I've made lists of my ten favourite albums of the year since 1996. I was only 16 back then, and had more disposable income for cds than I do now, but I still keep the tradition alive with my list of favourite albums from what I've heard through the year. This year I didn't have a lot of money to buy albums with, but working in the music department allowed me to listen to quite a few records nonetheless. I just picked five records this year because of my limited range of listening, but these were five albums that I was really happy with this year.
5. Metric - Live It Out.
The first time I heard Metric was when I was sick in bed one day, flipping through the channels, and I saw the "Monster Hospital" video. I was healed by the power of pop-rock music coming at me fast and furious. The rest of the album is very good, a collection of upbeat and downbeat songs, and although the lyrics can sometimes be inane ("Looking on the bright side / When there is no bright side"), they're ultimately saved by the great musicianship.
4. Broken Social Scene - s/t.
Broken Social Scene has put together an album of beautiful melodies, surrounded by the sound of chaos and destruction. A number of these people have created stellar music on their own (Stars, Feist, The Apostle of Hustle, the previously mentioned Metric), but BSS is more than just the sum of seventeen talented people. Each members brings their own piece to the party, creating an album that seems spontaneous and new on each listen.
3. Yo-Yo Ma - Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone.
Ennio Morricone has been writing beautiful music for 40 years, and some people might never have heard of him. But if you've ever played Cowboys and whistled the theme from "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly", then you know at least one tune. Yo-Yo Ma plays the music with a light touch, taking these songs and making them new. I don't hear a lot of classical releases, but this one is a must-have.
2. Sigur Ros - Takk.
The newest album by Sigur Ros has been badmouthed by some people because it's more mainstream than their previous efforts, but I don't think that it's a bad thing necessarily. It's not exactly radio-friendly, after all, and if it can grab the interest of middle-aged business men who hear it while shopping or my mother who hears it at a dinner party, then I say power to them. The songs are crafted gems, ranging from loud and orchestral numbers to tunes that sound like they come from a tiny music box.
1. MIA - Arular.
This album is very hard to describe. It's unlikely that you've heard anything like it before. The songs command you to dance, mixing world-beat and hip-hop in an infectious combination. Leave expectations at the door and kick out these jams.
So, that's done. What did I miss? If you really liked an album this year (or two or three) that I didn't put up, feel free to tell me about it, even if it's just the artist and the title. I'd like to expand my ears, as it were.