Top 20 Albums of 2019

# Artist Album Label
1.Vampire WeekendFather Of The BrideColumbia RecordsListen | Buy
2.Ex HexIt’s RealMerge RecordsListen | Buy
3.Better Oblivion Community Center
Better Oblivion Community CenterDead OceansListen | Buy
4.TemplesHot MotionATO RecordsListen | Buy
5.Joe HenryThe Gospel According To WaterearMUSICListen | Buy
6.Bonnie ‘Prince’ BillyI Made A PlaceDrag City RecordsListen | Buy
7.Oh SeesFace StabberCastle FaceListen | Buy
8.TacocatThis Mess Is A PlaceSub Pop RecordsListen | Buy
9.SebadohAct SuprisedDangerbird RecordsListen | Buy
10.Caroline PolachekPangPerpetual NoviceListen | Buy
11.Charly BlissYoung EnoughBarsuk RecordsListen | Buy
12.DiivDeceiverCaptured TracksListen | Buy
13.Andrew BirdMy Finest Work YetLoma Vista RecordingsListen | Buy
14.Lana Del ReyNorman Fucking Rockwell!Polydor RecordsListen | Buy
15.BeckHyperspaceCapitol RecordsListen | Buy
16.Pernice BrothersSpread The FeelingAshmont RecordsBuy
17.Nick Cave & The Bad SeedsGhosteenGhosteen Ltd.Listen | Buy
18.New PornographersIn The Morse Code Of Brake LightsConcord RecordsListen | Buy
19.Charli XCXCharliAsylum RecordsListen | Buy
20.Bob MouldSunshine RockMerge RecordsListen | Buy

Here are Youtube and Spotify versions of a “Selections from” playlists featuring a great selection off of each album:

If you don’t see either of the embedded versions of the playlist, you can listen by clicking the direct links above.


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Top 20 Albums of 2018

# ArtistAlbumLabel
1.Janelle MonáeDirty ComputerBad Boy RecordsListen | Buy
2.First Aid KitRuinsColumbia RecordsListen | Buy
3.Laura Veirs
The LookoutRaven Marching BandListen | Buy
4.BoygeniusBoygeniusMatador RecordsListen | Buy
5.Sloan12Yep Roc RecordsListen | Buy
6.Snail MailLushMatador RecordsListen | Buy
7.Dirty ProjectorsLamp Lit ProseDomino Recording Co.Listen | Buy
8.Soccer MommyCleanFat Possum RecordsListen | Buy
9.Jeff TweedyWarmdBpm RecordsListen | Buy
10.JayhawksBack Roads And Abandoned MotelsLegacy RecordingsListen | Buy
11.SuperorganismSuperorganismDomino Recording Co.Listen | Buy
12.Lucy DacusHistorianMatador RecordsListen | Buy
13.Lykke LiSo Sad So SexyLL RecordingsListen | Buy
14.Father John MistyGod’s Favorite CustomerSub Pop RecordsListen | Buy
15.FlasherConstant ImageDomino Recording Co.Listen | Buy
16.SantigoldI Don’t Want: The Gold Fire SessionsDowntown RecordsListen | Buy
17.Manic Street PreachersResistance Is FutileShornday LtdListen | Buy
18.Hop AlongBark Your Head Off, DogSaddle Creek RecordsListen | Buy
19.SuperchunkWhat A Time To Be AliveMerge RecordsListen | Buy
20.Tracyanne & DannyTracyanne & DannyMerge RecordsListen | Buy

Here are Youtube and Spotify versions of a “Selections from” playlists featuring a great selection off of each album:

If you don’t see either of the embedded versions of the playlist, you can listen by clicking the direct links above.


