At a certain point, you just have to say “fuck it.” Every year, I go through the records I picked up over the course of the previous 12 months and find a handful of albums I truly loved and a bunch of music I barely spent any time with. So I gather all the albums into a playlist and spend the last month of the year (which is usually December) furiously listening in the hopes that I will stumble upon a bevy of hidden delights that somehow remained hidden upon initial listens. And I listen to them all with clear eyes and a full heart and inevitably end up saying “fuck it” and writing down the records I liked before the end-of- year listening marathon began.
This year presented some particular difficulties because this is the year I became a dad. I don’t want to be one of those guys who becomes a dad and totally loses touch with new music, because music is still really important to me. True, I haven’t seen a band play all year. Ugh, I just wrote that and felt a little sick. But that makes sense because seeing a band means leaving the house at night when I would rather be sleeping. Listening to music, on the other hand, is something you can pretty much do during every hour of your waking life, particularly if you’re someone like me who sits in front of a computer all day and doesn’t ever need to talk to another human being. I hope for your sake you are not someone like me.
You can even listen to music with your kids, if you want. Although I also don’t want to be one of those guys who’s like, “my kids are only allowed to listen to the Velvet Underground and Captain Beefheart.” Because every kid needs to have his or her crap music phase, right? Thankfully my daughter is still at the age where I can listen to adult-oriented stuff in her presence without her bothering me all the time with questions like, “what’s a gat?” and “why is the woman in the song making those horrible moaning noises?” I mean, I turn it off when her ears start bleeding. I’m a very conscientious father.
But having said that, I didn’t really have the time to sit with records as much as I would have liked this year. And very few albums really blew me away, aside from my number one album, which is one of my very favorite albums of the last several years. With all those caveats in mind, I’m just going to say “fuck it” and present the fifteen records that did the best job of breaking through the clutter.
15. Los Campesinos! – Hello Sadness
There are bands you want to fuck and bands you want to cuddle. Los Campesinos! is decidedly in the latter camp. But that’s okay … the band you want to fuck will only disappoint you and leave you miserable in the end. On the Campesinos! fourth record, they cover much of the same territory they’ve explored on their previous albums: heartache, loss, sorrow, and the impossibility of finding true love. The genius of the Campesinos! is that even when they’re nursing broken hearts, they still sound like they’re having a good time. Even if you’re not bowled over by their recordings, be sure to catch them live … if you can leave that venue without feeling like you’ve had a spiritual experience, I’ll give you your money back.
That’s not true. I won’t give you your money back. But I will be like, “whaaaaat?”