[sic] Magazine

Sub-Ed’s Top 100 Albums Of The Decade

You just can’t write a best-of-the-decade feature including the year 2019 without first establishing 2019’s album of the year. Goodness knows what all those blogs who did just that last year in the race to be first were thinking. And, yes, pedants, we here at [sic] do consider 2020 to be the start of a new decade not the final year of one, just as the year 2000 was the start of a new millennium. Deal with it.

It almost goes without saying that for an album to feature on this list it has to still stand up. Some albums age better than others and some are just oddities out of time under re-review. We won’t name names, but what were we thinking on occasion during some of our yearly appraisals? It’s not enough though just to still sound good; some of these records have done much more – genre masterpieces or reboots, brand-new hybrids and/or taste-making templates for what was to follow (only one album per band/artist permitted to best share the love).

Last decade’s accolade accordingly went to Arcade Fire’s game-changing Funeral. Our tastes may have got more eclectic since, but the quality hasn’t let up one bit, each year between 2010 and 2019 offering excellent audio if you knew where to look. Three labels share the champagne with six releases each – congratulations to 4AD, Matador and Sacred Bones – 2015 being the strongest year of the decade statistically speaking with 13 inclusions, 2011 having only 6 in comparison.

Other statistical analysis interestingly shows that, while we consider ourselves open-minded globetrotters when it comes to music, 89% of the artists in this top 100 still entirely or partially call either the US, UK and Ireland, Canada or Australia home. Must up those diversity quotas still further over the next ten years!

Just as per our best-of-the-year lists though, it must be said that we only have one pair of ears each, a set number of hours in the day and bank balances that are far from inexhaustible, so there are, perhaps, certain notable omissions from the list below. In any case, who knows what may have been, but here is what definitely was (linked where reviewed – rough genre given in brackets).

1. SALEMKing Night (Witch House) [IAmSound] [2010]

Much-mocked subsequently but dead serious at the time, SALEM’s genre-straddling debut morbidly carved out its niche from the belly of dark dance and down-tempo rap and is now the go-to reference for the micro movement of witch-house. Epic and urgent, primal and industrial, light and yet very heavy, King Night simply sounds like what the conspiracy theorists wanted to find when they so painstakingly spun all their records in reverse.

2. Chelsea WolfeAbyss (Singer-Songwriter/Doom) [Sargent House] [2015]

Packed with melancholy, Chelsea Wolfe’s blend of hushed folk and ominous melody sounded fantastic on 2013’s Pain Is Beauty and 2015’s Abyss was even better, growling too with the extreme low-end of doom-metal, her frosty vocals floating around the album like a lost soul. There’s an elemental powerful to Abyss that you just can’t shake off, a vitality that transcends genres, an immovability that ensures it will endure and evolve.

3. FKA TwigsLP1 (Alt-R&B/Pop) [Young Turks] [2014]

Wonderfully choreographed and featuring hot production from the likes of Arca and Clams Casino, the economically titled LP1 remains an arresting tableau of glitch, trip-hop, subby Bass, glacial synth and low BPM. Hyper sexy urban pop for discerning catwalks, Ms. Twigs took umbrage with the alt-R&B tag at the time, but her phenomenal debut practically defines the sound, setting the tone too for watery, chart-bound copy-cats for years to come.

4. SwansThe Seer (Experimental/Rock) [Young God] [2012]

An absolute monster entirely befitting of Swans’ and, in particular, Michael Gira’s fearsome reputation, and reputedly 30 years in the making and two hours in length, The Seer is a record of extremes that incorporates almost every element of the back catalogue – No Wave, black jazz, blunt-force blues, post-rock, art-rock, perhaps even pop – a compressed edit may even have been the perfect record. Get it on the national curriculum.

5. The BodyNo One Deserves Happiness (Experimental/Black-Metal) [Thrill Jockey] [2016]

Employing power electronics, dark 808s and straight-up doom, No One Deserves Happiness is aptly titled and yet it was – accurately – marketed as The Body’s pop album, albeit a grotesque one, Chrissy Wolpert and others’ pretty vocals an angelic counterpoint to Chip King’s black shrieking. Truly a perverted pleasure rather than any sort of punishment, No One Deserves Happiness is the sort of album they jam in the discos of hell.

