As with previous years, my criteria for the Best Albums of the Year are replayability (I still listen to this album, and years from now, I predict I’ll still be listening to this album) and non-skipability (I don’t skip over many tracks). Your mileage may vary.
10. Move Like This, The Cars. Like 1986 preserved in amber.
9. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. A pure slab of 1990s BritPop.
8. We Are The Tide, Blind Pilot. Not as good as their first album, but melodic and thoughtful. Music for a Sunday afternoon.
7. Burst Apart, The Antlers. If Radiohead still made rock albums, they might sound like Burst Apart.
6. Celabrasion, Sleeper Agent. This album is like the bouillon cube of indie pop music from the last 25 years. Echoes of everything from the Pixies to The White Stripes is in here.
5. The Head and The Heart. Soulful, singable. “Rivers and Roads” kills me every time.
4. Torches, Foster The People. Leave aside the ubiquitous and overplayed “Pumped Up Kicks,” and you’ll find a record filled with hooky songs worth your time like “Houdini” and “Don’t Stop.” A party album.
3. The King is Dead, The Decemberists. The Decemberists return to form by taking an alt-country tack. Harmonica does them good.
2. The Mistress, Yellow Ostrich. The first time I listened to this album, I was like, What are they doing? Yodeling? Throat singing? But then, wow, you get it. Distinctive sound, great hooks. I defy you to listen to “Hahahaohhoho” twice without yodeling yourself.
1. Um, Uh, Oh, Say Hi. This is the album I always knew Say Hi would make one day. Every song is a gem. Singable, memorable, alternately uplifting and heartbreaking. “Take Ya Dancin'” should have been a huge hit. A real keeper. Sad this hasn’t gotten the recognition it deserves.
Disappointments: Let England Shake, PJ Harvey; The Whole Love, Wilco; The King of LImbs, Radiohead; Bon Iver, Bon Iver; Mountaintops, Mates of State. And yes, I know all these albums are on various Best Of lists. They just didn’t do it for me.