Thinking back over all the new music I discovered this past year, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite albums (in no particular order). Not all of these were released in the past year, it’s just that I’ve discovered them in the past year. They’re are amazing albums I can listen to over and over again. If you haven’t heard anything on this list, go get it right now!
There’s links to download music after the jump, and there’s even some free stuff too!
Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
This album is one of the most heartfelt works I’ve ever heard. The story behind this album is that lead singer Justin Vernon’s band band fell apart, his relationship ended, and he got sick. He decided to move to Wisconsin and live in his fathers’ cabin in the woods for 3 months completely alone. He never intended to write any music, but all the daily chores and just the time being alone inspired him to write this album. It’s an extremely mellow and relaxing sound, lots of acoustic guitars and vocals, and I highly, highly recommend you listen to this album! This list of albums aren’t in a particular order, but there is a reason I put this one first.
Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles
Imagine the sounds an Atari 2600 would make if you threw it into a pool. That’s a pretty good description of what Crystal Castles sounds like, but I’d say this description from Wikipedia puts it best: Their musical style has been described as having “ferocious, asphyxiating sheets of warped two-dimensional Gameboy glitches and bruising drum bombast pierce [the] skull with sheer shrill force, burrowing deep into the brain like a fever”. If you’re a fan of electronica-rock, then this is the ultimate.
Jack Conte – Sleep In Color/VideoSongs Volume I
I first heard about Jack Conte on Digg when one of his amazing videosongs was submitted. He’s an incredible artist with some very rare real talent. He produces every aspect of s songs all by himself. All vocals, all instruments, recording, etc. He can play nearly any style of music, but I’d venture a guess that if you enjoy Radiohead, they you’d enjoy Jack Conte’s music. If you’re not sure, you don’t even have to buy anything, head over to his YouTube page and watch a few of the videos. I’ve also written about jack previously on my blog.
Santogold – Santogold
I’ve never been a big fan of rap or R&B music, but then again Santogold doesn’t consider herself to fall in either of these genres. She’s said in interviews that she draws a lot of inspiration from 80′s pop songs, and that’s certainly evident. Regarless of how it’s classified, it’s just good music.
Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs
As a huge Death Cab fan, I had to give this album a listen and it certainly did not disappoint. There are tons of great songs on this album with some very funny and sometimes thought provoking lyrics, my particular favorite being Your New Twin Sized Bed. If you’re a fan of other Death Cab albums, be sure to give this one a listen, it’s another winner.
Tigercity – Pretend Not To Love
This album was brought to my attention by an old friend from Full Sail, RG Lacandola. He put a few of the songs up on the now defunct Pownce.com and I just fell in love with it. They’ve got a very 70′s vibe to their music with a little bit of modern indie rock thrown in there as well. My favorite track on the album being Are You Sensation.
Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts I-IV
An amazing 4 disk collection of over 2 hours of purely instrumental music by the incredible Trent Reznor. You can get disk 1 completely for free on their website, or just get all 4 disks for a measly $5. That’s not even an option, you have to buy this one for that price! I’ve written abut this album on my blog previously, and I go into a lot more detail there.
MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
MGMT is about as indie as you can get musically. Very heavy on the keyboard electronica, and nearly every song is about living free and apart from what everyone else wants. It’s just a great, upbeat, feel good album. Listen to it.
Jonny Greenwood – There Will Be Blood OST
There Will Be Blood was an incredible movie that you should have seen. One of the things that makes the movie so great is the amazing soundtrack to go with it, composed by none other than Johnny Greenwood, guitarist for Radiohead. It’s his first soundtrack ever, and he really blew me away with this one. Imagine if Radiohead only had a full orchestra and had to score a movie (which is pretty much exactly what this is) – yeah, amazing. You can relive so many moments from the movie by listening to just the music, and that’s certainly a measurement of success for a soundtrack.
The Mountain Goats – Heretic Pride
I first learned about the Mountain Goats from some great interviews Merlin Mann did with the lead singer Peter Hughes (watch part 1, and part 2).The lyrics can really be profound at some times, and each one really paints an entire story in your mind of what’s going on and how this person feels at the time. This is a great album, but if you’ve never listened to any of the Mountain Goats before be sure to go back and listen to a lot of their older stuff as well.
William Shatner – Has Been
Yes, it’s the actual William Shatner, the one from Star Trek. What really drew me into this album, oddly enough, was the producer – Ben Folds. Ben is one of my all time favorite artists, so if he produces an album I know it’s something I’ll like. Overall, it may seem like a bit of a strange album because it’s just Shatner reading over music – no singing. The music is great, and the “songs” themselves are full of imagery and stories about life, failures, love, and opinions. It’s without a doubt a very unique album, I encourage you to listen to it even if it’s not quite your cup of tea, just once at least.
Final Fantasy – He Poos Clouds
Final Fantasy is another rather strange band, since most of their songs are based on either the storyline or music from video games, as well as having a very heavy use of the violin and piano. It sounds a bit odd, and it truly is, but it’s something worth listening to especially if you’re a bit of a video game nerd – you might recognize a few things and connect.
Daft Punk – Alive 2007
Ah, Daft Punk. Some Brits that dress us as robots in tuxedos and play techno. What’s not to love? Alive 2007 is a live album from their 2007 tour, with all their old songs reinvented. Each track just flows right into the next without ever a pause – which is truly amazing for a live album. If you’re a fan of Daft Punk or techno music in general, this is an absolute must! Also, I’ve written about this album before on my blog.
Bat for Lashes – Fur and Gold
Strange band name, strange album name, strange music. Strange but good, it can be almost haunting at times, I mean just take a look at this video for What’s a Girl To Do? – it reminds me a lot of Donnie Darko. If you like that song and the vibe it gives, chances are that you’ll like the rest of the album. It’s a great listen. I’ve written about Bat for Lashes previously as well.