1. Frank Schweikhardt- Life But No More
It’s kind of a no contest pick for me this year. This record has everything I want in a record. It is subtle, yet gorgeously textured. It is free of pretense and loaded with melancholy, depth, and tasty licks. Frank’s guitar playing might be reminiscent of Sun Kil Moon, but this record steps beyond anything Kozelek has done. The added instrumentation is perfectly layered; there’s not too much, and not too little. The sounds on this record are near flawless as well as the aesthetic. I couldn’t be more excited about a new record. This one is tops!
2. Julie Doiron- I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day
This record came out in January I think and I knew right then that it would be either my favorite record of the year, or darn close. Julie’s songwriting just keeps getting better and better and this record flows perfectly from the jarring riffs of “Spill Yer Lungs”, to the syrupy fuzz of “Consolation Prize” and on to the cutesy confession of “It’s Always Nice To Come Home”. Julie has made several GREAT records (i.e. Goodnight Nobody and Woke Myself Up) but this is a great place to start. Her songwriting somehow gets better and better.
3. husband&wife- Dark Dark Woods
It’s hard to imagine a year where Dark Dark Woods isn’t my absolute favorite record of the year. Each song on this record has a life span of its own. The emotional range that is found on even one song is vast enough to make just about any songwriter blush. Standout tracks are all of them. Not joking. (plus XRA Records are doing a buy-one-get-one-free the whole month of December) WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
4. Mount Eerie- Wind’s Poem
Last year Mount Eerie put out Lost Wisdom which was not only my favorite record of the year, but one of my favorite records of all time. I was pretty guarded against liking this record because it is SO much heavier and intense than Lost Wisdom. I often have a hard time really enjoying a record if I felt really connected to the band’s previous record. This one breaks the mold. It will split you open with its brutality, but it somehow carries Phil Elverum’s signature ennui and softness.
5. Capybara- Try Brother
This was easily the biggest surprise of the year for me. I worked at a camp the summer after my sophomore year of high school. One of the dudes I worked with was this dude named Mark. Mark was one of the coolest, funniest, and warmest guys I had ever met (have ever met) and we became BFFs. After the summer was over, Mark and I tried to stay in contact but I never see him again. Fast forward to 2009 and Mark and I talk again and Mark has a band named Capybara. Mark’s band is going to be your favorite band very soon. You won’t be able to resist it. Check out the song “The Wimp.” Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
6. Grizzly Bear- Veckatimest
7. Metavari- Be One of Us and Hear No Noise
8. Mos Def- The Ecstatic
9. The Dirty Projectors- Bitte Orca
10. The Daredevil Christopher Wright- In Deference to a Broken Back
11. DM Stith- Heavy Ghost
12. Anni Rossi- Rockwell
13. Alexander the Great- Faces Change
14. Bonnie “Prince” Billy- Beware
15. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart- s/t
16. St. Vincent- Actor
17. These United States- Everything Touches Everything
18. Vandaveer- Divide & Conquer
19. Richard Swift- Atlantic Ocean
20. Desolation Wilderness- New Universe
I somehow forgot to include 2 records which are easily up there in the Top 10 range. They are Elephant Micah’s Exiled Magicians (what a great record!) and Vollmar’s Tell The Dirt. Man I don’t know how I forgot them. They are both so good. You should listen to those too. Here’s a few tracks. The EM isn’t on Exiled Magician’s, but it’s my favorite of his. The Vollmar track is off of a 12″ vinyl that put together a couple of his old EPs. Enjoy