|Philip Johnson | Glass House|
Spoon | They Want My Soul
They Want My Soul is a wonderfully crafted album from one of America's best, an most unheralded, bands. I really enjoyed this entire effort. "I Just Don't Understand" and "Outlier" are two tracks that haven't been worn out yet. Spoon is back and for further evidence listen to "Inside Out."
Benjamin Booker | Benjamin Booker
His debut album is a self-titled diamond in the rough. This Floridian, who calls New Orleans home, has a firm grasp on shaking roots music to its passionate core. The pace ebbs and flows while he's racing around, the emotion remains full speed. The entire record is a punch to the gut. There are too many outstanding tracks, that I truly love, to name them all. Just cop this record ASAP. If you can't rock out to this...
The Barr Brothers | Sleeping Operator
Sleeping Operator is possibly my favorite album of the year. These two brothers know how to create true art. Their music is Beautiful. I actually feel something while listening to this record. "Love Ain't Enough," mixes its lyrics like a painter into the color of instruments. "Valhallas" is a tale of romance, the west, and the chances that are out there. "Half Crazy" drips in a totally different direction, smearing the edges with slide guitar. The final painting, "Please Let Me Let It Go," washes out the stains, feeling more like a religious ritual than a musical experience. This record is so good.
Clear Plastic Masks | Being There
Right from the start they come for you. "In Case You Forgot" sprints out of the gate, a not so subtle reminder to brace your self. "Outcast" follows and makes me want to dance like Rodney Dangerfield in Caddy Shack. Next is "Baby Come On," a cool, dreamy psychedelic number that cries out, let me come home...one more time. The vocals capably drift to the softer side in "Aliens." A ripping organ-driven instrumental track, "Dos Cobras," is primed for a night on tour. This album is smoking.
Low Roar | 0
Whether it be the soft drumming, or the electric hum of a Casio, Ryan Karazija's truthful lyrics pierce through the swirling ambient warmth. The first couple of tracks get us ready for the heart-felt, "Nobody Loves Me Like You," one of my favorite songs of the year. It's as if he has captured the sounds of the instruments and made them understand their role. His ability to haunt through beautiful lyricism is at the forefront of each melodic landscape. "I'll Keep Coming" feels like a marching army, the listener is confronted by its relentlessness. This record is a journey, reminding me to embrace what I've experienced and to appreciate what I have not. His move from California to Iceland surely played a role.
If I were forced to narrow it down to a top-ten, with a few honorable mentions, my baker's dozen would be: Jack White, Lazaretto | Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music | Ikebe Shakedown, Stone By Stone | Spoon, They Want My Soul | Benjamin Booker, self titled | The Barr Brothers, Sleeping Operator | Clear Plastic Masks, Being There | Low Roar, 0 | Marco Benevento, Swift | Wilco, Alpha Mike Foxtrot
Honorable Mentions: The Apache Relay, self titled | Beck, Morning Phase | Prince, Art Official Age Sorry Lykke Li, Ryan Adams, Shovels & Rope, Steve Gunn, and Strands of Oak.
The Besty's are coming—my annual list of the best live music from throughout the year. Enjoy the rest of your calendar year. Happy Holidays.