My opinion has always been that you can't quite make a "Best of" list until sometime in June, when you've fully caught up on Year Previous, by which time you are hopelessly "behind" on the next year, because, after all, it is a race. So I probably forgot a couple records in making this list, but it was still fun to make. I didn't include albums by bands I Always Like if I didn't think they were great(sorry Pearl Jam), nor did I include records made by humans I have physically touched in a non-concert setting. Feel free to berate me on my choices.
St. Vincent—The Actor
For me, St. Vincent is like meeting someone at a boring party, deciding she’s nice enough, but pretty much like every other person there and they’re talking about like, wine or something, not that there’s anything wrong with wine, but the hostess, who you really do appreciate the invitation and everything, she’s cute and all and probably the best person out of that douchey study group where you met, but really why did you come to this party anyway? So then, like, later, at some isolated situation that is not a party you meet St. Vincent and she is funny and weird and clever and sort of fucked up in a really interesting way. You do not want to marry her, but hey, she made this sweet album and listening to it is rad.
MF Doom—Born Like This
MF Doom remains a bizarre dude. Not in the “HI MY NAME IS LIL WAYNE/KANYE WEST AND YOU SHOULD LOOK AT ALL THIS CRAZY SHIT I DO I DO SOME CRAZY SHIT BECAUSE I AM AN ARTIST WHO HAS NOTHING TO SAY BUT CRAAAAAZY SHIIIIIIIT” but more in a way that I would give a crap about, ever. The growing collective of People Who Want Graham to Smoke Pot rejoice.
Want to come over to my house some frosty winter and have sex with me while we listen to Fever Ray? BDSM/cosplay optional.
The Obits—I Blame You
Someone give Frohberg a check so that he can just keep making good albums like this. Eases up on the Hot Snakes’ breakneckery, throws in some surf, some swing, rockabilly, keeps the guitars clean and crisp, lyrics smart and straight-up. Guy should be teaching classes on this shit, but most “rock and rollers” are too busy worrying about their hair and practicing sneers in the mirror.
Animal Collective—Merriweather Post-Pavillion
I think it’s possible to be highly overrated, have a pretty annoying fanbase and still be really good.
Go for it boys, you’ve got your youth, earnesty-thinly-hidden-by-swagger and a history of pop-punk, power-pop and shoegaze in your arsenal. If the results are a bit immature sometimes, well, so am I. And that’s fine.
Anti-Pop Consortium—Fluorescent Black
Remember when __indie kids/rockers/hipsters/art kids, whoever___ gave a shit about whether the hip hop they listened to was actually good and not just an excuse to throw a theme party where they could throw on huge glasses and act out racial caricatures in the name of pop-culture parody?
A Place to Bury Strangers—Exploding Head
When you are this loud and ominous you can get away with having the word “heart” in more than one of your song titles.
The Mountain Goats—Life of the World to Come
When I heard that Darnielle was doing an album where each song corresponded to a Bible Verse, I wasn’t surprised; in fact I was almost surprised he hadn’t already. As a songwriter, I think JD is pretty much unmatched, so he’s uniquely suited to a project like this and the results are stunning. The melodies are strong here too, giving a way in to casual-er MG listeners.
Future of the Left—Travels With Myself and Another
. . . but he can’t put his finger on it; he’ll never be that kind of man/He’ll die in his bed on a summer’s night, with his hand on his favorite thing. There are words he could use to describe it/metaphors that should have applied-- he’ll die in his bed on a summer’s night with his hand on his adequate bride.