Yess here we goooooooo I love music and this was a really good year, y’all. I am probably forgetting something but oh well. Also I’m including a “top tracks” bit even though obviously the point is that the whole ~album~ is good but you gotta start somewhere so.
Mechanical Bull – Kings of Leon OMG this was the album I was waiting for from them; it literally takes all of the best elements from all of their previous ones and puts them together into a glorious rock-and-roll masterpiece. As y’all may know Youth & Young Manhood was like a formative album for me so it’s nice to hear some of that grittier sound make a comeback. The whole album is basically ace except that I’m not a huge fan of “Beautiful War,” which seems like they threw a bone to fans who only know “Sex On Fire”/”Use Somebody” but I guess it’s the next single sooo what are you gonna do except ignore the continued comparisons to Nickelback cuz you know better.
Top tracks: “Supersoaker,” “Rock City,” “Temple,” and “Comeback Story” which has my favorite lyrics of the year, “I walked a mile in your shoes/now I’m a mile away/and I’ve got your shoes.” GOD. But yeah that’s pretty representative of their whip-sharp writing/undeniable rock-star swagger and I really just love this band so much I don’t careeeee.
Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend With a title like that you know this album is gonna be good/it better be good cuz damn. I was all about their first album; Contra was alright but never made it into my regular rotation, but this one blows everything else out of the water. It carries over shades of the East Coast upper-crust preppy trust-fund kid vibe from their first two records, but combines that with really cutting religious/Jewish themes to do something that’s totally different and mind-blowing; here is just a tiny sample from the interlude of “Finger Back”:
Sing next year in Jerusalem
You know — the one at W. 103rd and Broadway?
Cause this Orthodox girl fell in love with the guy at the falafel shop
And why not?
Should she have averted her eyes and just stared at the laminated poster of the Dome of the Rock?
Maaaan like I don’t even know what else to say except listen this freaking album already.
Top tracks: “Unbelievers,” “Step,” “Everlasting Arms,” and “Diane Young,” which has my other favorite song lyrics ever: “Irish and proud baby naturally/but you’ve got the luck of a Kennedy.” PLZ.
Pure Heroine – Lorde Y’all, “Royals” like the seventh best song on this album like it’s so unreal. She really really nails the whole melancholy youth thing; thematically it reminds me a lot of Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, which is another good one to listen to when you just want to be sad, and aesthetically their music videos are similar too so that’s interesting. Also she is actually 16 so like how are you so self-aware, grrl? But I think the main reason she’s making it huge now is because of the perfect timing, like everyone in pop music is really really ready for the anti-Miley (although I love her too, bless her twerkin heart): “Team” features the lyrics “I’m kinda over getting told to throw my hands up in the air, so there,” which is just perfect. Also her EP, The Love Club, is freaking amazing so definitely download “Bravado,” “The Love Club” and “Million Dollar Bills” if you haven’t already. (“Biting Down” is a throwaway track in my opinion.)
Top tracks: “400 Lux” (THE BASS IS RIDIC OMG) and “Tennis Courts,” along with the Love Club tracks listed above.
Cerulean Salt – Waxahatchee This is a placeholder for American Weekend, which came out last year but is my favorite out of the two (see: “I Think I Love You,” “Bathtub”). But yeah she is just so raw and super, super cool; it’s like hipster music that you actually want to listen to (oh yeah I went there). She did a sick Tiny Desk Concert for NPR that’s definitely worth checking out and pretty much sums her up soooo yeah.
Top tracks: “Misery Over Dispute” and “Swan Dive,” which I already linked to on this blog but yeah it’s the best.
The 1975 – The 1975 I was really torn about putting this one on here because my main ranking criteria for albums is how hard I can rock out to them in my car and this one only has a few actual jams, but the rest of it the album is soooooo lyrically/muscially good that I couldn’t ignore it. This band totally looks like your average emo indie act but yeah like I said the lyrics just cannot be denied. There’s, “If we’re gonna do anything we might as well just fuck” from “Sex,” and “You’re never gonna quit it if you don’t stop smokin it” from “Chocolate,” but the real kicker comes from “Girls”: “I know you’re lookin for salvation in the secular age, but girl I’m not your savior.” GODDAMMIT.
