The top ten albums of the year: these albums were a joy to listen to from beginning to end. While all the albums on our lists (Be sure to check out 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, and 20-11) deserve recognition, these set themselves apart as the best albums of the alternative music scene this year.
What do you think we missed? Let us know in the comments!
Also, look forward to our staff picks list where we’ll get to let you know some of our favorite albums that didn’t make the list, including those from other genres!
10 - Spiritualized – Sweet Heart Sweet Light
With an unassuming cover, this album, the seventh release from this English band is the one of the most ambitious rock and roll records we’ve seen since Wilco’s heyday. Full of catchy riffs, lyrics about all the great rock tropes, and enough distortion to make a guitar weep, it’s hard not to be charmed by Spiritualized. Starting an album with an almost ten minute track is a risky move, but it pays dividends here, as it perfectly sets up the album for the extremes of heavily distorted “Headin’ for the Top Now” and the emotional chorus of voices on “So Long You Pretty Thing.” With clear influences ranging from U2 to Pavement, it’s great to see an old band release a masterpiece after so many years.
Written by David Christians
9 - Ty Segall – Twins
Props to Ty Segall for bringin’ back the solo in the 21st century. The 25 year-old garage-punk prodigy brought us three stellar albums this year, Twins being the latest and the best really was saved for last. Slow-tempo songs are more prevalent than ever on this record than they have been in Segall’s previous work, but that does nothing to make songs like the gem “Ghost” or closer “There Is No Tomorrow” any less fuzzy or hard-hitting.
Written by Maddie Rehayem
8 - Titus Andronicus- Local Business
Local Business is a fairly straight-forward pop punk album that just manages to do everything right. The lyrics are great, balancing existential introspection with straightforward storytelling and the compositions are epic and anthemic.
Written by Eric Holmes
7 - Grizzly Bear – Shields
Grizzly Bear’s fourth studio album is not one driven by a single or two to please the masses. Instead, it is deep, multifaceted, seems experimental, yet keeps its focus on its ambience; a work of art exploring melancholy. Droste and Rossen’s vocals over tracks comprised of a host of traditional instruments with bouts of hectic electric guitar mean that Shields doesn’t stray far from the band’s past ventures, but also makes it one of this year’s best.
Written by Charlie Weller
6 - Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
Every now and then heartbreak happens, and when it does, you need the music to get you through it. Fiona Apple has the break-up album of the year. Not only do her lyrics bring to life the pain and fight of a break-up, but Apple, better than any artist I’ve ever heard, really creates a sound as ugly and at the same time beautiful as heartbreak can be.
Written by Joe Winner
5 - Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan
The guys and gals of Dirty Projectors bring everything we love about them and more to this album. The tightest harmonies around combined with some of their best beats and instrumentation to date. They also proved to be just as incredible live during their show at this year’s Pygmalion.
Written by Erika Harwood
4 - Tame Impala – Lonerism
To strike a balance between vintage 70s psychedelic and futuristic tunes so perfect is rare, but Tame Impala have done just that on the sophomore LP Lonerism. Every song on this album is a “trip” into the mind of Kevin Parker, frontman of the band. Take a track like “It Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” – melody and vocal delivery evoke the Beatles, but the distorted instrumentation takes the psych-aspects of the music a step beyond anything you’ve heard before.
Written by Maddie Rehayem
3 - Passion Pit – Gossamer
I’ll be honest, I never thought that Passion Pit could follow up freshman effort Manners with anything spectacular. The singles off of their first album were just too good. Anything else would be a disappointment. Boy was I wrong, though. While they moved furher away from their electric style, the Boston-based group electrified with Gossamer. Additionally, “Take A Walk” is easily one of the best tracks of the year. Enjoy!
Written by Boswell Hutson
2 - Japandroids – Celebration Rock
This album sounds just as the title might suggest. The vocals get pushed to the limit as they try to keep up with the loudness of the instruments. Guitar noise and hard-hitting drums put the fun back into rock music.
Written by Stan Polanski
1 - Jack White-Blunderbuss
There was a monumental amount of hype prior to the release of Jack White’s first solo project, Blunderbuss. White did not disappoint. With a solid mix of classic feeling blues and guitar-crunching rock, this album was everything we wanted. In a year that was dominated by news of Jack White and his label, Third Man Records, this is the definitive Rock/Alternative album of the year.
Written by Joe Winner