The National- “Boxer”
While not as rocking as 2005’s “Alligator”, this album does show the darker side of The National. Best listened to after midnight, and even better if listened to after midnight and behind the wheel of a car on a deserted highway.
Wilco- “Sky Blue Sky”
What can I say about Wilco’s most recent that hasn’t been said already? Some describe this album as one that grows on you, but I was hooked the first time I heard it. ‘Impossible Germany’ is easily one of the best songs of the year. Nels Cline’s guitar adds the missing layer, and Jeff Tweedy, clean and sober, is at the top of his game right now, surrounding himself with some of the best musicians in the industry. Next to “Being There” and “YHF”, this is my favorite Wilco album. And yes, I bought it at Starbuck’s.
Dinosaur Jr.- “Beyond”
Is it 1989 again? Original trio reunites for one of this year’s most fuzzed out, rocking albums.
Spoon- “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga”
‘Underdog’ is arguably my favorite tune of the year. This is one of Spoon's best (though it’s tough to beat “Gimme Fiction”), complete with trumpets and offbeat hand claps. Britt's vocals are unbelievably effective, simple and direct song writing.
Arcade Fire- “Neon Bible”
This album made the #1 spot in many people’s end of year lists, and for good reason. “Neon Bible” is a sonic piece of music that sounds absolutely massive. 80’s synth pop, church organs, string arrangements, and some of the best lyrics of the year.
Various Artists- “Jonny Greenwood Is The Controller”
Jonny Greenwood (guitarist of Radiohead) put together this outstanding compilation of old school reggae tracks straight from the Trojan records vaults. I have always considered myself a fan of reggae and dub, but this is the album that made me a believer. After I received this last summer, I went on a binge of nothing but dub for about six weeks. Highlights include classic tracks from Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Delroy Wilson, Gregory Issacs, The Heptones, Desmond Dekker, Junior Byles, Johnny Clarke, Jahlights. Scientist & Jammy & and the Roots Radics. Hell, it’s all good, especially if you are a fan of classic dub. And you know you are.
Thurston Moore- “Trees Outside the Academy”
Someone described this as Thurston’s “Nebraska”, so I was expecting something a little more acoustic and less produced, but it is still some good catchy rock with nice use of strings thrown in.
Austin City Limits Music Festival- September
Three days of music, sweat, bikes, Tex-Mex, and Jack Daniels, with the best group of people you could imagine. Highlights included seeing Yo La Tengo, Blonde Redhead, Wilco, Steve Earle and Spoon.
TV On The Radio @ Avalon, Boston- March
Next to all the music at ACL, this was one of the best live shows of the year for me. For this show TVOTR were in full-on rage mode, with doses of punk, funk, jazz, soul, and world music thrown in. None of the power of the music was lost, if anything it was more organic and massive. It amazed me how they were able to create the same vibe live as on their albums, without all the samples and loops. Mind blowing.