9. Lily and Madeleine – Acoustic Sessions
The harmonies from these sisters are gorgeous. I love this acoustic album more than their album releases. Simplicty works for them. Such gorgeous melodies, too. Check out “I’ve Got Freedom“.
8. Shovels & Rope – Swimmin’ Time
Although I think O’ Be Joyful is a much better album, I cannot dislike anything this gritty/rootsy/Americana/folky-rock band does. They are such a joy to see live – they’re coming to Little Rock in January. Here’s the standout track, “The Devil is All Around“.
7. The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers
I love the “poppier” direction they took on this album. I can’t believe it hasn’t gotten more attention. “War on the East Coast” and “Brill Bruisers” are standouts.
6. Taylor Swift – 1989
Somebody get me some Swiftamine. I am hooked. I love this album. “Blank Space” (awesome video!) and “Bad Blood” are outstanding. Although, “Style” is one I would get rid of. The beginning guitar lick sounds like the soundtrack to a bad boy character from Beverly Hills 90210. Right as he’s about to either swallow a lot of pills or down a bottle of whiskey. Listen to it – you’ll see what I mean.
5. Spoon – They Want My Soul
Spoon always delivers. And this album does not disappoint. “Do You” is probably the track that stands out the most.
4. Sam Smith – In the Lonely Hour
I am in love with this guy’s voice. So smooth and soulful. His falsetto is incomparable. The lyrics to the songs are that of a 21 yr. old…simple lyrics mostly about loving someone that doesn’t love you back. Classic. Try not to be emotionally moved when he sings “Lay Me Down” live on SNL. All of the tears.
3. St. Paul & the Broken Bones – Half the City
I got to see this incredible band at South on Main in Little Rock. Paul Janeway’s Baptist preacher style delivery took my soul to another place. “Broken Bones and Pocket Change” and “Call Me” are standouts. Just watch this entire live performance (20 min.) on KEXP and you’ll get it.
2. Ages & Ages – Divisionary
This Portland based folk collective has brought the most happiness to me this year. A perfect blend of tight harmonies, compelling lyrics, and sing-along/stomp-along melodies. Key tracks are “Divisionary“, “Our Demons”, and “I See More“.
1. Hozier – (self-titled)
“Take Me to Church” is only the beginning of the brilliance of this album. So glad the world is finally catching up this Irishman’s greatness! His velvety voice and homage to American blues is enriching and inviting. Other stand out tracks are “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene” and “Cherry Wine“.