Wolf Parade "Expo 86"
Great followup to At Mount Zoomer. All of the things that make Wolf Parade great are still there, with a great mix of Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug songs. On At Mount Zoomer I found myself gravitating toward Dan's songs, while on this album I leaned more towards Krug's awesome Bowie-esque jams.
9.Grinderman "Grinderman 2"
Love me some Grinderman. Nick Cave at his absolute dirtiest. Cave snarls some of his most disturbing lyrics over crashing drums, pulsating bass and some seriously messed up guitar. Saw them at the Riviera and it was one of my personal highlights for the year
8.The Black Keys "Brothers"
I have to admit, I came seriously late to the Black Keys party, and anyone who knows me knows that I'm seriously skeptical of two person blues-ish bands. I gave the Keys a chance this year and fell in love, however. Their show at the Aragon at the end of the year really sealed the deal on them for me.
7The National "High Violet"
At first this album was a real disappointment for me. Right off the bat, we're hit with the absolute terrible production of "Terrible Love" which really set a sour note for me for the album when I first got it. Fortunately, songs like Bloodbuzz Ohio, Lemonworld and Runaway get back to what makes the National great.
6.Big Boi "Sir Lucious Left Foot, the son of Chico Dusty"
I know it loses more and more of its luster every time someone calls Big Boi Outkast's underappreciated secret weapon, but its really true. Big Boi takes a backseat to no one in terms of rhyming skills, and we see once again that Outkast's groundbreaking sonic inventiveness and production are more that Andre 3000.
5.Cee Lo Green "The Lady Killer"
Full disclosure, I'm a huge fan of pretty much everything Cee Lo does, and I think an argument can easily be made he's the most sonically adventurous artist in the hip hop genre. But even that does his overall sound a disservice. Jumping everywhere from 80's electro synth pop to doo wop soul to rock, Cee Lo does it all effortlessly. Everyone knows about the ridiculously catchy "Fuck You," but "Bright Lights Big City" may be just as good.
4.Jim Jones Revue "Burning Your House Down"
Vocals distorted by old school channel distortion? Check. Frontman with the best chicken walk this side of Mick Jagger? Check. Barroom piano? Check. Amped up blues riffs? Check. All wrapped up in a rockabilly-punk sandwich? Count me in. Jim Jones is a blast of old school rock and roll that makes you want to reach for the pomade and watch the Outsiders. I love it.
3.The Arcade Fire "The Suburbs"
This was another album from one of my favorite bands that initially disappointed me. Slow to start and 18 songs long, its not an album that readily invites you in and it really took me 5 or 6 listens to come around. Once you delve into the deceptively simple arrangements, however, the results are quite rewarding.
2. Vampire Weekend "Contra"
I totally forgot this album came out this year until I saw it on Matt's list. Not only have I listened to it so much, but its such an effortless album to get into, that it just seems like i've had it forever. Its hard to call any of this terribly original if you've ever listened to Paul Simon, but Vampire Weekend write such great songs it really doesn't matter.
1.The Walkmen "Lisbon"
Yet another album that I might not have given enough of a chance if it wasn't anchored by such a great song in the middle that it demanded I come back to it. "Angela Surf City" was my favorite song of the year and it wasn't even close. Its a perfect capsule of what makes the Walkmen so awesome. Slightly off beat drums, an absolute tidal wave of a chorus and Hamilton Leithauser's half drunk croon in the verse turned blood vessel exploding scream in the chorus. What really comes out though is the stylistic differences throughout. Besides the rockers like Angela, Victory and Woe is Me to an extent, there's the playful Juveniles to open, and the almost country beat of Blue Blood. What really stands out, however is the hushed restraint shown throughout. Songs like Follow the Leader, Torch Song and the closer Lisbon show that well the Walkmen can still pull off a great rocking single, there is more depth left for them to mine.
Gaslight Anthem: American Slang
Black Angels: Phosphene Dream
Gorillaz: Plastic Beach