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It’s been a while since I’ve posted a year-end best of list. This is due mostly to the fact that I haven’t listened to 10 albums in a year that I liked enough to put in a year-end best of list.

This year, thankfully, I did.

Tops:

  • High Violet (The National) - I’m consistently blown away by the stuff these guys are coming up with record after record. They’re just consistently great. And that’s no easy task (re: Midlake, below). “Boxer” was phenomenal and somehow they were able to top themselves again. They also recorded my new favorite “Ohio” song. I’m sure they’ll be pleased to know.
  • Age of Adz/All Delighted People EP (Sufjan Stevens) - It wouldn’t be a best-of list by Ryan Straits without an appearance by Sufjan. I’ll be honest, it took me a while to get into both of these records (I packaged them together because they came out so close to each other), but once I did I couldn’t get enough. It also helped that I saw him perform these live soon after the albums released. Epic.
  • The Promise (Bruce Springsteen) - “Darkness on the Edge of Town” is probably my favorite Boss album, so an album of B-Sides recorded during the “Darkness” sessions is naturally going to be right up my alley. And the Boss DOES NOT disappoint. The revamped version of “Racing In the Street” is worth the Deluxe Box set price, alone.
  • Go (Jonsi) - It’s Sigur Ros on speed. And really, they were in need of a lil pep-up.
  • Brothers (The Black Keys) - In retrospect, I should have been a bigger fan of a band that hails from Akron, Ohio. Spoiler alert: I am now.
  • Shame, Shame (Dr. Dog) - Not as great of an album as their past two releases but I’ll take sub-standard Dr. Dog any day over your best Justin Bieber. Srsly.
  • The Suburbs (Arcade Fire) - The first 3 songs? AWESOME. The rest? Ehhh. Doesn’t have the re-playability that “Funeral” and “Neon Bible” had. However, I would listen to “Rococo” over and over if it meant I got to see these guys live sometime this year.
  • Walking On A Dream (Empire of the Sun) - They’re fun, and different, and great to workout to. See, it really doesn’t take much to crack my top 10.
  • Infinite Arms (Band of Horses) - Nice ‘n easy listening. That’s pretty much it.
  • Saint Bartlett (Damien Jurado) - Sadly, I was never as into ol’ Damien as much my buddy Dave was growing up. However, I’m into this new record. Maybe now I’ll go back and re-listen to some of those older albums Dave kept yapping about. Maybe.

Friends:

  • Tadaima (The Non) - I had the chance to see these guys twice over the summer while I was mobile and unemployed. There’s really no comparison for their live show. Seriously, a must-see.</li>
  • Wanderer, O Wanderer EP (Come Wind) - Come Wind is comprised of some very dear friends of mine. I knew they were good, but I didn’t know they were THIS good. I’d be lying if I said this album didn’t stay in my car stereo for quite a few weeks.
  • Holy Spirits EP (State Bird) - They seem to reinvent themselves with every new record. Every time I think I’m not gonna like the new sound. And every time I’m proven wrong.
  • Badlands (Chris Staples)/Future Paths (Discover America) - I now live in the same city that Chris & I got robbed at gunpoint together in. I cry nightly in the shower; he keeps putting out solid records. (Editors note: Chris Staples = Discover America)

Honorable Mention:

  • Invented (Jimmy Eat World) - They seem to be hearkening back a few albums with this latest release. I had written them off but if their next album continues in this trend I might need to write them back on.
  • If I Had A Hi-Fi (Nada Surf) - I pretty much like most anything these guys come out with (all the way back to “Popular”). I felt a little hoodwinked, though, when I found out (after several listens) that this was just a covers album. Originals > covers.
  • Mines (Menomena) - Before this album I could point to one Menomena song that I liked. Now I can point to a whole album.
  • My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Kanye West) - My quasi-secret Kanye fandom continues. He may be an idiot, but he’s got more talent in his pinkie finger than Taylor Swift has in…well, you get the idea.</li>

Most Disappointing:

  • The Courage of Others (Midlake) - I really, really, REALLY wanted to like this album. But I expected a heckuva lot more from a band that forces us to wait 4 years between releases. I’d rather just listen to “Head Home” on repeat until they release their next one.
  • Forgiveness Rock Record (Broken Social Scene) - The sum used to be greater than it’s parts. Now its struggling to get all it’s parts back just to record a new album. They’re officially too big for their britches.
  • A Chorus Of Storytellers (The Album Leaf) - Once upon a time, The Album Leaf were the only ones that sounded like The Album Leaf. Now, everyone does. Time for a reinvention, Mr. LaValle.
  • Congratulations (MGMT) - “What the #$%& is this?”

Hope you enjoyed! A new entry coming soon-ish…


######Note: This was originally posted on an old Squarespace blog of mine. Most of the references, links and jokes are probably dead.

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