6. Have A Nice LifeSea Of Worry (Post-Punk/Post-Rock) [The Flenser] [2019]

Connecticut post-punks of sorts Have a Nice Life are constantly surprising, here enthusiastically attacking fuzzy garage-punk, throwing in the wild abandon of post-rock experimentalism with stupendously evocative spoken-word samples, razor-sharp guitars, punishing drums – breathe – synthy interludes and even the skitter of rudimentary electronics. Their superb Sea Of Worry is astounding in both beauty and scale.

7. DeafheavenNew Bermuda (Post-Rock/Black Metal) [Anti-] [2015]

Widely disliked in the metal community, Deafheaven are simply not conformists and their willingness to blend black-metal with other sounds and to dress differently continues to stand them apart. With post-rock grandiosity, blissful shoegaze melodies, indie shuffles, doomed choruses, the low chug of thrash and classic-rock riffs, New Bermuda isn’t always “metal”, but it is always anthemic and we wouldn’t have Deafheaven any other way.

8. BrutusNest (Post-Rock/Black-Metal) [Hassle] [2019]

Is it punk? Post-rock? Some kind of metal? Belgium’s Brutus confounded many last year, their extraordinary Nest appearing on all kinds of disparate best-of lists too, everyone uniformly blown away however by its power and size. Searing guitar volleys lead the charge, drummer-cum-vocalist Stefanie Mannaerts impressively pivoting from face-melting coruscation to a dreamier coo to more than play her part in a very exciting record.

9. PileYou’re Better Than This (Indie-Punk/Post-Hardcore) [Fierce Panda] [2015]

Given their name and loud-quiet-loud and shifting rhythms that make them hard to pin down, Pile sound like a lost Sub Pop band. You’re Better Than This is their greatest statement, thinking nothing of lashing out with one hand whilst comforting with the other. An awkward, angular cult classic, it’s all so far from rock by numbers it’s laughable. This is rock by special characters, if you will, made by your favourite band’s favourite band.

10. Show Me The BodyBody War (Experimental/Hardcore) [The Famous Letter Racer/Loma Vista] [2016]

The NYC band may have moved onto more linear hardcore since, but Show Me The Body’s explosive debut was more a realignment of rap-rock than anything else. Deploying heavy funk via speaker-blown cones and punishing feedback, shards of hardcore punk and blasts of detuned bass coalesce with Julian Cashwan Pratt’s turbo-charged wail to form a melting pot of mayhem indicative of the modern metropolis they call home.

11. Zola JesusStridulum (Singer-Songwriter/Goth) [Soutterain Transmissions] [2010]

Before the expanded re-release of Stridulum II, there was – naturally – Stridulum, the original, and strikingly original it was too. Nika Danilova was 2010’s break-out superstar for sure, her disturbing whispers, rattling drum-machine patterns and dramatic synths blackly alluring, her classically-trained operatic turns unbelievably iconic, Stridulum standing the test of time and containing some of the strongest Goth ballads known to man or beast.

12. White LungDeep Fantasy (Punk/Rock) [Domino] [2014]

Play musical pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey with Deep Fantasy and, no matter where the needle lands, you’re on to a winner. Every bar of this 22-minute LP is dynamite, 10 fully formed and fully brilliant punk-rock blasts that stripe your cheeks like razors as they hurtle past. Courtesy of the firebrand Mish Way and her spicy lyrics, it’s also an angry feminist record with no let-up thanks to that restrictive running time – not one for the faint-hearted!

13. envyAtheist’s Cornea (Post-Rock/Metal) [Rock Action] [2015]

Coming at post-rock with a background in thrash, envy have always been different and Atheist’s Cornea was the patient Tokyo band’s sixth LP since 1992, an album that breathed genuine excitement back into the shadowiest, loudest and – curiously – most beautiful corners of this most evocative of movements making it easily one of the most thrilling post-rock records in the last decade. Sometimes it really is wise to respect your elders.

14. DJ RashadDouble Cup (Footwork) [Hyperdub] [2013]

See you later rulebook! At its heart the deeply influential Double Cup may be a footwork LP – often one of the more basic of beat movements – but genre figurehead Rashad kept it all so fresh, dropping Bass, house, techno, classic West Coast hip-hop, trap rips, cut-and-paste R&B, jungle pulses and D&B grooves into the mix too, exiting a niche and becoming accessible all in one move. The world sorely misses you, Rashad. RIP.

