Ok I gotta shoot straight...This year I spent a lot more time listening to Howard Stern than I did listening to new music, but I did try my best to keep up, and I still haven't gotten to a bunch of records I wanted to hear this year. None More Black's "Icons" narrowly missed my list, and deserves your attention if you like the guitars REAL FKN LOUD. Robert Plant's "Band of Joy" record sounds amazing and had Patty Griffin on it, and Tim Kasher's "The Game of Monogamy" has amazing lyrics and my favorite cover art of the year.
The new Drive By Truckers, She & Him, and New Pornographers records had amazing songs but didn't hold my interest from start to finish as some of their past records have done.
So here they are: no other records blew my skirt up or impressed me as much as these 10.
10. Free Energy-"Stuck on Nothing"
This band is aggravatingly good at writing a great pop song. I would love to hate this as it seems like a novelty T Rex or Cars kinda deal, but the songs stick to your ribs and are undeniable. Not to mention the band is from Philly and is getting popular, so I'm routing for them, big time.
I like that they went for a real loose and creative vibe on this record. I think their 2007 record "GaGaGaGaGa" (too many Ga's) was hard to beat but this was different enough that it didn't let me down. When Britt Daniel sings:
"When I'm with you all my brothers I feel like a king, It feels like I'm dreaming..."
it gives me the chills and makes me want to jump in the van with Mike Sneeringer, Dave Walsh and Chris Gonzalez and tour for the next 10 years.
8. Titus Andronicus-"The Monitor"
Dark, loud, nasty record. It doesn't offer any solutions to how insane the state of affairs are, but still makes you want to buy a 40 oz and party down. "The enemy is everywhere" Badass.
7. The National-"High Violet"
I'm late to the party with this band, I liked a few songs off of Boxer but I didn't quite get it. There's some kind of anxious sadness about this record that I really connected too. My chore is to vacuum the house once a week and this is the soundtrack. The drummer manages to make super complex patterns out of straight forward time signatures that blow my mind.
6. Cee Lo Green- "The Lady Killer"
"Fuck You" is my favorite song of the year, and this record does the job all the way through despite having such a monster single. Super creative soul record with saucy lyrics, makes you want to shake a tail feather.
5. Superchunk-"Majesty Shredding"
My favorite pop-punk record of the year. How do they come back after 9 years with this radness?! I don't know what "My gap feels weird" means, but I know how he feels...
4. Taylor Swift-"Speak Now"
Mark my words, Taylor Swift is this generation's Dolly Parton. She writes amazingly well, her songs are emotive, and she's able to communicate with a ton of dignity and empathy her 20 year old perspective. Go ahead and hate away punks, this girl is the real deal and has more skill and heart in one finger than 99% of your favorite "indie" bands.
3. Kanye West-"My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy"
I followed Kanye on Twitter for about 5 minutes and deleted his ass, believe me, I know the guy is fucking annoying. But he's an annoying musical genius, and this record proves it. It just feels like music from the future and I was hooked from the opening chorus of "Can we get much higher?" I love this record so much.
2. Jenny And Johnny-"I'm Having Fun Now"
Jenny Lewis is one of my modern songwriting heros, and this collaboration record with her boyfriend Jonathan Rice is fantastic. Great 70's pop vibes with the acerbic lyrics Jenny delivers so well.
"Outside of Silverlake, I am the biggest fake."
1. Arcade Fire-"The Suburbs"
I was obsessed with this record from the day it dropped, no other record even came close. It's a masterpiece, and I get the impression they made it very true to their artistic vision, without letting the commerce of being in a popular band lead their decisions, so it's even sweeter that they topped the charts.
Great songs and lyrics that really nail our modern times. Their drum tech, Patrick is a fan of The Loved Ones and invited me out to their Philly show, and within the first two songs my wife looked over and smiled at my wide-eyed, mouth-agape face and said "I guess we know what your new favorite band is, huh?" She knows me all too well. Buy this if you like things that are good.
Alright, I'm gonna throw together an even nerdier list of my favorite songs of the year in the next few days, look out for that...
If you want to buy these jams, head to Main Street Music in Philly and hand my buddy Pat your paycheck, he'll steer you right. treatyourself.