I didn’t listen to as many albums as I wanted to this year. I say this every year.
Part of it is the singles artform itself, but I didn’t hear many hip-hop albums that felt complete and completely likeable as I wanted. That’s not to say they’re not there. Same goes for dance albums and R&B.
What astounded me was the devotion to song-craft by lighter artists, some of which have been around for years. These past few months, I noticed a lot of think-pieces on “soft rock,” floating around on the blogs, sometimes in revolt of NPR-rock, dad-rock, whatever you want to call it. Among those offenders, I have several on my year-end list — like Bon Iver, Feist and Laura Marling. But even among the growing indie establishment, I found records from St. Vincent, Panda Bear and The Weeknd to give off much the same result, that is, soothing, smart, song-centered mini-theater, start to end.
Check out the excellent first-time efforts from Washed Out, Shabazz Palaces, the Head and the Heart (yes, yes, TWO Sub Pop albums), Korallreven, tUnE-yArDs and Sallie Ford. Josh T. Pearson, let’s you and me have a drink with Tom Waits, it’ll make you feel better. It would be an honor for Fucked Up to f*ck up my apartment. And in news from the self-awareness camp, half of the artists on my Top 40 Songs of the Year were from artists of color; on this list, just over 10%. In 2012, I’ll spend more time considering diversity: is there remedy, and is it remedy?
Beyond that, here’s the hodge-podge. Listen to tracks from all of these albums (with exception to Danny Brown and The Weeknd) via my Spotify playlist.
- PJ Harvey, “Let England Shake”
- Mastodon, “The Hunter”
- Tom Waits, “Bad As Me”
- Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside, “Dirty Radio”
- Feist, “Metals”
- Washed Out, “Within & Without”
- Danny Brown, “XXX”
- Laura Marling, “A Creature I Don’t Know”
- Cut Copy, “Zonoscope”
- Liturgy, “Aesthethica”
- Fucked Up, “David Comes to Life”
- St. Vincent, “Strange Mercy”
- Peggy Sue, “Acrobats”
- Korallreven, “An Album By Korallreven”
- Bon Iver, “Bon Iver”
- Colin Stetson, “New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges”
- tUnE-yArDs, “w h o k i l l”
- Shabazz Palaces, “Black Up”
- Battles, “Gloss Drop”
- Anna Calvi, “Anna Calvi”
- SBTRKT, “SBTRKT”
- The Head and the Heart, “The Head and the Heart”
- The Weeknd, “House of Balloons”
- Josh T. Pearson, “Last Of The Country Gentlemen”
- Panda Bear, “Tomboy”