There's this thing that happens in my brain when an album immediately appeals to me. All the tension that I didn't even know was building up in there suddenly releases. And I'm so grateful. Like a really spicy curry, it just clears everything up, and what that does is allow me to actually pay attention to what I'm listening to. These albums did that for me, and I hope they do similar things for you. Side note: I spent the better part of this year falling in love with classic country's Ernest Tubb, and if you're hungering for legit melody and weird, affected delivery, skip this list and go through his catalog instead.
Merchandise – Children of Desire
Dear all-things-good-and-right, please tell me the next time this Tampa band comes to town. There is no excuse not to listen to this band; all of their music is free.
Sonny & the Sunsets – Longtime Companion
Proving that a breakup album doesn't have to be dramatic, this album smirks at heartbreak in a way that leans more toward defeated/bemused than crazed/embittered. Respect.
R. Stevie Moore – Lo Fi Hi Fives … A Kind of Best Of
This is a comp (I know, I know, shame on me for shirking a deserving new release) of the accessibly structured music he's released over the years, and it tempted me to play it start-to-finish far too often.
Trust – TRST
DANCE. These Canadians mastered mid-song mood shifts.
Sean Moore – Fragile Age
Moore's thin vocals sound just right over these full, textured songs that make me forget all the crotchety ill will I generally feel toward most densely layered music nowadays.
Jessica Bailiff – At the Down-turned Jagged Rim of the Sky
The respectably untrendy Jessica Bailiff will probably never top Even in Silence for me, but this, her most deliberate and surprisingly (in a good way) un-experimental album is soft and pleasant and, well, beautiful.
Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet on Sky
Look I tried, but there was no way I was going to get through this post without mentioning that Dinosaur Jr. put out a new record this year, and I fucking loved it. I didn't even know I wanted the band to add piano! Also, if you're reading this, Sebadoh, my head and heart are bickering still over which one feels more betrayed by the Secret EP.
Ty Segall Band – Slaughterhouse
It's loud, noisy, and the shrieks of Ty Segall are somehow transcendent. It was my go-to noisemaker whenever I didn't want to have to think about what to listen to. Also, it's probably a dirty trick to call this album soothing. It can only be described that way if you are typically lulled by controlled chaos, as I am.