10. CHVRCHES — The Bones of What You Believe / Cut Copy — Free Your Mind
I honestly couldn’t pick between these, the two best electronic albums of the year. The former is a promising debut, the latter continuing to display the greatness we’ve come to expect.
9. Neko Case — The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
I never much cared for Neko Case’s band The New Pornographers, but from the second I heard “Man,” one of the year’s best songs, I knew I was hooked. Her songwriting is nothing short of extraordinary and she’s got a voice to match. It’s a collection of pretty songs about difficult things, so exactly the kind of thing I love.
8. Local Natives — Hummingbird
It’s not quite as stunning as Gorilla Manor, but those harmonies still slay me. The lyrical content goes darker, but it’s as gorgeous as ever.
7. Janelle Monáe — The Electric Lady
Like Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE, this is the major arrival of an R&B star who doesn’t fit into any box. I’ve been a fan for a long time, and it’s great to see her finally achieve some success. The best news: she hasn’t even reached her talent ceiling yet.
6. Kurt Vile — Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze
I’ve never been much of a country guy, so anything that goes against the status quo — darker themes, a rougher sound — gets my vote. Kurt Vile, ever the raconteur, continues to play by his own rules, giving us one of the best albums of the year.
5. Shane Carruth — Upstream Color
Just like the incredible film it accompanies, I can’t stop thinking about Shane Carruth’s knockout score. It still haunts me months later.
4. Daft Punk — Random Access Memories
Maybe it’s lost a little of its luster since the summer, but Daft Punk’s comeback album was the best time I had listening to any album all year. Maybe one day I’ll actually get to see them.
3. Kanye West — Yeezus
Yes, we all know about his insatiable ego, his circus of a relationship and his douchey decision to continue with his Dallas show despite it being an icy mess. But this is next-level rap. This is the sound of a man getting out all of his ugliness in the face of impending fatherhood. He may worship himself, but musically, Kanye is a god.
2. Vampire Weekend — Modern Vampires of the City
This was the year that they finally left the drum circle, that they finally delivered something deep and true. No more cute little ditties. It’s real music now.
1. Haim — Days are Gone
It almost wasn’t fair. Once I heard this album, it was all over. I haven’t listened to an album this many times and absorbed it like this in quite some time. It’s also a little shocking for a band to arrive this fully formed. They don’t need time to hone their act. They just deliver perfect pop music.
Arcade Fire — Reflektor, Arctic Monkeys — AM, David Bowie — The Next Day, Fall Out Boy — Save Rock and Roll, Sky Ferreira — Night Time, My Time, Foals — Holy Fire, Foxygen — We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, Frightened Rabbit — Pedestrian Verses, Lady Gaga — ARTPOP, Lorde — Pure Heroine, Mutual Benefit — Love’s Crushing Diamond, My Bloody Valentine — mbv, One Direction — Midnight Memories, Veronica Falls — Waiting for Something to Happen, Yo La Tengo — Ohm