20. Natalie Portman's Shaved Head - Glistening Pleasure
This creatively named band feels like a joke band started between a few friends that somehow along the way they shocked each other with how good they became and decided to take the show on the road. The concepts featured on the album are just as ridiculous as the band's name and their album art. With love songs sung to the father of your girl citing the things you do when he's not in the room, to odes to facial hair and atrocious 80's styles, you're bound to find yourself laughing just as much as you find yourself dancing.
Natalie Portman's Shaved Head - Me + Yr Daughter
Natalie Portman's Shaved Head Myspace
19. The Banshee - Your Nice Habits
Genova, Itlay band The Banshee's album "Your Nice Habits" is full of jittery post-punk-pop ready to get you wherever you need to go in a hurry. It's hard to not physically speed up whatever you are doing while listening to them. This feeling is certainty helped by producer Luke Smith (Former member of equally as Jittery defunct band Clor, and producer of yet another fidgety band Shit Disco) who also helps guide the band into quirky Gary Numan synth territory. While there's not exactly a lot of new ground forged here, the record is unabashedly fun and you can tell the band is having fun too. This record is proof that Italians may indeed do that better.
The Banshee - Kicks Up
The Banshee Myspace
18. Falcon - Falcon
Falcon emerged on the scene with an incredibly original concept. All of their songs have already been written, and they are a new band. "How is this possible?", You might ask. Well, it's because these songs were written by a songwriting prodigy named Jared Falcon that three of the band members went to school with. He recorded the songs on a simple four track recorder which the band then studies and fleshes out. If the intense guitar effect and drumming of the band seems familiar, it's because the drummer and guitarist of Longwave are also in the band. Beyond the concept and all star line-up, it's the songs that shine through for Falcon. Each song shines with an introspection and optimism that could only be written by an extremely talented youth.
Falcon - Listen In
17. Woven - Designer Codes
Woven is a band out of L.A. that fuses electronic and rock so well, I was confused when I first listened to their music. It was so good, I felt like I had heard it before somewhere. I don't know if I'd heard it during a movie, or a commercial or whatever, but their stuff is so cinematic that I think I should be hearing their stuff in commercials and movies. Waves of keys, guitars, and vocals wash in and out over otherworldly pristine pop. It's like the band time traveled from the future to show us what rock will be like in 50 years.
Woven - Fragments
16. The Presets - Apocalypso
The Presets have always been a gritty electro dance band. Once in a while they let some of their pop/dance stylings escape from their bag of tricks. Like on their excellent songs "The Girl and the Sea" or "Summer of Love", but for the most part they prefer to be dirty and rowdy. On their new release Apocalypso, The Presets have cleaned up their act, and their music is all the better for it. The vocals soar, choruses richochet inside your head, where they'll stay for days, and the beats and grooves have never been better. You'll be hard pressed to find better party starters than "Yippiyo-Ay" and "My People". There are even songs featured here that are actually pretty in spots (This Boy's In Love). In a strange turn of fate, the beast has become the beauty.
The Presets Myspace
15. The Ting Tings - We Started Nothing
If there is one band that is poised for mainstream crossover success and deserves it, it's The Ting Tings. Jules and Katie have all of the fun and intelligence of the best indie-dance music and all of the accessibility of the best of Rihanna or Katie Perry, all without listeners having to hide it as a guilty pleasure. From the opening strums of "Great DJ", you know there's something special going on here. From guitar riffs, to microkorg melodies, to ample use of Cowbell, it's all here. It's hard to believe so much fun comes from just two people. They're also phenomenal live.
The Ting Tings Myspace
14. The Age of Rockets - Hannah
The Age of Rockets is a NYC three piece composed of producer/frontman Andrew Futral, drummer Saul Simon Macwilliams, and guitarist/keyboardist Bess Rogers. Their album "Hannah" could easily soundtrack a movie about touring around the world on a cloud. The vocal harmonies ring out here as the richest assett featured througout. That's not to say this is an accapella album in the least. There are all kinds of supplemental instrumentation, from guitars, to pounding drums, to glitchy beats, to gentle keys, to violins being gently plucked. The album is largely a mellow affair with poignant lyrics scattered througout. It's remarkable that three people could make this big of a diverse sound and it's that expansiveness and attention to detail that makes "Hannah" by The Age of Rockets one of the best albums of the year.
The Age of Rockets - Avada Kedavra
The Age of Rockets Myspace
My Dear Disco is a band out of Michigan that fuses together dance-punk, jazz-funk, and many other styles into one cohesive digestible whole. The septet churns out dance hits that are on par with any club banger that you've heard this year while at the same time they contain musical and lyrical content that is equally enjoyable as well as intellectually stimulating. On every track you can feel the enthusiasm of the band bleed through to every note. Even though the band has significant instrumental might, their secret weapon is lead singer Michelle. Who has a duality equal to that of Clark Kent and Superman. Off stage, she's personable and intelligent, but up on stage she lets loose with that glorious voice of hers with the might of a superhero. With the costumes they wear while on stage, being musical superheroes may not be far off.
My Dear Disco - Amsterdam
My Dear Disco Myspace
12. The Walkmen - You & Me
The Walkmen have released a much more pensive album this time around with "You & Me". They keep a tight leash on their wild, singular energy, careful to only let it out of the bag on a few occasions. This tension and release throughout album makes the both the quiet and loud songs better. Not to say that their other releases aren't intimate at times, but this album feels the most personal out of all of their records. Like when Hamilton Leithhauser laments that he lives at the same address on "In the New Year", the music conveys the urgency and optimism for him to redirect his life. The Walkmen have always had a formula that has fit a wintery retrospective pretty well. The most sublime example is the romantic reconciliation of "Canadian Girl". The old school rhythm and ear warming guitar chimes will have you smiling in no time.
The Walkmen Myspace
11. The Stills - Oceans Will Rise
In a year filled with comebacks, The Stills provided one of the most dramatic. I'm not saying that their previous release "Without Feathers" was a bad record by any means, it just didn't feel like them. But, this album marks a return to their hypnotic guitar stylings and inspired drumming. Their previous album felt like they were reaching for a bunch of different sounds. "Oceans Will Rise" feels like they've remembered who they are. Also, they've not lost some of the stylings they picked up on their previous record, they've applied them for sensational effect. Pianos roar and resonate and Tim Fletcher's vocal delivery will have you hanging on every word. There's even some stadium appeal here with the fantastic single "Being Here". It's time to remember all the reasons why you liked The Stills in the first place.
The Stills Myspace