50. miniature tigers – fortress
49. !!! - strange weather, isn’t it?
48. manic street preachers – postcards from a young man
47. twin sister – color your life ep
46. dom – sun bronzed greek gods ep
45. kylesa – spiral shadow
44. warpaint – the fool
43. tamaryn – the waves
42. jonsi – go
41. autre ne veut – autre ne veut
40. mgmt – congratulations
39. emeralds – does it look like i’m here?
38. lindstrøm and christabelle - real life is no cool
37. the tallest man on earth – the wild hunt
36. glasser – ring
35. foals – total life forever
34. shearwater – the golden archipelago
33. wolf parade – expo 86
32. delorean – subsiza
31. toro y moi – causers of this
30. spoon - transference
29. suckers – wild smile
28. broken social scene - forgiveness rock record
27. yeasayer – odd blood
26. pantha du prince – black noise
25. swans – my father will guide me up a rope to the sky
24. the black keys – brothers
23. trent reznor/atticus ross – the social network OST
22. ceo – white magic
21. gold panda – lucky shiner
20. gorillaz – plastic beach
19. hot chip – one life stand
18. these new puritans – hidden
17. avey tare – down there
16. robyn – body talk
15. agalloch – marrow of the spirit
14. the national – high violet
13. local natives – gorilla manor
12. twin shadow – forget
11. arcade fire - the suburbs
10. animal collective – oddsac (audio)
9. vampire weekend – contra
8. anathema – we’re here because we’re here
7. the morning benders - big echo
6. lcd soundsystem – this is happening
5. caribou – swim
4. beach house – teen dream
3. menomena – mines
1 (tie). flying lotus – cosmogramma
1 (tie). deerhunter – halcyon digest
* * * * *
let me say a few things here as a quick addendum.
kanye’s record is not on my list because i don’t see how it is better, more creative, more unique, or more groundbreaking than any of the albums i’ve got posted here. i don’t debate that it is a good record. i don’t debate that for a split second. but it’s not a massive deviation from the work of the more forward-thinking hip-hop artists of the last five or six years. honestly, i don’t see how it’s any more creatively significant than jay-z’s the black album, which is itself a good record. it’s not mindblowingly original, but it’s quite good for mainstream hip-hop. anyway, just because you listen to radiohead, chill out with justin vernon, and sample king crimson does not mean you are the re-inventor of every presently popular musical style.
also, if pitchfork could swoop down in here and explain to me, preferably in the simplest and most universally understandable terms available, how my beautiful dark twisted fantasy is a 10.0 record and merriweather post pavilion is not – even if we’re looking at shit from a very weighted “cultural relevance” (i.e., the record in terms of its global reception/importance) perspective, which seems to be the defense a lot of sites are using for putting kanye at #1 this year – i’d really appreciate the enlightenment. but they probably just knocked off that last 0.4 from merriweather because they didn’t want to look like salivating off-the-chain AC fanboys. because that’s the shit pitchfork cares about, y’know.
moving along, i have deerhunter and flying lotus sharing the number one spot because i don’t see how one can make a fair choice between cosmogramma and halcyon digest. these were the most beautiful, thoughtful, and surprising records of the year – and although they’re both unequivocal rule breakers, they’re night and day in terms of sound. cosmogramma is a fascinating study in what can be done with electronic music – conventional song structures and music theory guidelines hardly play a role in the shaping of flying lotus’s at-times stunning soundscapes and yet this record is anything but inaccessible. halcyon digest also rips up rock conventions in favor of dreamy prog-like passages, shifting rhythms, and genre shuffling; it’s been said before that bradford & co. take us on an 45-minute-long tour of 20th century music geekdom here, and they certainly do (the same was said of merriweather last year, but deerhunter are peers to the collective, not anything even resembling copycats; consequently, the two records sound completely different, united as they are in their nostalgia, their beauty, and their near-flawless craft).
anyway, as i’ve been writing this, i just realized what the key difference between my top two records of the year is: cosmogramma makes you think, whereas halcyon digest makes you feel. for an aspiring electronic musician like me, the ideas on flying lotus’s record make me think deeply about the unique uses of sound in each song. it’s also a perfect album for letting your mind wander in general. deerhunter’s record, on the other hand, is loaded with emotion that is impossible to mistake or ignore – i can’t think of many other songs from this year that make me as deliriously, instantly happy as “revival,” nor as wistful and introspective as “helicopter.”
thus, there’s no way i can make a decision between these two albums; thus, an album’s ability to make me think and/or feel is what made me choose it for this list. kanye’s album, by contrast, made me feel almost nothing – i can’t think of a single earnest emotional moment on the record at all – and only pushed me to think about why so many reputable critics are sucking his dick so hard this year. sorry to everyone out there who “gets” my beautiful dark twisted fantasy in the way i simply cannot. it just isn’t right for me.
one last thing before i shut up – why is no one getting excited/talking about oddsac? not even AC fans seem all that pumped, but this is the ultimate example of how electronic music is being employed to turn all of contemporary music on its ear. some of the more soundtracky/less songy bits can seem a bit unnecessary, but if i were making a top 50 songs list of the year rather than/in addition to this top 50 albums list, “tantrum barb,” “screens,” and “mr. fingers” would all have to be on it. i understand why “visual album” reads like “pretentious bullshit” to 95% of people, but this shit is gorgeous. go sniff it out if you haven’t yet.