Being that it’s already January and I’m about to start another semester at grad school, I had better pump this list out now. It was originally intended as a two-part deal with full reviews for each record…but now it’s going to be a list with some random words thrown in here and there.
Honorable mentions: Jessie Ware, St. Gregory Orange, Tigercats, Clock Opera, Sinkane, Shrag, The Maccabees, Maribel, Exlovers, Egyptian Hip Hop
And the top 20…
20. Lone Wolf / The Lovers
19. The Megaphonic Thrift / The Megaphonic Thrift
18. Django Django / Django Django
17. Cheers Elephant/ Like Wind Blows Fire
16. The Evens / The Odds
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I just got brutalized by the hardest exam I’ve ever taken in my life. Holy shit, it was a terrible, terrible experience.
Here’s the middle of the top 50. The list is starting to get really good.
30. Saint Etienne “Heading for the Fair”
From an album that’s both reflective and melancholy comes a song that’s both, and in classic Saint Etienne style, they’ve buried one of their better songs on the album. While many will say that they had their heyday in the ’90s, I’d argue that they’re in the midst of a late career renaissance. This is easily one of their best songs since Good Humor.
29. Niki & the Dove “The Drummer”
This year’s indie dancefloor filler. If someone did a 20-minute remix of this track, I probably wouldn’t complain all too much.
28. Blood Red Shoes “Lost Kids”
This is the first of three songs from them on this list, and one of their most linear moments. But the thing to remember with this duo – even when ordinary, they’re still miles more interesting than almost any other band on the planet.
27. Lone Wolf “The Swan of Meander”
His new album – and this song in particular – has the influence of Wild Beasts all over it. It’s a brooding, dark, and expansive mess, but it’s also the lead single from Paul Marhsall’s best album yet.
26. Bloc Party “Octopus”
A band that returns from a hiatus, even a short one, is almost always past its due date. Whether it’s money or whatever, their heart is usually not in, but Bloc Party bucked the trend. “Octopus” brought back the guitars, and more importantly, the life to the band. This is one of their best moments since Silent Alarm.
25. Runaround Kids “The Narcissist”
I was a little hesitant to put a cover on this list, but this song is too good not to include. Taken from a split tour EP with Irish group We Are Losers, this redo contains everything I love about these guys – the vocal acrobatics, the guitars that fall somewhere between post-hardcore and pop, and the manic energy.
24. Jessie Ware “Night Light”
Hype can be a huge turnoff. I bought into it with Katy B, but I was sorely disappointed. Many of the same folks were all over this record, but I’m glad I gave it a try. Tracks like “Night Light” are an absolute gem.
23. FOE “Mother May I?”
No exaggeration here, but I’ve probably listened to this record once a day this year since its release. Album track “Mother May I?” is one of the reasons why, a grunge-washed rocker that would have made band frontwoman Hannah Clark a star in ’90s.
22. The Cribs “Anna”
Perhaps the Cribs have seen their moment pass in America, but they remain massive in their home country, and for good reason. Each album is anchored by singles, and filled out with indie/garage rockers that are anything but filler. “Anna” may show a more sensitive side of the band, but it’s anything but restrained.
21. Johnny Foreigner “Maybe Daniel’s All the Push I Need”
Every end of year list I’ve made for the past seven years or whatever has featured these guys. And with good reason. They never stop releasing music – albums and singles and EPs and splits and cassettes. You’d think that they’d run out of ideas soon, but as evidenced by this latest single, they’re still going strong.