Initially, I resisted this concept of a mid-year top ten. It seemed like a cheap concept for websites with nothing to talk about. But then I started looking at the lists onmy favorite websites and realized that none of the albums I like were getting any attention. Given that this has been the best year for new releases since….the eighties (?!), I felt a need to throw my two cents into the ring. What follows is a list that I’d be proud to publish if this was December 31st. The prospect of six more months of great music, is truly exciting.
1) The Boxer Rebellion: Union- If you loved The Verve and remember when it was still cool to like U2, you ought to be listening to this band. This self-released album topped the U.S. and U.K. ITunes charts the week it debuted. I’d like to think that TBR is our little secret, but I suspect there are a lot of you out there.
2) The Pains of Being Pure At Heart: Self-Titled- As British as The Boxer Rebellion sound, THOBPAH bring a sound that is distinctly super American chunky. Great melodies that merge with an indie sensibility that is far from self-indulgent.
3) Gliss: Devotion/Implosion- Like watching the most beautiful carousel you’ve ever seen, Gliss switch instruments and vocal duties effortlessly and make you swoon every time. How much do I love the re-emergence of the distortion pedal in music? In a year where the great ideas of the 80′s are given new life, Gliss simulatneously seem original yet nostalgic. I hate to throw the JAMC reference around this list too much, but they were a brilliant band and Gliss make me realize what they’d have become with better vocals and less self-indulgence.
4) An Horse: Rearrange Beds- 2-piece from Australia that harkens back to the best of The Spinanes (look it up. you’ll love it.). I interviewed them days after they first arrived in America after this album was released. With an appearance on Letterman and accolades from numerous magazines, we can expect An Horse to be on many year-end lists for many years to come. Deservedly so.
5) White Lies- To Lose My Life: Equal parts The Teardrop Explodes, Joy Division and Interpol. Certainly enough to make Brandon Flowers shut up forever (hopefully…). I had predicted that this would be my album of the year after hearing a few cuts. If I have any complaint, it’s that the second half of the record is a little uneven. Still a tremendous effort, though.
6) Zee Avi- Zee Avi- This one snuck on the list at the last second! I posted her brilliant cover of “First of the Gang” previously and just got a copy of the album this week. Since then, I’ve had it on an endless loop. Prepare to here a voice that will melt you in a second. To compare someone’s voice to Billie Holiday isn’t something I would do on a whim. The album alternates from moody, to playful, to beautiful in a way that seems natural. An amazing debut. Prepare to read about her for the next six months and the rest of your life.
7) East Hundred- Passenger: Erroneously posted in our revised ‘Best of 2008′, this was actually released in January of 2009. Why this band isn’t on a major label is one of this years’ great mysteries. Perfect vocal melodies from Beril Guceri coupled with a band that can write music that isn’t dependent on ‘hooks’, yet sticks in your head. Quite a combination and a recipe for a great album.
8) Crocodiles- Summer of Hate: Fresh off their network debut on Carson Daly’s televsion show, this is a band with unbelievable potential. Their resemblence to Psychocandy/ Mary Chain-style is eerie. When they release their ‘Darklands’ expect them to be huge.
9) Jason Lytle- Yours Truly The Commuter: Yes, it’s the singer from Grandaddy. Yes, it’s as good as anything Grandaddy did. Anything other questions?
10) Gomez- A New Tide: I’ve intentionally posted this video which just shows the album cover, while the opening track plays. Perhaps the best “pop” song I’ve heard in years. Close your eyes and let this soak into your eardrums.