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Top 20 Albums of 2017

# Artist Album Label
1. Aimee Mann Mental Illness SuperEgo Records |Listen|Buy|
2. Tennis Yours Conditionally Mutually Detrimental |Listen|Buy|
3. Alvvays Antisocialites Polyvinyl Records |Listen|Buy|
4. Jesca Hoop Memories Are Now Sub Pop Records |Listen|Buy|
5. Broken Social Scene Hug of Thunder Arts & Crafts |Listen|Buy|
6. Cloud Nothings Life Without Sound Carpark Records |Listen|Buy|
7. Temples Volcano Fat Possum Records |Listen|Buy|
8. Slowdive Slowdive Dead Oceans |Listen|Buy|
9. Wavves You’re Welcome Ghost Ramp |Listen|Buy|
10. Bash & Pop Anything Could Happen Fat Possum Records |Listen|Buy|
11. Shins Heartworms Aural Apothecary |Listen|Buy|
12. Clientele Music For The Age Of Miracles Merge Records |Listen|Buy|
13. Beck Colors Capitol Records |Listen|Buy|
14. XX I See You Young Turk Records |Listen|Buy|
15. Pains Of Being Pure At Heart The Echo Of Pleasure Painbow |Listen|Buy|
16. Kendrick Lamar DAMN. Aftermath |Listen|Buy|
17. Dirty Projectors Dirty Projectors Domino Recording Co |Listen|Buy|
18. Jay Som Everybody Works Polyvinyl Records |Listen|Buy|
19. New Pornographers Whiteout Conditions Matador Records |Listen|Buy|
20. U2 Songs Of Experience Interscope Records |Listen|Buy|

Here are Youtube and Spotify versions of a “Selections from” playlists featuring some of the best songs from these albums:

If you don’t see either of the embedded versions of the playlist, you can listen by clicking the direct links above.

There were also 2 additional releases that were great, but were recorded many years ago, so therefore did not qualify for my best of list.  First off, released in September, Neil Young gifted us with a never before released album that was recorded in 1976 called Hitchhiker.  Do give it a listen, it features a handful of never before released tracks and some alternate versions of already classic songs.  In October we saw the release of The Replacements first official live album called – For Sale: Live at Maxwell’s 1986.

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RIP Grant Hart

Here are two playlists I threw together highlighting Grant Hart’s best songs, one from Husker Du, and another compiling his solo work and his work with Nova Mob.

Songs are in no particular order, probably best listened to on shuffle.

Grant Hart – Pt. 1

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/1211582119/playlist/4PLOw1TQVoG3QWCpFk31Db

Grant Hart Pt. 2

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/1211582119/playlist/7nEAMvIzCGc6crA3qA7Tpm

Top 20 Albums of 2016

# Artist Album Label
1. Andrew Bird Are You Serious Concord Loma Vista |Listen|Buy|
2. Car Seat Headrest Teens Of Denial Matador Records |Listen|Buy|
3. PJ Harvey The Hope Six Demolition Project Vagrant Records |Listen|Buy|
4. Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop Love Letter for Fire Sub Pop Records |Listen|Buy|
5. The Radio Dept. Running Out Of Love Labrador |Listen|Buy|
6. Lucius Good Grief Mom & Pop Music |Listen|Buy|
7. Dinosaur Jr. Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not Jagjaguwar |Listen|Buy|
8. Yeasayer Amen & Goodbye Mute Records |Listen|Buy|
9. Fruit Bats Absolute Loser Easy Sound |Listen|Buy|
10. Frightened Rabbit Painting Of A Panic Attack Atlantic Records |Listen|Buy|
11. A Tribe Called Quest We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service Epic Records |Listen|Buy|
12. Bettie Serveert Damaged Good Palomine Records |Listen|Buy|
13. Porches Pool Domino Recording Co. |Listen|Buy|
14. Margo Price Midwest Farmer’s Daughter Third Man Records |Listen|Buy|
15. Eleanor Friedberger New View Frenchkiss Records |Listen|Buy|
16. Danny Brown Atrocity Exhibition Warp Records |Listen|Buy|
17. Pinegrove Cardinal Run For Cover Records |Listen|Buy|
18. Frankie Cosmos Next Thing Bayonet Records |Listen|Buy|
19. School of Seven Bells SVIIB Vagrant Records |Listen|Buy|
20. Weyes Blood Front Row Seat to Earth Mexican Summer |Listen|Buy|

If you don’t see either of the embedded versions of the playlist, you can listen to them directly from the source at Youtube or Spotify.

