While I am feeling enterprising, let’s run through some albums quick.
Real Estate‘s influences are obvious. A common complaint of the jaded music fan is that they have heard it all before. This New Jersey band encapsulation of the late 80s-early 90s pre-grunge guitar pop is well crafted and heart-felt in a way that makes such claims effete. The dreamy dynamics of Days is a real stand out for those seeking calming but never dull rock.
After an early encounter with a previous album , I thought Thee Oh Sees were not for me. Damn was I wrong! Castlemania explores a lo-fi space between Syd Barrett and early Cramps. There is something subversive in this mix of punk and psych elements. A generous album with plenty of highlights and a concise style in spite of its rambling and rollicking style. 60s rock for 21st century heads.
The War on Drugs‘ Slave Ambient mixture of classic Rock/Americana flavors with krautrock influenced rhythms is no simple gimmick. The production details bring a real shine to it which manages to invoke influences before drifting off into a wholly original atmosphere. For me this was the album to beat this year. That such a band exists in the same state as me is a nice bit of civic pride I don’t get very often. Be sure to check out Future Weather, a companion EP to the album, which includes a great alternate version of the album track Brothers.
I had not kept up with Wilco. So I missed all the backlash and “dad rock” accusations. When I bothered to check back in, I found a very flexible recording in The Whole Love. A nice mesh of styles delivered in an approachable but varied form. It doesn’t try to change the world just your mind.
Red Barked Tree from, veteran post-punk unit, Wire truly floored me. That they could take the span of their career and condense it into this diamond of a record was wholly unexpected. It sounds emblematic without being formulaic. Seek it out and see how indie/alt could’ve been in an alternate universe.
So there we are. I am doing this a bit on the run so it may not be all it could be but I got it rolling. Next up, a collection of honorable mentions and stuff definitely not from this year.