15. Beach HouseTeen Dream (Dream-Pop) [Sub Pop] [2010]

Beach House were untouchable back in 2010. The band’s previous offerings failed to gain the same attention as Teen Dream due to the then musical landscape, but then dream-pop blossomed and Beach House became queen, their shimmering, chilly pop propped up by effortless, hazy rhythms and sparkling melodies, intangible lyrical themes bleeding into soft sonics that would come in many ways to define the genre.

16. Jesu & Sun Kil MoonJesu & Sun Kil Moon (Singer-Songwriter) [Caldo Verde] [2016]

Mark Kozelek’s utterly unique art as Sun Kil Moon is unquestionably poetry and yet, in his trademark half-spoken slur, it unspools like a stream of consciousness, often no filter between brain and mouth. Some of what he says hurts. Some of it is just beautiful. Both can reduce you to tears. Here, alongside experimentalist Jesu, who provides choppy fuzz-tones and light electronica, a balance is found, the pair together just spellbinding.

17. These New PuritansHidden (Art Rock) [Domino] [2010]

With rattling chains and clashing swords borrowed from the Wu-Tang Clan, latter-day Radiohead experiments in electronica, aggressive bass structures and a strangely classical overtone, Hidden hides its intentions well – right up to the point that it has you by the throat. A post-everything hybrid, Hidden’s scattergun wounds deeply and unforgettably, a roadmap via the intangible Field Of Reeds to 2019’s majestic Inside The Rose.

18. SvalbardIt’s Hard To Have Hope (Black Metal/Post-Rock) [Holy Roar] [2018]

Calling out a succession of societal wrongs, Svalbard’s aptly named It’s Hard To Have Hope nevertheless offers great oceans of optimism through its glistening crescendos. Achieving the impossible, this total atom-smasher of post-rock, powerful emo and black-metal is downright thrilling and in no way pretentious. It’s the kind of album that just stops you in your tracks as it consumes you entirely.

19. BlacklabUnder The Strawberry Moon 2.0 (Doom Metal/Stoner-Fuzz) [New Heavy Sounds] [2018]

A party for undead hordes, it’s incredible that Blacklab is the product of just two fairly unassuming Japanese goths. Comprising only pounding drums, heavily treated guitar and a truly guttural growl, these girls slop out heavy sludge as if it were gruel, weapons-grade chug and feedback like acid, filthy sorcery corrupting the speakers with thrash, hard-blues and doom. Once heard, you can never unhear how essential this record is.

20. The Lost RiversSin And Lostness (Industrial/Psych/Noise) [Northern Star] [2012]

A real out of the blue record from the obscure depths of Baden-Württemberg, psych/noise upstarts The Lost Rivers saw 2012 as an opportunity to look APTBS straight in the eye and match them blow for blow – the unseeded rookie knocking the champ back with a bloody nose. Disappearing just as quickly as they appeared, this one-off scorcher of a record is a blip on the radar, a magnetic anomaly, an unconfirmed encounter with the unknown.

21. Strand Of OaksEraserland (Heartland Rock) [Dead Oceans] [2019]

Wow. Wow. Wow. What a way to up your game! Eraserland is metal-looking dude Timothy Showalter’s third proper album for Dead Oceans and his earnest heartland rock has never sounded better. Or bigger. Eraserland is huge, Showalter’s quivering vocal presiding over nods to the likes of Jeff Buckley and even Pink Floyd. This is music to just sit back and enjoy, an artist holding court and blowing the roof off as he goes.

22. The Flaming LipsThe Terror (Psychedelia/Experimental) [Bella Union] [2013]

The Terror is no Soft Bulletin/Yoshimi mark II and anyone wanting it to be will be disappointed for it’s an album that instead runs with Embryonic’s weirder elements and then some. As repulsive then as it is appealing, harsh kraut propulsion and dreary drones only partially obscure snippets of fragile beauty, Wayne Coyne floating on lush synth-play while simultaneously being tormented by waves of suitably terrifying static.

