5 The Evens – The Odds
Just in case you forgot Ian MacKaye is one of the greatest musicians of all time, The Evens are back to remind you. Their third album The Odds features several solidly intimate tracks. Wanted Criminals gets your blood bubbling instantly with almost tribal like drumming. This Other Thing features a more delicately played guitar, and Amy Farina more prominently on vocals—a nice up-tempo switch. Competing With the Till shows MacKaye’s struggles over making good music that is true to his own personal evolution, and you know…money. All in all, The Odds is a spectacular and unique album.
4 Jack White – Blunderbuss
The disbandment of The White Stripes was one of the saddest moments in modern music. However, it gave way to Jack White’s solo album Blunderbuss, a strange collection rock, country, blues, and folk strung together with disenchanted melancholy (not only did his band fall apart, but so did his marriage). This feeling is best illustrated on Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy. Freedom at 21 shows White’s disillusionment with his aging status in rock n’ roll, and I’m Shakin leaves you just that—shakin’ (no wonder, White was backed by a gaggle of talented women, including his ex-wife).
3 Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror
Their sophomore album, Reign of Terror reveals that Sleigh Bells are more than just weird new wave electro pop. Opening track True Shred Guitar is a live recording that features ‘80s hair-metal guitar licks with their unique dystopic electro-beats. End of the Line is a breathy and ephemeral, yet deeply sad. The juxtaposition of these two songs reflects the overall tone of the album—slightly disjointed, yet strangely syncopated.
2 The xx – Coexist
Heralded as one of the best indie pop groups, the xx’s second studio album Coexist is a more polished sound than their 2009 effort. Their sound hasn’t evolved so much as it has been honed. Opening track Angels is hauntingly sweet. Chained in contrast is heavier and darker while still retaining an ethereal melody. The album lacks a drive, yet doesn’t feel lethargic. Tides is a nice balance of the two general sounds on the album. It showcases the xx’s beautiful harmonizing while infusing it with a more edgy sound. Coexist is an eerily beautiful album worth listening to over and over.
1 Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet On Sky
If you were expecting a classic Dinosaur Jr. album (heavy, weird, loud, and lyrical) you are in for a very pleasant surprise. Dinosaur Jr.’s tenth studio album I Bet on Sky shows Dinosaur Jr. isn’t afraid of growing. Opening track Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know features J Masic’s classic wavering vocal style (though smoother than before) with their characteristic full-bodied sound. Their growth is obvious in the ethereal twinkling piano in Don’t Pretend, as well as Stick a Toe In. I Know It Oh So Well is a nice upbeat change of pace. Closing track See it on Your Side is emblematic of their pleasantly sludgy sound, while retaining a vitality and freshness. I Bet On Sky is an album to be reckoned with, and proves Dinosaur Jr. is not to be forgotten.