The 100 Best Albums of 2016, Part 1: 100-81

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 Now that 2016 is well and truly over, it’s time to take stock of the best albums of that endless slog of a year.

#100: Greys – Outer Heaven

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A gloriously blown out pile of noise, akin to …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead before they lost the wordiness and the busted speakers.

#99:  Classixx – Faraway Reach

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Chrome-plated funk like it was meant to be played, all groove and white decor, clothing and furniture picked to match the drugs.

#98:  Amber Arcades – Fading Lines

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Sometimes I think that “hazy” is an overused adjective but in the case of Annelotte de Graaf it is absolutely warranted.  These are the faded Polaroids of old summer memories, set to music.  Did I ever mention she has a law degree and once worked as an assistant with the UN war crimes tribunal?  She’s so cool.

#97:  Minor Victories – Minor Victories

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Rumbling goth-inspired rock that straddles a line between clean suburban days and squalid urban nights.  Minor Victories sounds much of the time as though it comes from an alternate dimension where the Batcave gave birth to modern chillwave.

#96:  Paul Simon – Stranger To Stranger

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2016 proved, at the very least, that the Boomers still had some creative force left in them.  That Paul Simon’s best album since Graceland was merely one of them shows the strength of this.  He still has that particular bouncing groove, the one that lends a sense of urgency to his marquee-light poetry.

#95: Sonny & The Sunsets – Moods Baby Moods

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Contemporary New Wave with a seriously demented bent.  Is “Dead Meat On The Beach” the weirdest track?  “Well But Strangely Hung Man”?  Either way, it’s a fractured fever dream set in the 1980s and populated with the bizarre.

#94:  Dam-Funk – DJ Kicks

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Electronic funk so party-ready you’ll find a drink in your hand two songs in.  If it reminds you of listening to a party set over the radio, there’s a reason for that.

#93:  Marissa Nadler – Strangers

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Ghostly folk by a living siren, with better production values than before and a better sense of the space that Ms. Nadler’s voice can occupy.  Also contains one of the (!) best Black Sabbath covers of the year.

#92:  Twin Peaks – Down In Heaven

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A swampy mix of T. Rex, CCR, and the Stones, an album out of time and yet completely in step with the contemporary garage scene.  Perfect for the curmudgeonly skeptic of modern music on your list.

#91:  Skepta – Konnichiwa

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Once upon a time (2002?  2003?) they were holding grime parties in Kensington Market as a sort of cutting-edge hip hop night and Dizzee Rascal was winning the Mercury Prize with jacked Playstation beats.  Now Skepta is winning the Mercury Prize with professionally thick production and having Pharrell and A$AP Nast guesting alongside old grime luminaries like Wiley and Novelist.  2016, everyone.

#90:  Kyle Craft – Dolls Of Highland

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Glam was always an English phenomenon at it’s heart, but in the year of Bowie’s death it’s heartwarming to see people taking up the torch (or the eyeliner, as it were) and transplanting it to their own personal experiences.  Kyle Craft takes it to the American South and uses it to channel the heartbreak of the dissolution of an eight-year relationship, and it’s every bit as sneering and emotionally impactful as anything Bowie, Bolan, or the boys of Mott The Hoople ever came up with in the early 1970s.

#89:  Susanna – Triangle

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22 songs in just over an hour shows both an ability to be prolific and a wisdom that leans toward brevity.  Also of note: soaring songcraft, highly textured production, and a voice like a more experimental Joni Mitchell.

#88:  Moderat – III

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German electro-pop that grew out of minimalist traditions and brought along a skeleton crew of jungle, glitch, and throbbing bass music.  Ambient, to be sure, but also fully-formed and ready to chart an interior soundtrack.

#87:  Teen Suicide – It’s The Big Joyous Celebration, Let’s Stir The Honeypot

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A sprawling collection of lo-fi garage pop – 26 songs of ambient, stoned ramblings, like as though Robert Pollard broke out of the British Invasion or Pavement lost the literary pretensions and recorded in a storage room.

#86:  White Denim – Stiff

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The album with a clear lead for “worst album cover of 2016” is also a soulful, groovy little rock ‘n’ roll album from a band that has forged an identity around delivering exactly that kind of good time.

#85:  The Body + Full Of Hell – One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache

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The best summation of this collaboration between The Body and Full Of Hell is that it’s a bunch of P U R E F U C K I N G N O I S E.

