Best Music of 2020

UPDATE: I’ve posted a DJ set where I played 39 songs from my best of 2020, some of which are not mentioned in the post below. Check it out!

Well, what a year. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is glad to see the back of 2020. During the long months of the pandemic, feeling isolated both physically and socially from friends and family, I turned to music even more than usual. Strangely, there were long periods when I didn’t (couldn’t?) listen to music, maybe because I missed hearing and seeing it live so much, but sure enough, as December came around, I found myself seeking out more stuff that was released this year and, perhaps surprisingly, there was a lot! Although I’m sure some musicians found themselves drained of inspiration, others took up the mantle and worked prodigiously. Welland, Ontario’s own Daniel Romano, with whom I’d been unfamiliar until this year, released TEN things this year, from a cover album of Bob Dylan’s Infidels to a live album to several new albums of material with his usual band, to collaborations with others. I’ve only listened to about half of this material, and so far it’s all excellent. Despite that, he doesn’t even make an appearance on my Top Ten. What can I say? It was a very strong year. (But you should immediately go and buy “Visions of the Higher Dream”, for a start.)

I hope my post will point you in some new directions, and bring you some of the joy that music brings to me. Hopefully next year we can return to seeing music in a live setting.

I was surprised that my top pick pushed its way to the top so late in the year. I only discovered Boston duo Sweeping Promises in December, and yet their debut record played on repeat in my earbuds from the first time I listened to it. 10 songs in just 28 minutes tells you that these are punchy postpunk earworms, with catchy riffs that remind me of everyone from Devo to UK singles bands like The Flatmates and The Shop Assistants.

I have to be honest. For much of the year, New Zealand’s delightful The Beths were occupying top spot. Their second album, Jump Rope Gazers, came out in July, and I discovered it and them at the same time, also getting to enjoy 2018’s Future Me Hates Me at the same time. In a year where Toronto’s Alvvays didn’t put out a record, The Beths filled that place easily. (P.S. I hope I’ve got something from Alvvays to talk about in 2021!).

I was surprised to see a new record from The Strokes and even more surprised how much I loved it. It came out way back in April and its title The New Abnormal seemed eerily prescient. It’s perfect for these strange times, and the record was very strong, considering it’s the first new material from the band in seven years.

I’d been hearing about Jason Isbell for a few years, and I knew that he played on the excellent record by The Highwomen last year; no surprise, since he’s married to Amanda Shires, one of the group’s members. Reunions is his fourth record with his band the 400 Unit. Prior to that he was a member of Drive-By Truckers. Isbell is an excellent songwriter who also possesses a really pleasant voice. I don’t mean that in a “faint praise” way. He really is lovely to listen to, and this record has some very strong and memorable songs, which touch on issues of political and personal responsibility. The video for his song “Only Children” is quite beautiful, too.

Liiek are a postpunk band from Berlin whom I first stumbled across on a free Bandcamp sampler. I’m glad I tracked them down, because every song on their self-titled debut release is great. So is their 7″ single. I believe they’re available for whatever you want to pay. I look forward to hearing more from them.

I had anticipated a new record from Phoebe Bridgers for quite a while, and Punisher did not disappoint. When I first saw her live, opening for Julien Baker in 2017, I knew that she was bound to break out sooner or later, and this year, she’s been everywhere, even as we’ve all been mostly at home. She claims to be an introvert, and this year, introverts have maybe been able to cope better than most. Bridgers’ music has certainly helped.

I’m not sure how I found Crack Cloud, but I’m sure glad I did. A Vancouver-based collective that apparently formed to help its members maintain their sobriety, the project has an infectious energy that reminds me of large-band version of Talking Heads. I’m looking forward to digging into their earlier material.

