Every single publication that has anything to do with music in any capacity is currently partaking in the time honored tradition of the Year End list right now so I figured I’d jump on the proverbial bandwagon and put together my own. Year End lists are interesting because so many people have so many opinions and everywhere you look someone has picked something different for their number one album or song of the year. AV Club picked Angel Olsen’s Burn Your Fire for No Witness as their number one record of the year and it didn’t even make Rolling Stone’s Top 40 Albums (thought their list is questionable at best considering their pick for number one was U2’s “excuse me while I shove this down your throat” Songs of Innocence LP). The point is that everyone has their own picks and these happen to be mine.
10. Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright in the End: Weezer has had a tough few years but those pent up anxieties and emotions present themselves in a subtle way on their new album. Frontman Rivers Cuomo manages to walk the line between sincerity and fun, catchy tunes while the rest of the band follows suit returning to Weezer’s geeky, alt rock roots making longtime fans of The Blue Album happy for the first time in a while.
9. White Lung – Deep Fantasy: Lead singer Mish Way delivers howling squeals and guttural belts fronting the visceral hardcore band White Lung whose third LP this year blended classic thrash with modern punk to create an adrenaline fueled thrill ride which I found myself getting in line to listen to over and over and over again.
8. Eagulls – Eagulls: The debut eponymous LP from the UK’s Eagulls proved that underground 80’s alternative is alive and well. Each of the albums tracks oozes with manic depressive earnestness and creates a haunting atmosphere which harkens back to early Echo and the Bunnymen with a hardcore punk twist.
7. Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal: Brooklyn’s Parquet Courts have been busy the last 18 months churning out several releases the most recent being Sunbathing Animal . The albums 46 minutes of punk charged art rock see the band pushing the limits of the sound nurtured on last year’s Light Up Gold. With several songs devolving into Sonic Youth-esqe fuzzy guitar solos, the band has clearly demonstrated that while maintaining a cohesive style, they’re not afraid to take things to the next level.
6. Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else: Speaking of bands that push the boundaries, Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings released a phenomenal follow up to 2012’s Attack on Memory which proves that lead singer Dylan Baldi who started the band as a solo project in his bedroom has graduated to full on rock star status. The albums tracks bring the same alternative intensity as their previous release while still showing evolutionary growth.
5. Bob Mould – Beauty and Ruin: The former Husker Du frontman created one of the best rock and roll records of year…hands down. The album is full of thunderous drums, heavy hooks, raging riffs, and punky beats ranging from radio friendly sing-alongs to full on alternative hailstorms. There’s a reason this album made my list and not the Foo’s Sonic Highways.
4. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for No Witness: AV Club’s pick for album of the year, Angel Olsen’s haunting and mesmerizing LP is an astounding piece of modern alterna-folk. Drawing from an eclectic mix of influences the songs offer up Olsen’s unique and powerful voice as the focal point crafting dreamy, simple, yet heavy compositions around her incredible lyrics. This album is A MUST for any year end list.
3. Alvvays – Alvvays: Canadian dream pop band Alvvays put together an out of this world debut album this year utilizing ethereal vocals, simple and catchy drumbeats and poppy hooks which when combined create the best “indie” album of the year. Sounding like a softer version of the Dum Dum Girls with wayyyy less black leather, Alvvays has set the bar high for their follow up but if it’s half as good as their debut, it’ll still be a chart topper in my book.
2. Ought – More Than Any Other Day: WOW is the best way to describe Ought. The third Canadian group on my list (way to go eh) this punk quartet is the only band to make my brow furrow this year, in a good way! I was so confused when I first heard their album that I didn’t know whether to jump for joy or question humanity itself. The albums songs combine the raw power of the Talking Heads with heavy guitars and CRAZY time signatures and tempo changes that both put you in a trance and make your heart explode. Listen.to.this.record.
1. Tacocat – NVM: My number one album of the year emerged like a brilliant ray of sunshine from the dreary, rain saturated forests of the Pacific Northwest. Tacocat’s debut NVM has everything I’m looking for in an alternative rock record. All the songs are superb combining lyrics that are lighthearted and funny on songs like “This is Anarchy” and perfect social commentary on tracks like “Hey Girl”. The band rocks, in sound, subject matter, appearance, and attitude. All the members are involved in side project’s one of which deserves an honorable mention on my list. Bree McKenna’s band CHILDBIRTH also released a debut this year entitled It’s a Girl! which exemplifies what’s so great about punk rock. The album is over in less than 15 minutes but in that short amount of time crafts a raw, lo-fi sound which is grittier and heavier than most other albums released this year across all genres, no ifs ands or buts about it. End of discussion.