#84:  Young Thug – I’m Up

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Thugger is most of what curmudgeonly old heads and rockists hate about modern hip hop – the sing-song flows, the off-the-wall style, the break away from menacing beats that nod your head for you.  There’s something simultaneously bone-headed and intellectually esoteric about the music present on I’m Up, a hard-to-nail-down quality that marks Young Thug out as an artist, rather than just another rapper.

#83:  Underworld – Barbara Barbara We Face A Shining Future

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A surprise, in that twenty years after Second Toughest In The Infants and “Born Slippy (Nuxx)” there is still pounding electronic music that still drives you like you’re in a sketchy dimly lit warehouse chasing glowing lights and little pills and friendly people with neon hair.

#82:  Junior Boys – Big Black Coat

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The Hamilton, Ontario electronic duo’s big black coat is, like so many n’er-do-well Canadian kids have found over the years, perfect for jacking things and smuggling them out.  This particular Big Black Coat contains a wide array of pilfered items: 70’s-era disco-soul, early German electronica, the ghost of Detroit Techno, microhouse, and late-80’s machine-funk.  The real secret behind the duo’s strength is that it’s all blended in the smoothest fashion possible, giving you the funkiest milkshake you’ve ever had.

#81:  Shearwater – Jet Plane And Oxbow

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Eclectic, bombastic, and possessed of a fully modern vitality, Shearwater claims the best parts of pop music from the last three decades to make something akin to U2, but without all the pretentiousness.

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My Favourite 50 of 2014, Part Five

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#10:  Swans – To Be Kind

80s No Wave heroes Swans have been reunited for three albums now and remain the best reason for old bands to get back together.  Each reunion album has been an exercise in brilliance and this third album tops them all.  Running well over two hours, it is a collection of intense moments and whispering interludes that redefines the term “heavy”.  It’s a work of musical minimalism, but you don’t realize it at first because the instrumental tones and the noise work are denser than lead.  This is music that crushes you, and not in a nice way.  It’s suffocating, oppressive construction, an orchestra of doom bent on eradicating all light from the universe.  The usual Michael Gira guideposts aid in this:  the ultra-repetitive rhythms, found sound, concrete tones.  It’s deliberately made to invoke the idea that the world has fallen and it’s not going to get back up again.  In this it succeeds without question.  For those listeners that want music to be the light, frothy soundtrack to their consumerist-driven lives, the playlists at Old Navy will get you going.  For those who want their music to reflect the dark truths lurking in the human soul – look no further.

#09:  The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream

So it’s beer commercial lead guitar rock.  Who cares, Kozelek, you cranky old fuck?  The War On Drugs pull it off with such style you’d think they had been doing it since birth.  Before Lost In The Dream the Philadelphia band was best known as being Kurt Vile’s old band, the one he’d played guitar in before he went solo and became a critical darling.  With this album the band came into its own, mixing together working class classic rock with haunted, reverb-laden indie noise.  A lot of big names get thrown around with regards to the album – Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan – and while these are all quite apt, the band that I find closest to the sort of sound found here is Red Rider.  It’s blue-collar AOR filtered through a loving layer of Sonic Youth and the Cure, the perfect marriage of Boomers and their early Xer children.

#08:  St. Vincent – St. Vincent

To get an understanding as to how Annie Clark’s 2014 went, just look at the cover of her self-titled fifth album.  She sits upon a throne, her expression haughty and noble, the very picture of supreme confidence in herself and her rule.  At this very moment she is the Queen of the Indie World, and it’s because of the polish and poise she brings to St. Vincent.  She’s always been half art-rock, half pop, but her recent collaboration with Talking Heads mastermind David Byrne seems to have accentuated both sides of the equation.  These are pop songs delivered with skewed aplomb, studded with venom and anchored by Ms. Clark’s bold guitar work.  Everything she touches turns to gold here:  her rock songs conquer everything in their path (especially the singles, “Digital Witness” and “Birth In Reverse”) and her ballads both reach quivering emotional resonation (“Prince Johnny”) and crawling discomfort (“Severed Crossed Fingers”).  She was also responsible for my absolute favourite moment on television in 2014 – her appearance on SNL.  It was all robotic movements, strobe lights, and confidently smooth guitar, and it drove the mouthbreathers nuts.

