I personally consider this one the slightly more “prestigious” award, and we’ll be seeing a whole lot of folk we saw on the top 25 songs of the year, in fact, exclusively people we saw on top 25 songs of the year. Go figure. I’ve decided to do both EP’s and Albums because, honestly, I feel like the difference is pretty negligible. Anywho, lezduit.
10. Rose St. Germaine “Gunslinger”
This one is a pretty recent review so I’m not going to really say anything new, but “Gunslinger” is a real adventure. There’s been a lot of LOOOONG albums this year, and at around 45 minutes or so this one is up there, but unlike a lot of them, I feel like it justifies its length. “Gunslinger” explores around its Americana core quite effectively while still feeling thematically tied together, and isn’t that what an album’s for?
9. Yb. “Blackphemy”
“Blackphemy” as an EP, feels as complete as most albums. It all flows together really well with the more “single worthy” songs flowing effortlessly into dancier numbers like “Change Your Mind,” which flow into some more experimental elements in “Interlude” and “Ten Toes.” It wraps together pop, folk, and indie rock into a fascinating bow. It makes a lot of moves in six songs.
8. Angel Olsen “Big Time”
I’m going to be honest, I think “Big Time” is just a little bit bloated. I think it would be better with a few songs edited out, but as you can see by it showing up on my best albums of the year list, I still think it’s pretty damn good. I’ve been following Angel Olsen for a decent bit, and “Big Time” isn’t really a huge departure from her previous work, but the small movement towards country adds so much heart and emotion to her works. Angel Olsen is singing with the soul of classic acts like Dolly Parton and June Carter Cash, but with the benefit of ultra-clean modern production.
7. Ghost Orchard “Rainbow Music”
“Rainbow Music” (and I’ll say this again for the next entry) feels like music from the future. No individual sound is something we haven’t heard before, but you don’t usually hear it put together like this. Ghost Orchards easy blending of folk elements and what I would personally call hip-hop elements (sampled drum loops and song construction), is enthralling and mysterious. It’s depth and pace demand multiple listens. “Rainbow Music” is what every other bedroom pop artist is trying to ape, myself included.
6. ROSALIA “MOTOMAMI”
Look, I’m not exactly unique with this entry. Motomami is basically on every albums of the year list out there, and I’ll be honest, I only heard about it from reading one of those lists (TIME I think?). That all being said, there’s a good fucking reason it’s on every album of the year list, it’s a fucking amazing album. Motomami motomami motomami motomami. Motomami is music from the future, it’s experimental and perfectly produced. It delivers on the promise of the weird ass music I heard in “Jet Set Radio” (that soundtrack blew my goddamn mind) as a youth, all while delivered in a language I understand about ten words in.
5. the Antibuddies “that’s what i said”
The Antibuddies are probably my personal favorite band in the Detroit punk scene right now. It’s a big scene, and I’ve barely dipped my toe in, but I don’t see me finding a new favorite for a while. The Antibuddies are delivering on punk in a way that feels fresh and fun, while not compromising their message for a second. Plus, in a year full of bloated albums (looking at you Kendrick Lamar and Big Thief) “that’s what i said” doesn’t waste a millisecond of your time.
4. Brian Eno “FOREVERANDEVERNOMORE”
Brian Eno is probably one of my biggest musical influences, full stop. I feel like it’s pretty obvious in my ambient stuff, but his slow soundscapes have changed the way I think about engaging the listener. “FOREVERANDEVERNOMORE” managed to once again alter my perspective, providing sung music that still fulfills ambient’s promise of music that you can either deeply listen to, or enjoy as background ambiance. His statements of moving away from analog synths and towards digital on this album also make me feel a little bit more confident in my own highly digital workflow, especially considering how fantastic the production feels on this album.
3. Sick Day “Love Is A State Of Mind”
This is probably a bit of a suprise, but quite frankly this is the album this year who’s release I was most excited about. I’ve been following Sick Day for a while, and developed a bit of a “friends of the blog” relationship with them, so maybe there’s a bit of inherent bias, but who cares. This is my damn album of the year list, and “Love Is A State Of Mind” is fucking phenomenal. As far as album composition; it feels like its the perfect length, with the perfect number of songs, in the perfect order. Also, all of the songs stand up on their own with interesting compositions and heartfelt vulnerability. I’m not really doing an “artist of the year” thing in an official capacity, but I’m giving Sick Day the honorary slot.
2. Red Scarves “Ghost Hunter”
After a re-listen a couple of days ago, this EP moved quite a few slots up on this list. The lyricism throughout this whole album is just, fucking incredible. Red Scarves tackles toxic masculinity throughout “Ghost Hunter,” and it has never been more necessary or relevant than it is right now. The songwriting on this album is vulnerable and personal, and in a way that is relatable and highly relevant. “Ghost Hunter” is a seamless blend of alt-country and indie rock with no compromises.
1. Oh Lonesome Ana “MEG/\DETH TEE”
I didn’t expect my favorite album this year to come from a review I was doing for Rock At Night, but here we are. I went on and on about Oh Lonesome Ana in that review, and I certainly don’t take a word of it back. From the production, to the songwriting, to the performances, everything on this album feels thoughtful and polished to a shine. In a year where emo elements came back hard, Oh Lonesome Ana took them and evolved them into something new. A perfect blend of Americana and Emo flavored indie rock that molds them both into a new hybrid full to the brim with devastating, earnest self reflection. Also worth mentioning how revolutionary it feels to hear a black female voice in emo music (home of angry white young men), which just goes to show how necessary the genre was in need of an evolution. It’s definitely cool to wear that Megadeth tee.
That’s it for the “awards season” style stuff, so to speak. I’m hoping to get one more piece of “wrap-up” content out with a letter from the editor style thing, but that’s going depend on how well I can turn all these spare thoughts into something worth reading.