Well, it’s that time of year again where we share our picks for favorite albums of the year. Why this always causes me such great anxiety and anguish I don’t know. I take it way too seriously I guess. It’s really kinda silly if you think about it since music is so subjective as to what moves us to connect with it. That’s why I insert the word “favorite” rather than “best of” or something presumptious like that. So here they are in order for your listening pleasure. Enjoy!
10. J. Roddy Walston & The Business - J. Roddy Walston & The Business - from Baltimore but they used to play in Louisville quite a bit. That is before this album which has now put them on the national map and in high demand. This record rocks from start to finish and is such a fun listen there is no way you can stay in a bad mood upon hearing it. Track faves are “Don’t Break The Needle” and “Full Growing Man”.
9. Of The Colour of The Sky – OK Go- Another fun record from this Chicago based group that are almost as good with their videos as they are with their songs. Check out the video for “White Knuckles” which uses very well trained dogs. It’s amazing. Another track I love is “This Too Shall Pass”. Hell, I loved the whole record!
8. Obadiah – Frazey Ford – Canadian singer/songwriter and founding member of The Be Good Tanyas, this is Frazey’s first solo record. Now there is no question in my mind as to who the creative force of that band was. I love this record but it wasn’t love at first listen. It grew on me when I could really sit with it and let it seep into me. Standout tracks are “Firecracker”, “Blue Streak Mama” and “Goin’ Over”.
7. Oh Little Fire - Sarah Harmer - Another dang Canadian makes my list! Yes, Sarah Harmer hasn’t written an album this strong since her 2000 release You Were Here, in my opinion. We played the song “Captive” quite a bit on FPK but there are so many great songs on this record we could have thrown a dart at it and picked the single that way. Really love her duet with Neko Case “Silverado” and the song “Careless”.
6. The Happiest Lamb – Audra Mae – I’ll never forget once after a music meeting when my ears were fatigued and I was starving. Normally under those conditions I would have hated anything else I had to listen to for airplay consideration that day. But Stacy, our program director, said “Here’s one more”. I growled, determined to hate it quickly so we could go eat. And then I heard this voice and …wow! It was her song “The River” and I was blown away. I had to sit down and listen to the whole thing. I had no idea who she was or that Judy Garland was her great Aunt. She comes by it honestly, I’ll tell you that. Also check out her version of Dolly Parton’s “Little Sparrow”. Exquisite.
5. Dear Companion – Ben Sollee & Daniel Martin Moore - Two brilliant Kentucky musicians on this gorgeous record and for a great cause to boot: to end the coal mining process of Mountain top removal which is having dire effects on the enviroment. Produced by Jim James of My Morning Jacket, the album has the raw feel of Appalachia combined with contemporary polished craftsmanship. Author Silas House lends a word or two as well. Highly recommended!!
4. Sigh No More – Mumford and Sons – The British Folk music scene is alive and well thanks to this string band with haunting melodies and sometimes raukus arrangements. Love the whole record. Period.
3. Winter of Mixed Drinks – Frightened Rabbit – Now we’ll go to Scotland for a minute and give praise to this fiery band consisting of two brothers and others. This was love at first listen. Each song better than the next but my faves are “Living in Color” and “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”.
2. I Speak Because I Can – Laura Marling - Ok, now back to England with this early twenty-something songstress who reminds me of a young Linda Thompson or Fairport Convention, joining in on the British Folk Revival, even employing Mumford and Sons on some songs. I fell in love with this album from the get-go. It sounded old and fresh to me at the same time. Check out “Rambling Man” and “Darkness Descends”.
1. Among The Rectangles & Changeable Parts – Cabin – Guitarist and songwriter Noah Hewett-Ball does it again with this brilliant soaring album that was self-produced right here in Louisville. It has been one of our most requested albums of the year and has been in rotation longer than any other record this year and I’m still not tired of it. Cabin’s album from about 4 years ago called Govern The Good Life was my favorite that year too. It’s not that I’m stuck on this band. It is simply the best I’ve heard all year. “A Lie Worth Believing”, “Blanket The Bonfire”, “Musical Seats” or take your pick. Happy Listening!