Another great year despite many claiming otherwise! Not sure what scale you can compare ALL the releases of when year to all of them from another year but below are 20 amazing albums and 6 amazing singles and they alone demand the attention of my ears every single day if their full quality is to be given any justice!
As usual, split into divisions with no heirarchy within (alpha order, unless I was too tired and got it wrong!). I may be adding a best tracks bit at some point too.
Thanks as usual to everyone for the recs and pointers and general enthusiasm for music that makes me feel happy to be part of this wonderful community of nerds.Top 5Unbalance2562
I have no idea what is going on with dubstep at the moment – for dubstep this would seem to be a good thing. The fact that it is becoming increasingly hard to pin down exactly what that word means is a testament to the sprawling landscape of musical exploration and cross-pollination that is steadily expanding from dubstep's roots. There is very little ‘dub’ to be heard on this album, but a whole lot of stepping coloured by waves of synthlines that bring his sound into the warm from the cold but equally appealing exterior of 'Aerial'.Merriweather Post PavillionAnimal Collective
I don’t think I need to say much about this release but it was the first AC album I ever got, and one of the few this year I didn’t buy as mp3 but as real life CD, based purely on the great reviews having heard none of it – something I very rarely do. It took a while for it to grow on me, being an AC newcomer, but after leaving it for a while I came back to it and the love just blossomed.HospiceThe Antlers
More of a contrast in mood between two albums appearing together in a list I can’t imagine. Whereas the above oozed summer and joyous abandon virtually from start to finish, Hospice was like a leaden weight that, rather than attracting you to it literally pulled you in like a black hole due to its weight and density. Some people don’t see the point of listening to music that makes you miserable or cry, but for me the attraction is as strong as the need to jump up and down with joy. At times, the music is very grand, I usually like understatement, but the drama that plays out through this album is weighty enough to be able to balance this out making for an absorbing, life affirming 50 minutes.
I was new to Hecq last year with Night Falls and it made my Best of list. I was aware that album wasn’t necessarily his typical sound but was so impressed with it that it made getting the follow up a non contest. The last movement of the album takes us into the deepspace, rumbling orchestral tense-calm of last year’s record but to get there is like navigating your way through an interstella highway pile-up. Sounds bounce around your head (‘phones highly recommended for the best experience!) like shattering sheets of steel and then ricochet off into deepsapce before bouncing back into each other again to form the most impressive sound design, rhythm programming this side of Autechre.
The Pains of Being Pure at HeartThe Pains of Being Pure At Heart
Never going to win any awards for originality but for perfecting the art of a particular sound, these folks excel. Have tired of and avoided a lot of the lo/shit/no -fi blog hypes of the last year and was somewhat underwhelemd by this until I saw them live… and then I could hear the power behind the pop as the overdriven guitars came forward and have loved them from then on. Perfect pop songs for wannabee heartbroken teenagers everywhere.5-10
Xerrox Vo.l IIAlva Noto
Simply stunning - a perfect partner to the winter swept streets I was walking when I got it.
Texas Rose, the Thaw and the BeastsCastanets
Very happy to be enjoying a new Castanets album after the alarmingly dissapointing City of Refuge. This is gets it right marrying the new palette of sounds Ray has been experimenting with, with the sparse, lonely arrangements of his first 2 masterpieces.
Indie rock - pure and simple, no frills, all the better for it.
Should have made it on more lists. An engaging, reverb soaked soundtrack to an urban love story.
Without SinkingHildur Gudnadottir
My favourite string instrument used here to create interwoven, sprawling landscapes with a restrained virtuosity. Just let it take you away and deposit you, unharmed but emotionally travelled 10 tracks later.The Next 10
Floating ActionFloating Action
Apart from 'Marie Claire' which I have to skip immediately, this lazy hazy retro beach joint was one of my summer soundtracks.
The Middle WayKeaver & Brause
Lots of wonky hip hop intrumentals happening this year. The Lone album came a bit too late for me to properly evaluate but I think this would still just beat it.
Great Lengths Martyn
Easily one of the dubstep albums of the year. Supremely danceable to - if that was something I still did.
A late entry but had to be on the list. Moody, metallic and yet strangely human.
Psychic ChasmsNeon Indian
Chillwave or whatever, this album was too dirty and acid-drenched to be able to fit happily against the inoffensive blandness of Memory Tapes et al, and all the better for it
The BellsNils Frahm
Stunning stunning improvised solo piano.. and... get this..... hugely accessible. From an upcoming star - look forward to more next year.
Blank Grey Canvas SkyPeter Broderick & Machinefabriek
Dream collaboration comes off like a dream. Stunning stuff.
Worthy follow up by Californian/Alaskan fishing band. A bit more mood on this one which suits them as much as the joyous abandon of 'I woke up' - and the hooks are still growing on me with every listen.
Immolate YourselfTelefon Tel Aviv
My first TTA album and not usually the sort of thing I'd normally get into but then I guess everyone should have some powerful, lyrical, dark electro-pop in their collection.
The United Colors of Trouble BooksTrouble Books
Guessing this won't be on many lists but I really liked the quiet, goofy little world it created. Could have done without the drone experimentalism in the last half, but then the joy of digital means I can pretend it was never on there :)
5 6 best singles
Fall be KindAnimal Collective
Vacuum Boogie EpFloating Points
Ike Release VS Hot CityIke Release
Black Sun / 2 Far GoneKode 9
Mako EPItal Tek