23. Cloud NothingsAttack On Memory (Emotive Hardcore/Punk) [Wichita] [2012]

Dylan Baldi pulled a real 180 with Attack On Memory, his former pop-punk a dot on the horizon, 2012’s Cloud Nothings a historically sympathetic hardcore band produced by Steve Albini, plentiful hooks buried under shifting rhythms and crunching walls of guitar. And it’s just all so awesome that it can’t be written off as some tawdry exercise in grave robbing for it’s not only respectful, but also crucial in its own right.

24. CeremonyThe L-Shaped Man (Post-Punk) [Matador] [2015]

The L-Shaped Man is Ceremony’s fifth and best LP. With a history in hardcore, their switch to post-punk was surprising and at first underwhelming, Zoo an album that smacked of trying on new clothes, and newer material suggests it may have been just that. Just for a moment though the stars aligned for The L-Shaped Man, Ceremony briefly appearing to be the band they always wanted to be. File next to Interpol’s Antics. Seriously.

25. The NationalHigh Violet (Indie Rock) [4AD] [2010]

One of the bands of the millennium, never mind decade, The National are specialists at sleeper albums, ones that hit hardest when your guard is lowered. None more so than High Violet, whose reserved songcraft, swelling instrumentation and trademark baritone allow it to bridge occasions, simultaneously seeming sombre and joyous. Characterised by a deftness of touch, yet wholly anthemic in parts, High Violet is a mute masterpiece.

26. Sharon Van EttenTramp (Singer-Songwriter) [Jagjaguwar] [2012]

It’s a sad fact but, for many reasons, most artists get steadily worse. Up to and including Tramp, feted songwriter Sharon Van Etten was resolutely going in the opposite direction, middling a little since. Tramp’s supporting cast includes Zach Condon, Jenn Wasner, Julianna Barwick and Aaron Dessner and it may yet prove to be peak Van Etten, her jaw-dropping ability to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary never more evident.

27. Lucy DacusHistorian (Singer-Songwriter) [Matador] [2018]

The heir apparent to Sharon Van Etten’s singer-songwriter crown and thus duly nipping at her heels in this list, Lucy Dacus’s spine-tingling second LP, Historian, is knock-you-down brilliant. The soaring passion in her voice is infectious, the ability to shimmer in barely-there acoustics and bigger rock statements, often during the same song, confirming her to be a new master of the craft. New album or a boygenius full-length now please Ms. Dacus!

28. DIIVIs The Is Are (Indie/Shoegaze) [Captured Tracks] [2016]

Confusing titles, overlong, drugs … there are a number of criticisms you can level at DIIV but failing to write great song isn’t (the is are) one of them. Their debut had two corkers and this sophomore effort more, their indie guitars caught between dreamy shoegaze and noisier forms, laying down the template for 2019’s equally impressive and louder Deceiver. Whisper it, but DIIV may stealthily be one of the best indie bands on the planet.

29. Zig ZagsZig Zags (Thrash/Garage-Punk) [In The Red] [2014]

Never been no messin’ from exhilarating LA trio Zig Zags. This S/T debut is pure pedal-to-the-metal rock, adulterated only by a degree of the tongue-in-cheek to their Sabbath-shredding and white-hot thrash, their battle-jackets equally adorned with Motörhead-brand biker fuzz and proto-punk steals from the likes of The Stooges and MC5. As the spoken sample says, “Dude / It’s so gnarly, man.” Albums two and three were just as gnarly too.

30. Ho99o9United States Of Horror (Hip Hop/Hardcore) [Toys Have Powers/999 Deathkult] [2017]

Though its colourful and overtly sexual language may be too much to stomach for some, United States Of Horror remains the best album Death Grips haven’t written yet. It’s more of a mixtape than album in truth though for Ho99o9’s explosive hybrid of trap, militant hip-hop, jungle and hardcore punk pits shred and beats side by side, a real gatecrasher of a record that drinks all the booze and then leaves with the girl you fancy.

31. Titus AndronicusThe Monitor (Punk-Rock) [XL Recordings] [2010]

Building on 2008’s impressive debut, Titus Andronicus let fly this American Civil War-themed follow-up two years later. Studded with nihilistic vitriol and drunken-punk charm, the band’s native New Jersey schooling standing them in equally good stead, it sprawls across 65 minutes and opening with a reading of Abraham Lincoln, giving way later to the 14-minute epic “The Battle Of Hampton Roads”, suffice it to say that dumb punk-rock this is not.

