Next week I’ll post my favorite the albums of the year, but I can’t stand not talking about a few other great albums that came out this year. I know you’ve been clamoring for some musical opinions from me so I’ve got a few lists for your reading pleasure.

Great New Albums from Artists I Love

This list is self-indulgent for sure. It’s a collection of albums from artists I’ve loved for years that released new material this year. Sure, the albums are great but they didn’t make the cut for the top ten.

Here they are in no particular order (except–you know–alphabetical).

Damien Rice: My Favorite Faded Fantasy

My Favorite Faded Fantasy is Damien Rice’s first full-length album release in 8 years and he’s made it worth the wait. In many ways, he picked up where he left off with 9 and has run with it.

Standout Track: “I Don’t Want to Change You

First Aid Kit: Stay Gold

I’m not sure how it’s fair that Scandinavian sisters can pull off beautiful Americana music so well. In their third album, First Aid Kit have improved on their storytelling abilities and their harmonies are as tight as ever.

Standout Track: “Master Pretender

The New Pornographers: Brill Bruisers

I love this group. For some reason I’ve found that I only really love every other album they release. As it turns out, Brill Bruisers is part of the off-cycle, but it’s still solid. I may have to change the rule set a bit. Still, Bejar, Case, Newman, and all form an impressive team and this record is not to be missed.

Standout Track: “Champions of Red Wine

Nickel Creek: A Dotted Line

This album is one of my most anticipated releases of the year. It’s been far too long since the bluegrass wunderkinds of Nickel Creek released a record and this was great. They explore relatively new territories with their sound and do a fine job catering to long-time bluegrass fans while still reaching a broader fan base.

Standout Track: “Hayloft

Owen Pallett: In Conflict

Once known by the moniker Final Fantasy (changed for obvious copyright reasons), this Canadian strings-virtuoso created one of the more sonically interesting records of the year. He seems to always find the ideal setting for his interesting voice. There is a, say, gruffer tone on the album than his last, but it works. Beyond this great selection of songs, he’s done a service to the music industry (and fans alike) by breaking down the music theory behind some of this year’s biggest hits.

Standout Track: “The Riverbed

John Mark McMillan—Borderland

The song “Future/Past” is the biggest “hit” from the record, but there’s much more there. McMillan has a way of presenting subjects in a fresh way that is unique in the Christian music genre. Beyond his classification, though, he’s created a fantastic album start to finish to allows the listener to explore emotional material that is rarely touched in popular music.

Standout Track: “Borderland

Overrated Albums

What discussion of music is complete without a little negativity? Here are a few albums that—to me—do not live up to their hype.

Sun Kill Moon—Benji 

Run the Jewels—Run the Jewels 2

Weezer—Everything Will Be Alright in the End

Really, there’s no reason to much elaborate. The tunes on this album are overrated. In the case of Sun Kill Moon, the music is mediocre and the music maker is proving to be a relatively terrible person.

 

Album I’m Most Surprised to Have Loved

Todd Terje: It’s Album Time

Just give it a listen; I’m pretty sure you’ll love it too.