Thank you Waub for starting this tradition among our circle of now-extended friends 10 years ago. Wow. I’ve discovered so many great records (& more metal than a girl could ever dream of…) thanks to the initiative you took on that fateful day in Akron <3.
The real top ten, really (& I only cheated twice with double-entries):
1. Feist – Metals: Anyone who knows me a teeny bit won’t be surprised this is my top album. But it’s not pre-Monarch Feist bias at play, I swear. This is a rich, dark record with challenging, complex & interesting percussive, vocal & melodic parts, which are completely different from the upbeat hand-clappy triple-a-radio stigma she suffered for the past six years. Not at all weirded out by her upcoming Mastodon collabo (what could be worse than LuLu, amirite?!?), it makes a lot of sense after listening to this (on repeat…for months on end).
- do re mi fa q: Not quite a full-length, but much more than an EP…& definitely a fair representation of what their live show yields. These (young!) guys shocked me with their polished presentation, unique sound (think a Nick Cave-fronted Strokes with a dash of Depeche Mode’s timeless sexy swagger) & smart songwriting. Hoping that 2012 brings big things for another ungoogleable band from Toronto.
3. TIE: Kate Bush
- 50 Words for Snow & Director’s Cut: Yeah, technically two different records but it’s nice to look at her songbook through a new lens, especially before tackling new material. Listening to the director’s cut recordings of classic songs was almost as invigorating as last year’s Peter Gabriel covers record…& 50 Words will definitely help get you through the next two months & then some.
4. Wilco – The Whole Love: Would never self-identify as a big Wilco fan, cause it seems like a daunting chore…but this frigging record, with an almost prog-like churn, weird twists & turns & still catchy tuneful treats, has me revisiting all their old albums. This is one of those records that if you put it on during a dinner party you catch people pausing to enjoy it…or maybe I just throw really shitty dinner parties filled with awkward silences.
5. Ryan Adams
– Ashes & Fire: My boy got me through a near-hellish fall/winter. I’ll admit to leaning on the standbys: Pneumonia, Gold, Heartbreaker…& all-time fav Easy Tiger. BUT this album is stand-alone GREAT. Funny reading in the reviews that he took 2 years off, cause there are delicious Sad Dracula/bootleg/one-off breadcrumbs all over the interwebs to satisfy any dry spell, but you can tell that my future husband/ex-Mr. Mandy Moore put in some serious time sequencing, mixing, writing a near-perfect country/roots album.
6. Chilly Gonzales
– The Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales: There are no words to describe how amazingly meta this man has become. Oh & watch Ivory Tower or die laughing/trying.
7. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy: Everyone who wrote off her last two albums as too swirly, orchestral, busy & lush has run out of excuses. This is a fierce stripped down record where two things are glaringly obvious: bitch can shred & hot damn she has complete vocal range & control.
8. TIE: Thurston Moore
– Demolished Thoughts & Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
– Mirror Traffic: Combo slots on the list because of the common producer credit – Beck. Solid records for 90s icons on both sides of the studio glass.
9. PJ Harvey
- Let England Shake: Spare me the Arab-Spring/political interpretation undergrad angst bullshit. This is a structurally sound trudge through the most painful moments in life, the inexplicable, the horrible & the terrifying. A tough slog, but somehow still beautiful.
10. Bill Callahan
- Apocalypse: With his unique voice, folk tendencies &, well, a goofy
approach to lyrics, I worry that a guy like this’ll get a ‘character actor’ stigma (I have more interesting things to worry about but it’s nice to switch it up). What can you do though, right? Wait 20 years & guys like Buscemi are revered as leading men…I trust that history will be equally kind to Mr. Callahan. At least in a big-payout-for-his-estate-Nick-Drake-level-of-reverence kind of way. (Watch “America” & it will all make sense