With the spring equinox just passed, here are some of the best releases of the year so far

The Delines – The Imperial

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If listening to sad songs could heal your own sadness, then Amy Boone, Willy Vlautin and the rest of The Delines would put the counsellors of the world out of business. Because The Imperial is packed full of very sad songs.

Cass McCombs – Tip of the Sphere

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Another bunch of quirky songs from Cass McCombs. The artist who walks you right up to the threshold of a memorable melody only to reach over and ring the bell of the slightly grumpy neighbours next door. Frustrating at times, but features some really great bass lines.

Deerhunter – Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?

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There’s a typically eclectic feel to the new Deerhunter album. On ‘Greenpoint Gothic’, for example, Gary Numan is surely in the house. For the most part, though, this is a fine bunch of exciting indie riffs for guitar and keyboards. Oh heaven. ‘Element’ is a particular highlight in the earworm department and it’s a great song to drive to.

Hand Habits – Placeholder

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Don’t be fooled by the slightly shy-sounding vocals. There’s plenty of power to the songs on Meg Duffy’s second solo album. Most are about relationships of different types and, typically, there’s a sadness to the outcomes. There, though, the similarity with The Delines ends.

 

Regular visitors to this site will know that I have a weakness for psych-tinged, country-flecked, resolutely indie, rootsy Americana, preferably with a lap steel thrown in somewhere along the way. It was a good year for this particular genre. Here are my five favourites.

Israel Nash – Israel Nash’s Silver Season

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With or without his Gripka, Israel Nash is the current king country psych. He’s willing to give time to let themes develop, but never gives in to longueur or excess. That’s a winning formula.

Dawes – All Your Favorite Bands

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“And may all your favorite bands stay together”. A lovely sentiment to match a fine album. And with it, Dawes consolidated their place as one of the bands that I’d like to see staying together for a very long time.

American Aquarium – Wolves

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Wolves was a little less frenetic than some of American Aquarium’s previous releases and it was no worse for that. This was a masterclass in mature songwriting and playing. And with a certain southern sadness thrown in as well. What could be better?

Deerhunter – Fading Frontier

Deerhunter - Fading Frontier

Even Deerhunter’s most restrained offering of recent times still left them slightly out there. But that’s what was so good about Fading Frontier. Think of it as Radiohead’s Americana album.

Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free

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Jason Isbell is pretty much East Nashville-tinged musical royalty by now. Something More Than Free cemented his reputation as one of the best songwriter’s around. And ‘Children Of Children’ was one of the great songs of the year.