This year I solved a nagging digital conundrum: how to respect the heaps of good tunes that I've unceremoniously relegated to the laptop library. The answer: A 1GB iPod. It only holds about 240 songs, so every couple of weeks, I'm forced to wipe the slate clean and scan the long list of dusty downloads to handpick a new batch of mood-worthy tracks. Here are 10 albums I was loath to delete.
The Last Shadow Puppets The Age of the Understatement
Arctic Monkeys lead bloke Alex Turner and the Rascals' Miles Kane decided to get drunk for a few weeks and blow some of Turner's newfound dough on a lads' lark in the studio. This super-slick, David Bowie/James Bond–inspired chart-topper, and the hangovers, were well worth it.
Jenny Lewis Acid Tongue
Lipstick cowgirl Jenny Lewis's sultry twang and intricate storytelling return on a second solo effort chock full of endearing tales of tripping out and growing up in Sin City.
Dengue Fever Venus on Earth
An assigned interview for the Straight led to a fascination with the Cambodian-psychedelic-rock sounds of L.A.'s best band.
Originally released as a low-key indie outing in 2007, Hybrid, from Peruvian-born singer-songwriter Elsieanne Caplette and Montreal drummer Stephane Sotto, was reissued on Nettwerk this year to the delight of perfectly coiffed condo dwellers who have taken to the duo's voice-as-instrument trip-hop shtick like yuppies to Yaletown.
The Black Keys Attack & Release
This record was made for driving with the windows down and the factory-stock speakers tweaking and spluttering.
The Charlatans UKYou Cross My Path
Although no official announcement has been made, this album looks, sounds, and feels like the last for Tim Burgess and the boys. So, after nearly 20 years of having the Charlatans in my Walkman/Discman/iPod, and one sloppy backstage kiss in 1992, I bid farewell.
Los Campesinos! Hold On Now, Youngster”¦
With not much more to do at university in Wales than blister your liver, tip sheep, and master glockenspiel riffs, the seven Cardiff kids who make up Los Campesinos! apparently spent most of their time studying ways to use the Interwebs to gain fame.
More than a decade since its last album, Portishead seemingly came out of nowhere with an updated repertoire. Don't write off Third as a cash grab or a comeback, though; it's a reinvention record that owes its familiarity only to Beth Gibbons's stunning vocals.
Black Mountain In the Future
Local prog-rockers finally deliver a follow-up to their self-titled 2005 debut. Worth the wait, In the Future is rooted about as deep in the past as it gets. It's a terrific tribute to the longhairs of yore, and has given surviving members of the Whalley mullet militia something to celebrate.
Sigur Ros Meí° suí° í eyrum vií° spilum endalaust
Reykjavík is legendary for spawning uninhibited musicians, and Sigur Rós is no exception. On its fifth studio effort, the group revisits its now-trademark Martian soundscapes, but has shored up its sound with a little less pretense and a touch more structure.