My, my, my. The older I get, the harder it is to find the time to really invest in and search for good music out there. It's also a little less socially acceptable to spend quite as much money and energy. Never the less, I appreciate those times that I can really lose myself in an album or find my way to a concert on the occasional weekend, sharing in the art form with others. All that to say, I'm happy to be sitting down with a laptop, sorting through my iTunes and Spotify playlists picking out the highlights from the year.
The following are albums 10-1 of my favorite 20 albums of the year. I didn't have a crystal clear top album, lacking any album that just blew me away. But it's been a fun year for music. And a good one. Both some old and new names and, looking at my top five, some great sophomore releases.
To check all 20 albums, click here for the Spotify playlist.
Without further ado.
10. Lana Del Ray - Born to Die
I'm not sure if this is a guilty pleasure or if I just legitimately like it. Either way, I'm sold on the faux-sex appeal thing. Something like a modern day Marilyn Monroe. Catchy hooks and inane lyrics. Yeah, yeah, she was awful on SNL and the con list is lengthy, but it's a super fun album.
9. Grizzly Bear - Shields
Grizzly Bear comes back off of the highly acclaimed Veckatimist with a super solid output. For me, Shields just improves on its predecessor's best elements.
8. Oberhofer - Time Capsules II
While this certainly isn't an album on any sort of objective "best of" list, it was a favorite of mine. As the band was stopping by Taylor this spring, I familiarized myself with the album and was pleasantly surprised. Nothing extraordinary. Just some good, indie rock. And I actually didn't love the live show... thankfully I didn't let that persuade me away from the album.
7. The Shins - Port of Morrow
The Shins are just kings/queens of indie rock. Simple Song is super catchy and fun. The rest of the album follows suit.
6. Of Monsters and Men - My Head is an Animal
I was a little late, but I totally bought into the Icelandic indie pop group's gorgeous harmonies and folksy influences. What a consistently great album.
5. Beach House - Bloom
I was worried this guy would be a little boring. I was so happy to be wrong. Bloom takes everything from Teen Dream and improves upon it. The hazy guitars and swirling vocals are still there but added are some legit hooks that make this album irresistible.
4. Frank Ocean - channel ORANGE
Who saw this one coming? After an incredible amount of buzz after its release, I had to check it out. It took me a few listens to really get into it (R&B isn't necessarily my go-to genre) but the production on this guy is fantastic. And Ocean weaves some fantastic stories from all sorts of corners of society. I'm glad this guy is around.
3. Mumford & Sons - Babel
Perhaps one of the most anticipated albums of the year, Mumford had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, they stayed true to their colors and brought more of their great faux-folk pop rock. They didn't need to reinvent the wheel and it shows. While there's no Little Lion Man or Sigh No More, the whole album is consistently solid and, if you have the few bonus songs, maybe I'm wrong in saying there aren't any timeless hits.
2. fun. - Some Nights
We were all there, right? Listening to We Are Young playing during that commercial, wondering who sang that irresistibly anthemic chorus that we would be singing along to non-stop for the next six months. I certainly was and was delighted to find that the band was fun. Coming off a couple of my past faves (Anathallo and The Format chronologically), I was pleased to see some of those guys hit it big, big. They've been making great music for a while now and Some Nights brings hit after hit, in the best way possible.
1. Passion Pit - Gossamer
Well, this is it. I never would have guessed Passion Pit's new album to come in number one but after buying the album and letting it play enough times in the ol' car radio, I couldn't get enough. While Manners took the music scene by storm with its high-pitched vocals and crazy electronica beats, Gossamer slows things down just a little bit in order to make the album accessible for all sorts of audiences. In my humble opinion, it was a good move. And let's be honest, who hasn't caught themselves chanting "I took a walk" under their breath a few hours after listening to the song?
There you have it. Don't hesitate to comment with your thoughts and/or links to your Best Of lists.
Here's to a solid 2013.