#07:  Milo – A Toothpaste Suburb

Milo has pumped out a great deal of material, both on his own and with his Hellfyre Club collective, but A Toothpaste Suburb is his first proper album and it lands with amazing force.  His beats have always been choppy and a bit off-kilter – he once sliced up Baths’ Cerulean for beats, after all – but here his work manages to be both glitchy and head-nodding, a combination that maybe shouldn’t work but somehow does.  It’s the perfect frame for his surreal lyricism, a heady mixture of nerd-culture references and real-world emotional toil, like if my friend Steve was a rapper from Wisconsin.  He may in fact be a “rap messiah agitator / chronic bathroom masturbator” but it’s really only half the story.  Sure there’s toilet humour and goofy moments, but the album abounds with references to great literature, meta-poet wordplay, and Milo’s friend Rob, who died too soon and left Milo thinking about death more than might be healthy.  It’s a stellar debut and one that points the way forward for his Hellfyre mates.

#06:  How To Dress Well – “What Is This Heart?”

There’s no easy way to say this:  Tom Krell can sing like a motherfucker.  He’s also a PhD candidate in philosophy, and it’s the contrast between these two parts of his life that bring to life his How To Dress Well project.  His music has always been artsier than your average R&B setup – Pitchfork compared his 2010 debut, Love Remains, to William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops – and it’s been concerned with getting into your soul on its own terms.  This is pop without concern for popularity, glacial R&B songs that ooze emotion without resorting to the typical hip-hop-lite that the genre reaches for when it wants to his the Billboard charts.  These are tense, brittle, often pitch-shifted tracks that sound as though they are matted with tears.  Heartbreak, misery.  Soaring vocal work and a need to reaffirm a childhood faith in love.  This is R&B for hipsters, true, but it has a universalist sense of love and loss that reaches out to everyone, beard and PBR or not.

#05:  Sun Kil Moon – Benji

On one hand, long-time folk-rocker Mark Kozelek had a banner musical year in 2014.  After reaching the peak of his Neil Young meets Andre Segovia powers with Admiral Fell Promises, he went in the opposite direction, toning down the guitar work and opening up his oblique lyrics into much more personal, confessional songs.  Benji is the height of this movement; these are less songs than they are conversations had by candlelight over the low rumble of fingerpicked guitars.  It’s never been clearer that Kozelek is getting older, based on these songs.  In the very first song his cousin dies after an aerosol can explodes in the garbage – a freak accident that is echoed later in the album when he explains how his uncle died in the exact same way.  He uses this as an opportunity to ruminate on seeing family and noting how time marches on even when you don’t see people every day.  It sets a pattern that defines the album as an examination of mortality and the way time keeps going, asleep and awake.  After all of that, though, it ends on a wistful note, with a story that’s essentially about how he’s friends with Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie/The Postal Service.  It’s a triumph for a man whose discography is littered with quiet, under-the-radar triumphs.

On the other hand, of course, 2014 also revealed Kozelek as a boor and a bully, a cantankerous old jackass who can’t let a perceived slight go and who thinks that telling another band (The War On Drugs) to “suck my cock” in song form is a great way of conveying your annoyance.  This was less of a triumph, to be polite.

#04:  Aphex Twin – Syro

2014 was in a way a year of long-buried artists coming roaring back with very little warning.  It started on the deepweb.  An album cover and tracklisting were uncovered for what appeared, for all intents and purposes, to be a new Aphex Twin album – stunning, considering the man had largely dropped off of the face of the earth following 2001’s Drukqs.  Then the same information appeared on the Warp Records page, and it was on.  With shocking suddenness the album arrived, and it sounded as though the thirteen years between Drukqs and Syro didn’t happen.  Syro is unmistakably an Aphex Twin album.  Every sound layered on here springs naturally from the sort of things we’ve come to expect from Richard D James over the course of his career – every drum line, every synth run, every twist of the knob sounds logically consistent with his musical M.O.  There is nothing that comes out of left-field here, and there is nothing quite as crossover-pop as “Windowlicker” or “Girl/Boy Song”.  Instead, it’s a beginning to end statement of purpose, a reminder of everything that made his work in “home listening techno” great.  He promises that he hasn’t been slacking for his thirteen mostly-missing years – he has scads of recorded material, and will be releasing another 17 tracks quite shortly.

