Let me be honest: I have a hard time assembling lists like these. There’s an overwhelming necessity to not only provide a sound opinion, but to also make that opinion matter. In a year where the top three albums on three of the bigger critic sites are not only the same, but arranged in such a way that each album finds a seat at a #1 spot, it makes one feel sheepish to suggest anything different.
I was at odds with much of this year. Visions and Ekstasis seemed overrated; Moms and Skelethon seemed underrated; channel ORANGE was good, but was it the best? It’s alienating to see critics and peers alike all saying the same thing with such vehemence and consistency that to say otherwise is practically rebellion. Not agreeing with the consensus, I took a backseat on the latter half of the year. I got lazy. But that is no excuse. My list is my own. Take it as you will.
The playlist below is by no means a “Best Of.” Rather, they are chosen as secondary representatives to albums that are found on my list.
- Cloud Nothings - “Wasted Days”
- Sharon Van Etten - “Give Out”
- Menomena - “Pique”
- Frank Ocean - “Bad Religion”
- Purity Ring - “Cartographist”
- Aesop Rock - “Gopher Guts”
- Japandroids - “Younger Us”
- Death Grips - “Hustle Bones”
- Kendrick Lamar - “The Art of Peer Pressure”
- El-P - “$ Vic/FTL (Me and You)”
20. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
Political connotations aside, this is practically the same GY!BE that left us in 2002. With less talk than on previous albums, Ascend! is all about the music. That music is as grating and tireless as ever, making it the sole proprietor of its hopelessly apocalyptic soundscape. Even though that whole stink about the Mayan calendar didn’t pan out (Surprise!), you can still play the album and feel like maybe it happened anyway.