32. Sonic JesusGrace (Post-Punk/New Wave) [ Fuzz Club] [2017]

Back in 2015, Sonic Jesus swung freely from industrial post-punk to heavy psychedelic rock, pivoting here in the direction of catchier new wave/post-punk courtesy of a comically inflated vocal that’s a little too eager to please. And yet Grace is still an album comprised front to back of some of the truest SONGS of the last ten years. It may not have been the wisest to follow it up with a low-key self-release that literally nobody heard.

33. Run The JewelsRun The Jewels 2 (Hip Hop) [Mass Appeal] [2014]

Think RTJ2 is this list’s token all-out hip-hop release? Think again because it’s here on merit. Killer Mike and El-P are enjoying an Indian summer in their careers, dropping a hot trio of Run The Jewels records this decade, the pair attacking varied topics with smart beats and acerbic tongues throughout, doing just about everything right on this second installment. Those seeking subtlety should probably look away all the same.

34. ProtomartyrThe Agent Intellect (Post-Punk/Punk-Rock) [Hardly Art] [2015]

It’s staggering just how good Protomartyr were on The Agent Intellect, a more subtle punk-rock affair than perhaps could be expected, improved songwriting letting anti-frontman Joe Casey to transform into a heavyweight stage presence of real interest, passion and originality. Relish each spin of this very fine record as his unique observations reveal themselves, this high water-mark LP one in which to indulge.

35. PJ HarveyThe Hope Six Demolition Project (Singer-Songwriter/Indie-Rock) [Island] [2016]

A divisive album, PJ Harvey’s sensitivity compass knackered and her lyrics occasionally clunky, The Hope Six Demolition Project remains a musical triumph. She may paint a bleak picture of US social and foreign policy, but her arrangements are vibrant and unexpected. It’s solidly a rock album, too, blues and heavy jazz motifs decorating the missive artfully, angrily even, Harvey’s raw passion alone pulling the project through to a success.

36. OughtMore Than Any Other Day (Post-Hardcore/Indie-Rock) [Constellation] [2014]

More Than Any Other Day manages to capture both youthful exuberance and political activism so neatly over choppy riffs that Ought messily release pent-up energy like a freshly shaken can of soda. It’s a smart and humorous album too, a blitzing together of the likes of Protomartyr and Parquet Courts with older classics such as Shellac – only as voiced by a wannabe David Byrne. Pity its successors weren’t as strong.

37. Julien BakerTurn Out The Lights (Singer-Songwriter) [Matador] [2017]

Talk about stepping it up for your sophomore LP! Memphis songwriter Julien Baker didn’t just build on Sprained Ankle’s decent foundations, she built a sumptuous palace on top of them! Turn Out The Lights frames her as a pin-drop piano artist of the highest calibre, her voice having come on leaps and bounds to the point of arresting beauty. There are not many more anticipated albums still to come than its overdue follow-up.

38. Gold-BearsDalliance (Indie-Pop/Punk) [Slumberland] [2014]

Dalliance is a cuddly indie-pop album. How then can it breathe so much life into the flogged corpse of twee that it becomes downright rapturous? Listen slack-jawed as Jeremy Underwood cannonballs between a solid Hutch Harris impression and some Scottish-sounding noise-pop enthusiast. Housing 80s jangles and tumbling shout-alongs, it’s the kind of album that restores your faith in indie, reminding you why you fell in love with it in the first place.

39. Conor OberstRuminations (Singer-Songwriter/Alt-Folk) [Nonesuch] [2016]

It may just be Conor, his guitar and his piano, but Ruminations was a very welcome return to form. His nasal cadence, of course, flows majestically, cracking under emotion in places, moments from a sly smirk elsewhere. Competent but unobtrusive finger-work all but takes a backseat to allow his broken-down imagery to crowd in the mind and heart, reawakening fond memories of his former Bright Eyes’ genius as it goes.

40. A Place To Bury StrangersTransfixiation (Noise-Rock/Post-Punk) [Dead Oceans] [2015]

Three albums deep at this point, A Place To Bury Strangers were shoegazy noise-rock’s fuzzy constant. Transfixiation was immediately ear-catching, then, because even by the Brooklyn trio’s own standards it was such an abrasive listen. Under-produced when it’d have been all too easy to labour over a mixing desk, it really captures the intensity of an APTBS live show and if that doesn’t get you excited then this record isn’t for you.