Back in late 2016, I was living in Dublin for a film festival contract job, and one of my first outings was to see one of my favourite bands, Teenage Fanclub. Opening the show was a singer-songwriter from Belfast called Malojian (real name Stevie Scullion). Fast forward a few years and he’s put out an amazing record called HUMM, collaborating closely (over the Internet, of course) with Jason Lytle (formerly of Grandaddy). The result is a perfect tonic for this miserable year, including the stunning album closer “The Singularity” which asks the listener “Is there anyone here who can heal the trembling of my heart?”

Sault came out of nowhere this year (well, okay, they came out of the UK) with not one but two strong albums of empowering r&b/hiphop/funk promoting black pride. They’re a semi-anonymous outfit who first emerged in 2019 with two albums entitled 5 and 7. This year’s are Untitled (Rise) and Untitled (Black Is). Both are worthwhile, though I’ve spent more time with Black Is. Music this timely is refreshing, especially when it spans so many styles so effortlessly. Despite heavy themes, it will lift you up.

Close Lobsters last released a record in 1988, so it was a complete surprise for me to encounter new material from them in 2020. Released at the end of February, the horribly-titled Post Neo Anti: Arte Povera In the Forest Of Symbols actually picks up right where the band left off, making intelligent and hook-filled music (start with “All Compasses Go Wild”) that should by all rights gain them some new fans. But that title. And don’t even get me started on the terrible album artwork.

I have to end this post by telling you how much I’ve grown to love Bandcamp. Not only do they give more back to the artist than nearly any other platform, I also love the simplicity of the design, and the fact that artists have control over pricing, as well as what songs are available to preview. I’ve found many of my favourites just from bouncing around on Bandcamp. They also have been doing monthly Bandcamp Fridays where they give up their own cut of the fees and the artists are free to keep that portion themselves or to donate to worthy causes. It’s an excellent initiative, and I feel good spending my money there.

Even more than usual, music helped me through this year’s highs and lows, reinforcing my belief that music is as essential to my life as food, oxygen, and love.

Sweeping Promises - Hunger for a Way OutThe Beths - Jump Rope GazersThe Strokes - The New AbnormalJason Isbell and the 400 Unit - ReunionsLiiek - LiiekPhoebe Bridgers - PunisherCrack Cloud - Pain OlympicsMalojian - HUMMSault - Untitled (Black Is)Close Lobsters - Post Neo Anti: Arte Povera in the Forest of Symbols

In list form, if you’re not visually inclined:

  1. Sweeping Promises – Hunger for a Way Out
  2. The Beths – Jump Rope Gazers
  3. The Strokes – The New Abnormal
  4. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Reunions
  5. Liiek – Liiek
  6. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
  7. Crack Cloud – Pain Olympics
  8. Malojian – HUMM
  9. Sault – Untitled (Black Is)
  10. Close Lobsters – Post Neo Anti: Arte Povera in the Forest of Symbols

Honourable Mentions (unranked):

Some great EPs:

And a fantastic “re-issue” in that the music was made before 2020, although this compilation is brand new:

Just for fun, here are some of my previous lists:

How about you? What were some of your favourites?

Best Music of 2019

I did it again. With about a month to go in the year, I went on a mad quest to find the best music of 2019. Here it is with January already half over and I’m only posting now. Long story short: music is still awesome. Many artists are still pushing boundaries and making fantastic sounds. I hope that I might point you in some new directions with this post.

The year wasn’t even half over when I first heard Cate Le Bon‘s Reward, but I knew it would be hard to top, and it did indeed prove impossible. The Welsh singer had been living in Los Angeles, but for this record she wrote the songs while living alone in England’s Lake District, and it shows. At times on previous records, her eccentricity seemed to overwhelm, but on Reward, it’s more, uh, rewarding. Especially great is the video for “Home to You,” which was filmed among the Roma community in Slovakia. Her angular riffs don’t seem accessible at first, and then, weeks later, they’ve become earworms. Delightfully odd earworms. There’s also a real warmth here that makes these songs comforting.

