“Church and Law” — Artist: When Saints Go Machine
This band gets top billing for me. I was blown away when I first album. I didn’t really like it at first. But on repeat listens I was infected by it. They’re from Denmark. They’ve never toured the US as far as I can tell. The singer’s voice kind of resembles Antony’s. The music evokes the 80s but it is woven so intricately that they must be students of 70s Roxy Music. This track is probably their catchiest and grooviest while retaining the headiness that draws me to this. And the videos are extremely creepy and intense. Please make this band popular so I can go see them at some inconvenient venue like Terminal 5.
“Glowing Mouth” — Artist: Milagres
I don’t know much about this group. I don’t think they’re that famous. But I know whenever I hear this song I’m arrested by it. I’d heard it earlier in the year and honestly couldn’t remember who it was. But I knew I wanted to hear it again. Thanks to the social community on Rdio it resurfaced (and on my own playlist!). Looking forward to hearing more from Milagres.
“Midnight City” — Artist: M83
I don’t know how I wasn’t an M83 fan before this album. Hearing this when it dropped a few months ago was a bit jaw dropping. Like..what? This good? Really? Midnight City is the standout track although the (double) album holds some other great ones. For the record, M83’s performance on Carson Daily a few weeks ago is actually better than the album version. And the sax…If I were these guys I would re-record/re-release the song this way…
“Eyes be Closed” — Artist: Washed Out
Somehow I hadn’t heard of the term Chillwave before this Washed Out album came out. Guess I’m not that hip. But Washed Out recalls Moby at his peak. And that was some seriously good stuff. No reason not to keep that going. I love a lush and labored upon track with groovy percussion and a great hook.
“Need You Now” — Artist: Cut Copy
I wanted to get Cut Copy on this list. Zonoscope came out early in the year and it has probably been overshadowed by the likes of Washed Out and M83. But these guys have been nominated for a grammy which is kind of unbelievable if you consider what they’re up against. I don’t think Zonoscope is better than In Ghost Colors, but it’s still great. And Zonoscope is ambitious. Need You Now kind of encapsulates what this band is about and where they’ve gotten to. I don’t know where they go from here. I saw them perform earlier in the year and the show was incredible. They are pro now.
“Baby Missiles” — Artist: The War on Drugs
Truth be told I can’t really tell their songs apart but I love them all from Slave Ambient and I picked one. I don’t usually go for heartland sounding rock that resembles Tom Petty. But something about pairing that sound with the atmosphere of Joy Division really grabs me. I will always be a sucker for two chord minimal rock done in a certain serious and ambient way. They don’t really resemble Spacemen 3 but I’m going to put them in that category of music in my head.
“Head for the Country” — Artist: John Maus
I love it when artists don’t hold back. And in Head for the Country John Maus just goes for it with the sequencer synthesizers. He’s just too weird for this to be cheesy. It’s fantastic that there’s no hipster apology for this sound. It’s just THIS sound. Authentic, well arranged dance synths from the 80s. If this was released in the early 80s you probably wouldn’t think it sounds out of place.
“Pumped up Kicks” — Artist: Foster the People
I somehow didn’t see it coming that Foster the People was going to go mainstream this quickly. When I heard it I just couldn’t stop listening to it for the next week or so. I guess it makes sense though. It’s infectious pop. Never mind that it doesn’t pander to what mainstream ears are supposed to like. Seeing them live, I was really surprised how well formed they were for a new band. They kind of do belong in the same genre as Cut Copy, M83 and Washed Out. Although Foster the People seem to be burrowing more into the early 90s and leaving the 80s behind unlike their ‘counterparts’. A little scary that this is their first album. Where on earth could they go from here?
“Lover to Lover” — Artist: Florence and the Machine
I wasn’t really a Florence fan. We saw her perform her new album under the Manhattan bridge for a festival that we snuck into a few months ago. I still wasn’t sure if I was a fan, but I knew she was good. (And yes, I’m well aware of Dog Days). Well, hearing this album was another one of those revelations. They don’t make ’em like they used to. But Florence does. This album is so good beginning to end. I don’t really know which song belongs on my top ten list because they’re all that great. The pipes, the arrangements, the hooks. It’s all fantastic. I can’t really tell if this album is being hailed as the masterpiece it is in the music press (probably cause I don’t read about music). It probably belongs at the top of this list but I’m a little reluctant to give something this mainstream top billing.
“Rolling in the Deep” — Artist: Adele
I’ve tried very hard to avoid Adele this year. But it’s undeniable that “Rolling in the Deep” is one of the best songs you will probably ever hear in your entire life. So here’s me giving a little nod to what appears to be an anomaly. Why? Because the rest of “21” is just not that compelling to me. But this song is so good that I’m going to root for Adele to make some more good songs. We’ve lost Amy Winehouse (and Adele is no Amy) but we’ve got Adele.