LOCAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Marcus Rubio's Hello Dallas (EP)
Put out in a rush job just days before his departure to grad school and the West Coast with it, Hello Dallas flew in the face of its rushed recording, revealing itself as Rubio's most complete and enjoyable release to date. Part of this shouldn't come as a total surprise, as Dallas' five tracks had been honed for years, and represented some of the Gospel Choir of Pillows' strongest live material. However by taking the bolder step of melding these pop-oriented songs with his more experimental leanings, Rubio managed to hatch the most challenging, engaging, and impressive record to come out of the Alamo city this year.
The other nine:
2. Third Root – Stand For Something
3. Nicolette Good - Monarch
4. Bad Breaks – Bad Breaks
5. Last Nighters – Last Nighters
6. We Leave At Midnight – We Leave At Midnight
7. Mission Complete – Emotionally Strong Enough To Be Your Man
8. Ernest Gonzales – Natural Traits
9. Chris Maddin – The Tiago Splitters
10. Yes Inferno – I Hate Myself And I Want To Die
NATIONAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR:
Tame Impala's Lonerism
The litmus test for my album of the year choice always comes down to numbers, and at 15 spins (16 once I finish writing this), Tame Impala's brilliant second release is my 2012 record by a country mile. How this band of Aussies managed to craft a record that I'd gladly listen to over a dozen times comes from a completeness of execution. From the psychedelic swirl of the production, the potency of the songwriting, and the inventiveness of the playing, frontman Kevin Parker and crew absolutely nailed it on all levels. Time for spin #17. — J.D.S.
LOCAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Marcus Rubio's None of the Birds
Despite delightfully worthy efforts from Pop Pistol, Chris Maddin, and Last Nighters, this is my far and away favorite local album of the year. Loose, idiosyncratic in all the most endearing ways, part folk and part unicorn, profound yet simple, lo-fi gigantic, cheeky chamber, doom twee — this album rewards, challenges, and amuses listen after listen. "Boss Vegas (The Song)" and "Song of Yourself," in particular, sit among my favorite tracks of the year.
ON THE NATIONAL FRONT
Grizzly Bear's Shields
In a year where musical jolts and jarring jumps felt more natural than the pastoral naïveté of my youth — Grizzly Bear's fourth album stands as an alcove from the chaos. It's jazzy, direct yet melodramatic, filled with rich and cinematic harmonies, and distinguished by an ever sharpening knack for instantly penetrating melodies and delicately off-center rhythms. Standout tracks "Yet Again," "Sleeping Ute," and "Sun in Your Eyes" are among the most gorgeous songs I've ever heard.
Other favorites of the year include a left-field rap classic from the mysterious Captain Murphy (Duality), a postmodern R&B stunner from that dude Frank Ocean (Channel ORANGE), and the biggest statement of a seventh album ever from Woods (Bend Beyond). — J.C.