Benjamin Booker, Benjamin Booker – A powerful burst of blues rock, somewhere between the Black Keys and the Black Crowes.
Curtis Harding, Soul Power – Today’s R&B so frequently sounds like it’s made in a hermetically sealed studio with computers. Soul Power is so warm because Harding and the band at times sound like they’re performing live, not just cranking out the same riffs over and over until they get handed to the geek with Pro Tools to be cleansed and assembled for distribution.
July Talk, Guns + Ammunition – I’ll be seeing this group open for Rural Alberta Advantage in October, and I’m really looking forward to it. The songwriting is strong, and the one-two, male-female vocal combination creates a unique sound.
Jenny Lewis, Voyager – Do I love it as much as Rabbit Fur Coat or Acid Tongue? No. Voyager loses the country sound for a poppier sheen. Regardless, Ms. Lewis is still one of the smartest and funniest lyricists around, and that elevates her latest effort.
Tony Molina, Dissed & Dismissed – If Rivers Cuomo cut the cute shtick and just made hook-driven punk pop, the album would sound like Dissed & Dismissed.
Perfect Pussy, Say Yes to Love – This is one of those albums where not only do I like the collection for what it is, but I’m also excited about the potential it teases.
Pixies, Indie Cindy – It’s rare that an old band gets back together and makes a quality album (The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, etc.). The Pixies defy that expectation with a disc that stands with their best.
Royal Blood, Royal Blood – When you think of two-piece rock outfits, the Black Keys and the White Stripes tend to come to mind. But this bass-drums combo is much more No One Knows than Ball and a Biscuit.
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything – Prince once said, “Let’s get crazy.” Silver Mt. Zion took them up on that, making a sprawling, psychedelic punk album worthy of Sonic Youth.
St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Half the City – Another album that’s been on this list since the first quarter, Half the City is a well-made collection of Southern soul music. I can’t recommend these guys enough live.
Honorable mention: Cherub, Year of the Caprese; Courtney Barnett, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas; First Aid Kit, Stay Gold; Lana Del Ray, Ultraviolence; Guided By Voices, Motivational Jumpsuit; Lecrae, Anomaly; Parquet Courts, Sunbathing Animal; Pharoahe Monch, PTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; Pete Molinari, Theosophy; Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Give the People What They Want; Spoon, They Want My Soul; Spanish Gold, South of Nowhere; Trampled By Turtles, Wild Animals; Tweedy, Sukierae; Angel Wilson, Burn Your Fire For No Witness