What a great year in indie music this year! It may be early, but some of my favorite albums of the decade got released this year. These are the songs that really stuck with me this year. My top 10 are in order but the "b-sides" are in their appropriate listen order. I created Spotify and Youtube playlists for your enjoyment, too.
The Top 10
Sturgill is the 2nd coming of Waylon Jennings and holding down the #1 spot for his brand of psychedelic country... filled out with an axman from Estonia no less! This song goes from country to Mars and back. He's got a howl like no other.
It Ain't All Flowers
Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
Sharon has been at it for years, but broke away and produced her own album this year that is far and above her best, both in sound and in being packed with powerful, memorable songs. This one hits me every time.
Your Love is Killing Me
Sharon Van Etten, Are We There
The Flaming Lips took on Sgt. Pepper's and did quite well... some good, some less and, well, this one I think they knocked out of the park. Thanks in part to a very subdued Miley Cyrus and a creepy Uncle Moby.
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
The Flaming Lips, With a Little Help From My Fwends
I was stopped cold in my tracks hearing this song and had to hear it again 3 times in a row. I still haven't tired of listening to it.
This Is My Hand
My Brightest Diamond, This Is My Hand
Thom's at his anti-streaming best again. This whole album continues with his dark electonric beats with his angelic voice hovering above. In partiuclar, this song evokes something timeless and feels like it was sampled from something lasting years.
Thom Yorke, Tomorrow's Modern Boxes
Ok, I cheated on this one. It's an old song, from an old album, but was re-released digitally this year and made available on streaming services. This is quite possibly my favorite song of all time. I hope to have many more years with Björk.
All Is Full of Love
Björk, Verspertine Live (re-issue)
I wish I could have laid on the floor and listened to Grouper write, rehearse and record these songs. Listen for the ambient sounds of the cabin where she recorded this one.
This is the best prog rock album I've heard in years. Wait, what? Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar. Your ears could never finish unfolding the ornate layers of this song.
Never Catch Me
Flying Lotus, You're Dead!
My only regret this year for live shows was having to sit down in the upper deck of the Fox Theatre for St Vincent's show there. Even so, her tight songwriting, spare coreography and 4 bars of unbridled guitar goddess flourishes floored me.
St. Vincent, St. Vincent
Careful... don't listen to this album on a gray day when you're sad.
Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes
Sun Kil Moon, Benji
Another cheat... an old song but released on a live compilation of Antony's shows from the previous year. This is one of my favorite songs from the beautiful voice of hers.
For Today I Am a Boy - Live
Antony & The Johnsons, Turning (live)
What a cruel world it is... to be given an album that won't stop smoldering even weeks after trying not to listen. This song is the perfect combo of guitar and voice.
Lana Del Rey, Ultraviolence
The Father has slowly grown on me. Every time I hear him, I like him even more. He released this song as a single late in the year and it's a perfect satirical look at the sad state of popular culture in America right now.
Bored In The USA
Father John Misty, (single)
This album shines with precise songwriting. The title track is simple and evocative. His voice, I hope, will last for years.
Perfume Genius, Too Bright
A young singer/songwriter besides Taylor Swift can still make it these days. These songs are heartbreaking and beautiful in their simplicity.
Angel Olsen, Burn Your Fire For No Witness
I love the goofy smile on this guy. His songs aren't bad either.
Chamber of Reflection
Mac Demarco, Salad Days
My last cheat. Yoko Ono at 80+ is still rocking it and making amazing music with her completely underrated band. This is Yoko at her best with her stop and start screeches and vocalizations.
Waiting For The D Train
Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band, Between My Head And The Sky
My heart skipped a beat when I heard the band got back together. And, seriously, they picked up right where they left off with hard rocking music that only the three of them can make.
My favorite punk band of the year with this song that has a long ambient tape loop at the end that gives you the space to recover from what they just did to your soul.
Advance Upon the Real
Perfect Pussy, Say Yes To Love
The Savages seem to be destined for greatness. This is a live recording of an avant-garde show they did with a killer Japanese punk band. This entire thing (20+ minutes) tells an incredible story with an amazing collaboration. Wow. Wow.
Words To The Blind
Savages / Bo Ningen, Words To The Blind