Sharon Van Etten has had a busy few years. She began acting (in the sadly-departed Brit Marling series The OA), finished a degree in psychology, got married and had a baby, and moved from New York to Los Angeles. She also completely reworked her sound for Remind Me Tomorrow, adding layers of synths in place of the acoustic guitar she’s been known for. And it totally works, bringing an eeriness to songs like “Jupiter 4” (named for the actual keyboard that appears in the song) and “Comeback Kid.” Seeing her play these songs live also really made this record a favourite of mine this year.

New Orleans duo Generationals are incredibly prolific, putting out a regular stream of singles during 2017 and 2018, but Reader as Detective came along in 2019 and lodged itself in my earbuds with a whole batch of catchy tunes. It’s not necessarily deep or original stuff, but it’s upbeat and always lifts my mood.

FKA twigs was an artist I’d mostly just heard about and never heard. Magdalene is only her second “album” (and first since 2014) but she has a fully developed and original sound that is somewhere between Kate Bush and The xx. It’s pretty raw emotionally even as the music itself is really polished and beautiful. Perfect for listening on headphones while walking in the rain.

I’d never really paid any attention to Alabama Shakes, the band Brittany Howard fronted earlier in the decade. But I began seeing her solo debut mentioned in a few year-end best-of lists and then I found some live performances online. Jaime covers a wide range of styles and moods, but is never less than compelling. And “He Loves Me” (where she sings hopefully that God loves her even “when I’m smoking blunts, when I’m drinking too much”) resonated with this lapsed/ex/quasi believer. She sings about race and sexuality from a place of honesty (she’s queer and bi-racial) and inclusion, and radiates vulnerability and power all at once.

The Murder Capital are a young Dublin post-punk band, who have emerged somewhat in the shadow of the more well-known Fontaines DC. When I Have Fears was written around the suicide of a friend, and the emotional honesty is bracing, as is the music, which has a little bit in common with English band Idles. The lyrics are literate (“Where the answer lies it emits the waves, so erupts the tide upon which you sail, oh, my dearest friend, how it came to this”) and the album artwork reminds me of the haunting work of artist George Tooker. A very promising debut.

Reignwolf is mostly Saskatoon’s singer-guitarist Jordan Cook. He relocated to the Pacific Northwest in 2012 and began playing an energetic blues-rock style that reminds me very much of Jimi Hendrix. That it took him until 2019 to finally release a full-length album is inexplicable, but Hear Me Out was worth the wait. Now if I can only see him live, I’ll be a happy man. For reference, check out this rain-soaked and death-defying performance from 2013.

Zig Zags have the distinction of being the only band I’ve seen twice but never in my own town. I discovered these LA punks while living in Dublin in 2017 and got to see them again last February in Los Angeles. Weirdly, the video I took at both shows is of the same song, also the name of their new record, They’ll Never Take Us Alive. Their music is self-described “punk fucking metal” and I enjoy it quite a lot. Video from Dublin (2017) and Los Angeles (2019).

I’ve been tracking Chicago’s Immortal Bird for a few years now. Two very strong releases came out in 2013 and 2015, and this year they released their second full-length, Thrive on Neglect. Metal has an almost laughable number of “sub-genres” that don’t mean much to me, and the band describes their own music (surely, tongue firmly in cheek) as “crusty blackened proggy deathgrind,” which may not help. In any case, it’s virtuosic, punishing, and cathartic. Frontwoman Rae Amitay manages to channel rage while still showing vulnerability, and seeing them live recently was absolutely jaw-dropping. Their album artwork is always gorgeous, too.

Each year I find one new artist that’s an absolute happy surprise. Enter Sturgill Simpson. This “country” veteran (he’s 41 and just released his fourth album) has always thrown curve balls, and it’s great to see what some see as the most hidebound of musical genres finally opening up to other influences (Lil Nas X and Yola are also worth your time). Simpson’s record Sound and Fury is like a country “Ziggy Stardust” or at least it has enough glam attitude and sound to draw comparisons. He also released a 41-minute anime film on Netflix that functions as a series of videos for each of the songs. I’m happy to discover a real country music outlaw, doing whatever he wants with his talent.

