So: I did a writeup of albums I liked that came out this year for Dusted. I opted to pair each of the albums with another, as I tended to be able to find…at least some common ground when I did this. (Though the Monae/Amidon double bill may have been a bit of a stretch.) This overlaps with, but doesn’t totally equal, my Pazz & Jop ballot, which I’ll link to once it’s up.
Also, I should throw in entirely non-objective recommendations for three albums that I quite enjoyed this year but couldn’t really write about (as the artists in question are or include friends of mine).
For me, writing about Rocky Votolato’s True Devotion necessitates bringing up his previous albums, most of which were characterized by an urgency and a taut style of playing. (Suicide Medicine is probably the apex of this.) True Devotion feels every bit as urgent, but there’s more of a sense of space. In other words, the quiet moments mean as much as the loud ones; the slow parts resonate as much as the uptempo sections.
Bells’ There Are Crashes is a fine six-song EP of instrumental music. On record, this is a fine, rich dose of post-rock, with cello aiding the quartet’s sinewy progressions through shifting moods and tempos. Live, they’re a very different creature, louder, more unrestrained, and even more conscious of space.
And Elk City’s House of Tongues is a terrific pop album, with Sean Eden’s shimmering guitar work aiding songs like “Stars” and “Nine O’Clock In France” towards the transcendent.