#5: Feeder – Generation Freakshow. Ok, Feeder had a lot of ground to make up after the disappointing Renegades album. Generation Freakshow is big step in the right direction, as it fits musically with Comfort in Sound, Echo Park, & Yesterday Went Too Soon–era albums, while still sounding fresh and new.
#4: Bob Mould – Silver Age. Bob Mould always puts out great records, but this one is different. This one is one of his best ever. 10 perfect pop songs, with the guitars right up front (just how I like it). Bob has me feeling 20 years younger hearing this – it has all the energy of Sugar, but more mature lyrics. Perfect!
#3: Sheila Divine – The Things That Once Were. Boston’s Sheila Divine returned this year after a 10-year hiatus with a record (yes it is available on vinyl, as are all of the top 5 entries) that’s as amazing as any of their previous recordings. The album was funded via a Kickstarter project, however, with no label, no promotion, and no tour, sadly, few noticed that The Things that Once Were was one of the most important, heartfelt, and emotionally honest recordings of the year.
#2: Japandroids – Celebration Rock. Oh Canada! After years of barfing out corporate turds such as Loverboy, Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne, and Nickelback onto the American musical landscape, you’ve finally made up for it by sending us Vancouver’s Japandroids. This album comes in double-gatefold white vinyl with a huge LP-sized booklet! And how good is this album, you ask? 100% pure Canadian maple syrup on homemade buttermilk pancakes good! Celebration Rock isn’t just a collection of songs you blast while speeding down the highway, it’s your soundtrack for speeding down the highway while trying to outrun the cops! Rock & Roll at it’s best, yet amazingly unpretentious, these eight songs of pure emotion leave you physically exhausted by the end of the album’s closer, Continuous Thunder.
#1: Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth. After 28 years, the proper follow-up to Van Halen’s 1984 arrived this year. The epic A Different Kind of Truth was released worldwide in February, and on limited-edition gatefold-cover double vinyl (with custom artwork) in April. Of course, the reunion of David Lee Roth with Eddie & Alex Van Halen created the musical wet dream that we’ve been waiting our entire adult lives for. The truth is, they didn’t have to try very hard to make us like it. But this album is actually just as good as anything they did in their prime. It is a perfect record without any filler. Sure, I miss Michael Anthony’s harmonies, and I would have loved a full-on original-member reunion, but I’d rather have Roth in and Michael out than that 2003-era reunion with Michael and Sammy in and Dave out. Besides, Wolfgang Van Halen is an amazing bass player! This record has much of the old Van Halen sound without being too retro. Eddie can still push the musical boundaries, and Roth’s lyrics are amazingly fresh and clever. They even got through the tour without killing each other! Bravo! Album of the year!