10. Jeff Rosenstock – NO DREAM
Now I don’t listen to pop punk much, but this album couldn’t have come at a better time and was my album of the Summer. The fast and upbeat introduction from Rosenstock and the tight guitar playing are song exciting. The lyrics and harmonies are solid sing-a-long material as he deals with the lacking of time, sadness and songs about beer and other growing up material. The guitar work feels fresh and the vocals want to scream out their frustration. It almost feels like a rebirth of pop punk, or just proves Rosenstock is one of the best in the business. Each song is a varied and fuzzy output and each track leads nicely into the next.
9. Hum – Inlet
After 22 years away, Hum returned out of nowhere to bring us this surreal space-rock album. It’s a genre I love and don’t get to hear enough of to be honest. Inlet is full of crunching and heavy riffs and out of this world high notes. The droning vocals melt into the guitar and make the perfect combination of stoner rock. There’s plenty of grooves and low riffs which make this the best metal album of the year. It was such a surprising treat and makes me hope the band continue to explore this genre and don’t wait as long for their next release.
8. Run The Jewels – RTJ4
RTJ are one of the finest rap groups of the 21st century and they knock it out of the park again with slick beats and an album that goes hard. It’s politically charged and couldn’t have dropped at a better time, with its words striking such relevance to events happening around the world involving Black Lives Matter and police brutality. The bass on this record is filthy, as it matches the seriousness of the words and the ferocity is easily highlighted in the track Goonies. Ooh La La has retro DJ dance club rhythms and JU$T is one of my favourite tracks of the year. A Few Words For The Firing Squad (Radiation) is a track bursting with energy and experimentation and closes off an exciting record both lyrically and musically.
7. Once And Future Band – Deleted Scenes
Oh man, this album is smooth. It’s dreamy 70’s prog, 60’s psychedelic rock and jazz that are engorged in a chorus of vocals. Everything is sugary sweet about this record, especially those vocals that are like caramel. The synth contributions take me to a better place when I’m listening to Deleted Scenes and the rhythms are so enchanting. The ending is just as good as the beginning, with a jazzy piece of artistic integration that I can only describe as a perfect instrumental summary of everything you’ve heard before it.
6. Post Animal – Forward Motion Godyssey
From the get go you know you’re in for a treat with this record from its smooth and entrancing opener. The harmonies and ominous guitar tones showcase an engaging and hard-worked sound that’s electrifying. The track Post Animal has been on my playlist all year with its speedy rhythms and vocals that melt in your ears. There’s such a variety here from an easy going indie rock track, to a moody eerie number and an explosive fuzzy guitar-driven rock piece. That’s only five songs in for an album that progresses into a mystifying electronic space piece and then a dreamy number with transcending guitars and larger-than-life drums. The whole albums jams and dances out into space with solid instrumentation.
5. Ebi Soda – Ugh
It’s crazy to believe this is Ebi Soda’s first full-length release. The London group have produced an album that’s as smooth as you like with mesmerising brass arrangements. With every listen of this album I have zoned into the world of Ugh, from the politically-charged Run For President to the bass-ripping Keisha Billip, you can enjoy the spirit of jazz from their powerful music. Each instrument has its own dedication to the genre and the saxophone on a lot of the tracks is in a world of its own. There’s grooving moments on Summer One with a slick bass and the closing track Meow Meow is an insane eccentric piece to finish a brilliant collection of work. You can’t have a bad time with this record.
4. Fiona Apple – Fetch The Bolt Cutters
It’s definitely one of the most talked about and respected albums of the year and with good measure. Fetch The Bolt Cutters is erratic, punchy, vocal, experimental and has really struck a match in the alt rock scene. Apple continues her incredible catalogue of albums with this feminist masterpiece, and feels like Fiona has a lot to get off her chest. The music, especially the percussion instrumentation, is chaotic and full of energy; it gives the album a defiant mood. The piano moments are moving and have a vintage sound to them that is soothing. The bass is slick and sounds like an old Lou Reed track. If you haven’t heard this album yet, are you living under a rock?
3. TOPS – I Feel Alive
Bopping indie rock with 70’s flare and 80’s pop is the best way to describe this favourable album by TOPS. There’s intoxicating synths and mesmerising vocals, with transitions from up-beat and grooving nu-wave, to slow synthetic pop. Everything feels so delicate on this album and if I cradled it in my arms, I would never want to let it go. The light guitar tones throughout are relaxing and that’s even when you have the bass and drums pounding away in the background. This one has been on repeat all year.
2. BC Camplight – Shortly After Takeoff
Shortly After Takeoff is an album I have continued to return to throughout this year and was excited for its release. It’s a mixture of 80’s pop influences, tackling mental health and finding the perfect balance of upbeat rhythms and self-deprecation. It’s a real juxtaposition of an album. As BC Camplight reflects throughout the record, he is accompanied by funky bass, haunting synths and gritty tunes of Lancashire life. The American produces enriching synths on Cemetery Gates and smooth cruising pop on Born To Cruise. There’s a beautiful mixture of slow piano and emotional moments to grooving pop beats. Let’s cry, but have a bit of a dance during.
1. Owen – The Avalanche
Here we are then at number one. Where do I begin? First and foremost this is a beautiful and tearful record. You really get the feeling that Mike Kinsella (Owen) has laid his heart out on this album. The Avalanche’s chilly artwork and sombre music fit these cold nights perfectly. The delicate plucking and mature tones of the acoustic guitars resonate with my body. Kinsella’s vocals have always been some of my favourite (American Football), and they merge with the instrumentation so calm and coolly. The additional percussion and string arrangements bring a sense of purity to the sound.
The Avalanche features some wonderful tracks such as I Should’ve Known which has been a personal favourite all year from the get go of its string plucking. Mom And Dad has some beautiful vocal work and its an album that feels reflective in many ways. It tackles subjects such as marriage, parenthood, alcoholism and life in general. The sad vibes are true and I want to hold this record tightly and heal with it. I think this is some of Mike Kinsella’s finest work and if you want an album to drift away with and let emotions flourish, then look no further than The Avalanche.
Let me know some of your favourite albums of the year in the comments and click the link to visit my Spotify playlist featuring a track from each album listed.