1. WU LYF - Go Tell Fire To The Mountain
I kept hearing and reading the name WU LYF and kept writing it off as some member of Odd Future. I never bothered listening to what was being said about them. Once I finally heard it, I was floored. This quote from Pitchfork is perfectly said: "WU LYF in the manner of Iceage or Odd Future as musicians that have made me genuinely excited about their potential impact on listeners, the same things that make them seem juvenile-- the artistic and personal volatility, the semblance of a roving gang more than a band, the invitation to indulge in your most disturbing impulses and yet feel morally superior to an ill-defined majority-- are the same things that feel totally galvanizing. And it's easy to imagine GoTell Fire to the Mountain giving disaffected listeners the promise of an entry to something beyond themselves in a way that James Blake or Bon Iver can't."
2. Radiohead - The King Of Limbs
The first time I put this album on, I wasn't sure what to think. It wasn't an immediate love like In Rainbows. Over a few weeks it kept creeping into me. I kept having more and more urges to put it on until eventually I was listening to it 2-3 times through every day. I don't know if it's the conceptual artist in me, but there's something about Radiohead that just clicks with my brain.
3. Belong - Common Era
Every year I hit a month where I pretty much just stop listening to anything but ambient and electronic/textural/conceptual compositions. October Language (2006, Belong's 1st and only other album) has been one of my go-to albums when I need to fill this void. It's depressing and deep as hell and I love it. Well Common Era is nothing like it. It's fuckin weird. Weird in the fact that it's like the odd soundtrack to my dreams - a mish-mash of Seventeen Seconds/Faith era The Cure, some weird connection to Prince's Purple Rain, and nostalgia I feel when thinking about how I was obsessd with a-ha's Hunting High and Low. It's my dream music pretty much.
4. Com Truise - Galactic Melt
Before I saw Drive this year I was already driving around Los Angeles at night with this as my soundtrack. This, to me, is synth-wave at it's best. It's a perfect balance of repetition, emotion, and song-length. Every track on this album makes me feel a little different. I try to imagine how much more I would have loved Tron if Com did the soundtrack. Putting some million dollar visuals to this album would be a-freaking-mazing.
5. Real Estate - Days
If you were ever into emo in the late 90's, this is probably on your list this year. I swear this is guy is Matthew Caws from Nada Surf. I listen to this album on repeat like I did The Proximity Effect in '98. Real Estate have managed to compose and layer these sounds to perfectly take me back without feeling like a teenager.
6. Dirty Beaches - Badlands
This guy has some serious balls. Or maybe just issues? This album sounds so badly recorded that it just lives in it's own little world. He sounds like a jerk, like he's depressed, like he's fuckin pissed, like he's drunk and like he doesn't give a damn about anything. But the music! It's surf, it's 50's greaser, it's black and white, just like the album cover.
7. Beach Fossils - What A Pleasure
It's strange that these guys are from Brooklyn as this record is so Californian. It felt like the perfect companion as we moved to Los Angeles this year. It also just happenstance-aly landed in the speakers one day after I was listening to Santo y Johnny. The twangy beach guitars are just on point! This album makes me feel so damn good I get kinda pissed that its so short.
8. Craft Spells - Idle Labor
This is the only album I actually "played out" this year. For a period of about 3 months I just couldn't even listen to it anymore because I had it on repeat for about 4 months prior. It's hard to believe that Justin Vallesteros is only, like, what, 23? This line from some bio online sums this music up pretty well: "If you love Felt, The Smiths, Echo & The Bunnymen, and the beautiful monotone drone of Ian Curtis, Craft Spells might soon be your favorite nuevo-new romantics."
9. Part Time - What Would You Say?
I think this is my one "what the hell is that doing on there?" album that many people might ask. There's something about the style of this album that just resinates with the 80s kid in me. His lyrics feel old-school, his choruses feel well thought out, his transitions were probably stollen from obscure tracks from '86 - it all just comes together for me. I have such a good time listening to this album! The video below is the first song I heard from Part Time and it's not on the album! So I'll share it here.
10. Destroyer - Kaputt
I can't recommend Destroyer enough. Every album he puts out makes my top 10 list - infact, this is the first time it's not in the top few. Dan Bejar is a genius. I think it everytime I listen to him. I almost have to find faults to justify it being #10! But really there isn't any. I don't know how he keeps up his creative stamina. 10 years ago he was writing songs that still move me, even after hundreds and hundreds of listens.