We all love lists, and we all love sarcasm. Though, I think its important to reflect upon the last year of music, I’m going to do so through the use of a list. It was a fantastic year full of awesome albums, and I’m going to count down a bunch of my favorites, and give you something to listen to while reading.
Welcome to the top 10, albums that to be quite honest, could all be number ones, but hey it wouldn’t be a list without some order.
10. Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing
The Rural Alberta Advantage – North Star
An album that its nearly impossible to choose a favorite track like Departing is such a thrill. The RAA really killed it on this album, although not entirely much different from Hometowns style, Departing is a bit darker, a bit more moody. Its heavy on piano and guitar melodies, and surprisingly catchy songs about the landscapes of a Canadian winter, love lorn & love lost. The only painfully weak spot on the album is its length, but it begs to be on repeat, so don’t feel bad about listening to it again and again. Favorites include: Tornado 87, Muscle Relaxants, and North Star.
Buy > Departing
9. Dan Mangan – Oh Fortune
Dan Mangan – Oh Fortune
This album floored me from the moment I heard Oh Fortune, the title track. Mangan’s strong voice, the dropdead gorgeous orchestration layered beneath his acoustic / singer songwriter style, and some song writing that will constantly be an earworm. I find myself consistently turning up these songs, louder and louder. And as a side note, the percussion track on Oh Fortune swell to ungodly amounts, its really amazing sounding. Favorites include: About as helpful as you can be without being any help at all, Oh Fortune, and Leaves, Trees, Forest.
Buy > Oh Fortune
8. Deer Tick – Divine Providence
Deer Tick – Miss K.
John McCauley and his troop of boozy rockers Deer Tick released one of the best album I heard this year. Top to bottom a litany of songs that you can get up to dance to, drive your car too fast too, or just play far too loud. The rag on this album was that it was an album full of drunken college party songs, but I’ve found it to be more of a definition of Deer Tick’s live acumen. These guys live and play on the road, and maybe they party pretty hard but it never stops them from wearing it on their sleeves. Its endearing, fun to see, and the new material really amps their live shows. What they have here is 10 solid jams that run a gamut of irreverent party jams to bluesy ballads. Good luck turning the volume down. Favorites include: The Bump, Main Street, Miss K., and Walking Out The Door.
Buy > Divine Providence
7. The Barr Brothers – The Barr Brothers
The Barr Brothers – Beggar in the Morning
This album snuck up on me, it sort of jumped out of nowhere. I had heard the name a bunch, and had heard single Beggar in the Morning, which by itself is fantastic… but it wasn’t until I got a hold of the full album about a month after its release that it jumped out at me. Whats so striking is the extreme beauty and care is taken in each song to delicately create something so unique in sound. Its generally speaking, a folk album, but elements of blues & bluegrass support songs with beautiful instrumentation and tender melodies, but still has range enough to hit the heavy notes on “Lord, I Just Can’t…” It’s a total listeners album, and sounds even more fantastic live. Favorites include: Beggar in the Morning, Give the Devil Back His Heart, and Lord, I Just Can’t Keep From Crying.
Buy > The Barr Brothers
6. Dawes – Nothing is Wrong
Dawes – If I Wanted Someone
Its no secret I’m a huge Dawes fan, and that I had a lot of love for this album, but I truly think it is well deserved. For me, music is all about the writing, and truly that is where this album stands out. Taylor Goldsmith will probably be remembered long after he’s gone as one of the preeminent songwriters of his time, his ability to paint the perfect picture with words is frankly a great gift to us listeners. The album is truly is a gem, its a fantastic listen that displays both superb writing skills and some of the best musicianship out there these days. Sure the content & style is made for a more mature audience and lovers of a retro folk rock paradigm (I find myself saying “My dad would love this”) its a testament to musicians not trying to reinvent the wheel, but perfecting a sound that is timeless. Favorites include: Time Spent In Los Angeles, So Well, and A Little Bit of Everything.
Buy > Nothing Is Wrong