My favorite albums that came out this year, in no particular order...
Rilo Kiley More Adventurous: Rilo Kiley is probably the best band you aren't listening to. They are definitely a band that refuses to have one sound, but instead of sounding like a jumbled mess, combined with the heartfelt lyrics it all seems to come together in a beautiful way. Right now my current favorite songs are "It's a Hit" with it's biting lyrics Any chimp can play human for a day/Use his opposable thumbs to iron his uniform/and run for office on election day/fancy himself a real decision maker/and deploy more troops than salt shakers and "Does He Love You?" an unconventional love song from the perspective of the other woman. Jenny Lewis' vocals are powerful enough to make you empathize with the mistress, who only wants the man to leave his wife and come live with her in California. And the string section to the song is amazing. All in all, go buy this album!
Modest Mouse Good New For People Who Love Bad News: Of course, everyone knows the song "Float On" that put the band Modest Mouse on the map. But this whole album is definitely worth a listen. It's an album that works best when listening to it straight through. Each song flows so seamlessly into the other yet each song is distinct. From the almost love song "Ocean Breathes Salty" to "Bukowski" to "The Good Times Are Killing Me" this is an album that you pop in when you want to be introspective. If you like your rock a bit quirky, go buy this album!
Rachael Yamagata Happenstance: I'm a sucker for a good unrequited love song and piano. And this album is almost entirely about unrequited love and broken hearts. And the piano is all over the place! Yamagata is like Norah Jones with stronger vocals and a little more of a rock feel. Songs like "Even So" highlight her sultry smooth voice and her diary-intimate lyrics. She's upbeat on songs like "1963," where she sings about a new love that she feels istruly magical, I feel like I'm loving you in 1963. If you like Fiona/Tori/Sarah/Norah go buy this album. If you like to rock out to your music, this isn't the album for you.
Ray Charles Genius Loves Company: So you are saying, Marissa, have you been drinking too much espresso? Where does this CD fit into the mix? Oh but it does. My mom had me buy it for her from work since I get the discount, but I listen to it at home even though I'm always listening to it while working. This is Ray Charles last recording before he passed away and it is truly amazing. The duets on this album are incredible. "Here We Go Again" with Norah Jones is one of my favorites (as well as a barista favorite) and so is his duet with Diana Krall "You Don't Know Me." If you can appreciate Ray's hauntingly beautiful voice like I can, buy this album!
Jimmy Eat World Futures: Seriously, this album is amazing. I wasn't expecting anything that could come remotely close to Bleed American but this album delivers! Songs like "Drugs Or Me" have musical stylings that go back to their album, Clarity, another one of my favorite albums ever. This album can rock hard, and then break out into piano ballad just as easily. Another reason why Jimmy Eat World is probably my favorite band. Buy this album!
Keane Hopes and Fears: This is one of those CDs that I listened to and fell in love with immediately. The music is so beautiful, and the lyrics are gorgeous. It is one of those albums you can listen to while driving your car in the rain. Trust me, I've done it. My current personal fave is "She Has No Time." This album is excellent. If you love Coldplay or Starsailor, and don't mine guitar lackage and strong piano, pick this album up!
Melee Everyday Behavior: It's Melee! With their very own album! I waited so long for this album and lo, it is good. At times its a lot harder than their first EPs, but all around it is a great album that has been spinning in my cd player since it came out this last summer. Chris Cron's vocals as well as the relevant lyrics are amazing. "Mestizos Love Song" is my favorite song on the album, since that is my favorite song in the world, followed closely by "Perfect Mess" and "The War." Support this great band and buy the album!
Franz Ferdinand self-titled: Seriously, who doesn't love Franz Ferdinand? Their music is danceable, rockable, and has lyrics that make you laugh and think all at the same time. Who else can have a chorus that has, in the background Hey you, hey you, good lookin'! (in the song "Michael"). They have my motto down It's always better on holiday, that's why we only work when we need the money! (in the song Jacqueline). This album all around has be dancing like a beautiful dance whore. Go buy it!
The Killers Hot Fuss: And in the same vein as Franz Ferdinand, how can you not love The Killers? It is this danceable, amazing rock that I can't get enough of. From the fast-paced rock of "Somebody Told Me" to the slower "Andy, You're A Star" this album shines. One of my favorite moments in this album is near the end of "Smile Like You Mean It" when I got soul, but I'm not a soldier is chanted. It's amazing. Go buy this album. You know you dance around your house to "Somebody Told Me" when they play it on KROQ.
Gwen Stefani Love, Angel, Music, Baby: If you were expecting No Doubt with only Gwen Stefani, don't buy this. You will just get mad and say it sucks. And seriously, people who want a really awesome poppy dance album will be turned off buy your biased review. Cause that is what this album is, a great, decadent, dance album. With throwbacks to the 80's ("Crash," "The Real Thing") this album is powered by the strong single "What You Waiting For?" and is propelled by great guest artists, like Eve on "Rich Girls" and Andre 3000 aka Johnny Vulture on "Bubble Pop Electric." My only complaint is Gwen's constant mention of her 'Harajuku Girls.' If she wants to tote 4 Japanese girls at all times, thats fine, but do you have to sing about them in every song? If you like your pop without an obvious boob job and some 80's veneer, buy this album!
Alanis Morissette So-Called Chaos: I love Alanis and this is her happiest album yet. Her "You Oughta Know" days are over and who would of thought her happiness would sound so good? "Everything" is great but for some harder rock listen to "Eight Easy Steps" for some Alanis snarling that we all know and love. Or listen to her end the pain that the inspiration for "You Oughtta Know" caused her in "This Grudge." Dave Coulier, it looks like she's over Uncle Joey.
Sondre Lerche Two Way Monologues: Sondre Lerche is an amazing singer-songwriter from Norway who I adore. This album delivers what Faces Down, his debut album, promised. His music can border on kitchy 60's music but that adds to its appeal. If you like boys with guitars and sappy lyrics, you are in for a treat. Buy this album!
Tori Amos Tales of a Librarian: The best of Tori Amos, remastered and in a pretty package. For the Tori lover that (should be) in everyone.
The Garden State Original Soundtrack: I never saw the movie, sadly, but the way this album sounds I'm sure the movie sounded great. This is a great soundtrack. You know you want it.
John Mayer As/Is : John Mayer at his best, live. Great performance, and it is great hearing the energy from the audience.
The Rolling Stones Live Licks: The Rolling Stones need no explanation. But to suffice, they rock me AND my mom. And they rock even more live. Amazing two disc live album.
That is it, for now!