As always, music helped me through this year’s highs and lows. Seeing several of these bands live also rejuvenated my belief that music is as essential to my life as food, oxygen, and love.

Cate Le Bon - Reward
Sharon Van Etten - Remind Me TomorrowGenerationals - Reader as Detective
FKA twigs - MagdaleneBrittany Howard - JaimeThe Murder Capital - When I Have Fears
Reignwolf - Hear Me OutZig Zags - They'll Never Take Us AliveImmortal Bird - Thrive on NeglectSturgill Simpson - Sound and Fury

In list form, if you’re not visually inclined:

  1. Cate Le Bon – Reward
  2. Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
  3. Generationals – Reader as Detective
  4. FKA twigs – Magdalene
  5. Brittany Howard – Jaime
  6. The Murder Capital – When I Have Fears
  7. Reignwolf – Hear Me Out
  8. Zig Zags – They’ll Never Take Us Alive
  9. Immortal Bird – Thrive on Neglect
  10. Sturgill Simpson – Sound and Fury

Honourable Mentions (unranked):

  • The Highwomen – The Highwomen
  • The Black Keys – Let’s Rock
  • The Skints – Swimming Lessons
  • Pup – Morbid Stuff
  • Pernice Brothers – Spread the Feeling
  • Lower Dens – The Competition
  • Hollerado – Retaliation Vacation
  • Sleeper – The Modern Age

And some 2018 releases I was late to, discovering them in 2019:

  • Idles – Joy as an Act of Resistance
  • Greta Van Fleet – Anthem of the Peaceful Army

Just for fun, here are some of my previous lists:

How about you? What were some of your favourites?

Best Music of 2018

It’s list-making time again. 2018 was a momentous year for me. I got cancer, fell in love, and won a cross-country train trip. And those are just the highlights (and one lowlight).

I can’t really explain it, but Janelle Monae‘s Dirty Computer hit hard and immediately. Her queer and sex-positive brand of “black girl magic” lodged itself in this old nerdy white guy’s heart and hasn’t let go. I still can’t listen to the whole record without tearing up multiple times. Seeing her live this summer was also a highlight of my year.

I was just lukewarm on Wild Nothing‘s last release, 2016’s Life of Pause, so I was delighted that this year’s Indigo felt like a return to form for them. Lots of hooks on the new record, for those that like a bit of nostalgic ’80s-’90s stuff with a mixture of guitars and electronics.

I was also impressed with Leon Bridges evolution. Though some were critical of his move away from the pure soul sounds of 2015’s Coming Home, I think he’s smart leaving behind the gorgeous but simple imitation of soul artists like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. His new record feels more like he’s being himself.

I’ve been a fan of Julien Baker‘s since the beginning, and after discovering Phoebe Bridgers (thanks to an opening slot on Baker’s last tour), I was immediately onboard with boygenius, their “supergroup” with Lucy Dacus. Even better was seeing them live, with individual sets from all three young songwriters, followed by an encore set as a group. I hope this project has more in store.

I can thank my friend Tom Hall for alerting me to Natalie Prass. Despite looking like the nerdiest white girl ever on the album cover, Prass creates some gorgeous R&B style music that’s worth discovering.

I’ve backed off on the metal in recent years, but 2018 still had new releases from a couple of my favourites. Tribulation put out the better of the two I’ve included, and I think it’s the more accessible for the non-metal fan as well. Despite that, I’ve included At The Gates in my Top Ten as well. It’s impressive that since their return in 2014 after a long absence, they’re continuing to make compelling music.

I think The Essex Green was a random eMusic discovery, but I enjoyed their eclectic brand of pop. This record also marks a return after a 12-year absence. I can only hope they don’t wait another dozen years to bring us more new music.

