I've been writing and publishing "Best/Favorite Of..." lists for music sites and/or blogs for several years, and while it's never all that easy, I found this year to be particularly tough.
As I mentioned in my very first 3hree Things column, my favorite releases in the month of May alone (The Black Keys, The National, Broken Social Scene, Band Of Horses, Sleigh Bells, Deftones) were almost enough to make me feel like I could have filled out most of my less than halfway through the year.
Usually, I take the easy way out and include a "in no particular order" disclaimer at the top of my lists because, a) I am a pretty noncommittal wuss (especially when picking my "favorite" things, and b) I've never really been able to find a comfortable criteria for ranking albums. If I were forced to rewrite this list in a month, the albums might be the same, but the rankings might be pretty different. Perhaps few of my favorites that didn't make this list;Frightened Rabbit's The Winter Of Mixed Drinks
,Aloha's Home Acres
,Periphery's Periphery (Instrumental Version)
,The Dig's Electric Toys
,The National's High Violet
, andKyle Kinane's standup comedy album Death Of The Party
might find a way to sneak their way on the list.
Favorite Track: "Too Afraid To Love You"
I'd always appreciated The Black Keys, but none of their records really captivated me like Brothers has. It's full of hooks, whether they come in the form of vocals, riffs, beats, or production value. The record's catchy as hell, without being base or dopey. (A feat that seems to have become increasingly difficult to achieve.) Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure The Black Keys are catching the usual flack from music snobs that equate success with compromised integrity, suggesting that since they're getting their music featured in commercials, that they've somehow lost something, but I beg to differ. The songs on this record are just straight-up good
and I think their success is a byproduct of that, naysayers be damned.
Favorite Track: "We Fell"
I wrote a little bit about S. Carey in September's "3hree Things: Concert-Goers That I Could Happily Do Without," but didn't really dig into just how much I love the debut record from Bon Iver's touring drummer. It's a mesmerizing collection of lushly arranged and hauntingly atmospheric songs; the kind of record that you can get absolutely lost in while listening to it on headphones. I did just that, every single night on our Fall tour in Europe and the UK. And since then, I've found myself going back to it over and over when I need an audio escape. Coincidentally, the last record that affected in such a manner was Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Favorite Track: "The Motion Makes Me Last"
This album was featured in October's "3hree Things: Essential Rainy Day Albums", and rather than totally rehash what I wrote back then, I'll just reiterate that since its release in February, it's been in heavy rotation regardless of the weather. While some might not consider Similies Matthew Cooper's best work (2004's Lambent Material seems to be regarded as such) it's still an undeniably powerful collection of ambient pieces of music. The piano line in the track above is a testament to the power and beauty of simplicity, and the album is teeming with moments like it; emotive, fairly simple compositions that can either be uplifting or have the power to reduce me to tears, depending on my mood.