These are the 20 albums that wowed me, stayed with me, and that I played incessantly this past year (with the exception of a couple end-of-year releases (e.g. Black Keys), but these late comers still deserve equal praise). They became my partners-in-crime for dashing around the streets of New York, getting revved up for a night out, or calming my nerves when I needed some peace of mind. Any of your favorites missing from this list? Share them in the comments! Click the links to hear samples from the albums.
Adele – 21
Who had the best year ever? Why Adele, of course. I was not exempt from being pulled into the emotional vortex that was 21. I won’t admit exactly how many times I listened to this album, but lets just say it was enough to put her first on this list.
The Kills – Blood Pressures
I was absolutely obsessed with this album this year. Each track delivered an onslaught of pure rock ‘n’ roll the way it should be. Seeing The Kills perform live at Terminal 5 only solidified my love for this unstoppable twosome. After Jamie Hince’s nuptials, I even found myself warming up to Kate Moss’ over-saturated image and purchased the happy couple’s wedding spread in Vogue. That’s called dedication, friends.
WIM – WIM
I don’t know if this album can even be described as music, but rather a thing of beauty. WIM’s self-titled debut album is the most breathtaking recording I heard all year.
Boy & Bear – Moonfire
These Australian indie rockers hit a home run on their first full length album. Drawing comparisons to Mumford & Sons (who they’ve toured with) they certainly stand out for their arrangements, song-writing and resounding harmonies.
The Civil Wars – Barton Hallow
The Civil Wars haunting melodies made them stand out from the crowd this year. There’s no mistaking the magic created by pairing Joy Williams and John Paul White’s magnetic voices together.
Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
Lykke Li really grew into herself as an artist on this album, creating a hazy dance record oozing with emotion. It seems the edgier Lykke Li is hear to stay and that is quite alright with me. Bring on the spikes and chains Lykke Li, you gave us some and we want more.
Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials
Ms. Welch is so posh she deserves a title as official as the Duchess of Cambridge in my eyes (though not certain this can be arranged without marrying a prince?). Releasing a follow-up to a debut album as wildly successful as hers (Lungs, 2009) is a daunting task for any rising star, and Florence surpassed expectations with a magnificent, sophisticated release that could bring any non-believer to their knees.
Cults – Cults
Everyone’s favorite (worst-kept secret) band Cults created a frenzy in the indie world. Their minimalist approach to social media didn’t keep fans from digging for more on these wonderkinds. Soon the word was out on who was behind the music taking over everyone’s earbuds. The Brooklyn based duo’s hazy snyth music creates a sense of nostalgia that gets into your blood.
Foster The People – Foster The People
“Pumped Up Kicks” put this Cali-based band on everyone’s radar, but this entire album kicks-ass from start to finish.
Danger Mouse And Daniele Luppi Starring Jack White And Norah Jones – Rome
An album inspired by 60’s Italian soundtracks attempting to replicate the American Western. this collaboration (5 years in the making) is nothing short of a masterpiece.
St Vincent – Strange Mercy
Strange indeed, this more sinister release is truly one of a kind from the incomparable Annie Clark
Beirut – The Rip Tide
The compelling Beirut wowed with another exceptional album. Zachary Condon’s voice never fails to lift my spirits, no matter my mood.
The Antlers – Burst Apart
This atmospheric recording is other-worldly. Peter Silberman’s piercing, soaring voice transports the listener to another dimension.
Beth Ditto – Beth Ditto
Beth Ditto stepped out on her own and wowed with her signature power-house voice and glitter-infused dance-pop on this release. It should come with the warning: play loud, dance hard.
Tune-Yards – Whokill
Merrill Garbus is all about doing her own thing, and that’s what makes her so compelling and refreshing. Whokill delivers a fresh dose of her free-spirited, Africa-flavored, merry making music.
Deer Tick – Divine Providence
Their folk-tinged rock ‘n’ roll makes you feel rebellious just by pressing play. You’ll have “a warrant out” for this band.
The Black Keys – El Camino
These boys have never let me down, and the rock-drenched El Camino is no exception.
Bjork – Biophilia
Bjork amazed once again with another incredibly ambitious album that doubled as the world’s “first app album,” creating a truly interactive and groundbreaking musical experience.
Zola Jesus – Conatus
This resounding recording captivates with dark, dramatic melodies and ambient overtones.
I Break Horses – Hearts
These sparkling hazy synth melodies from the Swedish natives will have anyone’s heart pumping.