It seems like a lot of good music has been released lately and I have wanted to say something about this for quite some time but everytime I sit down to do it, it feels overwhelming because I have so much to say about the music and why I enjoy it so much that I get discouraged about how difficult such an article would be to write, so I write nothing. Thus, this list is going to be pretty basic–I am just going to recommend some great albums, mention a few highlights and try to keep it simple!
In No Particular Order:
1. LCD Soundsystem: This is Happening. Sadly, it appears this may be LCD’s last album, the good news is that it is by far their best to date. There is at least one track you may find offensive, “Drunk Girls” but I think the song is actually a indictment on drunkeness but that song is really the only skippable song on an otherwise impressive album. “All I Want” is brilliant and “Dance Yrself Clean” lulls you into a state of boredom for the first 3 minutes then explodes into powerful synth beats that will make you want to dance–it is perhaps the most memorable experience on the album.
Highlights: “Dance Yrself Clean,” “All I Want,” and “I Can Change”
2. Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest. This album is a significant step away from the low-fi fare of Microcastle and its excellent. There is still some low key rollicking tracks more akin to previous Deerhunter offerings if that is your thing–”Sailing” and “Basement Scene” fit that description. However the change of tune allows Deerhunter to pen some of their most accessible and engaging music to date. I haven’t been able to spend much time with the lyrics but they laced with tons spiritual yearning–particularly “Revival” and “Helicopter.”
Highlights: Coronado, Helicopter, and Revival
3. Josh Ritter: So Runs the World Away. This album is probably Ritter’s most spiritual to date and its much less depressing. I think Ritter is looking for meaning and hope all over this album, unfortunately he falls short of finding a sure source, but the music he makes in the process is quite good. “Lantern” searches for strength to face the darkness of the world in community and is the album’s strongest track.
Highlights: “Lantern,” “Orbital,” and “Southern Pacifica”
4. Midlake – The Courage of Others. None of the tracks on Midlake’s newest album reach quite the epic stature of “Roscoe” but several come close. Midlake’s somber, rollicking, folk rock sound is consistent and smoothly melodic throughout. “The Acts of Men” clings to signs of life in a world that is ever fading. “Core of Nature” longs to understand transcendent realities about the world and about the nature of man and finds solace in what can be known in the context of relationships.
Highlights: “Core of Nature,” “Acts of Men,” “In the Ground,” and “Children of the Grounds.”
5. Sleigh Bells: Treats. “Crown on the Ground” is one of the best songs I have heard all year and if it was the only good song on the album and I couldn’t get it without buying the whole album, I would still buy it. But thankfully there are several other solid tracks. Warning–this music could very well damage your speakers–its hard-hitting guitar driven, infectious pop music! The best way I can describe Sleigh Bells is a cross between heavy metal and M.I.A.
Highlights: “Crown on the Ground,” “Infinity Guitars,” “Kids,” and “Rill Rill”–the only break your speakers will get!
6. The National – High Violet. I have long thought that The National were overrated–I couldn’t get into Matt Berninger’s deep, gloomy sounding vocals and I felt they never released a “complete” album. This album, however, has made me a fan. Berninger’s vocals cannot help but to sound a little dark, but this album is laced with hope and though the lyrical terrain is bizarre, I think the contrast of light and dark melodies in this album is simply beautiful–”England” is perhaps the best example of this.
Highlights: “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” “Lemonworld,” “England,” and “Little Faith.”
There are a lot of albums that could have made this list, I purposefully did not list ones that everyone is listening to such as Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs or Sufjan’s The Age of Adz–which are two of my favorite albums. That said here are a few other honorable mentions that very nearly made this list:
Stars: The Five Ghosts; Spoon: Transference; Broken Social Scene: Forgiveness Rock Record; Drive-By Truckers: The Big To-Do; Joe Pug: Messenger; Jonsi: Go;