I’ve put together a top-10 list for albums not reviewed by Eric or myself this year, and I’m unashamedly in love with all of them. Here is the second half of that list. You can see the first half here.
If you’re a Nickel Creek fan, you’re well aware of Chris Thile’s virtuosic, emotion-manipulating mandolin talents by now. And Thile’s talents are no more at home than with progressive bluegrass ensemble Punch Brothers, whose third full-length album is a well-spoken foray into romance and heartache. It’s absolutely spellbinding.
Skip this album if you don’t like: “Movement and Location”
Mould, the former frontman of ’80s punk staple Hüsker Dü, further solidifies his legacy with the best Old Guy Rocks Hard album of the year. Massive hooks and energetic wall-of-sound guitar define Silver Age, a glimpse at what Japandroids’ Celebration Rock might look like trajectoried out 20 years from now.
Skip this album if you don’t like: “The Descent”
Aesop Rock’s brand of rap is precisely verbose, nearly stream-of-consciousness lyrical poetry that sometimes reads like the verses of Beck’s “Loser” on a treadmill. Try to keep up, and in doing so, acknowledge the astounding wealth of cultural vocabulary in these songs. At his website, the “Behind Skelethon” videos do a pretty good job of explaining each track. Definitely worth checking out.
Skip this album if you don’t like: “Zero Dark Thirty”
Dry The River describe themselves as “folky gospel music played by a post-punk band,” and they have the most spellbinding harmonies and captivating lyrical imagery of any folk group on the scene today. In an age of middling folk revival, Dry The River capture all the good elements and none of the bad.
Skip this album if you don’t like: “New Ceremony”
The only reason I didn’t review On the Impossible Past earlier this year is because it came out the same week as Cheap Girls’ fantastic Giant Orange LP. But the more I’ve listened, the more this album has approached my “favorite album of the year” ranks. If The Menzingers have anything to say about it, punk rock is still alive and well, and it’s a monstrous animal in this Scranton band’s hands. “Gates” is one of the best songs of 2012.
Skip this album if you don’t like: “Gates”