Don't judge them by their SNL performance or their John Mayer-esque performing faces. The album is a really solid piece of musicianship and even better sound engineering.Big Black Delta - Big Black Delta
This guy has toured with M83, so of course that makes my hipstery dick wet. This guy is an epic song composer, though. Really great homages to loads of genres and artists all through this LP. Lead single "Side of the Road" will make you move, I don't care who you are. "Capsize" has wonderful traces of Pink Floyd's 80's influences all over it. "Money Rain Down" has some of the funnest horn synths I'd wager you've ever heard in a song.Kings of Leon - Mechanical Bull
Undeterred by the mediocre reception of their last outing, Come Around Sundown (which I liked,) the Tennesee Followill boys are back at it with what I'd argue is the purest culmination of their music to date. It has all of the pitter-patter frenzy of the first few albums that Americans largely don't know about, mixed with the slightly more radio-friendly songwriting prowess that launched them to where they are now. Not to mention, Caleb's voice has been distilled down - just like the whiskey he loves - to the smoothest version of itself. If it were a person, I'd fuck it.
Standout track: Beautiful WarVarious Musicians - Bioshock Infinite Original Soundtrack
The only soundtrack to make the list, this one is an honest-to-Comstock doozy. This one isn't even available for purchase due to licensing complications. If you're not familiar with the game, here's a quick breakdown: story takes place in 1912, but it's an alternate 1912, and there's sort of a way to travel between universes and time. It sounds much more convoluted than it is, but it opens the door for some wonderfully creative choices with music. Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" as well as Tears For Fears' "Everybody Wants To Rule The World", not to mention "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys have all been reworked into styles of the pre-prohibition era. The latter was turned into a barbershop quartet piece, that, quite frankly is the best version I've heard of the song. The first song you hear in the game – and one that makes its appearance in many other forms throughout – is a choral version of the old Christian hymnal "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" that clearly invokes the riverside Siren scene from O, Brother Where Art Thou but stands up to it toe to toe.Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
I've already discussed this one here. Still though, goddamn. This is Ezra and the boys in peak form.Cold War Kids - Dear Miss Lonelyhearts
If you're a fan of the CWK already, all I can say is this one is solid and you probably already like it. If you're not a big fan, give this one a try. It's not quite the seizure you're used to hearing from them. In fact, the album closer, "Bitter Poem" is downright ethereal (by their standards.)Lucius - Wildewoman
Again, again. Covered this last month. And I've covered them many times in the past. But dammit if I don't love these boys with all my heart and soul. If you ever have a chance to see them live, do me, you & them a favor and go. Those harmonies... *chills*Looks like I ended up with 8. There were more great albums, but these are the ones you must listen to. I WILL KNOW IF YOU DIDN'T.