Honorable Mention (in no particular order):
Dawes - Nothing Is Wrong
The Decemberists - The King is Dead
Iron & Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean
Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo
Okkervil River - I Am Very Far
Yuck - Yuck
10. Cut Copy – Zonoscope
Highlight track: Take Me Over
This 80s new-wave inspired follow up to the excellent In Ghost Colours is one of the most fun albums of the year so far. The synth driven beats will have you dancing and singing all through the night.
9. Smith Westerns – Dye it Blonde
Highlight Track: Weekend
This album is just so damn catchy. The brilliant guitar licks are the life force driving every song forward and the other elements fall perfectly into place. Simple, guitar-driven, rock music at its finest.
8. Curren$y – Covert Coup [EP]
Highlight Track: Scottie Pippens Featuring Freddie Gibbs
Curren$y is on top form on this EP and with The Alchemist handling production it just couldn’t miss. “My description, high off that fuzzy green prescription.” The man is a wonderful wordsmith!
7. Man Man – Life Fantastic
Highlight Track: Bangkok Necktie
Andrew loves this band so much that I refused to listen to them out of spite; big mistake! After seeing these guys live, I immediately picked up this album and it is incredible. Controlled chaos, unbridled emotion and downright wacky melodies are blended to create this excellent album.
6. Destroyer – Kaputt
Highlight Track: Savage Night at the Opera
The perfect mix of jazz, indie rock, new wave and pop, Destroyer has constructed an album that’s ambition is only matched by its beauty. There’s really not much to be said, it just needs to be heard.
5. Middle Brother – Middle Brother
Highlight Track: Blue Eyes
3 of folk’s most talented songwriters join forces to create a magnificent album. The band is all about collective creativity and both the album and live show exhibit this perfectly. For each song, one of the songwriters takes the lead while the others provide the instrumentation and backup vocals. The result is a well-written but very diverse album that shows off each of the individual’s personal style.
4. The Antlers – Burst Apart
Highlight Track: Rolled Together
This is a great follow-up to the soul crushing Hopsice. The atmosphere of the album is very spacey and at times sounds like something Pink Floyd might have made. It provides the perfect backdrop for Peter Silberman’s emotional delivery.
3. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Highlight Track: Perth
Another excellent follow-up; the self-titled is the perfect response to the universally loved For Emma, Forever Ago. Its sound is completely different but equally beautiful. Justin Vernon is a true musical genius.
2. Fucked Up – David Comes to Life
Highlight Track: Queen of Hearts
This 78-minute punk rock opera about love, death, guilt and redemption is a sprawling narrative of Shakespearean proportions featuring a likeable but unwitting protagonist and an unreliable narrator. Ambitious doesn’t begin to describe the scope of this album. Admittedly, the album is difficult to get into but oh so rewarding once you have!
1. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
Highlight Track: Grown Ocean
Robin Pecknold and company really stepped their game up from their self-titled debut. While no individual song quite surpasses “White Winter Hymnal”, the album as a whole is far superior. Beach Boys like vocal harmonies and brilliant instrumentation make this one of the most beautiful albums I’ve heard in a while.