Dream Wife were a blast of fun female punk energy in a year where #MeToo seemed to remind us how much crap women have to endure. I’ve always loved strong women with guitars, and this trio brought some swagger with songs like “Let’s Make Out” and “Spend the Night.”

Tracyanne and Danny marked the return of Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura. Her bandmate Carey Lander’s 2015 death brought that band to an abrupt end and it’s nice to hear Tracyanne’s lovely voice in a new collaboration.

As always, music helped me through this year’s highs and lows. Seeing several of these bands live also rejuvenated my belief that music is as essential to my life as food, oxygen, and love.

Janelle Monae - Dirty Computer
Wild Nothing - IndigoLeon Bridges - Good Thing
boygenius - boygenius (EP)Natalie Prass - The Future and the PastTribulation - Down Below
The Essex Green - Hardly ElectronicDream Wife - Dream WifeTracyanne and Danny - Tracyanne and DannyAt The Gates - To Drink From The Night Itself

In list form, if you’re not visually inclined:

  1. Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer
  2. Wild Nothing – Indigo
  3. Leon Bridges – Good Thing
  4. boygenius – boygenius (EP)
  5. Natalie Prass – The Future and the Past
  6. Tribulation – Down Below
  7. The Essex Green – Hardly Electronic
  8. Dream Wife – Dream Wife
  9. Tracyanne and Danny – Tracyanne and Danny
  10. At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself

Honourable Mentions (unranked):

  • Matthew Sweet – Tomorrow’s Daughter
  • Okkervil River – In The Rainbow Rain
  • Ume – Other Nature
  • Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

And some 2017 releases I discovered in 2018:

  • Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger in the Alps
  • Ryan Adams – Prisoner

Phoebe Bridgers - Stranger in the AlpsRyan Adams - Prisoner

Just for fun, here are some of my previous lists:

How about you? What were some of your favourites?

Best Music of 2015

It’s that time of year again, for list-making and looking back. As per usual, I crammed a lot of new music into the last month of the year, and two of my top 10 releases for this list actually snuck in within the last week.

My top three records were pretty much cemented by September. Although Beach House surprised us with a second full album just months after Depression Cherry, nothing dislodged these songs from top spot for me. I’ll have to admit that it has a little bit to do with a girl. This record and Lower DensEscape from Evil were the stuff I was marinating in when I found out my heart was still working this summer. Although my romantic resurrection was quickly followed by some tiny heartbreak, these songs will always remind me of someone special and new. Also, after having waited since 2012 for new material from both bands, I was exceptionally happy with the results.

I was delighted with the new direction from Belfast’s Girls Names. While Arms Around a Vision doesn’t have the infectious groove of 2013’s The New Life, the songwriting is bolder and feels more personal. If you like jagged post-punk with echoes of Nick Cave and Ian Curtis, you owe yourself a listen.

Tribulation‘s The Children of the Night came out of nowhere very late to knock me out. Deliriously theatrical from start to finish, this will appeal to fans of early atmospheric horror films like Nosferatu or The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The scary (though intelligible) vocals are a necessary counterpoint to some really melodic guitar work.

Grimes may be accused of going more commercial with her new record Art Angels, but really there is nobody else doing what she’s doing. I’m very happy to see her in full control of her considerable talents on this very versatile collection of songs.

Having discovered some of Tamaryn‘s older releases this year, I was a bit surprised by the direction Cranekiss takes. While her older material was more soulful and shoegazey (reminiscent of Mazzy Star), this new one is very upbeat and danceable in places. If you ever liked Curve, you’ll like this.

Droid are a metal band from Brampton, one of Toronto’s western exurbs. I’d seen them live a few times over the past year, and this EP, recorded almost two years ago, finally saw the light of day in 2015. The recording and mixing isn’t great, but it gives some sense of what this three-piece are capable of. Thrashy space rock, reminiscent of Voivod. They’re a tremendous band live, and I hope 2016 will see them playing more shows, and maybe putting out a full-length.

