I’ve done some sort of year end, “best of” list as long as I can remember. This probably hasn’t been the “best” year of music over that span, but it certainly has been the most important, to me. We’ve all had a trying year, to put it mildly. These are the albums that helped get me through it.

(The playlists, featuring all these and more, can be found here.)

Top Ten

    1. Embroidered Foliage (No Thank You): A delightfully tight, punk-adjacent indie rock record. Would have fit perfectly on Kill Rock Stars' mid-90s roster.
    1. Fetch The Bolt Cutters (Fiona Apple): It takes a lot of work to make something so meticulously crafted sound so loose and “messy.”
    1. Song For Our Daughter (Laura Marling): A near-perfect singer/songwriter record.
    1. Cinderblock Cindy (Ellen Siberian Tiger): As I noted on Twitter, this record stopped me in my tracks and lit my hair on fire.
    1. Lianne La Havas (Lianne La Havas): The cover of “Weird Fishes” is perfect, and somehow better than the original, but this record deserves way more than to be remembered as “the one with Weird Fishes on it.”
    1. Burst (Snarls): This seems like it was grown in a lab specifically to check my boxes: dreamy, almost-shoegazy mid-90s indie vibes with wonderful female lead vocals.
    1. Saint Cloud (Waxahatchee): This was a slow burn for me, but really worth the time… just a perfect record for Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning, or almost any other time.

    1. Empty Country (Empty Country): Was never a huge Cymbals Eat Guitars fan, but this gem from former CEG frontman Joseph D’Agostino’s new project is a pastoral masterpiece. It’s made waiting for that new Wrens record a liiiiiitle bit easier.
    1. Women In Music Pt. III (HAIM): The Fleetwood Mac comparisons work for me, not not necessarily because of the sound (although there are plenty of late-70s Laurel Canyon vibes here); it’s more the sheer relentlessness of the quality of the hooks in every. single. song.
    1. Inlet (Hum): Dropped out of nowhere in the middle of summer and swallowed me whole. I can’t do justice to describe this perfect soundscape of a record, but Sebastian Sterling can.

Honorable Mentions