Every day this week, Impact 89FM will post a list of favorite albums from a different member of our music staff. Today’s list comes to you courtesy of Matt Revers. Matt is our on-site correspondent, reviewing shows and interviewing artists like Dan Mangan, Chris Bathgate, and Mountain Man.
Author’s Note: This is not a list of the best albums of the year. This is not a list of what I think are the best album of the year. This is a list of my favorite albums of the year.
Beach House - Teen Dream
Beach House has been making consistently dreamy, far-off music that shimmers intimately ever since their self-titled debut in 2006. Teen Dream is a logical progression following their last two albums, and is their best release to date. Their magic is continually powerful, even if a bit formulaic (electronic drum beat, sparkly synth, electric guitar picking, reverb vocals). Every track feels like it belongs, and the bedroom feel never gets dull after repeated listens.
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today
Previous to the release of Before Today, somebody would say, “Ariel Pink,” and someone else would say, “Lo-fi.” But once placed in an actual recording studio with professional-grade equipment, that correlation was forever changed by APHG. Refreshingly, Ariel Pink survives without the gimmick (which wasn’t actually a gimmick) of low-quality recordings. In fact, the song-writing abilities of the band was enhanced dramatically once they got their hands on something that wasn’t a junky 8-track recorder in a bedroom. 1970s AM is survived through Before Today, and just because I never really heard it, doesn’t mean I can’t be nostalgic, right?
Mountain Man – Made the Harbor
I don’t really have enough time to praise this album enough. In fact, it could just as easily been my number one choice. I’ll keep it brief by saying that three ladies met in Vermont, sing stunning songs woven together with three-part harmonies and sparse guitars. It all sounds familiar, but entirely new, all to make it timeless.
MGMT – Congratulations
I want to thank MGMT for putting this album out. At least for a minute, tweens in coffee shops weren’t so full of conviction when squealing, “I LOVE MGMT” whenever they came on over the speakers. That’s not the only reason why this albums is fantastic, though; MGMT isn’t new to twisted psychedelia. But they finally embraced the darker side of weird with this album by digging a little deeper into themselves. The album is entirely more introspective, even with several major name drops (Brian Eno, Dan Treacy), and perhaps a bit more self-gratifying. Though there was a lot of disappointment in the album, a good bit of it stemmed from the fact that the album wasn’t comprised of the song Kids twelve times. They made the album they wanted to make, and the listeners that were willing to take them a little more seriously were rewarded for it.
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
I wasn’t sure about this album at first. I guess I was startled by how subtle it was, and how ambitious. But after repeated listens, the themes started revealing themselves more and more, and bloomed into an entire album instead of 16 different songs mushed together. Though some of the guitar and synth tones still grate on me from time to time, I think it’s a good thing. It’s clear that Arcade Fire isn’t the same band they were when making Funeral, and that has its positives and negatives.
Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
Flying Lotus is unrepentingly cool as hell. His beats are shaky and glitched-out, and sometimes sound like they’re ready fall apart, but always gather themselves right when they need to into something amazing. Call Cosmogramma anything you want, but you’ll probably be wrong. It defies every genre I can think of. It’s not dubstep, it’s not electronic, it’s not anything. Or maybe it’s everything. With guests like Thundercat on bass, and a remixed Thom Yorke providing vocals for a track, the album just works.
Earl Sweatshirt – Earl
The most NSFW rap I’ve heard in a while. You’re easily offended? Good. Earl Sweatshirt has you where he wants you. If you’re turned off by completely excessive cursing, the use of the word “faggot,” and sexual violence, I’d say skip this album. Personally, I justify listening to the ridiculously explicit content by seeing Earl Sweatshirt as a hyper-condensed can of hip-hop-culture soup. At 16, Earl Sweatshirt and the rest of the Odd Future crew (the oldest member is Tyler, the Creator at 19) leave audiences polarized about whether or not they like what they’ve heard, but most people will agree: they’re good.
Sleigh Bells – Treats
Play Treats loudly. Everything about it is pushed into the red. It’s hip-hop beats with scraping guitars and venomous vocals that make one of the most unique sounds in a long time.
Candy Claws – Hidden Lands
For having no experience with vintage synthesizers going into making this album, Candy Claws have really outdone themselves. The album’s lyrics are the result of Richard M. Ketchum’s words being passed back and forth through a translation program, which is pretty darn cool, but the music itself is what is the most stunning. The sounds are at once glistening and murky, combining droning synths with galloping percussion that sounds like a mix between the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and Animal Collective if they were writing classical music four years ago (good luck with that analogy). Feels good, man.
Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
Deerhunter has certainly culminated their own sound, and all of their inspirations of the past have come together and formed a great album. Unfortunately, the album can sound so much like Deerhunter that I forget that it’s a new album. That aside, songs like “Revival,” and especially “Helicopter” are some of the best tracks to come out this year.
Honorable Mention. Twin Sister – Color Your Life EP