My favorite albums of the year in no particular order!
1 – Mountain Man- Made the Harbor LP
The music of Mountain Man calls up Appalachian Folk overtones and indie rock undertones. There is a power in the harmonies they create, telling stories about their love of earth and humanity. I find the obvious connection to Appalachian women folk singers a strong and empowering voice for all women. It’s like when I was a baker and I would get up at the crack of dawn to bake the daily bread. I feel that same connection to womanhood that I did baking when I’m listening to Mountain Man. There is a sort of hippy dippy “love the earth” quality to it that is so sincere and heart felt that I can’t deny the power of it. It moves me and I am called to it – my heart wells up when I listen.
After hearing a couple Mountain Man songs on Bandcamp (click link for free downloads!) I was excited to see that they were playing a free in-store at my local indie book store. I headed on over there on the evening of the show in hopes that they would play early enough so that I wouldn’t miss my friend Angela’s art opening in SF. It didn’t happen – I had to leave and I missed them by minutes! I would listen to the two songs offered up for free download on Bandcamp incessantly for the next few months. The sweet Appalachian folk harmonies had drawn me in and I was hooked!
A few months later I had the pleasure of hosting an in-store for Mountain Man at Amoeba Music in Berkeley. Brilliant! Finally I got to see the band. They played an almost entirely a capella set that was sweet and simple in its intricacy. Three beautiful voices harmonizing perfectly with each other – it was beautiful! I was able to get the full LP at this time in addition to the two songs I had downloaded and I’m so glad I did. This album is a must for me this year. I recommend checking out the two songs available for free download and if you like them, pick up the CD/LP!
2 – CocoRosie -Grey Oceans
Here’s another album full of Appalachian Folk harmonies. This CocoRosie album builds on the last albums full of freaky vocals. There is somethings so strange about CocoRosie – all I know is that the strange vocals that are present on all of their albums are beautiful to me and keep me coming back for more.
Once again I was able to host an in-store for CocoRosie at Amoeba this year – another fantastic show! I love my job.
Download a free copy of the song “Lemonade” off of the album Grey Oceans here or check out the amazing video below!
or check out this clip I posted earlier of the song live at the Amoeba Berkeley in-store.
3 – The National – High Violet
One of my favorite songs of the year is by The National – “Bloodbuzz Ohio”. I avoided this band for some time and I’m seriously upset that I did. I tend to avoid or ignore bands that I see getting “too much” hype – I did it with Fleet Foxes and they are amazing! “Bloodbuzz Ohio”, and the entire High Violet album, is amazing! The vocalist seems to be channeling Nick Cave at times – which I love! Then, of course, he’s singing about Ohio (sort of) and that itself sucks me in. I’m pretty sure I’ve interpreted the lyrics for this song to mean what I want them to mean, when I listen I get really nostalgic and emotional regarding Ohio and how I personally feel about the place. It feels like he’s telling my story.
4 – Belle & Sebastian – Write About Love
Hrm, what can I say that I haven’t said before? I wrote about this album in a previous blog post. Aside from the weird Norah Jones track on the album I love it! That NJ song still hasn’t grown on me. meh. “I’m Not Living In The Real World” seems to have gone back to the vintage sounds that I love about Belle & Sebastian. There is something almost 60’s Beatlesesque or British Invasion about it. Though seeing as I really hate making comparisons like that its almost inevitable. I’m not the best at seeing the roots of inspiration in music – even though I try. What originally attracted me to B&S was their simple 60’s inspired pop songs, and even though I feel like they have grown and changed, as any good musician should, they have stayed true to their aesthetic and that makes me so so happy.
Today I watched the B&S’s Holiday Spectacular live on NPR. NPR is currently working on an archive of the performance and I Highly recommend checking it out if you didn’t get a chance to see it live. It was phenomenal!
5 – Sade – Soldier of Love
Sade just kills me. I’ve been anticipating a new album from her for YEARS and was delighted to finally get my hands on this one! Soldier of Love is “typical” Sade, however typical for her equals something completely wonderful! There are a few little rock parts that were interesting and very…un-typical…and I really dug that change of pace from her norm. Her sweet soulful vocals are right there with her intense and beautiful lyrics. She seems like such a loving person and that’s the vibe I want to feel when I listen.
6 – Die Antwoord – $O$
GAH! I really didn’t WANT to love Die Antwoord but I simply can’t help myself! It’s so ridiculous and insane and I just got sucked in. The spectacle of it was too much for me…I caved.
7 – Ottawa – Re-Issue 12″
This Ottawa LP is one of my all time favorite records (previously released as a split LP with Jihad and I wouldn’t normally put a re-issue on this list but I can’t help it. This album was/is very important to me – it really helped shape who I have become and the types of music that I love. I know there isn’t much metal or punk on this list but those genre’s are actually the most important to who I am. Maybe I shouldn’t be basing my identity on musical genre’s but it’s really more about the community I found at the time this record originally came out and all the amazing bands I was able to see and all the amazing people I met at the time. There are very good memories attached to this album for me.
So if you like heavy politically charged punk/metal then I suggest checking out this Ottawa re-issue!
8 – Beach House – Teen Dream
Moody, dark, deep and sweet. All the things I love about music are including in this album! I really have fallen head over heels for it – If I had to pick my favorite album of the year this would be it!
9 – Oh No Ono – Eggs
I haven’t heard much about Oh No Ono but once I was exposed to their video for the song “Swim” I was hooked! The album is weird and beautiful and dark like only the Dutch can do. Check out the video below for a real treat!
10 – Bastard Noise – A Culture Of Monsters
Oh Bastard Noise how I love thee.
Once again, here is a dark and moving album for you. Though this time without the “sweetness” of other releases I’ve listed. This record a powerhouse of electronic experimentation along with bass and drums. Epic.
11 – Blonde Redhead – Penny Sparkle
OK, this album is NOT as moody as most on this list, which is a departure from the last few Blonde Redhead albums, but I love it nonetheless. There is something a bit more eletro-pop about Penny Sparkle that I love. It’s definitely an album made by seasoned musicians looking for new mature directions and they did it in such a beautiful way.