Every day this week, Impact 89FM will post a list of favorite albums from a different member of our music staff. Today, we take a look at the favorites of our music director, Autumn Maison.
This year, I was listening to music for two! In August, I had a baby, and so that kind of changed my perception of music. Emotional preggo hormones made music more enjoyable, and having a son makes it more fun to dance like a fool and sing really stupidly. I am an entertainer now! Basically, a lot of my reviews are going to mention him or being pregnant, and now you have context.
1. The Tallest Man On Earth – The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans)
Easy choice. Hands down, my favorite album that was released this year. I think this strays so far from what I normally consider appealing that once I heard it, I just fell in love with it. The Wild Hunt is really simple musically, and so it was a great album to get crazy-emotional-hormone-crying over. A lot of the criticism I hear regarding this album is that “Dylan did it so much better”, and while I’m not refuting the similarities, I think that The Wild Hunt is fantastic in its own regard.
2. Liars – Sisterworld (Mute)
So you know, I’m completely obsessed with this band. This is the Liars album I’ve been waiting for since just a few months after their 2007 self-titled album was released. This album mirrors They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top‘s urgency and Drum’s Not Dead‘s reserved subtlety and the product is explosive. That sounds stupid. It probably is. Please keep reading.
3. Happy Birthday – Happy Birthday (Sub Pop)
Happy Birthday (one of the ungooglable bands (cc: Women, Girls, etc.)) released their debut on Sub Pop earlier this year. It’s so immediately catchy, it’s no surprise that the label grabbed these guys (and girl) to add to their already-stellar lineup. At times, the album is reminiscent of happy-go-lucky Fun Trick Noisemaker-era Apples in Stereo, and other times it’s completely self-deprecating. Regardless, the guitars’ distortion and almost irritating vocals work for a fun and captivating album.
4. Sleigh Bells – Treats (Mom + Pop)
I hate polarizing albums. I hate them. I hate the circular dialogue they create, and I hate when people waste their time arguing over them. Maybe it’s the two years I spent hosting Sit or Spin (being the unbiased mediator took a lot of training!) that prevents me from being willing to voice my opinion either way, but I basically suck in all my pride and snark at the people who stand on each side of these albums. So imagine how low I hung my head when I fell for Sleigh Bells’ debut. One of the most divisive artists this year since their 2009 CMJ performances created their massive (and deserved) buzz, I think it’s great. You know, it’s not even that creative or inventive, but they sure manage to play it off like it is. Treats is so annoyingly grating and loud, but Alexis Krauss’ sweetly innocent voice perfectly balances everything.
5. Mountain Man – Made The Harbor (Partisan)
I enjoy Made The Harbor for many of the same reasons I loved The Wild Hunt. Soft, captivating, enjoyable, a sleeper album that only after five or six lazy listens actually hits you and you realize how incredible it is. After reading our very own Matt Revers’ interview with this band, it was great to see that despite creating one of the best albums of the year, the ladies of Mountain Man have been able to stay quaint and levelheaded. Plus, “Animal Tracks” is a great lullaby for Oliver.
6. Free Energy – Stuck on Nothing (DFA)
Free Energy wins my vote for most fun album of the year. I remember getting an EP of theirs last year and being super eager to hear the rest of what they could do. Nothing but straight pop music, but done with such earnest ease that it doesn’t even need the James Murphy backing to be taken seriously. Their live show was a little rough around the edges when they played in Detroit, but the guys couldn’t be any nicer. Check out a video of an interview I did with them in March at SXSW.
7. Frontier Ruckus – Deadmalls and Nightfalls (Ramseur Records)
It’s hard for me to write about this album. It all feels too personal, like I would be exposing feelings instead of opinions. Though having grown up in Metro-Detroit and later attending MSU makes me more susceptible to recognizing references, you definitely don’t need to live in Michigan to understand it. It’s like Matt Milia has been recruited as an architect by those dudes from Inception, and he’s created a foundation city that you can fill in with all of your personal memories and experiences and just as well live in it. And though “Orion is dead and gone,” Deadmalls and Nightfalls feels like Milia is describing a new experience in his own personal expanse.
8. Drunken Barn Dance – Grey Buried (Quite Scientific)
My first exposure to Drunken Barn Dance was in 2009 at Quite Scientific’s CMJ showcase in New York. This label has a reputation in my mind for quality releases, and though Grey Buried fits in seamlessly with my affection for their other releases, it’s not to say that this one doesn’t distinguish itself. It fascinates me how it can make me fist-pump (in the bar-band-not-Jersey-Shore way) and weep simultaneously. “No Love”, nearly anthemic, might be my favorite song of the year.
9. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Roc-A-Fella)
Do I even need to explain this? Yes, Pitchfork gave it a 10.0. Yes, it’s been in the top 5 of almost every year-end list you’re reading. Yes, this album deserves it. The man is a genius, and you can sense how meticulously the songs were planned out. Plus, I’m normally a HUGE Kanye naysayer. He seems like a total douchebag, and I wouldn’t want to spend five minutes with the guy, but I’ve spent hours with the album and it gets better with each listen. Seriously, it’s the only thing I’ve been listening to since it came out, and I’m going to have to stop soon or Oliver’s first words are going to be the lyrics to “Monster’.
10. Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record (Arts & Crafts)
I didn’t know that I liked this record at first. I didn’t even think I had heard it. Thankfully, I have some great friends who usually set me straight if I’m being too proud to admit I like something. For this album, the enlightenment came during a long 4th of July weekend drive to our friend’s lake house. I realized I was humming along and singing the songs that were playing in my friend Jason’s car, and I was informed that it was this record. The dialogue that ensued helped me forget that I was 8 months pregnant in 80 degree heat, and I have Forgiveness Rock Record to thank for that.