Best of lists, Top 10 lists, and their ilk are lame. Most people don't give a shit what you like or don't like. So in that spirit let me present a list of records that I've enjoyed in the past year. This is in no way a definitive list because I haven't listened to a lot of music, and it is in no particular order (I could probably give a much more accurate list of The Top 10 Things My Daughter Does To Drive Me Mad).
1) Kurt Vile- Smoke Ring For My Halo
Vile is a big John Fahey fan and it comes through in his finger picking style. He's got that guttural Philly accent going in his vocals too, affecting suburban malaise. He has veered toward a noisier live sound in the past, but seems to be coming to terms with the beauty of his music.
2) Gardens & Villa- Gardens & Villa
Sort of a new age pop record with funky bass lines and piccolo playing. This Santa Barbara, CA band utilizes atmosphere well, giving the instruments space to breath and delivering some great understated hooks.
3) Ween- Caesar
Not an actual release, it was posted as a download on Dean Ween's personal facebook page, but great nonetheless. Ween's outtakes are often better than many other bands releases. Most of the demos for their Quebec record are here as well as an album's worth of unreleased gems.
4) Obits- Moody, Standard, and Poor
Just plain old down and dirty rock from San Diego musical vet Rick Froberg, of Hot Snakes and Drive Like Jehu fame. This is the kind of music you wanna put on for a road trip to Vegas or to prep for a bar fight.
5) Chelsea Wolfe- APOCALYPSIS
She wasn't making much headway doing the coffee klatch folksinger routine so Chelsea Wolfe reinvented herself as a dark purveyor of, what she calls, "doom folk" (a lame title), but the results are pleasant. There are hints of a lot of older indie influences in this record: PJ Harvey, Sonic Youth, Polvo.
6) Noveller- Glacial Glow
Assured release from Brooklynite Sarah Lipstate. It's just her, a guitar, and effects pedals making ambient soundscapes that are progressive and regressive at the same time.
7) Purling Hiss- Lounge Lizards
Murky cacophony of buried vocals and blazing guitars from this Philly crew. Very raw, very punk, very good.
8) Unknown Mortal Orchestra- Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Solid debut from Portland by way of New Zealand group. Basically this year's Tame Impala (if you're familiar with the Australian band). They're not reinventing the wheel but they've crafted a good collection of edgy pop songs.
9) Frkwys Vol. 5: Mirror Mirror EP
Superb series from Brooklyn label RVNG Intl. where artists from similar genres collaborate, often improvising, on a music project. Vol. 5 finds venerable English post-punk musicians remixing songs from the Brooklyn Band Mirror Mirror's record The Society For The Advancement of Inflammatory Consciousness. I think you'll be transfixed.
10) Ocote Soul Sounds- Taurus
An homage to late 60's/ early 70's Latin soul & funk music. The bandleaders from Antibalas and Grupo Fantasma put this record together as a side project, but I think the group will have some longevity. Really groovy stuff here.
Amor De Dias- Street of the Love of Days
Andy Stott- Passed Me By/ We Stay Together
Atlas Sound- Parallax
Blood Orange- Coastal Grooves
Cut Copy- Zonoscope
Death Grips- Exmilitary
Demdike Stare- Tryptych
Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics
FRKWYS Vol. 7- Borden, Ferraro, Godin, Halo, & Lopatin
Fucked Up- David Comes To Life
Hauschka- Salon Des Amateurs
Jennifer Castle- Castlemusic
Jurgen Muller- Science of the Sea
The Weeknd- Echoes of Silence
Wild Flag- Wild Flag
The Afrosound of Columbia Vol. 1
AKA- Hard Beat
The Beach Boys- Smile Sessions
Miles Davis Live in Europe 1967
Rolling Stones- Some Girls Live in Texas '78
Void- Sessions 1981-83