Times
I've only really listened to this record two or three times, but what I heard, I thoroughly enjoyed. Up there with The Hold Steady's Stay Positive, the album is such a throwback to late 70's, early 80's American rock with a bit of storytelling. Not saying that Dear and the Headlights are the John Mellencamp of our generation, but Drunk Like Bible Times is a great story in the vein of The Good Life's Album of the Year.
Not only did Temporary Residence restore my faith in physical mediums again, they also restored faith in two of my favorite bands. The album balances Thursday's new ability to build unstable atmospheric pressures, while maintaining their well-known hard edge, while it showcases Envy, not only to new listeners, but their ability to remain stable and calm and then fall apart into something even more beautiful. There is no Side A or Side B to this record. Both sides are equally as important.
Girl Talk - Feed the Animals!
Greg Gillis made me dance again. He made me dance to music I forgot about, can't get enough of and could whole-heartedly do without. Whether his creation is legal or not, it brings a lot of different people together to have a good time. Gillis not only melds the most abrasive genres, his shows meld a difference of people.