#03:  Liars – Mess

Liars came into the world as dance-punk anarcho-artists, a trio of transplanted L.A. art students who fell into the New York post-punk revival with deep comfort.  After, they blew through witch-haunted noise concepts, bunker-recorded drum music, straightforward rock revival, and edgy industrial noise-pop without even breaking a sweat.  They are famous for not putting out the same kind of album twice, but in many ways Mess feels like the band has finally come full circle.  This is, at its heart, a punky dance pop album, a mix of industrial soundscapes over club-worthy beats and topped off with a vocal sensibility that would not honestly sound out of place on a classic Marilyn Manson album.  It’s fun, confident, and cathartic, pretty much the opposite of their previous album WIXIW.  Where WIXIW seemed like bedroom pop done by a laptop producer (Dntel, let’s say), Mess sounds like arena EDM, big gestures from big producers meant to make the crowd go wild.  That said, it’s arena EDM done by Liars, which means its subversive, dark, twisted, and faintly perverted.  They’re songs that could be slipped into a DJ set, but they would make the crowd pause in the midst of their MDMA-fuelled flailings.

#02:  Cloud Nothings – Here And Nowhere Else

Cleveland punk rocker Dylan Baldi has kept very busy over the last several years trying to erase the pop part of his pop-punk past.  Even his last album, 2012’s Attack On Memory, turned out in the end to be too pop, despite the presence of Steve Albini as the producer.  Anyone who listened to Attack On Memory – and there were lots – would say that, for the most part, it was scorched-earth firebreathing punk rock that leapt out of the speakers and grabbed you by the collar.  Yet, looking back on it, there are poppy moments aplenty on it:  the screamed refrain of “Wasted Days”, the assured hook of “Stay Useless”, the nearly radio-ready bounce of “Fall In”.  Here And Nowhere Else scours most of these pop influences off of the tracks, leaving churning punk songs that hit with heavy fists.  Yet Baldi can’t help but craft a great melody, despite trying to bury them in layers of grime.  “I’m Not Part Of Me”, the last and best song on the album, is the biggest earworm Baldi has been able to come up with yet, and coming as it does at the end of seven other nearly-buried moments of melodic genius gives it all the more impact.  It ups the ante on Attack On Memory exponentially, managing to carve up chaotic incendiary punk rock into chunks that are easy to swallow without losing any of their spicy edge.

#01:  D’Angelo & The Vanguard – Black Messiah

I don’t normally wait this long to put together my list of favourites for a given year.  Usually I stop gathering new music in during the first week of December, because in the past I’ve found that no one released anything worthwhile over the holiday season.  You would think that after 2013 found Beyonce dropping a stellar album with no warning at the end of December I would have learned my lesson, but I nearly stopped again for 2014.  As it turned out, history repeated itself, only in a much greater fashion.

The last time anyone heard from D’Angelo in full album form was 2001, and it was the R&B classic VoodooVoodoo was a funk-soul masterpiece, the highwater mark of modern R&B.  After, however, he largely dropped off the earth.  He was uncomfortable with his status as a sex symbol overshadowing his music, a close friend committed suicide, and he developed a growing problem with alcohol.  For a while, it seemed apparent that, aside from the odd guest appearance, his career had been derailed for good.  Then the rumours began.  D’Angelo was back in the studio.  He’d been rumoured to be in the studio since around 2007, but by 2011 people in the know were saying that the album was nearly done.  By 2012 he was back on stage.  Then, on December 15th, Black Messiah arrived.  Like Beyonce’s album, there was no fanfare, no press releases, no warning that this was coming.

Originally it was slated to have been released in 2015.  It was pushed up, though, because the vibe on the album is, as the title suggests, one of race, revolution, and spirituality.  After Ferguson, and the Eric Garner decision, the album’s release was sped up.  Normally this would signal problems with the album, but Black Messiah is very much a finished album.  It’s as far removed from Voodoo, however, as you can imagine.  Voodoo was marked by minimalist production designed to put the focus on D’Angelo’s voice.  Black Messiah, on the other hand, is experimental retro-soul, as much a product of his backing band The Vanguard as it is of D’Angelo.  The two albums that are close guideposts for Black Messiah are Sly and the Family Stone’s There’s A Riot Goin’ On and Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On.  Both albums harken back to an era of revolutionary civil unrest in the black community as well as being pillars of pre-digital black music.  Both aspects are present on Black Messiah.  Musically it’s jazz-funk wrapped up in soul, old-style R&B, and the rock music of the end of the Vietnam War.  It’s played with deliberate imperfection, faithfully reproducing the feeling of the era with all of its pops and snarls.  At the same time it articulates a response to the upswing in racial violence in America over the past few years, especially with regards to the killing of unarmed black men by the police for crimes that would get white men in the same situation a living arrest.  It makes numerous references to Ferguson, and to Occupy Wall Street – race and class are bound together in modern America, and Black Messiah acknowledges it as such.

