Written by Eric Holmes
1 – “Slow Burn” – Hudson Bell
Hudson Bell is a band that I just recently discovered and I would be hard pressed to find another band that epitomizes my taste in music like them. Mixing fuzzy, distorted guitars with deceptively catchy vocal melodies, the whole album invokes a 90’s slacker vibe that lends a laid back feeling to the album. Combine that with great lyrics and solid guitar playing and you get one of my personal favorite albums.
2 – “She’s Really All I Need” – Mac DeMarco
Mac DeMarco is really a lot weirder than his more popular album of last year, 2, lets on to be. His first album of 2012, Rock and Roll Night Club, is a weirder, even hazier take on the guitar driven jangle pop that was so great from his second release. Though some of the tracks from his first effort can be a bit forgettable, DeMarco’s breezy guitar playing makes it a very enjoyable listen.
3 – “Damage” – Yo La Tengo
Yo La Tengo has a knack for sounding incredibly cool no matter what style of music they happen to be playing at that moment. “Damage” is a quiet, spacey and sad song that is driven by a simple acoustic guitar hook that is just perfect. Of Yo La Tengo’s many slow jams, this is one of my favorites.
4 – “Come To The City” – The War On Drugs
I love road trip music and Slave Ambient makes for some great road trip music. It’s big, but quiet, and leaves you feeling free. “Come To The City” is one of my favorite tracks from the album and it effectively sums up many of the strengths of the entire album.
5 – “Leave” – Whirr
“Leave”, though the second song off Whirr’s debut EP, Distressor, is what truly kicks off the great EP. Opening with a memorable hook and a wall of sound, “Leave” is an excellent shoegaze song from a band that deserves much more attention than what they get.
6 – “Grounded” – Pavement
Pavement is one of my all time favorite bands and my favorite album of theirs depends on what day of the week you ask me. Today’s favorite is Wowee Zowee and how could I not choose one of the most emotionally powerful songs written by the band? Malkmus’ guitar does all the talking in “Grounded” and it rarely sounds better.
7 – “Head In a Ceiling Fan” – Title Fight
In the context of Title Fight’s Floral Green, “Head In a Ceiling Fan” comes as a big surprise mid-album as the post-hardcore gives way to shoegaze for one big, memorable moment. It makes the song stand out so much more and is definitely the highlight of the album. Out of that context, “Head In a Ceiling Fan” is a great shoegaze song featuring a strong melody and some great guitar work.
8 – “Thought Ballune” – Unknown Mortal Orchestra
With their new album less than a week away, I could not avoid putting psych rockers Unknown Mortal Orchestra on the list. Their self-titled debut from 2011 sounded like nothing I had ever heard before, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with the rosy, psychedelic grooves that UMO would jam to so effortlessly.
9 – “Air Conditioning” – DIIV
DIIV’s debut, Oshin, was one of my favorite albums from last year. Featuring swirling guitars layered with tons of reverb, Oshin is hypnotic, dreamy and laid-back. Every groove comes off as effortless as they pleasantly wash over you with layers of reverb.
10 – “Barnacles” – Ugly Casanova
Ugly Casanova was a side solo project for Modest Mouse frontman, Isaac Brock, that released Sharpen Your Teeth in 2002. While the album as a whole is fairly hit and miss, opener “Barnacles” is a true gem that features some great song writing along with interesting instrumentation. It’s a great track from a largely forgotten band and it’s one of my favorites.