Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid
What. The. Eff. Rap, folk, R & B, disco, Prince-ripping funk, this record has pretty much anything you could ask for. And Monae's singular talent holding it all together. Unlike anything out this year. Meshell Ndegeocello is likely taking notes.
LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
He's no longer "Losing [His] Edge" but aging hipsters rarely make good dance records. James Murphy eschews this trend, busting out the lively, giddy jerk-and-stomp of "Drunk Girls" (who, according to his song "wait an hour to pee") among many many other raw, rollicking jams.
Girl Talk - All Day
Greg Gillis, master of the mish-mashed mixtape, drops Black Sabbath metal under Ludacris swagger, Miley Cyrus pop under M.O.P. mob vocals and many other musical delights on this 72-minute, website-breaking masterwork. Easily the best mash-up mixtape he's ever made.
The Hold Steady - Heaven Is Whenever
Proving that losing a band member doesn't always mean losing your sound, Craig Finn and company create another peon to the misguided, the addicted, the "clever kids" - sick to death of modern life, bored with the future, sick of sex, highly literate. It's smart bar-rock, done well. And then, suddenly, a clarinet solo.
Spoon - Transference
While the previous Spoon outings have been more elaborate than the last ("Ga ga ga ga ga ga ga" being slathered in studio lather), this record takes the necessary step back and simplifies the hooky songwriting we first heard from Britt Daniels 10 years ago on the "LoveWAYS" EP.
Jukebox the Ghost - Everything Under the Sun
Bouncing, jangly pop numbers about mental illness never sounded so good. The very definition of pure pop music. We had to pleasure of having these gents on the program for an in-studio this year and they did not disappoint.
Les Savy Fav - Root For Ruin
"Post-punk" doesn't even begin to cover the madness that is Les Savy Fav. Neck-snapping energy oozes out of these brisk anthems (with the very obvious exception of "Poltergiest" the only real misstep here). You'll find yourself pogoing across the room one moment and laughing at clever lyrics ("the stakes were so low / we ate off the floor") the next.
Chromeo - Business Casual
Two of funkiest Canadiens in music drop '80s-flavored disco-friendly pop. The closest you'll get to a reunion of your favorite 80s synth-pop bands - updated with some AutoTuned (or at very least pitch-shifted) vocals.
The Sword - Warp Riders
Take Texas-sized slabs of hooky blooz metal a la Black Sabbath, add in an overarching sci-fi/fantasy storyline about orbs, time travel, witches and aliens, drop in a dash of Zepplin-esque drumming and top it all off with a singer who takes the proceedings VERY seriously and you have a panel-van-driving, Frank Frazetta-worshipping album that can rock a 7-minute song without diverging into Mars Volta-style wankery.
Los Campesinos! - Romance Is Boring
The evolution of this band has been intriguing to say the least. From shout-out-loud rants against the Cardiff, Wales music scene to flustered exaltations that would make Leonard Cohen hella jealous, all with a messy jumble of music that, on paper, sounds like it would be chaotic, but manages a certain delicate balance. All while not being afraid to not take themselves TOO seriously.
A literal TON of albums dropped this year and not all of them were -- quite -- good enough to be Top 10, but were killer on their own for various reasons.
Alkaline Trio "This Addiction"
Robyn "Body Talk"
Kanye West "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy"
Cee Lo Green "The Ladykiller"
The Extra Lens "Undercard"
Mark Ronson and the Business International "Record Collection"
The Thermals "Personal Life"
Jaill "That's How We Burn"
Gaslight Anthem "American Slang"
The Fall "Your Future Our Clutter"
Minus The Bear "OMNI"
She & Him "Volume Two"
Holly Miranda "Magician's Private Library"
You Say Party! We Say Die! "XXXX"
The Hot Rats "Turn Ons"
Flaming Lips / Stardeath & The White Dwarfs / Henry Rollins / Peaches "Dark Side Of The Moon"
Lady Gaga "Fame Monster"