Tanlines - Mixed Emotions
I saw the duo perform at Lincoln Hall this past Sunday, and hearing them live secured this album at the top for me. The singer has a sniveling voice that we shouldn't dance to, but it happens anyway. The tropicalia rhythms and somber synths mix so perplexing well, like a tiny tree planted in a cinder block. The title of the album says it all though. It's still unclear what this band is exactly, and that excites the bejeezus out of me.
listen to All of Me
Japandroids - Celebration Rock
Fireworks open and close this ideal summer album, recalling either blankets on vast lawns, or city rooftops and alleyways. The rock and roll in between the sound clips is what makes this one of the best albums of the year though. These two guys are fist pumpers, head bangers, girl kissers, chair kickers, beer guzzlers, and romantics. By celebrating the moment for whatever it happens to bring, they've found that rare sound that is pure rock and roll.
listen to The House That Heaven Built
Dustin Wong - Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads
I'm a sucker for loops. Dustin Wong loops guitar harmonies like it's his job (oh...). This mostly wordless music builds and crescendos until it's suddenly cut off for a new track. On the graph of the song's story, there's never a conflict resolution. Maybe this is what's so intriguing about Wong's style. He leaves possibility in his compositions. The art of the possible was always politics, but Dustin Wong might take it back for the musicians before long.
listen to Pink Diamond
Grimes - Visions
I missed her set at Pitchfork, but hope to be at the Metro in a few months for that show. That will inform a lot of what I decide for my year end list with Visions. It was an early frontrunner, but I find myself listening to it less and less lately. Maybe the weirdness is just that, and doesn't have good bones after all? The live show will tell me more about Grimes. Until then, I still think this album is brilliant.
listen to Oblivion
Zammuto - Zammuto
Nick Zammuto was the lead singer of my favorite band in college. The Books don't exist anymore, and Zammuto is a family man, making art to support his wife and kids. Growing up is strange, but this album slams a fist down on the dinner table and says "play with your food!" At times it's even zanier than The Books, but also more refined. And Zammuto's live show is the best I've seen this year. No brainer/all-brainer here.
listen to Too Late to Topologize
Hot Chip - In Our Heads
Didn't expect this one. Maybe it has something to do with the DJ I've become, but this is the music I want to hear at every party I step into this summer. It's pop music for anybody who loves another catchy melody but doesn't really want to do another Irish car bomb.
listen to Motion Sickness
Chromatics - Kill For Love
A long, sultry night drive of an album right here. Images of a clean cut Ryan Gosling flash back and forth in the mind's eye, neon lights peripheral, trails of haze fading too slow out of focus. Don't expect too much of Chromatics, that's not what this is about.
listen to Lady
Black Dice - Mr. Impossible
The loudest show I've seen in a while happened at Bottom Lounge a few months back. Black Dice surrounded my aura and roughed it up a bit. These songs are supposed to be heard live, but if this album can at least remind of that, it's an easy top 10 pick.
listen to Pigs
Jens Lekman - I Know What Love Isn't
You'll hear it soon enough. Jens is so boyish and precious, but not at all insufferable. He has a great sense of humor and self-awareness, and just knows how to write a good pop song. His songs are all timeless in quality, and this new album only adds to his impressive resume.
listen to The End of the World is Bigger Than Love
Phedre - Phedre
You know I like weird, especially the sort that doesn't take itself too seriously. This is the music for art school kids who don't "get it," they just get it. Of Montreal should open for Phedre someday.
listen to Aphrodite