This year - albums were released from 3 of my all time favourite artists/bands, however, I'm just going to go for a top 5 this year, and top 10 songs.
So here goes:
5) Beach House - Teen Dream
Lovely dreamy album. Doesn't work as well live as it does on CD, but the lead singers voice is powerful and fits the music perfectly.
4) Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
The follow up to one of my favourite albums ever, and over 5 years in the making. The problem for Sufjan, it seems, is that he wanted avoid producing a replica of Illinois. As a result, he ditched the banjos, and embraced wierd noises and electronics. The effect is fantastic, the album is dense with layers and sounds and interesting structures/time signatures.
Whilst this album produces a fantastic listening experience, it is one of those albums you really need to sit down and listen to a few times with no distractions to really appreciate. Whilst there are some immediate moments on here, a lot of it grows on you, and I occasionally find it quite a challenge to listen to. As one reviewer put it - "an album to admire, rather than love".
3) The Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
After the general consensus of Funeral being amazing, Neon Bible definitely split opinion. Personally I though it was substantially more derivative and with a lot less depth and didn't really have me coming back to it very often.
The Arcade Fire are back on form though with the new album. Some fantastic individual songs, as well as a great overall sound and consistency to the album. The lyrics seem obsessed with his childhood, and his desire to return to family life, which whilst seems quite a tedious theme, is executed very well and with little annoying nostalgia.
2) Joanna Newsom - Have One on Me
Over 2 hours long, 3 CDs, 18 songs. Joanna doesn't do conventional.
...and whilst at first this album is a little bit daunting and hard to get into given it's length, I found breaking it down and treating each CD separately, allowed me to properly indulge in the album.
Only Joanna Newsom could write this stuff, ambitious, intricate, achingly beautiful, and with such a unique voice (now finely tuned into a thing of beauty, for those of you who were initially put off by her voice on her previous work.
1) The National - High Violet
Is this better than Boxer? Not sure, but the argument is irrelevant really. Both albums are fantastic. And this one continues with the trend of me having just about every single song stuck in my head at some point over the past year. Great stuff. Driving rhythm section with fantastic creative beats, as a foundation for some intelligent and catchy songwriting.
Songs like Afraid of Everyone and Bloodbuzz Ohio are possibly the best songs the National have done to date.
Bright Spark Destroyer - Holy Yell EP.
unsigned band featuring an ex band mate of mine, released a fantastic EP that's getting plenty of attention on 6music.
Caribou - Swim
Great experimental electronic album.
Radio Dept - Clinging to a Scheme
Great understated Swedish album.
Maximum Balloon - Maximum Balloon
TV on the radio spin off - lots of guest vocalists, and the music always suits their style, but the album keeps a consistency despite this.
Wild Beasts/Grizzly Bear - released albums last year but didn't make my list and should have. Grizzly Bear best band I've seen live this year!
20) Sing - Four Tet
19) I Want To Be Well - Sufjan Stevens
18) Pap Smear - Crystal Castles
17) Tenderoni - Kele
16) Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) - The Arcade Fire
15) NY Is Killing Me - Gil Scott-Heron vs Jamie xx
14) Don't Fucking Tell Me What to Do - Robyn
13) Norway - Beach House
12) Token Of Gratitude - The Radio Dept
11) Me and the Devil - Gil Scott-Heron
10) Odessa - Caribou
9) Tiger - Maximum Balloon
8) Bloodbuzz Ohio - The National
7) The Shortest Distance - Bright Spark Destroyer
6) California - Joanna Newsom
5) Futile Devices - Sufjan Stevens
4) Limit to Your Love - James Blake
3) Toy - Toodar
2) Not in Love (feat. Robert Smith) - Crystal Castles
1) Afraid of Everyone - The National