Because Songs Matter


There were so many good albums this year that I couldn’t make the decision to rank them, and I know that’s not the most important decision anyway, so this year’s best-of list is in groups with no internal order. This is the art I spent my cherished/wasted time consuming this year. Hope everybody’s upcoming year is full of growth.

Albums, Best of the Best:

  • Franz Nicolay – Do the Struggle – tentative cynic-folk, sincere show-rock (9B review)
  • Swearin'     
    Swearin’ – last 20 years of music on exhibit in your garage
  • Branden Barnett – Verse, Chorus, Curse – pop perfection, radio ready (9B review)
  • Hop Along – Get Disowned – gallery of guts (9B review)
  • Grabass Charlestons     
    Dale & the Careeners – rock perfection, finds you through juke
  • forgetters     
    forgetters – another verse in The Schwarzenbachian Epic, the story of us
  • Joel Plaskett – Scrappy Happiness – textbook construction (9B review)
  • American Aquarium – Burn.Flicker.Die – you know (9B review)
  • Jeff Rosenstock – I Look Like Shit – he shits out gold; bathroom Brian Wilson
  • Chris Wollard & the Ship Thieves – Canyons – listen loud. Louder.
  • Teenage Bottlerocket – Freak Out! – most fun record
  • Waylon Thornton – Pale Jewel – and the other half-dozen or more albums he put out this year (9B review)
  • Toys that Kill – Fambly 42 – botanist rock
  • Lee Baines III & the Glory Fires – There is a Bomb in Gillead (9B review)
Albums, Rest of the Best:

  • Snakehealers – Cure All – ex-Takers muscle up
  • Waller – Stoke the Fire – country satisfaction guaranteed (9B review)
  • Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball (9B review)
  • Your Heart Breaks     
    Harsh Tokes & Bong Jokes – misfit rock, very important band
  • Cheap Girls – Giant Orange (9B review)
  • Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas
  • Carolyn Mark – The Queen of Vancouver Island (9B review)
  • Red Collar – Welcome Home
  • Nervosas – Descension – punk from Columbus OH that spins off the best east coast punk like Bouncing Souls and Sticks & Stones. Formidable radness.
  • The Only Sons – When the New Wears Off (9B review)
  • Cory Branan – Mutt (9B review)
  • Nook & Cranny – Nook & Cranny (9B review)
  • The Ones to Blame – Better Times (9B review)
  • Japandroids – Celebration Rock
  • A.C. Newman – Shut Down the Streets
  • Nude Beach – Nude Beach II (9B review)
  • Mo Kenny     
    Mo Kenny – featuring a badass David Bowie cover
  • The Corin Tucker Band – Kill My Blues
  • Catherine Irwin – Little Heater – arguably the best lyricist alive
  • Tender Trap – Ten Songs About Girls – Amelia Fletcher is a super hero
  • White Lung     
    Sorry – punk from Vancouver!
  • Bits of Shit – Cut Sleeves – punk from Australia!
  • Rational Anthem – Sensitivity Training – punk from Sarasota!
  • Kelly Hogan – I Like to Keep Myself in Pain – this album grew on me the most, listen to “Daddy’s Little Girl” again (9B review)
  • Hard Girls     
    Isn’t It Worse? – FFO: GBV, PVMNT, SLKWRM
  • Guided By Voices – The Bears for Lunch – most consistent of the trio of reunion albums
  • Dowsing – It’s Still Pretty Terrible – Chicago rock with nerd-soul and skillz
  • Bedford Falls – Elegant Balloons (9B review)
  • Waxahatchee – American Weekend – released for free last year, official release this year, and now Katie Crutchfield yields results if you search for her on Pitchfork. Unstoppable Crutchfields. (9B review)
EPs, 7″s, Demos:

  • Pity Sex     
    – Dark World – pair with Hop Along’s Get Disowned and get to smashing and crying
  • Lemuria – Varoom Allure
  • Great Neck – Demo (9B review)
  • Ben Trickey – Open the Sky
  • Sebadoh – Secret
  • H.R. Gertner – Nothing I Want To Give Up Yet (9B review)
  • Billy + Joe – Breathe (9B review)
  • Elway – Hence My Optimism
  • Ryan Sheffield – The Shadowbox (9B review)
  • Caitlin Rose     
    Piledriver Waltz – Arctic Monkeys covers from Record Store Day
  • Alex Kerns & Mikey Erg! – Split 7″ – Kerns is an idea man
  • Pseudo Kids – Stay Glad
  • Cayetano – Demo – Philly is murdering
  • Joey Kneiser – Moonlight for the Graveyard Heart
  • Returners – Demo – Buffalo NY dark rock featuring Tony from Failures’ Union
  • Big Eyes     
    Back from the Moon
  • Tigers Jaw & Tiny Empires – Split 7″ – bar-band Morrisey-ing from Tigers Jaw and some real furious shit from Tiny Empires
  • Juice – Demo – like Gustavo Rivera’s stories, poems, or his last band St. Dad, the new project Juice is addictive. Half-real words, half-real sounds, some songs are melodic as Van Morrison, others are as decomposed as a long-dead whale–a constant reinventory of the familiar and the foreign.
Reissues, Lost Albums

  • Tony Flaminio     
    The Grim Repair – from the head of the Failures’ Union, reissue of 2003 cd-R
  • Karen Dalton – 1966 – haunting voice and banjo recorded over porches and kitchen tables at her cabin in Boulder CO
  • Michael Hurley – Back Home with Drifting Woods – unreleased 1964 sessions from the freak folker and gorgeous yodeler
  • Jawbreaker – Bivouac – the glory

  • Padgett Powell – You & Me – nothing has to be as shitty as everything is; read this for energy
Reasons to Stay Alive Next Year
  • Drag the River, Lenny Lashley, Billy Bragg, Sebadoh,Tin Armor, and Failures’ Union full-lengths. Freakwater playing shows again.
Stay free,


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