#100: Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens
Everyone likes a comeback story, especially when there are some serious icons embedded into it. Hot Snakes, you may not remember, were a sort of indie hardcore supergroup that formed at the end of the 1990s who spent my early university years releasing tough, angular indiecore records back when …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead and At The Drive-In were releasing the best of that kind of music. Hot Snakes were Speedo Reis of Drive Like Jehu and Rick Froberg of Rocket From The Crypt and they sort of quietly fell apart after 2006’s Thunder Down Under. Until now, of course, when they sprang back up to release Jericho Sirens as though no time at all had passed, Sleater-Kinney style.
#99: Moaning – Moaning
They (meaning someone specifically, whose name I can’t remember, on Twitter) say that you tend to develop an affinity for the music that came out around the time you were born. Or it could just be that cold, reverb-laden post punk just sounds really good. Either way, Moaning contains hints of shoegaze, Joy Division, and blackberry currants.
#98: Soccer Mommy – Clean
Remember when Fat Possum was the place to be for also-ran punk bands and filthy old blues acts who had no other homes? Yeah, the late 1990s were a weird time and – returning to the theme of having an affinity for the time of your birth – Sophie Allison was born into that. True to form (and like so many other bands lately, ahem Waxahatchee) she’s delved into the lo-fi, yearning-and-crunching sound that defined a certain strain of alternative rock from those days, and has hit a hell of a vein.
#97: Camp Cope – How To Socialise And Make Friends
The Melbourne band’s second album finds them doubling down on the lo-fi punk rock P.S. Eliot type sound that has become something of a staple in indie scenes in this increasingly strange decade.
#96: Screaming Females – All At Once
Twelve years has not reduced the intensity of Screaming Females’ strident punk rock, nor knocked off the mossy dank bits of the depths of New Jersey. If anything, the experience has honed their sound into a keenly edged weapon, which they finally use to devastating effect after coming so close so many times.
#95: Ought – Room Inside The World
Constellation Records was always a strange home for the blatantly post-punk Montreal band, so the switchover to Merge has yielded a result that feels more comfortable for them. It’s freer, jazzier, and more open than anything they’ve attempted before.
#94: The Orielles – Silver Dollar Moment
Feel-good indie rock gets a lot of flak, rightfully so most of the time, but Silver Dollar Moment is a cut above the rest, adding some real wistful emotion into the suburban hipster party scene, like a modern-day Stone Roses.
#93: Alela Diane – Cusp
We have a rather mysoginistic idea in Western pop music that songs about motherhood are automatically corny, lightweight, and lacking in merit. Well, put that aside, finally, if you haven’t already; Alela Diane responds to the changing life circumstances of motherhood on Cusp by crafting an album that is at once fresh and timeless. Part of that, of course, is the fact that she almost died in the middle of giving birth, and the subsequent realization that we spend out lives constantly on the Cusp of death. So it’s also an honest examination of motherhood, as well.
#92: Field Music – Open Here
The internet means a lot of things, but mostly that people who think that Peter Gabriel was the height of pop music can find bands that share their deeply perverted beliefs, and I think that’s rather beautiful.
#91: Nils Frahm – All Melody
Hushed and intimate, All Melody is a gorgeous cross between a piano bar at last call and the depths of an ambient record after all the bells and whistles have been swept away.
#90: First Aid Kit – Ruins
On their fourth album, the country-folk duo edge closer than ever to their ultimate Fleetwood Mac moment. Bonus points if you can spot the Peter Buck cameo.
#89: scallops hotel – sovereign nose of (y)our arrogant face
The Maine rapper/nerd Milo re-adopted his scallops hotel moniker, came out swinging at everyone, and then got sad when people still refused to pay much attention. Take it from a long-time fan: this is the best experimental rap album you haven’t heard of this year.
#88: Yves Tumor – Safe In The Hands Of Love
It should be obvious this far into the 21st Century that we are becoming more fluid – economically, sexually, in our communication, in our identities, in our lives. Safe In The Hands Of Love is a stellar example of this fluidity, since it slips from moment to moment seamlessly and takes in an eclectic array of sounds to smooth out the journey.
#87: Idles – Joy As An Act Of Resistance
I’LL SING AT FASCISTS ‘TIL MY HEAD COMES OFF
I AM DENNIS SKINNER’S MOLOTOV
#86: Thou – Magus
We used to call this ‘funeral doom’, right? Doom metal sludge riffs with black metal atmospheres and vocals? Am I just making that up? The 1990s were a long time ago. Anyway, Sacred Bones is now moving through noise and into aspects of black metal so this feels like a good idea regardless of what you call it.
#85: Tony Molina – Kill The Lights
Former hardcore kid Tony Molina goes full on power-pop and is it the power-pop record of the year? Bitch it might be.
#84: Charles Lloyd & The Marvels + Lucinda Williams – Vanished Gardens
80-year old saxophonist Charles Lloyd takes on a collaboration with folk singer Lucinda Williams and some jazz standards (including Thelonious Monk) with equal aplomb, bringing Williams’ worn ‘n’ torn compositions into startling relief.
#83: Lily Allen – No Shame
That’s not just a clever title, that’s her M.O. going forward. Her proof that Piers Morgan is a gigantic chud earlier this year was legendary, as well.
#82: Proc Fiskal – Insula
A master class in constructing vital ranges of emotion out of the strange, grimey bones of the past. Equal parts grime, scuffed-up sample discs, and everyday life, Insula is the soundtrack of navigating your life through the increasing piles of video game detritus.
#81: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Sparkle Hard
Malkmus is still having fun after all these years, and that’s all we really need, right? As long as he’s still rolling along, everything will continue to be okay. After all, he makes this kind of coolness seem effortless.