20. The Haymarket Squares — Light It Up
The Haymarket Squares released their finest album to date with Light It Up in February, and in light of the political climate this year, it's been on blast for me from the start. Seriously, this the most politically astute and hilariously wry local album for those leaning to the left since, well, maybe since the release of their last album. Musically, the band's patented
19. Emby Alexander - The Sound of Phoenix
On the Fourth of July
18. Red Tank! — Bio/Feedback
Have you ever listened to a band's record knowing full well that you loved their last one, with the thought that there was no way that it could be topped, and then you play the new disc and you stare at your stereo with your jaw dropped and your eyes wide in stunned amazement of the blazing sounds exploding from your speakers, losing any sense of time and space, forgetting that you even have a nervous system or that your body exists while the album wraps around your entire being, raising and lowering your blood pressure, nearly sucking the breath out of your lungs at times, controlling your heartbeat with the kick drum, while the guitars wreck your soul and every vocal laceration commits itself to your emotional memory, while sparks arc in the deep recesses of your mind until at last the challenging din of what you just heard fades from the air, leaving you feeling gratified and wholly satiated on a level that you can't quite comprehend? That's the only way I can sum up how I felt the first time I heard the Red Tank! album Bio/Feedback.
17. Cait Brennan — Debutante
If you are looking for an album that puts a new spin on the songwriting styles of the early 1970s, you absolutely must check out Cait Brennan's fabulous debut record, Debutante. If you admire the kind of tunes that were penned by Harry Nilsson, Elton John, David Bowie, Linda
16. PRO TEENS - Accidentally
A surprise release if there ever was one. No one anticipated Accidentally to follow so quickly on the heels of last year's debut album by PRO TEENS. Still, it did explain where a lot of tracks from earlier in their career were relocated, with the likes of "Teen Feels" and "Puberty" seeing release and some remodeling as well. PRO TEENS makes music that crosses indie rock and pop with space age bachelor pad music, heavily indebted to the voice and vision of lead singer Andrew Phipps. If they are going for their own genre, I'd call it "indie lounge," and it's an intoxicating cocktail of sweet sounds from beginning to end. Phipps can nail an Elvis Costello croon like no other and the band behind him makes the magic through their brilliant textural tapestries of sound. This is as much music to watch clouds roll by as it is to lay on your floor losing your mind inside headphones.
15. Diners - "Three"
Last year, I was eagerly awaiting the release of Diners' third full-length album, unremarkably titled Three, and in the
14. AJJ - The Bible 2
There was a rash of concern when AJJ released the video for "Goodbye, Oh Goodbye" that they were abandoning their
13. Some Magical Animal - Some Magical Animal
This was another surprise release of the year, at least for me. I knew Some Magical Animal was up to something and had been forever, then all at once this album fell into my lap. This self-titled masterpiece has been a long time in the making, and while they've been one of my favorite rare live acts to catch on stage, their performances could only hint at, well, the magic they've put down on wax. The entire album is absolutely intoxicating. It runs the gamut from indie rock songs to other tracks that recall Gram Parsons, Ryan Adams, Poco, and even The Eagles at their best. Make some time for this album, pour yourself a drink, sit outside and watch the sunset or a storm and just listen to this masterpiece. You won't regret a moment of it.
12. Citrus Clouds - Imagination
As far as I'm concerned, Citrus Clouds are the local kings of the shoegaze scene that doesn't realize it's a scene. Seriously, there are a good dozen shoegaze bands playing all around town and they don't seem to know each other. Either way, Citrus Clouds is leading the pack, and if last year's EP debut didn't make that clear, their live shows this year sure did. Their efforts were all topped off by Imagination, their debut full-length album. The title track is worth the price of admission alone, I would have bought the album just to have that. Unlike their debut EP, Imagination goes toe-to-toe with matching the hurricane swirl of their live shows and brings it to life on record accurately. Perhaps it's the result of so many live shows in the last year and this one-time side project becoming a full-time thing. Citrus Clouds have come into their own and Imagination is the proof.
11. RØÅR - Impossible Animals
This is indie pop at its finest, in line with the Elephant 6 Collective from the turn of the century, with a reliance on Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys, Rubber Soul-era Beatles, and every band influenced by those sounds since. It's not difficult to see why this took Owen Evans four years to make. It also features a who's who of some of the greatest local pop musicians either playing on it or behind the mixing board, with Evan Bisbee, Jef Wright, Robin Vining, Ryan Breen, Lonna Kelley, Stephen Steinbrink, Jim Adkins, and more contributing. Not only is this a wonderful pop album, it's also a very beautiful work in total.