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Top 20 Albums of 2015

# Artist Album Label
1. Grimes Art Angels 4AD |Listen|Buy|
2. Wilco Star Wars Anti/Epitaph |Listen|Buy|
3. Florence + The Machine How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful Universal |Listen|Buy|
4. Laura Marling Short Movie Ribbon Music |Listen|Buy|
5. Low Ones and Sixes Sub Pop |Listen|Buy|
6. Wavves V Warner Bros. |Listen|Buy|
7. Ezra Furman Perpetual Motion People Bella Union |Listen|Buy|
8. Best Coast California Nights Harvest |Listen|Buy|
9. Desaparecidos Payola Epitaph |Listen|Buy|
10. Chvrches Every Open Eye Glassnote |Listen|Buy|
11. Beach House Depression Cherry Sub Pop |Listen|Buy|
12. Joanna Newsome Divers Drag City |Listen|Buy|
13. Panda Bear Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper Domino |Listen|Buy|
14. Lou Barlow Brace The Wave Joyful Noise |Listen|Buy|
15. Hop Along Painted Shut Saddle Creek |Listen|Buy|
16. Courtney Barnett Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit Mom & Pop Music |Listen|Buy|
17. Built To Spill Untethered Moon Warner Bros. |Listen|Buy|
18. Tame Impala Currents Modular/Interscope |Listen|Buy|
19. My Morning Jacket The Waterfall ATO/Capitol |Listen|Buy|
20. Purity Ring Another Eternity 4AD |Listen|Buy|

If you don’t see either of the embedded versions of the playlist, you can listen to them directly from the source at Youtube or Spotify.

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Top 20 Albums of 2014

# Artist Album Label
1. Run The Jewels Run The Jewels 2 Mass Appeal |Listen|Buy|
2. Sloan Commonwealth Yep Roc |Listen|Buy|
3. Tweedy Sukierae Anti/dBpm |Listen|Buy|
4. Tennis Ritual In Repeat Communion |Listen|Buy|
5. Beck Morning Phase Capitol |Listen|Buy|
6. Spoon They Want My Soul Loma Vista/Republic |Listen|Buy|
7. St. Vincent St. Vincent Loma Vista/Republic |Listen|Buy|
8. Jenny Lewis The Voyager Warner Bros. |Listen|Buy|
9. Temples Sun Structures Fat Possum |Listen|Buy|
10. +/- Jumping The Tracks Teenbeat |Listen|Buy|
11. Alvvays Alvvays Polyvinyl |Listen|Buy|
12. Ex Hex Rips Merge |Listen|Buy|
13. Real Estate Atlas Domino |Listen|Buy|
14. Lykke Li I Never Learn Atlantic |Listen|Buy|
15. Cloud Nothings Here & Nowhere Else Carpark |Listen|Buy|
16. Sia 1000 Forms of Fear RCA |Listen|Buy|
17. Mac DeMarco Salad Days Captured Tracks |Listen|Buy|
18. Andrew Bird Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of… Virtual Label |Listen|Buy|
19. Conor Oberst Upside Down Mountain Nonesuch |Listen|Buy|
20. Bob Mould Beauty & Ruin Merge |Listen|Buy|

If you don’t see either of the embedded versions of the playlist, you can listen to them directly from the source at Youtube or Spotify.

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Top 20 Albums of 2013

# Artist Album Label
1. CHVRCHES The Bones of What You Believe Glassnote |Listen|Buy|
2. Vampire Weekend Modern Vampires Of The City XL |Listen|Buy|
3. National Trouble Will Find Me 4AD |Listen|Buy|
4. Frightened Rabbit Pedestrian Verse Canvasback/Atlantic |Listen|Buy|
5. Eleanor Friedberger Personal Record Merge |Listen|Buy|
6. Sebadoh Defend Yourself Joyful Noise |Listen|Buy|
7. London Suede Bloodsports Warner Bros. |Listen|Buy|
8. Club 8 Above the City Labrador/Universal |Listen|Buy|
9. Charli XCX True Romance Atlantic |Listen|Buy|
10. Superchunk I Hate Music Merge |Listen|Buy|
11. Laura Veirs Warp & Weft Raven Marching Band |Listen|Buy|
12. Low The Invisible Way Subpop |Listen|Buy|
13. Foxygen We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace
& Magic
Jagjaguwar |Listen|Buy|
14. Head And The Heart Let’s Be Still Sub Pop |Listen|Buy|
15. Tegan & Sara Heartthrob Warner Bros. |Listen|Buy|
16. Strokes Comedown Machine RCA |Listen|Buy|
17. Iron & Wine Ghost on Ghost Nonesuch |Listen|Buy|
18. Kanye West Yeezus Def Jam |Listen|Buy|
19. Sleigh Bells Bitter Rivals Mom & Pop Music |Listen|Buy|
20. Franz Ferdinand Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action Domino |Listen|Buy|

If you don’t see either of the embedded versions of the playlist, you can listen to them directly from the source at Youtube or Spotify.

