These days, when December arrives, I begin scrambling to listen to as much music from the current year as I can. Although I hear a few things throughout the year, I’m always scrambling to make my Top Ten a fair list and not just the only ten new records I heard that year. I think I did a good job this year, although five of my top ten are year-end discoveries.
As soon as I heard the first notes of Alvvays’ “Adult Diversion,” I knew I was onto a good thing. Their first album is filler-free, nine perfectly-polished pop gems that will stick in your head immediately. I was also privileged to see them live twice this year (once opening for hardcore act Fucked Up, which was adorable). I’m also immensely proud to be putting a Toronto band top of my list for maybe the first time ever. And I’m excited that there are a few other local bands tilling the same dreampop ground that may make it onto my list next year (WISH, Moon King, The Lonely Parade, Iris).
And I have to mention being knocked out by First Aid Kit’s record Stay Gold quite late in the year. If you’ve read this blog this year, you’ll know that I’d be all over a record with that title, and lyrically and musically, it’s been a balm (yes, maybe a literal first aid kit) for my battered heart even as I find myself crying while listening to it.
Spoon made another solid record this year, but as with all of their more recent stuff, it’s taken me a while to let it settle in. Amazing that I’ve been listening to them for more than 15 years now.
My love affair with metal continues unabated, although I find a bit too many “doom” bands are stretching the songs to absurd lengths. That being said, Pallbearer’s excellent record cannot be denied its rightful place in my list. And nice to see another comeback record (At The Gates) to rival last year’s Carcass release.
The biggest surprise on the list is a band called The Bilinda Butchers, who have made a wildly ambitious concept album based on a 19th-century Japanese love story. With a band name that references one of my all-time ladyrock crushes, I was bound to give them a chance, but the record (which you can actually download and name your own price) is musically eclectic but always compelling. Check it out.
So another year of semi-random music listening, but that’s the way I like it. If I find myself listening to something a lot, it’s going to make my year-end list, and so without further ado, here are my favourite releases of the past year.
In list form, if you’re not visually inclined:
- Alvvays – Alvvays
- First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
- Spoon – They Want My Soul
- The Bilinda Butchers – HEAVEN
- Pallbearer – Foundation of Burden
- White Lung – Deep Fantasy
- Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal
- At The Gates – At War With Reality
- Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
- Literature – Chorus
- The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers
- Nothing – Guilty of Everything
- Army Navy – The Wilderness Inside
- The Raveonettes – Pe’ahi
- Exodus – Blood In Blood Out
Just for fun, here are some of my previous lists:
How about you? What were some of your favourites?
P.S. If you still haven’t caught up on all of 2014’s music (and there’s no way to actually do that), I’d recommend downloading this massive 10-disc annual collection from Fluxblog.