Here's a look back at a decade's worth of best album of the year picks...from 2011 until now.
In 2011 I picked Dawes - Nothing Is Wrong as my album of the year. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Dawes and I may have cooled some in the years since, but it was an amicable parting of ways. I could play Nothing Is Wrong right now and sing along with every song, and maybe even get a little teary eyed as a result. However, my #2 pick from that year - The Harrow and the Harvest by Gillian Welch - has risen to even higher prominence in the ensuing years, proving to be one of the best albums of the last decade. Meanwhile, a forgotten gem from 2011 is the Jamacian mento album We Will Wait (like a folkier reggae) by Blue Glaze Mento Band. Well worth seeking out.
2012 is very heavy on folk, old-time and trad but its supreme leader is still the same as it was then: The Murphy Beds' self-titled debut album. A desert-island disc for me. The Murphy Beds are Eamon O'Leary and Jefferson Hamer. They're still somewhat active as a duo, but unfortunately there never was a 2nd Murphy Beds album. At least not yet. 2012's dark horse is Dan Gurney - Traditional Irish Music on the Button Accordion. That one's pretty pure. Plus Béla Fleck and the Marcus Roberts Trio. Nice!
Even by 2013 The Sadies were already an established favorite of mine, but a young previously unheard of Scottish Alt. Country band called The Wynntown Marshalls gave them a run for their money. The Sadies won out in the end and that was a good decision as I have continued to listen to Internal Sounds quite frequently in the time since. A couple forgotten gems from that year are Mandolins at the Cakewalk by The Ragtime Skedaddlers and Redlight Rag by Rattletrap Ruckus.
Here we see the beginnings of an experimental streak that continues to this day. Rhyton - Kykeon as number one. Nice pick if I do say so myself. Go back and listen to that and see if you don't agree. Greg Cohen - Golden State is one that I have grown to love even more, and Xylouris White - Goats continues to get better and better with every listen. Goats might be the new number one if I was to do it over again.
2015 wasn't that long ago and I don't see anything wrong with any of these picks. Nowadays I would definitely elevate Mary Halvorson - Meltframe to the top of the list. Although I'm not sure it could unseat Tomeka Reid. Mary Halvorson is all over this list actually. Also give Susan Alcorn a listen if you can find her recordings. 2015 is looking pretty good.
|Woolen Men - Post. |
I totally missed this one in 2018!
For some reason I could only come up with five favorite new albums in 2016? I guess I didn't yet know about Idris Ackamoor - We Be All Africans, Psychic Temple - Plays Music for Airports, or Atlantis Jazz Ensemble - Oceanic Suite. If one of those didn't occupy the number one slot, then a worthy resident would have been I Long to See You by Charles Lloyd and the Marvels.
In 2017, Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile helped get me back on track. And they stayed one step ahead of The War on Drugs. There's some really good stuff further down this 2017 list: Ches Smith, Jenny Scheinman, and Wolf! Actually Wolf! should have been on the 2016 list! Missing altogether is Jake Xerxes Fussell. I didn't know about him yet.
Nothing wrong with this list. It's full of goodies. Even my 2018 albums that you might have missed list has got it going on. And to think that I hadn't heard of the band The Woolen Men until this year so there's no mention of them at all yet. I'm pretty sure The Woolen Men's brilliant 2018 album Post would have been near the top of the list had I known about it.
By 2019 I was fully under the influence of Spotify for good or ill. The platform's algorithm had figured out my musical taste and spoon fed me one personalized hit after another. It looks like I chose not to rank my 2019 list but instead just narrowed it down to ten favorites. A year later I'm thinking Carla Dal Forno - Look Up Sharp is a strong contender for number one. Although there is some very strong competition from Goes West by William Tyler and The Borametz Tree by C. Joynes and the Furlong Bray. One year ago I didn't yet know about The Reds, Pinks and Purples yet so Anxiety Art is strikingly absent from last year's list. That was a pretty big omission. Apologies to Glenn Donaldson.
Just posted today! Will Sleeper and Snake hold on to the top position or will they be overtaken by Silverbacks? Or will I soon be turned on to something that I'm currently unaware of and kick myself for not including it? Time will tell. I also posted a much longer 2020 music list and chances are good that some off-handed reference from that grouping will grow in stature in the future.