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Top 20 Albums of 2012

This year I am featuring combined post of my Top albums of 2012 list and the companion “selections from” playlist at the bottom.

# Artist Album Label
1. Tennis Young & Old Fat Possum |Listen|Buy|
2. Twin Shadow Confess 4AD |Listen|Buy|
3. Chairlift Something Kanine/Columbia |Listen|Buy|
4. David Byrne & St. Vincent Love This Giant 4AD |Listen|Buy|
5. Purity Ring Shrines 4AD |Listen|Buy|
6. A.C. Newman Shut Down The Streets Matador |Listen|Buy|
7. Grimes Visions 4AD |Listen|Buy|
8. Bat For Lashes The Haunted Man Capitol |Listen|Buy|
9. Andrew Bird Hands of Glory Mom & Pop Music |Listen|Buy|
10. Beach House Bloom Sub Pop |Listen|Buy|
11. Dirty Projectors Swing Lo Magellan Domino |Listen|Buy|
12. Wild Nothing Nocturne Captured Tracks |Listen|Buy|
13. Grizzly Bear Shields Warp |Listen|Buy|
14. Passion Pit Gossamer Columbia |Listen|Buy|
15. Fanfarlo Rooms Filled With Light Canvasback/ATL |Listen|Buy|
16. Evens The Odds Dischord |Listen|Buy|
17. Tame Impala Lonerism Modular Fontana |Listen|Buy|
18. Divine Fits A Thing Called Divine Fits Merge |Listen|Buy|
19. Shins Port of Morrow Aural Apothecary/Columbia |Listen|Buy|
20. Cloud Nothings Attack On Memory Carpark |Listen|Buy|

Honorable Mention:

Best Coast – The Only Place – Mexican Summer
Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself – Mom & Pop Music
Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet On Sky – Jagjaguwar
Light Ships – Electric Cables – Domino
Diiv – Oshin – Captured Tracks
Bob Mould – Silver Age – Merge
…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead – Lost Songs – Superball
School Of Seven Bells – Ghostory – Vagrant

From now on, I have decided to embed playlists from Youtube, as they are easily viewable/listenable by anyone and do not require any sign-up or download of any kind to enjoy the music as you would from the alternatives like Spotify and Rdio. Grooveshark.com is no longer an option as they will eventually be shut down completely.

Just the tracks from the top 20 list are included and they have been re-sequenced for maximum listening pleasure, please enjoy.

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Hit Men by Fredric Dannen

HitMen

Although I enjoyed it myself and it granted me the inside info I was looking for, I really can’t say I would suggest reading this book to everyone.  It’s a rather dry, almost legal report of the inner workings of the music business from the 50’s to the 80’s.

Don’t get me wrong, Dannen did a respectable job trying to make it interesting, but the subject matter just got the better of him.  Granted if you are a bitter musician or a waspy business guy, you might think this book is a page turner.  Personally, I was trying to fill in some gaps in my musical knowledge, sort of get the who’s who on the music business side of things.

Basically the book outlines documented (and some not so-documented) crooked dealings in the Music Industry.  Focusing mainly on payola and the group of promotors who were the record companies agents of payola after it was outlawed in 1959 who were referred to as “The Network”.  Instead of giving you a synopsis of the “story” that the author cobbles together or give you any more detail, I will try to acomplish for you what I originally sought by reading this book.  I will do this by giving you a quick overview on the cast of characters covered in the book.  Keep in mind the book doesn’t cover every important higher-up in the music industry during those years,  it focuses mainly on the more corrupt individuals or the ones directly involved in Payola or “The Network”.

freedwABCmike

Alan Freed:  Internationally renown “Rock and Roll” DJ and all around important figure in rise of Rock N Roll, also known as Moondog.  Not only did he heavily promote the music, he is considered the one who coined the term.  Even though it was common practice at the time Freed was accused of taking Payola in 1959 which pretty much ended his career.

