Bahamas – Earthtones
Alfi breaks his mould and creates a whole new musical territory that didn’t exist until this album.
Caroline Rose – Loner
Rock and pop blended so well. Rose got more hooks than a tackle box.
Damien Jurado – The Horizon Just Laughed
A return to his folk form and or former territory, but it’s coloured masterfully by his last few experimental albums.
Dead Tongues, the – Unsung Passage
A folk lover’s paradise. Genuine and familiar, yet new and authentic enough to stand out in this folked-up world. Top Track:
Decemberists, the – I’ll Be Your Girl
Admittedly not their best album ever, but that’s because they’ve released so many great ones. The best songs on here shine like the stars they are.
Django Django – Marble Skies
Toe-Tapper of the year. Catchy stuff. They wrote it seeing a marbled sky, and the metaphor of being powerless witnesses to changes in the world around them.
Eric Bachmann – No Recover
Beautiful, dressed-up, dark folk.
Erika Wennerstrom – Sweet Unknown
Frontlady from Heartless Bastards goes solo. It’s a big spacious mellow rock sound with hints of country flare.
Herman Dune – Sweet Thursday
It’s all over the place in the realm of folk, country, and rock; yet cohesive and catchy.
Horse Feathers – Appreciation
They’ve always had their own spin on folk music. On Appreciation they plug it in and explode the genre.
Illuminati Hotties – Kiss yr Frenemies
She calls herself “Tenderpunk,” and sounds like Courtney Barnett high on Partner. But with more range and versatility than either.
J Mascis – Elastic Days
It’s achey & mellow enough to give you the Feels, but it’s a big, stacked, fulsome sound that won’t put you to sleep.
Jeffrey Lewis – Works by Tuli Kupferberg
A fabulous, rowdy, catchy offering from Anti-folk pioneer and king of the genre, Jeffrey Lewis.
John Prine – Tree of Forgiveness
No songwriter from the 60s and 70s is still writing at the top of their game. Except John Prine.
Kurt Vile – Bottle It In
Only slightly over-hyped, Kurt Vile is the coolest, most distinct sound in rock right now. People have finally caught on.
Lord Huron – Vide Noir
Lively music is not dead, and Lord Huron is keeping it fresh. Plus, the slow jams on here are A+.
Maps & Atlasses – Lightlessness Is Nothing New
Quirky, Jangly rock sound with weird guitar.
Phosphorescent – C’est La Vie
Album of the year.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs
Gritty, hook-heavy, UK-style pop-punk.
Saintseneca – Pillar of Na
Like Neutral Milk Hotel, but with more voltage and personality.
Shakey Graves – Can’t Wake Up
Shakey Graves had boxed himself in with a sound. His goal here was to bust out of it. Mission accomplished.
Shannon & The Clams – Onion
It’s like Buddy Holly came back to life as an old-souled cool kid looking to nail a niche.
Tomberlin – At Weddings
Moody, evocative, mellow music written while living in her baptist-dad’s house, and not identifying with that life.
Tune-Yards – I Can Feel You Creeping into My Personal Life
Outrageously innovative rock and pop sounds by a modern innovator of musical genres.
Valley Maker – Rhododendron
The kind of music you feel as opposed to just hear. Mellow but full of backbone and energy.
So happy to see Eric Bachmann on this list!