It’s that time again where every music blogger on these here intertubes sorts his iTunes by year and selects their favorite albums of the year. Naturally, we at rowjimmy.com wouldn’t want to miss out on that so we’ve come out of hibernation to give you our obligatory list.
10 – Volcano Choir – Unmap
This dreamy collaboration between Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Collections of Colonies of Bees began several years ago but didn’t get recorded until late last year. Merge Vernon’s low key vocal style with a bit of quiet, electronic, math rock and you get a striking, contemplative record that is hard to ignore.
09 – Iron & Wine – Around The Well
Largely acoustic with occasional bouts of electric guitars, percussion and more, this record firmly cements the singer songwriter atop the heap of the current crop of folkies. Check this out on a snowbound Sunday morning.
08 – The Flaming Lips – Embryonic
Even before its release, I might have guessed that this record would make this year’s list but I had no idea that it would be such a dark throwback to the earlier bizarreness o the Lips. Instead of easing up the popular path laid by “Yoshimi” and “Mystics” the band re-explored its history and produced a record of marvelous cacophony, melody, and heart with less of the slick, overdriven, nonsense (“Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” anyone?) If you are a Flaming Lips fan that likes anything prior to “Yoshimi” you should dig into this record.
More after the jump…
07 – Wilco – Wilco
Anyone who reads this site might have expected this record to appear a little closer to the number one slot but, let’s be honest; this is no “Sky Blue Sky” or “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”. This album shows a band that is comfortable in its skin and at the top of its craft. Check out this full review here.
06 – Atlas Sound – Logos
Was it just last year that Bradford Cox’s Deerhunter made a surprise entry on this list? Well, here we are in another year with another record. Atlas Sound, unlike Deerhunter, is a one man project and the result is a more controlled record that phases in and out of ordinary space into a wide, ethereal, aural expanse. Less derivative than Deerhunter as well, Cox’s musical intent rolls over you in waves. This one is ideal for late night listening.
05 – Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
Darlings of the Pitchfork set, these guys broke through big in 2009 with this trippy, upbeat, collection of electronic rock. I had problems with their “Strawberry Jam” album but, after discovering Panda Bear’s records I came to “MPP” with eager ears and it paid off nicely.
04 – Akron/Family – Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free
I reviewed this one earlier this year and, if anything it’s grown on me. Their reduction to a trio has only honed them into a leaner yet wilder collective. This may not be quite on par with “Love Is Simple” but it’s a bold statement and a hell of a ride.
03 – Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse – Dark Night Of The Soul
Top producer meets acclaimed psych-pop act for a guest laden journey into the night. This album (officially shelved by label EMI put mercifully leaked to the internets) is a rare treat. Brooding melodies and soaring pop combine with the talents of Black Francis, Iggy Pop, Gruff Rhys, The Flaming Lips, Vic Chesnutt, Jason Lytle, Suzanne Vega, Julian Casablancas, and David Lynch (who was behind the book that was to accompany the album.) It’d be a crime if the absence of an official, legal, release keeps this record from getting its due. It is truly a notable work.
(You can still stream the entire album here @ NPR Music.)
02 – The Decemberists – The Hazards Of Love
Building on their powerful album, “The Crane Wife”, The Decemberists delivered a 2-LP concept album loaded with everything from folk, to prog, to hard rock. I’ve already reviewed this at length so I’ll simply add that this record does not disappoint. It has continued to grow on me throughout the year and I expect to return to it for many years to come.
01 – Jason Lytle – Yours Truly, The Commuter
This is the first solo record from Grandaddy frontman, Lytle, and the first album I’d ever heard from him. I picked it up after recommendations from a number of friends and after hearing his voice on this year’s number 3, “Dark Night Of The Soul”. Thoughtful, clever, lyrics; swirling, psychedelic, pop melodies; and Lytle’s plaintive vocals all make this a record that I’ve had a hard time being without since I first discovered it this Fall.
Have a listen…
So that’s the list… do yourself a favor and check these out but, if you don’t like what you hear, don’t blame me. This list is just one man’s opinion.