Morris Levy:  One of the longest running and possibly most crooked music executives in America.  Spent 30 years as a music business insider from the 50’s straight into the 80’s.  Best known for creating Roulette Records, he had his hands in many different aspects of the business.  He was convicted (as a conspiritor) in a federal Extortion case in 1986, he died shortly after.  A close friend to Walter Yetnikoff – see below.
William Paley:  CEO of CBS and the man who is probably responsible for turning the company into a media powerhouse.  Paley purchased a struggling radio company in 1928 and renamed it CBS, from there he successfully expanded into television broadcasting, and record companies (mainly Columbia Records among others) until he stepped down in 1977 and named Thomas Wyman the new president of CBS. 
LIEBERSON_Goddard_phE Goddard Lieberson:  The sharp dressed, sophisticated president of Columbia records from 1956 to 1967, then again in 1973 to 1975.  Under Leiberson’s leadership the label produced and released mainly classical music and Original Cast Recordings. 
Clive Davis:  A protege of Goddard Leiberson, Davis took his place as President of Columbia Records in 1967.  Davis had a hipper sensibility and was able to land a large group of new and emerging Rock N Roll artists.  Ousted from Columbia in 1973 for allegedly using company funds to pay for his son’s bar mitzvah, he went on to found Arista Records and land even more big talent as president there until 2000.  Davis is currently president of Sony Music Entertainment which has now absorbed all of the record companies that Davis had previously worked for.
Walter Yetnikoff:  President of Columbia Records from 1975 to 1990.  Infamous for his outlandish behavior and some-times abrasive style, Yetnikoff helmed Columbia during one of its most successful & profitable periods.  The book focuses quite a bit on Yetnikoff mainly because of his colorful style and his insistance on using the outside promotion power of “The Network”.
DickAsher Dick Asher:  Served as deputy president under Walter Yetnikoff.  He is another main focus of the book, as counterpoint to Yetnikoff.  Asher was a military man, straight-laced and sensible.  He was the first to challenge the use of “The Network”, although his attempts were unsuccessful.  He was fired from CBS by Yetnikoff in 1983 for vague reasons.  He later served as president of Polygram Records.
09WYMA Thomas Wyman:  Took over as CEO of CBS from founder William Paley in 1977 until being ousted by Paley and majority stock holder Laurence Tisch in 1986.
Allen+Grubman Allen Grubman:  The Lawyer to the stars and good friend of Walter Yetnikoff, he has represented the music industries biggest stars including Madonna, Elton John, and Mariah Carey.  His unconventional practice of “not sueing” and representing both the artists and the record companies has made him highly desirable for both sides.  
Mo_Ostin-c Mo Ostin:  Started ou at Verve Records and then was hired as president of Reprise Records by Frank Sinatra.  In 1963 he became the president and later the CEO of Warner Bros. Records where he worked until 1994.
  Ahmet Ertegun: He co-founded (w/ Jerry Wexler) and became president of Atlantic Records in 1947.  He continued to be involved in the company all the way until his death in 2006.  Atlantic Records was sold to the Kinney Conglomerate in 1967 which later became part of Time Warner. 
FDisipio Fred DiSipio:  One of the head promotors in “The Network” suspected of paying radio stations to play songs.  In 1986 was seen having a meeting with members of the Gambino crime family and mob boss John Gotti.  
ad9fea4b-f6c4-5e2e-a3b8-1e8e2e7cf86f.preview-300 Joseph Isgro:  Another member of “The Network”, the group of independant promotors that the major labels were making rich to administer payola to radio stations and get records played.  Isgro repeatedly got in trouble with the law throughout the 80’s and 90’s
.   Frank Dileo:  Hired as the VP of National Promotion for Epic Records (Owned by CBS) in 1979 by Walter Yetnikoff.  Took over as Michael Jackson’s Manager in 1984 after the huge success of Thriller.  Also known to have connection with the Gambino Crime family.
  Neil Bogart:  Best known as the president of the party-minded and drug fueled Casablanca RecordsDied in 1982 of Cancer which was probably brought on by his wild lifestyle. 
  David Geffen:  Mentioned along with Tommy Mottola (See below) as music industry up and comers in the 70’s and 80’s.  Founded Asylum Records in 1970 which merged with Elektra Records two years later.  In 1980 he founded Geffen Records which eventually became known as DGC, was eventually sold and reabsorbed into other companies a bunch of times. 
  Tommy Mottola:  Another up-and-comer Mottola rose quick to become the head of Sony Music Entertainment in 1990.  Most well known as the Ex-husband of Mariah Carey. 
 TischLaurence Laurence Tisch:  Self made billionaire and Wall Street investor became president and CEO of all of CBS in 1986.  Along with Walter Yetnikoff, helmed the sale of Columbia (CBS) Records to Sony for $2 billion in 1991.