Honorable Mention: Menomena, Friend and Foe
This one might have had a place a bit higher on the list, but it was a real late arrival- I just got it for X-mas. It’s worthy of mention for the packaging alone- the Craig Thompson artwork is great, and reminds us that the jewel case can still be a viable canvas and album art matterts. Like the cover, the music is both fun and dense, layered a full of appropriately place holes. Doesn’t that lil’ description just work out nicely.
10. Thurston Moore, Trees Outside The Academy
Sometimes I want it to be Sonic Youth, sometimes I just want the guitar mayhem to just keep flying. But all and all, it’s Thurston doin’ his thing, which is fine by me.
9. Band of Horses, Cease To Begin
I was so ready to hate this record. I was so sure it would fall flat compared to how much I enjoyed last years debut. Well, it’s not my number one, but it’s generally more of the same from the band, and definitely makes the list.
8. Megan Palmer, Take You Away
Mr. Duffy would probably want me to insert some disclaimer about his business ties to this record, but make no mistake about it- this one makes the list on merit alone. These songs are fabulously crafted- smart lyrics, funny and biting, soft and beautiful.
7. The Dreadful Yawns, Rest
I guess this kind of continues in the Ohio nu-folk vein. Hard to call it exactly country, but organs and steel guitar tend that way despite some more poppy elements. Nice quiet melodies and thoughtful lyrics. Maybe Iron and Wine meets Yo La Tengo (in Cleveland).
6. Jose Gonzalez, In Our Nature
I’m startin’ to feel a bit broken recordish with another spacey folk pick, but here it is. It’s pretty and weird, and I find it goes well with coffee.
5. The New Pornographers, Challengers
After those last couple of picks, you thought I was gonna put Andrew Bird in here, right? Nah, dude got bumped this year. But New Pornographers continue to make my perennial favorites list. They can do almost no wrong, as is appropriate for a super group. Might not touch Mass Romantic for pure in your face pop bliss, but this is still great. Maybe a bit more subdued, possibly grown up.
4. Lewis and Clarke, Blasts of Holy Birth
All right, back to that slow, quiet wimpy stuff. It’s no rocker, but man is it nice. Almost classical instrumentation, complete with strings and such, it’s full of contemplative and hypnotic folky swells. Man, that album title makes me think of blasts of afterbirth though. Yeech.
3. The Mendoza Line, 30 Year Low
Man, nothin’ quite like a good rockin’ breakup song. Or an entire album full of them that chronicles the band members divorce from each other. I don’t know how exactly they pulled that off, but holy hell, the results are good.
2. Broken Social Scene presents: Kevin Drew, Spirit If
Perhaps actually more a solo work by Mr. Drew, this one is a little more melodious and less cacophonous than a full-blown BSS record. There’s definitely the messy sonic crash, and a contribution by J.Mascis, so you know this isn’t all fluff. But in general, a bit easier to eat your dinner while you listen compared to earlier Broken Social material.
1. The National, Boxer
Well, what can I say. Clearly I love it, or it wouldn’t be in the ace spot. A lot of other folks have described it better, but there’s a manly coolness about it, like Tom Waits can pull off, with a sweetness to dull the edge. Sooo good.