Probably would be higher on the list if I didn’t already fall for some of these songs on last year’s Future Weather EP.
Key Track: “Black Water”
14. The Horrors – Skying
I wish Interpol were still this ambitious and interesting.
Key Track: “Monica Gems”
13. Lil B – I’m Gay (I’m Happy)
A master class in endearing weirdo rap from the bay area “BasedGod”.
Key Track: “Unchain Me”
12. Wild Beasts – Smother
Another essential album from Wild Beasts – that’s 3 in a row, so if you still aren’t on board, figure it out already.
Key Track: “Reach A Bit Further”
11. Destroyer – Kaputt
A hazy synth tour de force with lyrics so mind-bending Dan Bejar can’t even remember them.
Key Track: “Suicide Demo For Kara Walker”
10. Bry Webb – Provider
The Constantines frontman brings the same strength his old band were renowned for and adds a haunting tension to these downcast, memorable tunes.
Key Track: “Zebra”
9. A$AP Rocky – LiveLoveA$AP
Massively entertaining, ASAP’s deluxe mixtape is chock-full of stick-in-your-head youthful exuberance.
Key Track: “Palace”
8. Jessica Lea Mayfield – Tell Me
Produced by the Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, it comes off something like the little sister to his own solo album, Keep It Hid.
Key Track: “Our Hearts are Wrong”
7. Strange Boys – Live Music
Another gritty southern garage rock band. Yeah, except on their third album Strange Boys flaunt the piano more than the electric guitar. Fine and dandy.
Key Track: “Me and You”
6. Eleanor Friedberger – Last Summer
Weird, funny, rocking, mazelike... this album is a treasure trove of idiosyncratic pop nuggets.
Key Track: “I Won’t Fall Apart on You”
This UK band (aka. World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation) turn out a bunch of seriously catchy anthems that are carried by totally impenetrable and overwrought howling. The coolest part is this album sounds completely of today – it’s not that it’s wholly original, it’s more that I couldn’t imagine hearing this any other time than now.
Key Track: “Spitting Blood”
4. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for my Halo
Kurt Vile’s been a man on a mission the last couple years. And even though he’s released a bunch of stuff in a short while, he never slumps. This album might be his crowning achievement though. It gets better with every listen, and figures to be an album I’ll still be replaying years from now.
Key Track: “Puppet to the Man”
3. One Hundred Dollars – Songs of Man
They’re not re-inventing anything, but this band plays their tunes of despair so convincingly that they overcome the alt-country tag. Then come Simone Schmidt’s mournful vocals, which are the real clincher that makes One Hundred Dollars a very great band.
Key Track: “Where the Sparrows Drop
2. Frank Ocean – nostalgia, ULTRA
I kind of freaked out when I first caught wind of Odd Future. Though none of OFGWKA’s musical output comes off as fully realized and eminently listenable as Frank Ocean’s mixtape. It comes off as a real labor of love and the shifts from vulnerability to bombast are more than a bit fascinating.
Key Track: “Songs for Women”
1. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Can’t say I expected much from this band after being bored by their first album. But Girls pull off quite the surprise here – making a ballsy rock and roll record that runs the gamut from catchy pop ditties to guitar freakouts to über ballads. Somehow both tongue-in-cheek and terrifyingly sincere, it’s a bit off-balancing but that’s part of its charm.
Key Track: “Vomit”