Posts Tagged ‘Reviews’

Top 10 Albums 2022

December 14, 2022

Another year, another amount of music consumed. A few notable(?) developments this year:

  1. I didn’t purchase a single physical music recording. No albums, no CDs, no deluxe reissues of things I already own, no nothing. Overall… it felt fine? My record player isn’t in a particularly used room of the house. There is no CD player in the house and only 1/2 of our family cars even have one. Buying CDs & records has always been important to me, but these things are just taking up space. I decided to take a year off and see how I felt about it, and I think I’ll continue. Obviously, artists aren’t making any money off my streaming, so this year I’m planning on buying 15-20 albums (digitally) on Bandcamp this year. Artists get more money, less plastic is used, less stuff in my house. Maybe I’ll buy a physical release or two a year going forward.
  2. Regular concert attendance is back for me, and it’s the best! I think I made it to about a show a month this year. Some highlights: The Beths (and especially opener Rosie Tucker) at The Duck Room, MUNA at Delmar Hall, Illuminati Hotties at the Duck Room, Bright Eyes at the Pageant, etc. I also saw a couple shows at “The Factory” in Chesterfield this year. I do not like this place. Still haven’t made it to Off Broadway since COVID and I am furious with myself about this, but I’ll be seeing Cursive there in a week.
  3. My father (my primary role model for musical appreciation) has always encouraged me to listen to more country music. This year, I think that 3 albums on this list qualify, but I worry it’s not the right type of country music to impress my father. You can try to figure out which 3, I guess.
  4. If you listen to your Spotify Release Radar and favorite things you like every week, you’ll find new bands to listen to. The vast majority of this list (8/10?) are bands that I wasn’t familiar with a year ago, and some of them are pretty obscure (less than a few thousands streams on some songs of the album), so here’s one small data point that new artist discovery is possible through Spotify.

I listened to 50 or so new albums this year and 20 of them were in serious contention for this top 10 list. My #1 album this year came out in February, and I pretty much knew it right away. The rest of the list is a bit soft in the order. Anyway, let’s dive in!

10. Momma – Household Name

(Listen on Spotify)

When I was a youth, I would get to shows hours early to get a great spot. As a father of 2, I put my children to bed and attempt to arrive to a show in time to see the last 2 songs of an opener’s set. Shows with two openers… keep me up too late, and I generally get a little cranky about them.

BUT. Momma, who was the 2nd opener at Snail Mail was incredible, and a demonstration for why my attitude towards openers is bad/wrong. Momma was great, and their album Household Name is also great.

9. 2nd Grade – Easy Listening

(Listen on Spotify)

This band has been bouncing around my Spotify infinity playlists for a bit (song: Velodrome) but this is the first album I’ve given much time to. Great power pop fun, a la vintage Fountains of Wayne.

8. Chloe Kimes – Chloe Kimes

(Listen on Spotify)

I was lucky to spend the month of July with my family in Michigan this year. For the 2nd year in a row, one of our favorite parts of the trip was following Chloe Kimes from brewery to distillery to state park. Chloe is from Michigan but lives & works as a musician in Nashville for most of the year. But each summer she comes up to Michigan for a bit.

We stumbled across her performing at Stormcloud Brewing in 2021, and saw her two more times in the coming weeks. We were thrilled that our times in Michigan were overlapping again in 2022 and this time we saw her 4 times! She put out her debut full-length album this year, and it’s great. The songs all contain wonderful songs & stories. Here’s a picture of her with the Becker Family

7. Deer Scout – Woodpecker

(Listen on Spotify)

This begins a block of 3 albums with pink/purple album art by artists that I know nothing about. This is the whisperiest, bed-roomiest album on the list. Tender & nice & beautiful.

6. Annie Blackman – All of It

(Listen on Spotify)

Another Spotify Release Radar stumble-upon. Based on the play count, I’d guess that “Glitch” was the song that got me hooked, but it’s a strong release from start to finish. Also, she writes a fun newsletter.

5. Lilito – Happy Horse Lamp

(Listen on Spotify)

I love this album. It’s fun & quirky and filled with joy. I tried to do some googling, and didn’t learn much, but the lead singer’s dad is in Taking Back Sunday, and that’s cool. Listen to the first song, Waning, and I think you’ll know if it’s your jam or not.