When it takes fourteen years to follow up an album, that album is rarely as good as the original.  Look at Chinese Democracy, or even last years My Bloody Valentine album.  Black Messiah is a rarity in this regards.  It’s a follow-up album that took nearly forever to create that exceeds the standards wrought by the original.  It’s not just a worthy sequel to Voodoo – it’s an album that reestablishes the legend of D’Angelo in its own right.

Part 1:  50-41

Part 2:  40-31

Part 3:  30-21

Part 4:  20-11

Part 5:  10-01

My Favourite 50 of 2014, Part One

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#50:  Parkay Quarts – Content Nausea

The prolific Parquet Courts released two LPs in 2014, the second of which was released under their other other name.  Content Nausea adds a spiky post-punk vibe to their usual overcaffeinated blend of pop punk, Pavement, and Guided By Voices.  There’s a bit of Pere Ubu here, some uncomfortable odes to Gang of Four, and it melds smoothly into their existing sound.  In addition there is a cover, the first such the band has committed to permanence – a disarmingly straightforward take on Lee Hazlewood’s “These Boots Were Made For Walkin'” whose sole nod to original sound is the swath of feedback that wraps around the horn section.  It’s an interesting sonic detour for a band with a prolific sense of its own self.

 

#49:  King Tuff – Black Moon Spell

Kyle Thomas makes the kind of instantly kick-ass, fist-in-the-air type of album that would have been a stone classic thirty-five years ago.  Nowadays, of course, decades after the advent of Black Sabbath and Cheap Trick, it fills the same sort of nostalgia niche as the Darkness once did.  Unlike the Darkness, however, Black Moon Spell is not lazily reaching for a derivative pop-Iron Maiden type of sound; rather, it hits the same filthy back-alley sounds that the first Cheap Trick album once did, twining fuzz guitar around the kind of melodies that countless Sunset Strip bands spent the 1980s mining.  As it stands it fits in well with the fuzzed-out garage revivalism spearheaded by acts like Ty Segall and Bass Drum of Death – Master Segall actually guests on the title track.  The album’s highlight is without a doubt “Eyes of the Muse”, which I honestly thought was a cover the first time I heard it.  It has a guitar vibe that touches on Marc Bolan, Pete Townsehend, and Eric Clapton without being slavishly devoted to any of them.  Great for people who slag on modern music and miss “real rock”.

#48:  Ben Frost – A U R O R A

Aurora is the sound of the 21st Century barrelling down on us:  the paranoia, the rebirth of nuclear tensions, the sense that it might already be too late to fix the problems we face on this fragile little planet of ours.  Avant-garde composer Ben Frost channels these rather frightening ideas through waves of glacial synths, creeping loops, withering soundscapes, and metallic samples.  What percussion is on this record acts to punctuate the sound and bring the piece in question to another level of dread.  It was mainly written beneath an active volcano in the DR of Congo and sound uncommonly like if Tim Hecker were to be covered by an even more nihilistically focused Swans – an interesting analogy given Frost’s production of albums for both artists.

#47:  The Notwist – Close To The Glass

The venerable also-ran of indie rock released an album this year that comes very close to achieving the heights of their 2002 masterpiece Neon Golden.  Close To The Glass displays all of the best facets of the German band’s style:  the pop sensibilities, the tight arrangements, and of course the spiky electronic textures that are their stock-in-trade.  There were bands melding ambient electronic sounds with indie rock before the Notwist but there were none that influenced the bands that came after quite like they did.  Close To The Glass is an excellent after-the-fact explanation of why.

#46:  Marissa Nadler – July

2014 brought dream-folk singer Marissa Nadler to the white-hot Sacred Bones label, and with it came a newfound sense of personal confession.  Nadler’s earlier work was often metaphorical in nature, but July brings her songwriting perspective into the first person.  As usual, a broken heart is the culprit:  the song-cycle on display here is strewn with the debris of a dead relationship and the haunted emotions that accompany it. Despite its fiercely personal nature there is a sweeping universality inherent in it; anyone who’s ever suffered through a hellish breakup will know exactly what July is saying.

