Of the records I bought, heard, and explored this year, here is my top 10.

  1. Ryley Walker – Primrose Green
  2. Nap Eyes – Whine of the Mystic
  3. Weather Station – Loyalty
  4. Gun Outfit – Dream All Over
  5. Jessica Pratt – On Your Own Love Again
  6. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love
  7. Destroyer – Poison Season
  8. Disappears – Irreal
  9. Zs – Xe
  10. Royal Headache – High

Some reflections on the list:

  • There was a lot I heard on vinyl that was presented poorly on vinyl. The new Joanna Newsom, Destroyer, and Panda Bear were all circa 50 minutes of music, spread across four sides. That nets out to around 12 minutes of music per side, which means lots of getting up and sitting down, and never getting into a real album-side groove. This has lots of to do with the lost art of cutting records and overworked pressing plants. But it has as much to do with vinyl as a “fashion” statement – where the real listening happens via the accompanying free download or streaming, and the record itself is not designed to be the primary listening format. On this list, “Divers” and “Poison Season” would have been ranked higher had they been better presented on vinyl (whether that meant more expensive and attentive cutting, or cutting a track or two to get it closer to 40 minutes as a whole).
  • Given domestic noisy-ness and various life/work/stress balancing, there’s a lot of folk-influence and mellow vocals. The top 3 albums here all took familiar forms and breathed new life into them, without being retro, anachronistic, or tributes to specific forbearers.
  • There’s also a lot of bands who’s prior album I liked more (e.g. Kaputt, Royal Headache, New Slaves, Hard Coming Down). That means I’m getting old and investing less in discovering things new to my ears.
  • Honorable mentions to Electric Ursa, Simple Songs, and Mansions’ Early Life.