Since I am such a renowned music critic Since I have a blog and can do with it what I want, I decided this year I would produce a Top 10 Albums list. My favorites, take them or leave them.
My musical interests have really been reawakened the last 18 months or so, I was in such a rut that I really didn’t listen to much music at all a couple years ago, mostly I just wallowed in sports talk. That has changed and nowadays I listen to music more than ever.
My tastes lean towards (here come the labels…) indie rock, alt-country, folk rock, etc. My Top 10 is true to form.
I have compiled my list by first looking at what I have played most this year. I am usually listening to music on my computer when I am home and last.fm keeps track of it all. last.fm suggests other things I might like based on what I have listened to and also produces charts.
So, I looked at what I played most over the last 11+ months and then compared that to how I feel about things now. Some albums saw a TON of time on my playlist early in the year, but fell out of the rotation, some from early in the year still get plenty of spins, yet others have come on strong late to make an impressive showing.
Without Further ado…
10. Konk by The Kooks – More Pop than edgy Rock really, but it’s well done. Useless data you probably don’t need: the name of the album comes from the fact that it was recorded, for the most part, at Kinks’ front man Ray Davies’ Konk Studios. Track to check out – Mr. Maker.
9. Vampire Weekend by Vampire Weekend – Nearly wore my computer out playing this album this spring. I like the whole, “what if Paul Simon was a fresh young musician today and making an indie pop version of Graceland? ” vibe of the disc. Not getting much love now though. Still a solid debut album though and still earned a spot in the 10. Check out – M79.
8. The Stand Ins by Okkervil River – Austin TX based literate rockers who followed up last year’s The Stage Names with this offering. I love the fact that they are forever referencing music that has come before them, either overtly or otherwise. Check out – Lost Coastlines (and dig the baseline, then go listen to The Clash’s Hitsville UK).
7. Narrow Stairs by Death Cab for Cutie – Could probably give Okkervil River a run for their money in a literate rockers competition. I usually say that lyrics are not what draws me to music, but I may have to rethink that as the words here are killer. Check out – Grapevine Fire.
6. We Brave Bee Stings and All by Thao – Thao Nguyen isn’t the first person to pair buoyant music with lyrics that are less so, but she does it well. She’s got a voice that has a whispy quality to it that helps pull it off even more so. Check out – Bag of Hammers.
5. Here We Stand by The Fratellis – Like the Kooks, The Fratellis aren’t going to be confused with Okkervil River or Death Cab anytime soon. It’s full of hooks, it’s catchy, it’s not deep. It’s just rock and roll, and it’s good. Good ‘Pub Rock’ is still good rock. Check out – Mistress Mabel
4. Trouble in Mind by Hayes Carll – What? Have I gone country! Yup, not even really ‘alt-country’. But hell, anytime you have a disc that adds Texas twang to a Tom Waits cover you have to take notice. Cap it off with a twist on the cry in your beer, I lost my girl type country song by singing, “She Left Me for Jesus” and you have a winner. Check out – Drunken Poets Dream.
3. Conor Oberst by Conor Oberst -Bright Eyes front man, a bit on the lighter side. Never really got too much into Bright Eyes, all a bit mopey for my taste, but this solo effort seems to find Oberst in his happy place for the most part, even with a bunch of songs that seemingly dance around the subject of death. Check out: Souled Out!!!
2. Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead by John Wesley Harding – An album that has come out, but hasn’t come out. Should this be in contention for 2009 instead? I don’t know Confusing? That’s today’s music industry I guess. Considering I downloaded the digital version of this just last month a #2 slot might be considered a bit of an upset, but it has dominated my playlist since. Wes is perhaps my favorite musical act of all time so this long awaited rock album has been a treat. Wes is funny, clever and super cool. Buy this album! Check out – The End
1. Golden Delicious by Mike Doughty – Remember Soul Coughing? You know that Super Bon Bon song? Well the man behind Soul Coughing has been pumping out solid solo efforts ever since. His latest is my favorite. Solid rockers paired with deep thoughts, along with a healthy serving of funkiness. Being the age I am I can relate to the times when in school it seemed every other girl was named Jennifer. Some find fault with the (over?)use of non-words as rhythm makers (parumpums, na-na-na and handclaps), but they work to me and keep me engaged with the disc today as much as when I first heard it. Check out – I Just Want the Girl in the Blue Dress.
Hon Mention: Honeysuckle Weeks by The Submarines, So Many Nights by The Cat Empire, Stay Positive by The Hold Steady, Ode to Sunshine by Delta Spirit, The Felice Brothers by The Felice Brothers
Now, sit back and listen to a track (the ‘check out’ track) from each of the 10, countdown style.