Vampire Weekend-Modern Vampires of the City. You may scoff and think they are a band only fit for hordes of screaming teenagers. You’d be wrong. The lead singer and songwriter of this band, Ezra Koenig, is somewhat of a musical genius and has crafted a true album full of brilliant hooks and profound lyrics cushioned by songs that get your feet tapping. Definitely amongst my most-listened to records.
Valerie June-Pushin’ Against a Stone. This Memphis-based musician calls her sound “organic moonshine roots music”. I can attest to that, but I’d also add that these songs are full of grit, longing, and everything in between. A sort of Appalachian soul album, this record was big in Europe but hasn’t managed to catch on in America. That’s a shame.
Jason Isbell-Southeastern. I’ll say it: if I was forced to pick an album of the year, this would most likely be it. A masterpiece. The songwriting is superb and the songs “Cover Me Up” and “Elephant” might need to duke it out for the song of the year award. The fact is that every song on this album is tight, complex, emotional, full of vivid imagery and characterization. This is a recording of a master songwriter at his best.
Patty Griffin-American Kid. Even though this is an album-long tribute to her late father, the record transcends that into being the story of anyone who listens to it. That’s one of the magical powers Griffin has here, and this album gives us some of her best work including “Wild Old Dog,” “Ohio,” and “I Am Not a Bad Man”. She has done no wrong in her whole career and continues that streak here.
Daft Punk-Random Access Memories. You can’t not dance while listening to it. You can’t not sing along. “Get Lucky” was my song of the summer.