#45:  Foxes In Fiction – Ontario Gothic

Warren Hildebrand’s younger brother died in 2008 and he’s been mourning him ever since.  I first caught on to his Foxes in Fiction moniker through “Flashing Lights Have Ended Now”, a deeply sad ambient piece that /mu/ was into (largely, I think, because Hildebrand was one of us and sometimes did Q and A sessions for the hell of it).  His debut, 2010’s Swung From The Branches, was *okay*, but it felt too loose and surreal to really fit the devastating nature of either “Flashing Lights” or another perennial favourite of mine, “Bathurst”.  Ontario Gothic is a much tighter album, anchored by synth arpeggios and the sort of reverb-soaked, ethereal vocals that thousands of chillwave artists can only dream of.  Owen Pallett does string arrangements throughout as well, making for pop music that reaches the next spiritual plane of existence more often than not.  This is “healing pop” – Hildebrand’s own words – and it’s hard not to listen to it and feel cleaner having come out the other side.

#44:  Jenny Lewis – The Voyager

Jenny Lewis was every Nintendo nerd’s red-headed crush in 1989’s Fred Savage vehicle/Power Glove advertisement The Wizard.  Then, by the early 2000s, she was the critical darling of Los Angeles’ typically backwater indie scene, bringing California folk-rock and Fleetwood Mac up to date with Rilo Kiley.  Immediately following her band’s demise she went solo and has been channeling a modern day version of Emmylou Harris ever since.  The Voyager is her strongest effort to date, a collection of L.A. sounds that range from opulent yacht-pop to the folky parts of the Canyon that Joni Mitchell once haunted.  It’s big, and it’s confident, but it’s also vulnerable under the surface; there’s heartache here, and disappointment, and the mismatch of wistful nostalgia with the dreary truth of the present.  It’s a midlife crisis wrapped in gilded paper, like if Beth Cosentino grew up and still wrote songs for men who weren’t sure if they wanted to commit to her yet.

#43:  Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again

Never Hungover Again comes and goes in less than twenty minutes, but in that slight frame of time it packs enough shorthand and ideas for an album twice its size.  Joyce Manor spent their previous two albums banging out a lo-fi revival of the days when emo didn’t mean faux-goth kids wearing Hot Topic specials and thinking Black Veil Brides were cool.  Never Hungover Again continues in the tradition of riot booooy albums but their new deal with the venerable Epitaph Records gives them a bigger budget that they use to full effect.  There’s absolutely nothing here that says they’ve sold out, the key thing here is that the band sounds immensely huge, bigger than they’ve ever sounded before.  The touches from the emo forebears are all there – here’s some Weezer, here’s some Jawbreaker, here’s some Jimmy Eat World before they started to suck – but it’s all integrated flawlessly and played with an honest, earnest passion.  It’s an album for those who came of age just before and just after 9/11.


#42:  tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack

Nikki-Nack builds on the previous W H O K I L L album through the simple expedient of being bigger.  Ditching the loops in favour of live drumming, Nikki-Nack is so different than what came before that one can only imagine where Merrill Garbus will take her act next.  The lack of tape loops and lo-fi field recordings points towards a long series of sessions in a professional studio, although the breathless energy of the tracks still has its roots in 80s R&B and schoolyard skipping-rope chants.  Subtle when it needs to be, Nikki-Nack  balances dark thoughts with caffeine-fuelled movement such that it keeps the listener from leaving with a first impression of moodiness.  While it largely lacks the singular anthems that W H O K I L L brought to the table (aside from “Water Fountain”, of course), it’s a much more fulfilling album, one that should leave the the listener breathless, satisfied, and wondering where the hell it’s going to go after.

#41:  Fucked Up – Glass Boys

Glass Boys is the band’s shortest album, and after the exhausting conceptual monolith of David Comes To Life, it’s refreshing.  Musically it builds on their previous work, layering anthemic guitar work over rock-solid progressive rhythm work and letting Pink Eyes stab his signature growl through everything.  Here and there are more classic rock nods, another progression from the sprawling previous album.  Fuzzy, icepick guitar solos, organ flourishes, lumbering Black Sabbath riffs –  this is not the hardcore of Minor Threat or 7 Seconds.  Maybe it is “popcore”, as Emily Haines snarkily tweeted the night The Chemistry of Common Life won Canada’s Polaris Prize, but it’s thoroughly enjoyable in a way that classic hardcore just isn’t.

Part 1:  50-41

Part 2:  40-31

Part 3:  30-21

Part 4:  20-11

Part 5:  10-01