We opened our doors in March of 2012 and since then we’ve stocked tons of great records. This year is no different and arguably one of the best years for new music (and vinyl) in really long time.
We’ve started putting together our year-end list of favorite records but first we decided to take a look back at what records topped our best-of lists since opening in 2012…so here’s a trip down memory lane. Most of these titles are in stock so if you see something that peaks your interest then swing by the shop.
These lists consist of new releases…we’ll write one up regarding reissues later this month.
1. Spiritualized Sweet heart, sweet light (it was our LP of the Month for May)
2. Japandroids Celebration Rock (it was our LP of the Month for June)
3. Gentleman Jesse Leaving Atlanta (it was our LP of the Month for April)
4. Kendrick Lamar Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
5. Swans The Seer
-Phosphorescent Muchacho (Dead Oceans)
-Dirty Beaches Drifters/Love is the Devil (this was David’s favorite; read what we said about it here)
-Joanna Gruesome Weird Sisters (Jimmy wouldn’t shut up about this record)
-Bonnie Prince Billy s/t (Self Released; read what we said about it here)
-Anna Von Hausswolff Ceremony (Other Music)
-Bill Callahan Dream River (Drag City)
-My Bloody Valentine m b v (FINALLY!!!)
-Lonnie Holley Keeping a Record of It (Dust to Digital; it was our LP of the Month)
-Yo La Tengo Fade (Matador; YLT also had one of our favorite concerts of the year in Birmingham at Workplay Theater)
-Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds Push the Sky Away (we also really loved their RSDBF release “Live from KCRW”)
-Volcano Choir Repave (one of Bill’s favorites)
-Medicine To the Happy Few (Captured Tracks)
-Polvo Siberia (Merge)
-David Bowie The Next Day (read about it here)
–Steve Gunn Way Out Weather (Paradise of Bachelors)
–Angel Olsen Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Jagjaguwar)
Picked as our LP of the Month for Feb 2015.
-Charles Bradley Victim of Love (Daptone)
Featured as a LP of the Month in March 2015.
–The War on Drugs Lost in the Dream (Secretly Canadian)
–David Kilgour & The Heavy 8’s End Times Undone (Merge)
–Sturgill Simpson Metamodern Sounds in Country Music (Thirty Tigers)
-Water Liars s/t (Big Legal Mess)
Read our review and anticipation here.
– Kamasi Washington, The Epic (Brainfeeder)
If we were picking a #1 record of the year this would be it!
“To be sure, it’s a jazz album, as much about tradition as expanding it, informed by Coltranes (John and Alice), Miles Davis fusions, bebop and more; yet it’s clearly shaped by crate-digger funk and film scores, hip-hop collage and gospel.” -RollingStone
– Beach Slang, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us (Polyvinyl)
You can read a “Bill’s Picks” review of the Beach Slang release on our blog here.
– Jake Xerxes Fussell s/t (Paradise of Bachelors)
Jake’s debut album was not only one of our bestselling records of the year but also probably the most played record in the shop, and for good reason. Read our review right here.
“One helluva bluesman: my favorite of his generation, and in my opinion, the best young traditional blues artist performing today.” –George Mitchell
– Jamie XX, In Colour (Young Turks)
The best dance record of the year. Jamie XX came through our shop last summer and was just the nicest dude, and his debut full length (on the heels of several banging 12″ singles) is as good as we hoped it would be. In Colour is a definite contender for record of the year.
– Leon Bridges, Coming Home (Columbia)
Coming Home was selected in our Record of the Month Club and was also on our bestsellers list. Read our review here.
– Built to Spill, Untethered Moon (Warner Bros)
Built to Spill continues it’s indie-rock dominance with their latest. Untethered Moon was also a selection in our Record of the Month Club. Read more here.
– Pops Staples, Don’t Lose This (Anti)
Produced by daughter Mavis Staples and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Don’t Lose This, is an impressive addition to the Staples Singers cannon. Unfortunately the vinyl has been out of stock since this record was first released earlier in 2015. Hey Anti!!! Press more of this record. It’s great!! This release was in our Record of the Month Club.
– Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (Mom & Pop/Marathon Artists)
“An ease surrounds her music, a looseness: Even at their most clever, her songs glide from line to line and thought to thought, a stray observation about cracks in the walls leading to something about the wrinkles in Barnett’s own palm, propelled by rock’n’roll that seems to find itself plenty serviceable but nothing to stop and fuss over. “I just know what I know,” she recently told The New York Times; “I think I’m shit some days, and some days I think I’m pretty good,” she told Grantland. To paraphrase the composer and philosopher John Cage, Barnett has nothing to prove and she’s proving it.” -Pitchfork
2016…so far (list compiled in early August)
The year is halfway over…already…and there’s been some really great records from some legacy artists as well as some fresh faces putting out some excellent records. It’s been a tough year with the loss of musical geniuses David Bowie and Prince, but luckily their records remain and their music will always have a place in our racks. It’s no surprise that Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, is at the top of our list and it’ll be hard to knock it off. This year also sees the return of Radiohead with their excellent new albumA Moon Shaped Pool. Other strong records from Sturgill Simpson and Charles Bradley are worth noting…so here are our top 20 records of 2016…so far!
1.) David Bowie Blackstar
Bowie’s final record is a masterpiece from the cover artwork and record packaging to the experimental jazz backing band. Bowie set up the release of Blackstar in an unprecedented work of performance art as he passed away just days after the release leaving the songs bathed in mystery and new meaning. Bowie is one of the most important artists of all time and Blackstar is an excellent parting gift and ending to an amazing and groundbreaking career. If you haven’t already poured over this record, now is the time. This year also sees the vinyl reissues of Bowie’s early, crucial catalog.
2.) Radiohead A Moon Shaped Pool
Radiohead’s first album in four years is one of their greatest achievements. King of Limbs left fans wanting more as the record clocked in at just over 30 minutes. A Moon Shaped Pool is lengthier and much more minimal at the same time–in a good way. This isn’t necessarily a rock record but more a collection of songs where Jonny Greenwood flexes his orchestral muscle while Thom Yorke performs some of his best lyrics to date. The record gives fans some excellent debatable talking points for discussions on where this record ranks in the Radiohead catalog…we think it should sit near the top with Kid Aand OK Computer.
3.) Charles Bradley Changes
Charles Bradley’s third album is his first to full on politicize and the timing is perfect. Bradley sings about the need for change and the even more stressing need for love to conquer all. His cover of Black Sabbath’s “Changes” may be the song of the year. This is one of the best modern soul records to drop in recent years.
4.) Sturgill Simpson A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Many folks thought Sturgill was just going to drop Metamodern Part 2, but he didn’t. He changed it all up and it’s just the move he needed to make. This isn’t a country record really. It’s more soulful than anything he’s ever done and there’s even a Nirvana cover. Sturgill fans were surprised by the production on this one but we think he’s heading in the right direction and this just may be his best record to date.
5.) Kanye West The Life of Pablo
This is the only hip-hop record on our list and it’s probably the most traditional rap record Yeezy has made in years. The gospel-rap opener “Ultralight Beam” is one of Kanye’s best songs ever. Kanye is also pushing the boundary of what it means to release a record in 2016, or if it’s possible for a record to ever be creatively finished. This record didn’t see a physical release–except for that one thing you probably saw in the store ?
6.) Kevin Morby Singing Saw
“The match of songs and sounds on Singing Saw delivers on all the promise of his earlier records, while firmly establishing Morby as one of the best singer/songwriters going.” –allmusic
7.) Whitney Light Upon the Lake
Out on June 3rd, the Chicago group’s debut album is soulful and different from anything else we’ve heard this year in the world of indie rock. Formed from the core of guitarist Max Kakacek (ex-Smith Westerns) and singing drummer Julien Ehrlich (ex-Unknown Mortal Orchestra),the band itself is something bigger, something visionary.
8.) William Tyler Modern Country
Primarily written while Tyler was on sabbatical in Oxford, Mississippi, where he stayed at the cabin of a family friend within a stone’s throw of William Faulkner’s house, Modern Country is a collection of songs about the vanishing America that still exists on back roads, in small towns, on AM radio stations. In an election year when so many certainties and assurances have vanished, Tyler doesn’t offer optimism or pessimism but rather a calm and measured commentary in our age of anxiety.
Release Date: June 3 (We’re hosting a record release party and free in-store show with William Tyler on Friday, June 3 at 5 p.m. Read more here.)