4. MJ Lenderman – Boat Songs

(Listen on Spotify)

The first song of this album is about how Michael Jordan was badly hungover (rather than having the flu, or food poisoning) during his famous “Game 6” NBA finals performance.

“It wasn’t a pizza & it wasn’t the flu.
Yeah, I love drinking too.”

I’m not into NBA lore enough (at all) to know if this story holds any water, but it makes for a great song. There are lots of great stories & great songs on this album.

3. Plains – I Walked With You A Ways

(Listen on Spotify)

When Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee) does a music project, I pay attention. Her 2020 release St. Cloud made my list, and when I heard her voice on my Release Radar I thought “What’s this?” She teamed up with Jess Williamson (Someone I am not currently familiar with) and recorded a country album… and I love it! A lot of things on this list came out in the first half of the year, and this one came out more recently and has really been eating up the last month or so.


(Listen on Spotify)

I didn’t know much about MUNA before Silk Chiffon, and TBH I still haven’t spent a lot of time digging into their back catalog. So there’s some room to grow on my end. But I saw them live this year, and what an incredible experience. Would recommend 100% for anyone who likes having fun.

This is the danciest album on the list and maybe the only one that makes substantial use of drum machines?

1. Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You

(Listen on Spotify)

Big album name, big album length (20 tracks, 80 minutes) not a single wasted second. This is a dynamic album with ups & downs, fasts & slows, gorgeous haunting lyrics. The 3rd most popular song on the album (my current favorite), Simulation Swarm… is the 17th track! This one dominated my listening this year, with I think 4/5 of my Spotify Wrapped songs being from it. One (Certainty) even made it into the coveted “Sing this to my daughters at bedtime” rotation.

So, that’s the list. I’ve got a mix of some of my favorite tracks from these albums as well as 16 other albums that didn’t make the list, so take a listen.

Also, here were the albums that almost made this list:


Top 10 Albums 2021

December 29, 2021

Another year of working mostly from home means another year of a 40-hour-a-week music consumption habit uninhibited by the considerations of others. I listened to lots of things this year! Spotify says 82,030 minutes which comes out to over 26 hours a week. Over 50 new albums. Neat. When it all came down to it there were maybe 20 that I would have liked to give a spot on this list. But while Inflation is impacting many parts of the economy, this list remains at 0% y/y growth in length… we’re sticking to a top 10.

Some stats:

  • Newcomers to the list: 8/10
  • Debut Releases: 2/10
  • Non Male Artists: 7/10

This year’s top 3 is not as strong as the Top 3 in 2020, but it does have my 3 favorite genres represented: Indie Rock/Pop, Rap & Boygenius. The writing about these albums may be lacking this year, even compared to my previous poor efforts. That said, let’s dive in:

10. Claud – Super Monster

Listen on Spotify

The full-length debut from indie-pop artist Claud! The first full-length release on Phoebe Bridgers’ record label Saddest Factory! This came out in February and really stuck with me throughout the year as something I kept coming back to. It doesn’t sound at all like Phoebe Bridgers, except for being kind of sad.

9. Olivia Rodrigo – SOUR

Listen on Spotify

I hadn’t heard of Olivia Rodrigo until this album came out and my twitter timeline was full of jokes about it making millennials feel old. When I saw these jokes, I was expecting music I didn’t understand the appeal of bc I’m old & out of touch (see: Billie Eilish) BUT instead it was just some cool songs about the perils of being a teenager. This isn’t immediately relatable to my current life experience, but it is very good!

There’s a diverse range of genres & song-writing styles, but Rodrigo pulls it all together. It’s good. Listen to it.

8. Snail Mail – Valentine

Listen on Spotify

3 artists into our Top 10, 22 year old Lindsey Jordan of Snail Mail is the oldest artist to appear so far (But the youngest of the top 8, I think). Her sophomore album is as strong or better than her 2018 debut… which was also my 8th favorite album of that year.

Valentine has a much broader sound without giving up the intimacy of Lush.

7. Adult Mom – Driver

Listen on Spotify

I guess this album came out in March but I didn’t get into it until later in the year. Ended up being one of my favorites. Enjoyable storytelling, hooks, etc.

6. Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee

Listen on Spotify

I’ve listened to a lot of Japanese Breakfast albums but this is the first one that’s really stuck with me. It’s fun, triumphant, expansive indie pop.

5. Islands – Islomania

Listen on Spotify

Making their 4th appearance on this list since since 2006, Islands is Back with their first album in 5 years! Islomania is the least complicated, most purely fun release ever from the band I think. Their whole catalog is enjoyable but this is perhaps in contention for my 2nd favorite release of theirs.

Fun, energetic, catchy, straight-foward pop. Great stuff.

4. Cassandra Jenkins – An overview on Phenomenal Nature

Listen on Spotify

This is traditionally not my thing, and I don’t know why it caught me so strongly. It’s only 7 tracks long. The most listened to track on Spotify is mostly a spoken-word type thing. It has some smooth jazz vibes.

BUT it’s… phenomenal! When I was typing that first paragraph, I was like “maybe I should drop this further down the list” but then I listened to the first few seconds of every track, and they are all great.

3. Lucy Dacus – Home Video

Listen on Spotify

Lucy Dacus’s Home Video marks the last member of the supergroup Boygenius to release an album since that group’s impeccable 2018 EP. Before the Boygenius EP came out, Lucy was the only member of the group I was particularly familiar with as her earlier-in-2018 sophomore album Historian was my 3rd favorite album of that year.

Home Video draws on Dacus’s crystal clear recollections from earlier in her life. Stories of Vacation Bible School camp, Friends’ subpar boyfriends & fathers, complicated relationships with boys & girls. Each one told with the detail of clarity like it happened yesterday, but with the perspective of someone with distance.

While I still slightly prefer Historian, this is a very enjoyable followup.

2. Tyler the Creator – CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST

Listen on Spotify

Remember rap in the late aughts? Tyler the Creator remembers. Rappers at the height of their game rapping on other people’s beats with DJs confusingly shouting thing during tracks. It was the best of times, it was the most obnoxious of times.

CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST is Tyler’s homage to this style & time, and he brings the mixtape king, DJ Drama along for the ride. This is from start to finish the most traditional & accessible “rap” album. But it still has the bombastic & creative beats that Tyler’s known for.

This is easily my favorite Tyler album ever and it’s one of my favorite rap releases in recent memory.

1. Kiwi Jr. – Cooler Returns

Listen on Spotify

I enjoyed Kiwi Jr.’s 2020 Debut “Football Money” a good bit, but I don’t think it was really in contention for my top 10 last year. I don’t know what made this album different but it was in heavy rotation from January 22 when it came out!

The lyrics are biting, the hooks are big, the guitars are jangly. I really enjoy the whole vibe of the thing.

It was also one of my 4 year old Julia’s favorites. When we’re riding in the car together, it’s about 50/50 on who gets to pick the tunes. She generally gravitates towards Frozen & Moana soundtracks. But one day in the car she said “Dad, can we listen to Kiwi Jr.?” and I’m not going to lie, this made me feel great.

So, here we are. Julia and I’s favorite album of the year.

Get Your Mix!

If you want a little taste of everything here + 20 or so songs from my other favorite releases of the year, you can grab the mix here:

The Decemberists: The King Is Dead

January 27, 2011

So, I’m planning on reviewing a lot of albums on this site. My goal is 50 in 2011. I want to try to do this in some kind of consistent way. With this in mind, I am going to have sections for each review: History, Review, Rating. In the history section, I’ll talk either about the band’s history or my history in the band. The aim of this section is to put my review into perspective by disclosing what I know about the band and how I feel about their earlier work. The review section should be pretty self explanatory. Finally, the rating scale will be a different arbitrary rating (i.e. 4/5 basketballs, NC-17, 12 stars…). Hopefully this will be relevant to the CD. Oh, and I’ll also provide download links. Because I want you to like fun. I also want to keep them pretty short. Here we go. Review 1/50

The Decemberists - The King is Dead

The King is Dead, the Decemberists' sixth studio album

Artist: The Decemberists
Album: The King Is Dead
Label: Capitol Records
Release Date: January 17, 2011

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Girl Talk 1.18.11 The Pageant, St. Louis

January 25, 2011

I’ve now seen Girl Talk three times and all three have been a sweaty mess. Twice in a good way. First, an overview of the first two times:

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