41. TrementinaAlmost Reach The Sun (Shoegaze) [Blow Your Mind] [2016]

Meaning “turpentine” in their native Chile, Trementina’s Almost Reach The Sun sounds simply like it’s been getting loaded on its fumes for days. A ferociously retro wave of woozy summer music for the tinnitus crowd, the band’s debut is like standing in the path of an exploding supernova, guitar scree coming close to vaporising Vanessa Cea’s dreamy vocal, spectacularly smiley noise-pop mopping up what’s left in its wake.

42. The WeekndHouse Of Balloons (R&B/Pop) [S/R] [2011]

A surprise inclusion in a list like this perhaps, but think back to what Abel Tesfaye what doing in 2011 – writing part of the template for the all the sad pop beats that were to follow for the rest of the decade. Championed then by choice taste-makers when still sat making immaculate R&B in his bedroom he’s of course gone on to stardom since, but these songs have not been forgotten, and nor have they been surpassed on newer albums.

43. The LimiñanasMalamore (60s Psych/Soundtrack) [Because] [2016]

So cool it was of course hot, Malamore is – to this day – the soundtrack to the life you wish you’d led. A glorious romp through 60s psychedelic jangles, fuzz-tones, Morricone, dreamy motorik, sexy chanson, straight-up exotica, proto-punk and artsy lounge-pop until the credits start rolling, this love letter to classic cinema, written in sunglasses while day-dreaming of car chases, will age more gracefully than anyone you know.

44. SavagesSilence Yourself (Post-Punk) [Matador] [2013]

So it turns out that Silence Yourself wasn’t the greatest British album since Unknown Pleasures, but neither was it just facsimile Siouxsie stylings. It remains easy to see however why so many got carried away because for a while Savages owned the live circuit and this record did a decent job of committing those thrills to wax. Savages were always in awe of history and despite the odds they did actually succeed in creating some of their own.

45. PinegroveCardinal (Alt-Country/Indie-Rock) [Run For Cover] [2016]

Back before the controversy, Pinegrove were a very good band. They made the music they liked, influenced by what they liked, but with a voice particular to their generation. With baggage now in tow, they won’t improve on Cardinal, its shadows of Springsteen, so too Neutral Milk Hotel and forgotten troubadour Liam Frost now living on against a backdrop of punk-flecked Americana. It all seemed so accidental at the time; on reflection, maybe it was.

46. Karen OCrush Songs (Singer-Songwriter) [Cult Records] [2014]

This was not the solo Karen O record her fans demanded. Nobody, as she put it, needed another record “like that”. Instead her first unaccompanied outing took years-old acoustic demos, songs about crushing hard IRL that were never meant for public consumption, and, somewhat shyly and with almost painful honesty, she managed to make them utterly spell-binding and lump-in-your-throat beautiful. Sniff.

47. How To Dress WellWhat Is This Heart? (R&B/Singer-Songwriter) [Weird World] [2014]

Tom Krell peaked in 2014 after a long run of impressive releases. His upbeat R&B ballads on What Is This Heart? tell tales of love and hope whilst managing to leave the cheese in the fridge, his fragile vocal acting like a tractor beam as it grew from being a windblown Siren into having designs on Prince’s vacant purple throne. It didn’t quite pan out like that, of course, but just for a moment Krell held the world in his hands.

48. GrimesVisions (Electronica/Experimental Pop) [4AD] [2012]

The outer-limits pop of Clare Boucher’s Visions is bursting with possibility and experimentation, a launchpad out of expected song-craft and wholly into her increasingly bonkers Grimes persona. She’s made bigger since and 2020’s LP promises to be one of the records of the year, but here’s where she really took off, taking the opportunity to peer into future beats and seeing light years further than almost anyone else.

49. DeerhunterHalcyon Digest (Indie/Psych-Pop) [4AD] [2010]

Like a faltering memory, Halcyon Digest hangs, as it ever did, on hazy rhythms, beckoning the devoted to assemble before it almost subliminally. Bradford Cox and his band’s tender dreamscapes shimmer deliciously under the stage lights, Cox himself occasionally dazzled by the on-coming traffic. Sandwiched in a hot run of releases, Halcyon Digest edges out its plentiful rivals in comforting sweeps and broad brush-strokes.

