10. J.Tillman - Vacilando Territory Blues
When not releasing albums with Fleet Foxes, Joshua Tillman works on his own brand of low key folk. This was just one of many great records he worked on this year, but it was by far his best. At times reflective and at other times direct, the songs were all beautifully arranged and supported by his rich voice.
9. Moby – Wait For Me
Dropping the pop aspects of his work and returning to the soul-connecting core that attracted people to him in the first place, Moby’s newest record is both haunting and hypnotic. Taking simple melodies and song structures and tweaking them ever so slightly, Wait For Me is a pensive soundtrack to long walks in the rain.
8. Dead Man’s Bones
With sounds and an aesthetic that mirrors late 50s Halloween variety shows, this project by Ryan Gosling and Zach Shields featuring the Silverlake Conservatory choir has all the makings of a pretentious celebrity musical endeavour. But the music is too earnest to be any of that. What it is, however, is a fun album that features lots of echo, swaths of Hammond organs and children’s chants of such lines as "Like lambs to the slaughter/buried in water."
7. DOOM – Born Like This.
After a long absence and amidst rumours of suffering from a serious illness, the metal faced rap icon returned and showed he’s still the king of the underground. With half of the tracks clocking in under 2:20 minutes, it’s an unflinching barrage of sick beats and some of the tightest rhymes of DOOM’s career.
Alden Penner and Brendan Reed, along with several other Montreal musicians, make an indie pop record with discordant guitars, layered organ and anthemic chanting. Much like the Spike Jonze film Where The Wild Things Are, this record is at turns joyous and happy and at others melancholy and a little scary.
5. Sunset Rubdown – Dragonslayer
The gestation of this Montreal band from a one-man synth project to a full-blown prog-rock five piece has been exciting to listen to. This release is a dense melange of inventive keyboard playing, unique guitar stylings and a kaleidoscopic approach to song making.
4. Wild Beasts – Two Dancers
Armed with not one, but two singers whose ranges include falsetto, these lads from the UK are at the forefront of avant-garde art rock. This record finds the band playing with vocal layers and soundscapes while establishing a mood that is mellow and a little bit sinister.
3. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion
How a psychedelic folk group would put out the best dance record of the year doesn’t sound as strange as one might think. Sounding like an 80s club remix of a Beach Boys record, Merriweather Post Pavillion has rather unbelievably crossed over into the mainstream and has made Animal Collective one of the only bands to become big this year.
2. Phoenix – Phoenix Amadeus Mozart
The Parisian band's fourth album is a smart pop record with enough hooks to snare even the most bitter of music snobs resentful of their remarkable rise this year. On this, their fourth record, they get the formula right as they mix stadium-sized choruses and hum-along melodies with slick production that really escalates the effortless fun that this record conveys.
1.The Horrors – Primary Colours
An album that honors its influences (The Cramps, Suicide, Silver Apples) while striking out on its own unique path, this record by the London goth/garage outfit certainly shatters the myth of the sophomore slump. It's easy to fall for this mixture of classic R&B, heavy low end and unsettling synths buoyed by lead singer Faris Badwan's unmistakable baritone.