Posted by: nick
Have you ever tried to write a top 10 list? Don’t, it’s a nightmare! Our first problem is that 10 isn’t that many! Secondly there are technicalities. Do we include albums featured in last year’s list (Darwin Deez, Local Natives, etc) that have only been “officially” released this year? Then there’s the danger of getting carried away with what you’re loving NOW and forgetting how much you adored albums earlier in the year. Right, enough moaning, as it’s a World Cup year we’re having a starting eleven anyway!
Shamefully overlooked by us and a lot of people, Bristol one man sensation Malachai (formerly Malakai) released this album last year through Geoff Barrow’s (Portishead) Invada label. Thankfuly Domino have picked it up and given it a re-release through their Double Six imprint. Sound wise it’s a gloriously eccentric mix of Merseybeat, garage rock, reggae, surf ditties, psychedelia and hip hop. It shouldn’t work but is utterly intoxicating.
Standouts: Snowflake, Blackbird, Another Sun.
For Fans Of: Captain Beefheart, Ween, RZA.
If following 2005′s Alligator album was going to be hard for The National then following 2007′s Boxer should have been impossible. Against the odds they continue their rich vein of form with High Violet looking like it’ll give either predecessor a run for its money once it’s taken time to bed in a little. Like fellow New Yorkers Interpol, they never change their sound too much and never seem to falter. Your move next Interpol.
Standouts: Bloodbuzz Ohio, Anyone’s Ghost, Conversation 16.
For Fans Of: Grizzly Bear, Forest Fire, U2.
With heavy synths, effortlessly powerful percussion, precisely laid guitar chords and Jon Philpot’s soaring vocals, Brooklyn’s Bear In Heaven have created a record that ingrains itself in your subconscious and will melt your face when you hear it live.
Standouts: Beast In Peace, Ultimate Satisfaction, Deafening Love.
For Fans Of: Modest Mouse, MGMT, Flaming Lips.
Dan Auberach and Patrick Carney’s (no not actual brothers) latest album as The Black Keys got them their highest U.S. chart position yet (number 3) and may just bring around the unconverted few to their intricately crafted blues-rock. Some hip-hop esque production presumably pied up during last year’s Blakroc collaboration project added a new slickness to their sound.
Standouts: Tighten Up, Ten Cent Pistol, Never Gonna Leave You.
For Fans Of: The White Stripes, Beach House, Mark Lanegan.
Beach Fossils employ a simple, catchy and surprisingly emotive formula of surf-tinged guitar licks, laid back hazy vocals and basic drumming . The overall vibe of this record prevails more than the individual songs but the sunny day nostalgia of tracks like ‘Daydream’, ‘Youth’ and ‘Sometimes’ are worthy of any summer mix.
Standouts: Sometimes, Daydream, Twelve Roses.
For Fans Of: Felt, Wild Nothing, Kurt Vile.
Certainly poppier than their debut album but that’s not always a bad thing is it? Yeasayer gave away two of the album’s best songs for free (‘Ambling Alp’ and ‘O.N.E’) but the likes of ‘Madder Red’, ‘Love Me Girl’ and ‘I Remember’ kept us more than interested. As a whole better than their first record but ’2080′ was always going to be hard to eclipse as a song.
Standouts: Ambling Alp, O.N.E., Madder Red.
For Fans Of: MGMT, Bronze, Here We Go Magic.
Ariel Pink’s first album for his new label 4AD sees the DIY cult hero record his first proper studio album which will hopefully prove his breakthrough. The songs are more formed, accessible and polished but retain a gloriously retrospective and of course weird feel to them. Expect this to don its best brothel creepers to tip toe its way up this list come December.
Standouts: Bright Lit Blue Skies, Round and Round, Fright Night (Nevermore).
For Fans Of: Ween, Girls, MGMT.
South Carolinan Chazwick Bundick’s Toro Y Moi project married styles from r’n'b to hip hop to electro to indie to psych and wrapped it all in a blanket of blissful production. Debut UK dates coming up and promise of another album before the end of the year spell exciting times for this fresh new talent.
Standouts: Blessa, Minors, Low Shoulder.
For Fans Of: Washed Out, Neon Indian, Flying Lotus.
In the run up to this album Jack Tatum aka Wild Nothing released an impressive cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Cloudbusting’. A bold move that promised much and his beautiful 80s tinged debut delivered on that promise. His DIY approach managed to produce a rich, textured sound that left a lot of his lo-fi rivals for dead. But above all it was the quality of the songs and their Smiths-y melancholy that shone through. Read our Wild Nothing Interview.
Standouts: Summer Holiday, Chinatown, My Angel Lonely.
For Fans Of: Cocteau Twins, The Cure, Beach Fossils.
Avi Buffalo is the pint sized 19 year old Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg and his Californian bandmates. Their debut album introduced us to Avi’s gorgeous guitar tones, Neil Young Esque vocals and intricately penned Shins-y wonky pop gems with cute boy-girl vocals. Innocent, enjoyably naive and always shimmering with wide eyed beauty. ‘What’s In It For’ might be the best song ever if it was about two minutes shorter!
Standouts: What’s In It For, Summer Cum, Jessica.
For Fans Of: The Shins, Neil Young, My Morning Jacket.
Rarely does a record of such simple, fragile beauty as this one come along. Perfume Genius is Mike Hadreas from Seattle, he’s in his early twenties and his debut album ‘Learning’ sounds a bit like if Elliot Smith and Daniel Johnston had soundtracked Donnie Darko. Cracked, moving vocals and haunting minor key, piano led, lo-fi lullabies. Dark, atmospheric and in all, stunning.
Standouts: Learning, Lookout Lookout, Mr Peterson.
For Fans Of: Elliot Smith, Sufjan Stevens, Daniel Johnston.