Due to the global pandemic, there was a disruption to “The Process” in constructing our annual best-of list for the year. However, we still wanted to recognize that music was in fact released during these difficult times, and sometimes it was even quite good. So once again, for the purposes of our records (and your shopping list), here are our favorite albums from the past year.
10. Idles – Ultra Mono; EOB – Earth
9. Wolf Parade – Thin Mind; Moaning – Uneasy Laughter
8. Fleet Foxes – SHORE; Muzz – Muzz
7. Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters; Cults – Host; Deftones – Ohms
6. Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud; Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death
5. Pearl Jam – Gigaton; Hum – Inlet; The Strokes – The New Abnormal
4. X – Alphabetland; Washed Out – Purple Noon
3. Run the Jewels – RTJ4; Protomartyr – Ultimate Success Today
Even with our expanded Best-Of list courtesy of The Process, there were still a ton of great albums released last year that were worthy of recognition. Since we here at Rust Is Just Right are big believers in spreading all good music, we’re going to put a spotlight on some other great records that you may have overlooked from the past year.
EELS – Wonderful, Glorious. It had begun to seem as if Eels were stuck in a rut, with a trio of dour albums (Hombre Lobo, End Times, Tomorrow Morning) that were difficult for even a superfan like me to listen to on an regular basis. But E switched up the formula a bit and even sounds “happy” with this album. And the live show for the tour for this album was quite great as well, a kind of variety-show getup with everyone dressed in monochrome tracksuits and sporting the same facial hair.
No Age – An Object. No Age have always been a band that’s difficult to appreciate on first listen, but even fans of their abrasive sound (whether it be riotous punk rock or feedback-drenched ambient) weren’t sure how to respond to An Object. In many ways it was built more like an art project than just “the next album from No Age”, and surprisingly it often worked.
Phosphorescent – Muchacho. This country-tinged indie folk album is a real treat to listen to on a relaxing, sunny day, but would still be worth it if it only included the reworking of “Wicked Game” that we didn’t know we needed in 2013 with “The Quotidian Beasts”.
Red Fang – Whales and Leeches. I always love hearing my favorite hometown metal band, so it was surprising that they didn’t manage to make it onto the official list. Such is the mysterious ways of The Process. It seems that touring with Mastodon rubbed off on them a bit, as one could definitely hear their influence on the album (my initial comparison was “Mastodon on amphetamines”, and I think that it still fits). And good news, Red Fang is still making great music videos.
David Bowie – The Next Day. Can we just pause a minute and recognize how awesome it is that it’s 2014 and David Bowie can just surprise the world with a damn good album 45 years into his career? The album isn’t perfect, but there are some songs that would fit comfortably aside the old classics on a Greatest Hits.
Los Campesinos! – No Blues. I keep telling everyone to go to one of their shows because it’ll probably be the most fun you’ll have all year, and I’ll continue to do so. No Blues sees the band continuing with the mature sound from Hello, Sadness but with a slightly more positive outlook.
Janelle Monáe – The ElectricLady. It’s hard to keep track of the narrative about robots and revolution, but the music is fantastic. Seeing her perform with OutKast was one of the highlights of Coachella.
The Knife – Shaking the Habitual. I hadn’t understood the love that some people had for this band until I heard this album. It’s bizarre, but I like it.
Death Grips – Government Plates. Who knew we hadn’t heard the last from Death Grips? My favorite part is that when I downloaded the album, it was automatically tagged as “Rock & Roll”. If you are unfamiliar with their music, well…
Also Worthy of Praise
Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana; Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt; Ghostface Killah – Twelve Reasons to Die; Moonface – Julia With Blue Jeans On; Tim Hecker – Virgins; Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You; Washed Out – Paracosm.
All Albums That Were Considered
Here’s a list of the albums that I listened to last year, in full. Most of these were quite good and worthy of repeated listens, but they just couldn’t crack the previous lists. And I’m not going to do something like say the new albums from The Strokes or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club were complete garbage, because that wouldn’t be nice.
Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest; Daft Punk – Random Access Memories; Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze; The Strokes – Comedown Machine; Surfer Blood – Pythons; Atoms for Peace – Amok; Ducktails – The Flower Lane;Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Specter at the Feast; British Sea Power – Machineries of Joy; The Dismemberment Plan – Uncanney Valley; M.I.A. – Matangi; Palms – Palms; Phoenix – Bankrupt!; Cold War Kids – Dear Miss Lonelyhearts; Deerhunter – Monomania; Jake Bugg – Shangri-La; Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound of God; MGMT – MGMT; Mudhoney – Vanishing Point; Yo la Tengo – Fade; Beach Fossils – Clash the Truth; Fitz & The Tantrums – More Than Just a Dream; Alice in Chains – The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here; The Appleseed Cast – Illumination Ritual; Chelsea Light Moving – Chelsea Light Moving; Darkside – Psychic; The Dear Hunter – Migrant; Dr. Dog – B-Room; How to Destroy Angels – Welcome Oblivion; Kavinsky – OutRun; Major Lazer – Free the Universe; Of Montreal – Lousy With Sylvianbriar; Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven; Ra Ra Riot – Beta Love; Talib Kweli – Prisoner of Conscious; Tyler, the Creator – Wolf; Typhoon – White Lighter; Baths – Obsidian.