10.  Let England Shake –PJ Harvey

PJ Harvey does a few themes well. Namely, desperation anxiety and the appeal of the city. This album didn’t strike me as having the same raw quality found on earlier albums such as Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea. It did create an interesting audio landscape and was a favorite of mine for writing or listening to music by candlelight while drinking wine. This might have been Ms. Harvey’s intention.

9. Yuck- Yuck

One of the best Pavement-esque throwback albums to come out in years, Yuck combined great hooks and lyrics with powerful cords and a bass that really drew me in. a great little album.

8. What A Pleasure EP- Beach Fossils

I know that the What A Pleasure EP doesn’t technically count due to the obvious fact it is an EP, but I don’t care, because this little EP was more well-crafted and fun to listen to than a majority of the whole albums Pitchfork told me I needed to like. A perfect follow-up to Beach Fossil’s debut album, What A Pleasure EP expanded on the jangly guitar and obscure lyrics that made their first album such a delight. The final track of the EP, Adversity, was the perfect mix of all the great elements that culminated in four minutes of indie rock heaven. I challenge you, dear readers, to put this song on when you’re driving around at night, or wandering around your house/apartment and not feel a twinge of unanticipated calmness.

7. Ritual-White Lies

While I knew that nothing would match the magnificent sadness of White Lies’ debut album, “To Lose My Life”, I had no idea the band would go off in such an unexpected direction. While still combining the grand lyricism that the last album displayed, the synth heavy album felt like one long diatribe after another. Danceable in the way that later Joy Division often was, it was definitely not mellow enough to be shoegaze worthy. Overall I loved the loved the images from the lyrics and the inventive sounds cape.

6. Mylo Xyloto –Coldplay

When X&Y came out, I said, “This will be their weakest album.” When Viva La Vida came out, I said, “No this will be the weakest album in the catalogue.” You obviously see where this is going. Some very enjoyable dance singles and a few guitar flourishes here and there, it doesn’t make for a strong enough album to be linked anywhere near Coldplay’s top album. Nevertheless I give them points for at least trying to break out of their mold and explore some new sounds. Let’s hope the next album is a throwback.

5. Cults –Cults

What isn’t there to love about this group? With some of the best dance songs of the year, I loved the play on the 1960’s dialogue-style riff and the keyboard brought it full circle.

4. What Else Did You Expect From The Vaccines? –The Vaccines

Since the Futurehead’s didn’t put out a good album this year, the Vaccines, whom I should call Futurehead’s Light, will have to do. All kidding aside, I really did get a kick out of the song Wrecking Bar (Ra Ra Ra), and several other tracks. The album moves fast along from track to track and combines my new favourite habit of some in British rock to sweep into ‘50’s inspired guitar solos. Taken as a whole, the album is a welcome effervescent effort.

3. Within and Without –Washed Out

Washed Out, a one man act that feels like a whole band, created one of the best electronic albums of the decade. I say that completely without irony. From the album cover, with two lovers entwined in the sheets to the closing tracks, Within and Without was the perfect late night album. The tracks bounce from one to the other with quick succession. The vague lyrics are less important than the manic noises that come through the speakers. At once excitable, dispassionate and relieved, the album as a whole captures the emotions of its cover and provides a soundtrack to anybody who has ever been swept up in a tide of emotion and happiness like a confusing tidal wave.

2. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds –Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

My best friend Alex and I were eagerly awaiting this album for months after word had spread that Noel’s first album after leaving Oasis would drop this year. Granted, I have always fallen in the Noel camp in the Noel vs. Liam debate. This album, coming after audiences had already been forced to suffer through Liam’s attempt at a new project, “Beady Eye”, clearly illustrates the fact that Noel was the de facto genius behind Oasis. High Flying Birds is filled with gigantic sing along hooks, horns and a travelling circus theme whose purpose I have not totally understood.  I really hope that the following tour and hopefully next album builds on the success that Noel has rightly earned.

1. The Big Roar –The Joy Formidable

While discussing the topic of favourite album/band of the year with my audiophile friend, I had at first not listed The Joy Formidable on my list. Her abhorrence regarding  my oversight knocked the realization into my head that I really had been talking about this band for months this year.

With good reason.  Constant touring has aided in their establishment with British and American scenesters and won over a lot of nay sayers. Thanks to songs like Austere and possibly one of the greatest tracks ever written, Whirring, the band from northern Wales that formed out of the destruction of an aughts indie band created one of the most exciting and fun albums in years.

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