While this year has kind of been a shitshow, I’ve found inspiration in a number of places. I thought it’d be fun to list my top five albums, books, tv shows, and movies that came out this year. These are the best pieces of art that I couldn’t get enough of. To kick off my best of list, I present my five favorite albums of the year. You can click on the album artwork to listen to these great tunes on Spotify.
Curve of the Earth – Mystery Jets
This English indie rock band has been around for over a decade, but it wasn’t until they were recommended to me by a British friend that I discovered their amazing sound. When I think of this album, the word that comes to mind is transcendent. Even at only nine tracks, this album succeeds at creating memorable moments. Every song is distinct, yet each piece flows into the next so well, creating a theme across the album that had me listening to it again and again. The lyrics are catchy, the instrumentals are soaring. This is the kind of album you want to be the soundtrack to your life.
Stand out tracks: Bombay Blue, Bubblegum, The End Up
Sonderlust – Kishi Bashi
When I used to think of Kishi Bashi, I thought of being in a Wendy’s drive-through with my friend Rose, blasting the song The Ballad of Mr. Steak as we danced insanely in our car seats. This is literally a song about steak. Now, when I think about Kishi Bashi, I think about his amazing album, Sonderlust, which I listened to in excess as I explored Japan, walking through the bustling streets of Tokyo, and while sitting on the Shinkansen as we zoomed past the impressive Mt. Fuji. This album is delightful, whimsical, strange, and surprising. To steal an idea from the author John Green about love, I fell for it slowly at first, and then all at once.
Stand out tracks: m’lover, Hey Big Star, Can’t Let Go Juno
Conscious – Broods
This is the album that was the most fun to dance to and work out to for me this year. I’d been a fan of Broods before, but this album really solidified it for me. I was lucky enough to see this brother and sister duo from New Zealand in concert in Seattle, and the way that Georgia danced to her music, swaying her hips like a crazy person as she sang, made me fall for these tunes even more. I’ve probably listened to Full Blown Love nearly five hundred times, but I still am not sick of it, and I hope I never will be.
Stand out tracks: We Had Everything, Recovery, Full Blown Love
Life of Pause – Wild Nothing
If I could live inside any album that came out this year, Wild Nothing’s Life of Pause would certainly be the one. I mean look at this album cover, doesn’t that space just look super cozy? I want to crawl up in it and never leave. Wild Nothing was another artist I hadn’t heard of until this year, and the tracks from this album are super dreamy. He has a unique sound, and while the songs vary a bit, and can sometimes be a bit weird, they’re strange in all the right ways. The instrumentals are especially mesmerizing. I could easily argue that this is the most atmospheric album of the year. It’s just straight up groovy.
Stand out tracks: Reichpop, Life of Pause, Alien
Two Vines – Empire of the Sun
I feel like Empire of the Sun has found the perfect balance of creating music that’s upbeat, but allows you to listen to it any time of the day. This album was a pleasant surprise. I’ve been a fan of a few of their songs before, but this was the first time I found myself falling in love with one of their albums. It doesn’t hurt that one of my friends said my Halloween costume made me look like one of the lead singers, even though I was dressed up as a grocery store. This is a great record to jam out to, and the album artwork is superb.
Stand out tracks: High and Low, Two Vines, To Her Door
I’m super glad I have all of these albums on vinyl, and look forward to listening to them again and again for years to come.
I’m still working on finalizing my other three lists, but plan to have another one up within the next week!