10. Matt & Kim – Grand
Fun, quick, awesome punk / pop songs are sometimes all you need. this album is just under 30min and there is no messing around. 11 songs that rarely go over 3min. this album is like snack food, except reeeally good snack food. i’m talking like deep-fried nachos smothered in chocolate sprinkles and whipped cream.
9. Yeah Yeah Yeah’s – It’s Blitz
YYY’s swtiched it up, and it’s awesome. this is their dance album, and dance you will. synths galore and plenty of killer vocals from frontwoman Karen O. this may not be my favorite YYY’s album, but it most certainly is one of the best albums of the year and contains a couple of their best songs.
8. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
I didn’t know Grizzly Bear before this album, but after hearing this album i was an instant fan. Beach Boy style vocal harmonies, and absolutely beautiful musicianship makes this album a soothing and emotionally powerful album that begs to be heard.
7. White Rabbits – It’s Frightening
the single off this album “Percussion Gun” is one of the best songs of the year, and the rest don’t disappoint either. if you like Radiohead, check these guys out. like Matt & Kim these songs feel absolutely crammed with brilliant ideas. unlike Matt & Kim the songs also have emotional value. the use of piano is unique and extremely interesting. you’ll have to hear it for yourself.
6. The Mars Volta – Octahedron
The Mars Volta are still my favorite band, and as much as i feel like i need to talk about why i DIDNT give it a higher place on my top 10, i’d rather say why its on here in the first place. this is an AWESOME album. if you’ve never heard The Mars Volta this is probably the easiest place to start. they consider this their “Acoustic” album. it isn’t really acoustic, but it is definitely their most restrained album. the songs aren’t epically long, they contain very digestible song structures, and the melodies are beautiful. this album is amazing, but i do hope they return to the weird for the next album.
5. The Flaming Lips – Embryonic
SPEAKING of returning to the weird, The Flaming Lips did. in a BIG way. this double-album will seriously piss off fans who expected them to continue down the path of the pop (as they were slowly beginning to do the last couple albums) but for me….well its just about the best album they’ve ever put out. this album is weird as hell, but holy shit is it good. 60′s Psychedelia is back in style and The Flaming Lips are paving the road in new directions. it’s also hard not to mention their incredible live show when talking about them. so ill reduce it to this string-of-words sentence: space-bubble dancing-animals confetti-cannons birthed-band-members. yeeeah. well anyways this album is incredible. LONG LIVE THE WEIRD!!
4. The xx – The xx
A stunning first album from these british young-uns. their sound is made up of male and female vocals trading back and forth over restrained guitar and bass and simplistic drum machine beats and most importantly; silence. yes silence. the use of space and silence on this album is why it ranks so highly for me. they never seem to get too loud, yet somehow it feels overwhelming powerful. these songs will stay ingrained in your head, and all the while you’ll wonder “how the hell do they do it?” if these guys continue making albums this good in the future i may have to question if they are actually aliens sent to create beautifully restrained music for us humans to learn from. that or just ANOTHER brilliant british band.
3. Girls – Album
This SF band essentially made the PERFECT album to listen to in SF. the songs are a mix of surf, garage / lo-fi, shoegaze / wall of sound, and AWESOME. you know…the genre? after seeing these guys play their album release party at Ameoba Records in SF i was sold. they are INCREDIBLE. every song on the album is a deranged pop song that will somehow pull at your emotional strings AND make you wanna go lay on the beach in SF and watch the fog roll in. support these guys! come on, they named their debut album “Album”. sold?
2. Mew – No More Stories…
i put a “…” cause the albums full title is an entire poem which is the lyrics to a stunning song in the middle of this album. so yeah, these guys are conceptual prog-rockers. this album, however, shows incredible range. there’s some beautifully quiet lullabies, some full force dance-able rock songs, some twisted time-signature stuff that will have you scratching your heads to uncover what all the instruments are playing, and even a backwards / forwards song. yes a song that can be played backwards AND forwards with lyrics that are only uncovered by playing it both ways. this album is brilliantly paced and each song is seriously a masterpiece. truly a musicians album. this is difficult and remarkably beautiful music.
1. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post-Pavillion
This album changed my perception of music. truly. after hearing this album non stop when it came out back in January (it STILL is in heavy rotation on my ipod) i realized what ELSE music could be. the music is almost fully made up of electronics and samples of anything from water drips to a didgeridoo. all this is swirled together with sincere and psychedelically modified vocals from 2 singers who blend their voices in a way reminiscent of the Beach Boys. this is the psychedelic music of the future. this album is also their most “pop” album but this is far from anything you’ll be hearing on the radio. their use of extensive sampling and the amount of electronic sounds is something that can only be done now in the age of information and technology. for that this album feels like a work of art that is pushing things to the limit with what is available now. and, well, its also the most emotionally impact-ful album of the year. this is music backed by serious passion. its dynamic, engrossing, and hypnotizing. this is one of my favorite albums not ONLY for the year but of all time. check this album out. now.