These are my picks for the top 10 albums of the year...
1., So Runs the World Away –The Americana singer/songwriter’s knack for penning literary-minded lyrics, rife with by atypical characters and scenarios, continued. Elegant vocals and a rich sonic tapestry woven by uncommon instrumentation added up to one stunning album.
2. Hoodoo Gurus, – Rejuvenated and eclectic as ever, this veteran Aussie band used the Stones, Stooges, MC5 and New York Dolls as touchstones for its rousing garage rock and power pop excursions.
3. Against Me!, White Crosses – Ironing out some rough edges didn’t dilute the politically-minded punkers’ intense sonic attack, especially during “I Was a Teenage Anarchist,” “Suffocation” and the title track.
4. Steel Train – Frequently frantic like and quirky as Modest Mouse, the young Jersey guys played like their life depended on it, particularly on exhilarating anthem “Bullet” and punkish “Speedway Motor Racers Club.”
5. Trashcan Sinatras, In the Music – These Scotsmen tend to take several years to make albums, but they are always worth the wait. Case in point: this enthralling, ultra-melodic batch of alt-pop tunes, encompassing everything from poetry to Burt Bacharach-styled grandeur.
6. Devo, –A welcome return for the innovative group, whose long-awaited comeback album sounded completely modern, yet revisited stylistic elements that put them at the forefront of the late ‘70s post-punk movement. “Sumthin’” and “Don’t Shoot (I’m a Man)” proved they could still whip it real good.
7. Ed Harcourt, Lustre – The British singer/pianist’s studious chamber pop is rife with vivid lyrical imagery and bolstered by more of a female harmony presence than usual, making for an inspired, captivating collection.
8. Matt White, It’s the Good Crazy – From the whimsical opener “And the Beat Goes On” and sly humor in “Therapy” to a simply gorgeous falsetto on “When I Fall” and ebullient closer “Sunshine,” this soulful piano popster’s winsome NYC tales definitely stuck in your mind.
9. Far, At Night We Live – Jonah Matranga’s singing teetered on the edge of desperation, while his band mates provided a sound both monstrous and mellow. The result was the year’s most compelling alt-rock reunion effort.
10. Findlay Brown, Love Will Find You – Filled with swelling orchestrations, quavering vocals and reverb-drenched music that recalled Orbison, Presley and Spector, this British male’s latest dose of sublime pop treasures transported the listener back to the early Sixties.