11. Young Galaxy - Invisible Republic
Two years ago Young Galaxy were number two on my year end list, only behind Radiohead. Fast forward two years and the band has released a second album that is quite different from the first one. The first single Long Live the Fallen World showed great promise, a track that starts with the typical dreamy atmospheric Young Galaxy sound, but in the end it rapidly speeds up and almost sounds like the Millennium Falcon will go into Hyperspace. But quickly after that the album is grounded again into the familiar Young Galaxy sound again. Both Catherine McCandles and Stephen Ramsey deliver vocals that work well together, providing a sound landscape that is dreamy but at the same time delivers a sense of urgency as it reflects on the present state of the world. It is about lovers surviving in these disposable times. Not for the faint of heart.
Favourites: Dreams, Queen Drum, Long Live the Fallen World
12. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
Indie hipsters unite! This album was met with open arms by Pitchfork.com and deservedly so. It contains a wonderful mix of songs with male and female vocal parts, bursting choral background vocals, hand claps, choppy guitars, fuzzy guitars, tambourines...you name it, its there. And it sounds great together. The album also features two of my favourite songs of the year: "Stillness Is the Move" and "Useful Chamber."Useful Chamber features a song that keeps changing all of the time, alternating between chilled beats, rocky vocals, and then a huge burst of awwwww's as the song rapidly changes direction again.
Favourites: Useful Chamber, Stillness Is The Move, Fluorescent Half-Dome
13. The Most Serene Republic - ...And the Ever Expanding Universe
The album title and song names such as "Bubble Reputation", and "No One Likes A Nihilist"give you a rough idea of the creative force behind this album. A listen through confirms these suspicions. Smart, intricate, and creative lyrics are met with smart, intricate, and creative musicianship. One highlight of the album is the instrumental "Patternicity". Instrumental doesn't do the song justice though, it is an epic song that sounds like it should be performed by a symphony. By the end of the album, we're met with "Don't Hold Back, Feel A Little Longer" which makes it hard to not dance and sing along, at least a little. The album shows that this band are truly students of music and have an ever expanding knack for putting together diverse songs. The video for Heavens to Purgatory is rather awesome.
Favourites: Phi, Patternicity, Bubble Reputation
14. Wilco - Wilco (The Album)
The album Wilco (The Album) opens with the song Wilco the song. The cover of this album features a two humped camel with a party hat beside a table with six empty chairs. It is a little hard to take things too seriously with such an over the top and silly presentation. But by the time you get through One Wing three tracks in it is pretty evident that there is some seriously good songwriting taking place. Jeff Tweedy delivers a stellar performance right through. What drew me to this album was the collaboration with Feist for the song You and I. Both of their voices work perfectly together resulting in one of my favourite songs of the year.
Favourites: One Wing, You and I, I'll Fight
15. Jenn Grant - Echoes
Another breakup album, how original right? At the time of writing, Jenn was still in a relationship and didn't realize it was a breakup album right away. This leads to some honest and soulful songwriting that is easy to follow and listen to. An artist using her creativity to express herself. Seeing her live as part of Halifax Pop Explosion was a bonus. She has a charming and engaging personality, and this flows right throughout her album. The strength of this album lie in the vocals and the wonderful instrumentation that accompanies them.
Favourites: Heartbreaker, Where Are You Now, Sailing by Silverships