[tps_title]Allyson Johnson’s Top Ten Music Albums[/tps_title]
- Banks – Goddess
I’ve seen some meandering opinions on this one, but mine stays directly in the “love it” territory. Her vocals are gorgeous, layered over yet another beautifully done production with very clear cut quality. The songs range from having dance vibes to having Adele-like soul, and it’s a variety that works rather than feeling discombobulated. It’s a personal sounding album and it’s one that welcomes all listeners in.
- Broods – Evergreen
They’re one of the most pop-infused alternative rock bands I’ve heard in a while, and it’s one of the reasons they’re so infectious to listen to. “Coattails” is an absurdly catchy song, and much of the remainder of the album follows suit. It’s a strong showcase for any band, particularity one so fresh out of the gate. Bands can win me over with a confident sound from the get-go.
- James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical
Similar to what I’ve said before, James Vincent McMorrow’s music just clicks with what I like. One part Bon Iver, the other part James Blake, McMorrow strikes just the right chord of the two while giving his music his own R&B, electronica vibe; yet another artist who’s departed from his folk roots. He easily has some of my favorite vocals of any artist today.
- Taylor Swift – 1989
Okay… let’s just say I’m the last person who expected for this to happen and yet, here we are. I love a good pop album and 1989 had pop-anthems, pop-synth, and a singer who was very obviously having fun with her music rather than sticking to a genre to appease the music charts. Songs like “Out of the Woods” and “Style” showcase some wonderful studio production – check out the harmonizing layers on the former. And despite its obvious radio-grab sensibility, “Shake It Off” is a song that’s hard not to hum and groove to. The lyrics are simple but self-aware, the vocals serviceable and nothing special, but it’s the hook and structure of her songs that pull me in. Easily my most replayed album of the year.
- FKA Twigs – LP1
FKA Twigs has a very memorable album on her hands. There’s a crisp production quality to her music, some James Blake-like influence, and a style that’s as authentic as you can get in the music business. Stunning, atmospheric and dipped in unconventionality.
- How to Dress Well – What is this Heart?
I really love a good album that utilizes harmonious vocals and electronica influences with soulful lyrics. It’s just about everything I need in an album to make it worth checking out for me. The final song on the album, “House Inside,” is just stunning musicianship.
- Chet Faker – Built on Glass
I have a very particular vein of music that I love, but I’m not well versed enough in musical terminology to aptly describe it. I guess if I added it by its parts, it’s soul pop male vocals layered over some synthy, alternative rock instrumentals. Make sense? No?! Well then, listen to Built on Glass, which is essentially my taste in a nutshell. His album is super atmospheric and suitably moody when I’m in my hard introspective moods. His vocals are beautiful and haunting, full of emotion.
- Braid – No Coast
This album was my summer anthem. I was working at a record store, I wasn’t dealing with real life problems, and I was ahem… coasting by. It was nice, and this album more than any other from this year marks the summer for me. With pop-punk inflections, some catchy hooks and upbeat lyrics, it was the album to drive with your windows down to: screw the AC.
- The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace is There
This one kind of snuck up on me. It wasn’t a band I had been all too familiar with, but was surrounded by for much of the year until I finally realized I was a fan. They’re true emo(tive) pop-punk with an album that’s a screaming, bleeding open wound of loss and grief. Their song “Dendron” is one of the year’s best, with a monumental build-up into the bridge and an excellent vocal showcase.
- Ben Howard – I Forget Where We Were
I knew of Ben Howard for his folksy, singer-songwriter styling, and while I enjoy that genre of music, for some reason I was never compelled to listen to his first album. I Forget Where We Were adds a moody sensibility, a low rumbling thread of emotional poignancy that allows Ben Howard to escape the circular trap of what folk music can turn into.
HONORABLE MENTIONS TO: Bleachers – Strange Desire, Jessie Ware – Tough Love, Phantogram – Voices, and Tiger’s Jaw – Charmer.