This was actually quite difficult. I’ll probably regret the order of everything past the top 3 once I do it, so some albums may be higher or lower than they are here or actually tied with another one, but for the purposes of the top 11, it’s staying like this.
1. Sleeper Agent, Celabrasion
I can’t help it, I’m absolutely in love with this album and this band. I was one of the lucky ones who got the album before it was released to write a review on it, and I fell in love upon first listen. With its short, energetic, youthful songs, Celabrasion doesn’t demand commitment, maybe just a little bit of dancing and singing along.
First single “Get it Daddy” is a total representation of the album. It’s fun, fast paced, has catchy lyrics, and the inspiration is an interesting topic of choice (the song refers to a friend of the band who was getting it on with a girl and she said “get it daddy” and he got weirded out and had to stop).
Although the album has some slow songs (“That’s My Baby”, “All Wave and No Good Bye”) they highlight the soft tendencies of lead singers Alex Kandel and Tony Smith’s voices. As an additional little note, having seen this band live twice, they put on quite the amazing show!
2. Foo Fighters, Wasting Light
Can I just say, if I could choose any musician to be a family member, I’d want Dave Grohl to be my uncle. Please don’t think I’m weird, you know you’d agree… think about it. Think.
Ok, moving past that, Wasting Light was the album I was looking for this year. It’s so angst-y and captivating. I can only listen to the whole thing. “White Limo” has the sexiest bass line, “Bridge Burning” is so true, and “These Days” is just absolutely beautiful. Plus, the whole album was produced without computers in Grohl’s garage!
Foo Fighters are a band that most likely everyone’s heard of. Some people may think Wasting Light is overrated, but I think it’s one of their best efforts.
3. The Kooks, Junk of the Heart
First off, I may be a bit biased because I have loved The Kooks for years now, but this album, like most Kooks’ albums, is so poppy and catchy. It’s fun, it’s youthful, and it makes you want to sing and dance (which I do, no matter where I am).
“Junk of the Heart (Happy)” will put a smile on your face, “Rosie” will make you try to tango (or maybe that’s just me?), “Time Above the Earth” has the most beautiful instrumental intro and lyrics, and “Eskimo Kiss” will melt your heart. Okay, maybe it’s a little bit mushy, but hey, among the Popblerd staff, we need a little estrogen.
4. Cage the Elephant, Thank You, Happy Birthday
This band is just pure energy and fun. And their sophomore album contains songs that reflect their spirit. Released at the beginning of the year, many people probably forgot about it. Even though I haven’t listened to the whole album probably since then, I still know I liked it a lot. And even if I don’t remember most of it (I might want to listen to it again, soon) I know the singles it released where pretty noteworthy.
“Shake Me Down” is inspirational without being cliché, “Around My Head” is something different from Cage that the first album didn’t have, and “Aberdeen” (named after Kurt Cobain’s hometown) is Matt Shultz’s raw honesty. And even the songs that weren’t singles “2024” and “Right Before My Eyes” are an innovative and effective way of introducing serious topics. And this band is also really fun live. Matt cannot sit still and often spends more time in the crowd (even in the pouring rain [as seen at Kanrocksas]) than on stage.
5. Manchester Orchestra, Simple Math
This album came out toward the one quarter mark of the year, but before it was released, it was available for streaming, and it was all I listened to. For some reason, Andy Hull’s voice captivates me. When April Fool came out, I listened to it on repeat. Then Simple Math was released, same deal. There’s just something about deep subjects and light instrumentals for me. It’s kind of an album you can put on and forget the world, or be thankful that Andy Hull creates problems that are worse than your own.
6. Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues
Oh my, this album, so great. This is literally the best album to put on after a stressful day and just relax. So pure, so honest, and so refreshing compared to many heavier albums this year. Everything about it says easy listening. Part of the reason I like it so much is that it’s different. Looking at a band called Fleet Foxes, you wouldn’t know what to expect, and their music matches that. The harmonies are flawless, the jingling bells and folksy guitar, the melodies, the lyrics, every component of this album flows and brings tranquility.
If you don’t have time for the whole album, and need a little fix of something peaceful, listen to “Battery Kinzie” and “Helplessness Blues.”
7. Foster the People, Torches
Would you believe that my mom actually told me about this band? In my defense, I was away at school and wasn’t able to listen to my favorite radio station and she would listen to it to feel like I was home. Hey, my mom’s cool, I have to admit.
Like most others, “Pumped Up Kicks” was the first song I heard by this band. Upon first listen, I knew I liked it. It’s indescribable why, there’s just something about it. The whole album follows suit, including second single “Helena Beat.” It just makes you want to dance. The street drum jams are, in my opinion, what carries the album, as well as the distorted synth-pop instrumentals.
8. Death Cab for Cutie, Codes and Keys
Another album that I haven’t listened to in so long. All I can remember is, when it first came out I listened to the whole thing on repeat about 2 or 3 times. The heavy piano chords, Ben Gibbard’s gentle voice, the trance like instrumentals. I’ve used trance like before in this list, I guess this was big for me this year?
This album was my summer. “You Are A Tourist” must have come on the radio every time I would drive to or from my internship and it would just make me smile and dance (yes, while driving, don’t act like you don’t do it).
But the album didn’t stop at the first single for me. I absolutely adore the chord progression for “Codes and Keys” and “Underneath the Sycamore” is just a feel good, comforting song. While many people don’t think Codes and Keys measures up to other Death Cab albums, I quite enjoy it. If you take it as its own piece, without comparison, it really is good.
9. GROUPLOVE, Never Trust a Happy Song
Funny story about GROUPLOVE, they came into WBRU one day during my office hours, and because I didn’t really know who they were and had banners to hang around the city, I chose to leave instead of watch them. Another bad mistake (I made a few in this list now, haven’t I?). After I heard their song “Colours” I was kicking myself.
Then I heard their EP, and I was kicking myself even more. And then Never Trust A Happy Song came out and, well you get it. Christian Zucconi’s voice is so weird and different and has a tonicity about it that catches my ear. (For some reason it reminds me of Luke Lalonde’s voice from Born Ruffians). And Hannah Hooper’s backing vocals are so powerful.
They’re so young and fresh and their music is energetic and infectious. They’re a bunch of indie kids who love to have fun and it shows in their album, and I love it.
10. Portugal. The Man, In the Mountains, In the Cloud.
I had heard of the band before, but never thought much about listening to them. Bad mistake. I fell in love with 2009’s “People Say” and when they came back with “Got it All [This Can’t Be Living Now]” I started to take notice. I’ve never really listened to the whole album more than once, but I feel like the singles it produced are a good enough reason for me to put it on the list.
11. Young the Giant, Young the Giant
Young the Giant was so prevalent in my summer that it was almost too repetitive, but they are really good nonetheless. I’ve never actually listened to the recorded album in full (that I remember), but I saw them perform it live twice and I liked what I heard.
“My Body” is obviously the song that put them on the map, and “Cough Syrup” soon followed (so over played), but “Apartment” is actually better than the latter. I’d give you more song names, but again, I only heard them live and knew I liked them, so I have no idea. I should probably actually listen to the album sometime.