9.) Tim Hecker Love Streams
“Love Streams washes over you–or sometimes floats by off in the horizon–due to its subtlety and complex, deliberate construction.” –The A.V. Club
10.) Parquet Courts Human Performance
“Parquet Courts may have just released their most realized, independent, and articulate album yet.” –Consequence of Sound
“These are tight, economical pop songs actually worthy of Pavement comparisons in terms of not just sound, but melody.” –Slant
11.) Seratones Get Gone
“This is still a young band; just last year, Seratones entered NPR Music’s first Tiny Desk Contest for unsigned, undiscovered talent. (The group didn’t win, but scored an invitationto the Tiny Desk earlier this year.) But for all of Seratones’ youth, Get Gone steers clear of rookie mistakes, meandering or filler. It’s varied in its pace while always on point in itspacing, and led by a singer with the strutting star power of the punk she is at heart.” –NPR
“Today they release a fine debut album, Get Gone, and it riffs thrillingly on the gutsy soul and distorted genius of the US’ vast and wonderful musical history. Referencing everything from old favourites like Curtis Mayfield, Prince and Donny Hathaway to Facebook, Bossa Nova and the Bible, singer AJ Haynes leads the pack. She has a bit of a Minnie Riperton vibe about her vocally (not forgetting that afro either), and as a performer for over a decade now, her voice is seriously impressive. She’s able to flit from a soothing coo into something altogether more raucous in an instant.” –NME
“Their first LP, Get Gone,brandishes playful guitar hooks that swing in at just the right moments, but Haynes is the band’s best asset, lighting these otherwise-conventional songs on fire.” –Pitchfork
12.) Car Seat Headrest Teens of Denial
This one seems to be tied up in a legal battle but we’ve got a promo copy from before it was recalled due to a licensing fiasco, and it’s damn good. We can’t wait for it to drop later this year. Read more on this story here.
13.) Richmond Fontaine You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing To Go Back To
This is the final record from Richmond Fontaine. Read “Bill’s Picks” review of it right here.
14.) Twin Peaks Down in Heaven
“The result is a casual, charmingly low-key set of kitchen-table blues, slow-dance serenades, and unplugged power pop.” –Pitchfork
15.) PJ Harvey The Hope Six Demolition Project
“The Hope Six Demolition Project is yet another remarkable PJ Harvey effort.” –Magnet
“On this album, Harvey is again sweeping up sonic history and weaving it into a pattern of her own making, but it’s more relaxed and more raucous, its reference points less, appropriately, English. It’s a deeply melodic record.” –Record Collector
“Not all of Hope Six is mired in dissonance. Harvey frequently returns to the well of pop music, but the irony of wrapping a grim lyrical message in upbeat music is that those uncomfortable truths become that much harder to overlook.” –American Songwriter
“The Hope Six Demolition Project is her most exhilarating rock album in years, yoking the siren-like catchiness of her last great America-influenced album, Stories From the City… to the swamp-tarnished filth of her classic first three records, Dry, Rid of Me, andTo Bring You My Love. It’s leering, brash, and dissonant, but also not without its warmth.” –Pitchfork
16.) Weezer White Album
A return to the classic Weezer of the Blue Album and Pinkerton era with some polished, radio-friendly nuggets. This record is like going to Ya-Ya’s and getting a 3-pound frozen yogurt with chocolate all over it, then walking around the Square eating it.
17.) Margo Price Midwest Farmer’s Daughter
“While Price and her crack band revive an array of hard-edged country sounds from the ’60s and ’70s, leaning on robust guitar twang, her postures and performances occasionally echo a superstar of that era: Loretta Lynn.” -NPR
18.) Brian Eno The Ship
“His latest, The Ship, is a variation on the typical Eno theme, the next warm period in his glacial unthawing, and it’s one of his more interesting works. Where his last release, 2012’s Lux, seemed like a brighter distant cousin of Music for Airports, The Ship finds Eno combining ambience with his own voice for the first time. He’s billed it as a sort of “musical novel” – a loose story collage inspired by the Titanic sinking, World War I and random throwaway lines from emails and his own writing – but it’s not so much what he or his computer or his comedian friend and collaborator Peter Serafinowicz say on the record that matters as much as how it feels.” –RollingStone
19.) Sunflower Bean Human Ceremony
“Human Ceremony is an impressive debut from a band who seem positioned to make many more excellent albums if they can continue to do such a good job of mining the past for gold and revamping it in their own fashion like they do so well here.” –AllMusic
20.) Bonnie Prince Billy & Bitchin’ Bajas Epic Jammers
“In his long, unpredictable career, Will Oldham has never been scared of diving headfirst into new musical situations, whether it’s remaking old Palace tunes with Nashville session pros, or recording Bruce Springsteen covers with Tortoise. That sense of adventure has served him well (for the most part) and it hasn’t dimmed with age, as proven by Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties, his new collaboration with the Chicago minimalist/neo-New Age collective Bitchin Bajas. The soundscapes the Bajas create behind Oldham’s guitar and vocals are immersive and often positively gorgeous, without becoming mere sonic wallpaper. For lyrics, Oldham has turned to the koans found in Chinese fortune cookies — an approach that might seem like cutesy shtick in anyone else’s hands. But his righteous delivery and idiosyncratic phrasing fits the spiritual, questing vibe of the music. Tune in, bliss out.” –Other Music