2.Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks -Trent Reznor is a genius and is one of 2 men who I would willingly let have their way with me should he ever become gay and interested in bald language arts teachers (Jared Leto is the other). The most beat-oriented electronic and least aggressive guitar-oriented album of his career. Also, that show in Cleveland was BOSS!
3.Anciients – Heart of Oak - Came out of nowhere to surprise me. Sounds like Opeth/Baroness/Mastodon (3 of my favorite bands ever) without sounding like they’re ripping any of those bands off.
4.The Ocean – Pelagial - Badass prog-metal that portrays the slow descent into the depths of the ocean (get it?) which is itself a metaphor for the journey into the innermost reaches of our psyches (or so I am assuming). Anyways the music reflects this concept amazingly well and there’s even an instrumental version for you non-metal listening pussies people to try if you desire.
5.Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends - Produced by Danger Mouse. And like everything DM produces, it sounds like the way Tim Burton movies look – trippy and dark but in a cartoony, non-threatening way. It’s way more pop than their older records but still psychedelic and filled with fun, evil lyrics.
6.Queens of the Stone Age - …Like Clockwork - Their best album since Songs for the Deaf (a top 20 all-time record for me). The second half is more experimental, and in my opinion, much stronger than the first half.
7.Palms – Palms- Exactly what you would think Isis would sound like with Chino Moreno on vocals. In other words, awesome.
8.Arcade Fire – Reflektor - Incredibly different from everything they’ve done in a good way (MGMT, Daft Punk, take note). Songs that sound like Arcade Fire meets James Murphy (because they did), extended reggae-dub jams, prog- rock and many other sub-genres AF has previously ignored are all represented here.
9.Intronaut – Habitual Levitations (Instilling Words With Tones) – straight up prog-metal with jazz influences. They don’t scream anymore and that’s ok.
10.Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels - Rap record of the year. El-P and Killer Mike deliver thoughtful raps (study up, Kanye) over some DOPE electronic blips and bleeps with some PHAT beats.
11.Sleigh Bells – Bitter Rivals - Full of great boner jams. “Sing Like a Wire” is a top 3 song of the year.
12.CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe I can’t stop listening to this electro-pop. They just need to stop letting that dude sing lead on songs. I sometimes pretend the girl singer is a grown up pixie who secretly lives in an enchanted forest.
13.Polica – Shulasmith - Supersexy electronic indie/ r&b. “Chain My Name” is definitely one of my top 3 songs of the year. I just don’t get why they have 2 drummers.
14.Kylesa – Ultraviolet – psychedelic southern rock meets stoner punk-metal. Why are all the good American metal bands these days from the South?
15.How to Destroy Angels – Welcome Oblivion - So what if Trent’s wife isn’t very talented. She’s good enough and the pure geniusness of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are enough to solidify this as a top record for me. Would have been happy enough to settle for “Nine Inch Nails-lite” if Hesitation Marks wasn’t released.
16.Deafheaven – Sunbather - This album is crazy good and also just plain crazy. I actually wish it were less metal. I know, right? The post-rock shoegaze parts transport my mind to another world and then the noisy black metal sections make me be all like, “Bitch, don’t kill my vibe.” I guess it does kinda work though, it just takes some getting used to.
17.HAIM – Days are Gone - I read a review that said they sound like Wilson Philips meets Fleetwood Mac and I’d say that pretty much nails it. Super fun to dance like an idiot to while drunk in a forest at Lollapalooza.
18.Ghost – Infesstissumam – Catchy 70s pop-metal songs about Satan. Also, Ryan’s favorite band.
19.Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City - For a mega-popular band, I think they’re pretty underrated for the way the seamlessly meld world music, classical, and indie pop and make it sound ultra-modern. Amazing production here as with all their records. My only complaints are the ultra-weak slow jams. “Hannah Hunt” has got to be the worst song they’ve ever done.
20.Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience - I didn’t really like Vol. 1 when it came out and didn’t even realize it was going to be a double album at the time. Then Vol. 2 came out and made me remember why this dude jams. It also made me go back and re-evaluate the first volume. It’s certainly not the prog-pop (what else would you call it?) masterpiece that was FutureSex/Love Sounds, and there’s still some uber-lame cheese ballads but it sure beats the hell out of just about every other pop record made in the last 5 years.
21.Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman: Descension - I have fallen in and out of love with this band many times over the last 10 years. Just when they start to sound a little lazy, they come back with something fresh – like The Afterman double record that takes a slight detour from the rest of their thematic canon. There’s prog-rock jams galore with a healthy dose of catchy pop-punk sing along parts. They’re older and wiser and still defy categorization.
22.Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady Retro-futuristic funk a la Outkast, Prince, etc. Not quite the jam The ArchAndroid was for me a few years ago but it might be mostly due to the fact that I haven’t been able to spend a ton of time with this one yet.
23.Kanye West – Yeezus (Instrumental Version) – I don’t know if this version exists, but it should. Awesome, amazing beats and production meet terrible, thoughtless lyrics. There’s only so many times “Hurry up with my damn croissants” is funny before you start sounding like a complete moron. Also, rhyming “shit” with “shit” seven goddamn times in “Black Skinhead” is just mind-blowingly lazy. We get it, Kanye, you’re an egotistical douchebag. Please try just a tad harder in the lyrics department next time.
24.Charli XCX – True Romance - More boner jamz. Plus Charli is pretty much the sexiest thing in music right now (aside from Trent Reznor and Jared Leto of course). I DARE you to get through this entire video without touching yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPWcX-16A9Y
25.St. Lucia – When the Night - If M83 visited a tropical island and decided to not be so serious and let loose, they’d sound like this. These guys make me want to drink rum and throw a beach ball around. And that’s not easy for me to do.
26.Pearl Jam – Sirens - One of the better, if not the best, post-Vitalogy Pearl Jam albums.
27.Paramore – Paramore – Guilty pleasure of the year. I won’t try to justify this being on my list any more than that.
28.Kid Cudi – Indicud – More of the same type of electro-stoner raps you’ve come to expect from this dude. This probably would be a top 5 record of the year if this came out when I was in college. But I’m not, so it’s this far down on my list. I guess this is proof I have matured to some small degree.
29.Deltron 3030 – The Event II - Another record I haven’t listened to a ton yet but I’m just happy it exists after they released one of my favorite hip hop records of all time 13 damn years ago.
30.Disclosure – Settle – If you’re ever getting drowsy on a long drive home by yourself (say from Ryan’s place), put this record on full volume and you will most certainly wake the fudge up. Also, a nice collection of what I like to call “wiener boppers.”