Key Tracks: 60 Feet Tall, Hang You from the Heavens, 3 Birds
Sounds Like: The White Stripes , Echoes-era Floyd, Graeme Revell
Skinny: With slick, trippy blues riffs, a loud-ass master, and some heavy-duty effects, Jack White’s latest workaholic output succeeds in keeping both him and us busy. Collaborating with Allison Mosshart from the Kills, Dan Fertita from Queens of the Stone Age, and his Raconteurs cronies, White’s The Dead Weather sounds infinitely more Stripes-like than the Raconteurs, if only more badass. Also, hate to diss on Meg, as she adds an element of both soul and showmanship, but the Dead Weather give a sense of the White Stripes with an upgrade to the rhythm section.
Key Tracks: Slow Parade, Oh the Vampyre
Sounds Like: Townes Van Zandt, Elliot Smith
Skinny: Drawing on his captivating vocal rasp and curious lyricism, A.A. Bondy creates an eerie dreamscape that reads like disjointed Edgar Allen Poe narrative complete with haunting stories and symbolic icons. Broadly, the album juxtaposes this wraith-like disposition with tranquil minimalist song structures highlighted by finger-picked lullabies as well as quiet piano and string accompaniments. Of today’s talented young singer-songwriters, Bondy earns a place as not only one of the brightest, but also the weirdest.
Key Tracks: Aisle 13, Life is a Dream, Done
Sounds Like: Pavement, Modest Mouse
Skinny: In a year where swooshy, whirl-laden albums clearly led the pack, Built to Spill stuck to anthemic rock and roll and frankly they blew the doors off most of those brownstone hipsters. The opening track alone, Aisle 13 – which may well be the best damn song of the year – earns Built to Spill a sturdy spot on this list, but the album shines from start to finish. We can’t recommend this one enough.
Key Tracks: It’s a four-song EP, so all of them
Sounds Like: For Emma, Forever Ago
Skinny: It’s not too often an EP makes it’s way onto a “Best Of” list, so that should tell you something about the power of the music that Justin Vernon makes. The four-song album – which this time around was recorded with his full band – picks up where his debut left off with hauntingly beautiful songs that just seem to penetrate you to your core. While Blood Bank doesn’t carry the weighty story of his debut, you can still feel some of the leftover heartache in its bleak, yet melodic tunes.