It's so exciting to make a year-end list full of new artists and new projects by established artists. I'm not saying these are the best albums of the year, just the ones I liked the best.
- Jonsi Go
- Clem Snide Meat of Life
- Sleigh Bells Treats
I wrote about these three albums earlier in the year, and every single one of them held up. The Jonsi album offers more up for discovery each time I listen; Clem Snide still makes me feel like I'm the only girl in the room; and the Sleigh Bells concert was the most physically exciting and aggressive I've been to since I saw Rage Against the Machine.
- Jenny and Johnny I’m Having Fun Now
- Best Coast Crazy for You
Two shimmering, California-esque gestures to 60s girl groups. Jenny and Johnny's (that's Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley and Jonathan Rice) up-beat sound belies the economic and emotional turmoil evident in the lyrics, while Best Coast's sung sighs for loves lost or not yet gained is no less delightful for its lack of lyrical depth.
- Mumford & Sons Sigh No More
This album of hopeful Americana performed by a band of Brits took a while to grow on me, but then suddenly I was hooked.
- A Broken Consort Crow Autumn
- David Karsten Daniels and Fight the Big Bull I Mean to Live Here Still
I once gave my students the assignment of making a soundtrack to their lives. They all made playlists that were very of this moment - who they are right now - but it got me thinking what I want the soundtrack of my future to sound like. Neither of these albums were out when I made my list, but they would have been featured prominently had they been. I love their sound that manages to be both discordant and symphonic.
- LCD Soundsystem This is Happening
James Murphy is still sounding fresh and inventive four albums in.
- John Legend and the Roots Wake Up
Oddly the only political album on my list this year, Wake Up's mines lesser-known soul music from the 60s and early 70s for social justice songs that resonate for the second decade of the 21st century.