The Dears are one of my favourite Canadian bands, and they continue an amazing streak of putting out consistently great records. I describe their sound as “music for underdogs played by underdogs” since they always seem criminally underappreciated. But I can truthfully say that a new listener could dig in anywhere and get a good sense of their quality.

Immortal Bird were a pretty random discovery, but I was blown away by the power of this Chicago metal group and their fierce frontwoman Rae Amitay. Not for the metalphobe/faint of heart, but it’s catharsis at 100 decibels.

Fuzz is one of Ty Segall’s many side projects. I went to see them live on a whim and ended up really enjoying the retro fuzzed out sound. There’s a very ’60s vibe to the guitars, the drumming, and even the way the vocals are mixed.

There are a bunch more that I simply didn’t have time to really listen to enough, so a few of those are listed (unranked) as Honourable Mentions.

A theme for the year might be my rediscovery of my love for live shows. I attended lots more this year than in the recent past, and when I could ignore the pretty girls and the beardy shitbags (and the people who can’t hold their booze), often found myself with happy tears wetting my cheeks. I mentioned in last year’s post how much music has meant to me lately, through some very difficult circumstances, and in a live setting my emotions are even closer to the surface than usual. I’m reminded of a ridiculous quote from one of my favourite films. In Bruce Robinson’s 1987 classic Withnail and I, Uncle Monty (played by Richard Griffiths) speaks of “weeping in butcher shops” and now I’m the guy who weeps at metal shows. So be it. Music brings me joy like almost nothing else does, even when things are otherwise pretty bleak. I hope it does the same for you.

Beach House - Depression Cherry
Girls Names - Arms Around a VisionLower Dens - Escape from Evil
Tribulation - The Children of the NightGrimes - Art AngelsTamaryn - Cranekiss
Droid - Disconnected (EP)The Dears - Times Infinity Volume OneImmortal Bird - Empress/AbscessFuzz - II

In list form, if you’re not visually inclined:

  1. Beach House – Depression Cherry
  2. Girls Names – Arms Around a Vision
  3. Lower Dens – Escape from Evil
  4. Tribulation – The Children of the Night
  5. Grimes – Art Angels
  6. Tamaryn – Crane Kiss
  7. Droid – Disconnected (EP)
  8. The Dears – Times Infinity Volume One
  9. Immortal Bird – Empress/Abscess
  10. Fuzz – II

Honourable Mentions (unranked):

  • Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell
  • High On Fire – Luminiferous
  • Beach House – Thank Your Lucky Stars
  • Black Fast – Terms of Surrender
  • Battlecross – Rise to Power
  • Destroyer – Poison Season
  • Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp
  • Max Richter – from Sleep
  • La Luz – Weirdo Shrine
  • Life in Film – Here It Comes

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 2015’s music (and there’s no way to actually do that), I’d recommend downloading this massive 183-song annual collection from Fluxblog.

Best Music of 2014

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.

Alvvays - Alvvays
First Aid Kit - Stay GoldSpoon - They Want My Soul
The Bilinda Butchers - HEAVENPallbearer - Foundation of BurdenWhite Lung - Deep Fantasy
Parquet Courts - Sunbathing AnimalAt The Gates - At War With RealityAgainst Me! - Transgender Dysphoria BluesLiterature - Chorus

In list form, if you’re not visually inclined:

  1. Alvvays – Alvvays
  2. First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
  3. Spoon – They Want My Soul
  4. The Bilinda Butchers – HEAVEN
  5. Pallbearer – Foundation of Burden
  6. White Lung – Deep Fantasy
  7. Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal
  8. At The Gates – At War With Reality
  9. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
  10. Literature – Chorus

Honourable Mentions:

  • 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.