And now, the albums list. I’ve tried to put across how I feel about each album, but I’m well aware that my descriptive abilities fall short when I’m writing about music. But I feel the songs in the links speak for themselves. Please feel free to comment and let me know if you agree, disagree or want to share something new.
15. Tame Impala – Innerspeaker
Mixture of propulsive bluesy guitar riffs and ethereal FX-heavy oddness. Manages to sound wound-up and off-hand at the time – a bit Animal Collective, a bit Beatles, a bit Stooges. Good stuff all round.
14. The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang
Big-hearted, hoarse-throated bar-room rock’n’roll anthems about the promise and disappointment of American mythology.
13. Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record
Swelling, sprawling orchestration combining with a knack for neat and concise songwriting make this album a rare treat that packs epic tracks into small packages.
12. The Roots – How I Got Over
The Roots deliver another essential slice of sharp, socially conscious lyrics over impeccable musicianship. The album as a whole feels like a journey through a long dark night of the soul, from despair through resolution to optimism and determination.
11. The Drive-By Truckers – The Big To-Do
Gritty Southern rock retooled for the 21st Century.
10. The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever
My FAVOURITE BAND EVER make another great album about, growing up, nostalgia, disappointment, and the power of rock music.
Essential Tracks: The Sweet Part Of The City, Soft In The Centre, The Weekenders, We Can Get Together
9. Fang Island – Fang Island
8. Best Coast – Crazy For You
Inspired, charming mix of 60s surf-rock and Phil Spector production soundtracks the summer.
7. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
A sprawling, messy sort-of-concept album about celebrity, self-loathing and the oversharing mania of the internet age. Also, it’s really awesome to listen to.
6. Big Boi – Sir Luscious Leftfoot
The often-overlooked half of Outkast serves up an excellent melange of bass-heavy rap, funky experimentation and lightning-fast lyrics.
5. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – The Brutalist Bricks
Politically tinged pop-punk for a bruised but hopeful time.
4. The New Pornographers – Together
3. Janelle Monae – The Archandroid
Ceaselessly inventive pop-futurism that fuses diverse influences to create something completely new. Check out the review I wrote back in the summer.
2. Superchunk – Majesty Shredding
Uplifting, catchy rock anthems set at the point between youthful optimism and adult disillusionment, learning something from both states
1. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
As sprawling as the location it studies, Arcade Fire’s latest tells a bleak story of how the past we create in our shared spaces can disappear in front of our eyes. Its instrumentation and lyrics are cranked up to deliver Springsteen-level epics of youthful alienation, even as they hope for something more.
Best Of The Rest: 5 albums that didn’t make the cut
Yeasayer – Odd Blood
Villagers – Becoming A Jackal
The Soft Pack – The Soft Pack
Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History
Marnie Stern – Marnie Stern