Top tracks: See above; I would just like to emphasize that “Girls” is just really really freaking amazing. Also definitely up there is “Menswear,” which is a song about getting high and/or loaded at a wedding. Unreal.
Ripely Pine – Lady Lamb the Beekeeper I already blogged once about her too; this is another album with absolutely mind-blowing lyrics like every line is incredible. Most of the tracks don’t have anything like a traditional structure and/or chorus but they are still catchy as hell á la of Montreal at their best. It’s also pretty folksy, which I love, and her vocals are really raw and powerful so that’s dope too. I honestly can’t believe she is so far under the radar like this is such good stuff I don’t get it at all.
Top tracks: All of them, literally. Um I guess the main ones I go back to the most are “Aubergine” (“You said there’s always a reason for leaving, there’s always a reason to stay/I know exactly why I’m leaving: I just can’t stay”) and “Bird Balloons” (if I started quoting lyrics it would be the whole song which is like six minutes long so); special shoutout to “You Are The Apple” for the line “I still need your teeth ’round my organs” like whattttttt ugh.
Magna Carta… Holy Grail – Jay Z Um yeah why was I not listening to rap music before now like …? I have no idea but thank you Jay Z for helping me see the light; I’m even lifting my Justin Timberlake ban for “Holy Grail,” that’s how good that song is. I am mainly here for all of the sick fashion/fine art references; there’s just so much to it and it’s so mind-blowingly good. (I feel like I’m repeating that phrase a lot; hopefully I’m not overselling any of this ha.)
Top tracks: “Holy Grail” obviously, also “Tom Ford” and “Oceans” which features Frank Ocean, natch: “I hope my black skin don’t dirt this white tuxedo before the Basquiat show” like OMG are you serious with this. Side note: I have tried to listen to Channel Orange a couple of times now but just couldn’t get into it? Not sure if I’m doing something wrong or if it’s just not my cup of tea…
good kid, m.A.A.d city – Kendrick Lamar I swear it was some divine intervention or something that made me listen to this album without any outside prompting/recommendation/anything because this is the greatest thing ever for real. I’ve only been playing it for like a week so I’m still trying to wrap my head around it But I can already definitively say that it’s the shit after hearing “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst” for the first time. Jesus.
Top tracks: See above, also “Money Trees.” I can’t even repeat the best lyrics because this blog is rated G (more or less) but I think y’all probably know the ones I’m thinking of.
Girl Talk – Kate Nash My homegirl Kate Nash comes through again, gah I just love her so much. This album is infinity times more punk-rock than her previous two, but the lyrics are still top-shelf, vintage Kate and the girl power vibe is so strong you cannot help but love it. Also I was front row at her concert in Chi-town last month and it was literally a religious experience; she is so freaking incredible live and also she tOuCHEd my hAnD yeah I literally almost passed out OMG.
Top tracks: “Fri-End?” and “OMYGOD!” in which you can actually hear the irony dripping from her voice when she sings the implausible line “yesterday a dolphin kissed me/but I just don’t feel no different” and totally pulls it off like the absolute goddess she is. “You’re So Cool, I’m So Freaky” is also amazing, just a stripped-down, simple song that pretty much sums everything up: “You’re so cool/and I’m a freaky, freaky, freaky girl.”
Heartthrob – Tegan and Sara I had to double check that this album actually came out this year; it feels like it’s been out forever because I literally listened to it nonstop for about six months. I’m sure you’ve heard “Closer,” which has been enjoying a resurgence on the radio lately (I get so giddy whenever it’s on my local station), but the whole album is just really solid, catchy pop jams.
Top tracks: “Now I’m All Messed Up,” “Drove Me Wild,” and “I’m Not Your Hero,” which features this dichotomy-busting gem of a lyric: “I’m not their hero but that doesn’t mean that I’m not brave/I never walked the party line doesn’t mean that I was never afraid.”
Alright so that’s it for part one! Wow! Stay tuned for part two, a.k.a. my very favorite album of the year. It’s a real shocker lol…