50. Bill CallahanApocalypse (Alt-Folk) [Drag City] [2011]

Career best from the gravel-gargling former Smog man Callahan? Stand-out alt-folk song-writing such as “Baby’s Breath” that still resonates today would certainly suggest so. Playful, intelligent and deeply contemplative – an artist at the top of his game – Apocalypse is a world-wise collection that more than merits a place in yours. As enigmatic, too, now as he was then, the weary crooner may, even more excitingly, still better it yet.

The best of the rest (ordered alphabetically):

Angel OlsenBurn Your Fire For No Witness (Singer-Songwriter/Alt-Folk) [Jagjaguwar] [2014]
ArcaArca (Electronica/Singer-Songwriter) [XL Recordings] [2017]
Big ThiefU.F.O.F. (Indie-Rock/Alt-Folk) [4AD] [2019]
BjörkVulnicura (Electronica/Singer-Songwriter) [One Little Indian] [2015]
BodegaEndless Scroll (Punk-Rock) [What’s Your Rupture?] [2018]
ChromaticsCherry (Italo Disco/Electro Pop) [Italians Do It Better] [2016]
Cigarettes After SexCigarettes After Sex (Dream-Pop/Slowcore) [Partisan] [2017]
Crystal StiltsIn Love With Oblivion (Indie/Psych) [Fortuna Pop] [2011]
DaughtersYou Won’t Get What You Want (Noise-Punk) [Ipecac] [2018]
Deaf WishPain (Noise-Rock) [Sub Pop] [2015]
Deap VallySistrionix (Blues-Rock) [Island Records] [2013]
Deli GirlsI Don’t Know How To Be Happy (Experimental/Hardcore) [Sweat Equity] [2019]
ExitmusicPassage (Dream-Pop) [Secretly Canadian] [2012]
Father John MistyI Love You, Honeybear (Country-Rock) [Bella Union] [2015]
FöllakzoidI (Krautrock) [Sacred Bones] [2019]
Future IslandsIn Evening Air (Synth/Post-Punk) [Thrill Jockey] [2010]
GamblesTrust (Singer-Songwriter) [GMBLS] [2013]
Gang Gang DanceEye Contact (Electronica/Tribal/Pop) [4AD] [2011]
Girl BandHolding Hands With Jamie (Post-Punk/Noise-Rock) [Rough Trade] [2015]
GnodChaudelande (Psych-Rock/Industrial) [Rocket Records] [2013]
GrouperThe Man Who Died In His Boat (Dream-Pop/Ambient) [Kranky] [2013]
HEALTHVol. 4: Slaves Of Fear (Electro-Noise/Dream-Pop) [Loma Vista] [2019]
Holy OtherWith U EP (Electronica/Post-Dubstep) [Tri Angle] [2011]
IDLESJoy As An Act Of Resistance (Punk) [Partisan] [2018]
InstituteSubordination (Punk) [Sacred Bones] [2017]
JapandroidsCelebration Rock (Noise-Punk/Pop) [Polyvinyl] [2012]
JEFF The BrotherhoodHeavy Days (Fuzz-Rock) [Infinity Cat] [2010]
Kim GordonNo Home Record (Art Rock/Electro-Punk) [Matador] [2019]
Kurt VileWakin’ On A Pretty Daze (Singer-Songwriter/Heartland Rock) [Matador] [2013]
Leonard CohenYou Want It Darker (Singer-Songwriter) [Sony] [2016]
LowDouble Negative (Slowcore/R&B) [Sub Pop] [2018]
MerchandiseTotale Nite (Indie/Post-Punk) [Night People] [2013]
Moon DuoShadow Of The Sun (Psych-Rock) [Sacred Bones] [2015]
My Bloody Valentinem b v (Shoegaze) [MBV Records] [2013]
No AgeEverything In Between (Noise-Rock) [Sub Pop] [2010]
NothingDance On The Blacktop (Rock/Shoegaze) [Relapse Records] [2018]
Odonis OdonisPost Plague (Industrial Electro/Darkwave) [Felte] [2016]
Parquet CourtsLight Up Gold (Punk-Rock) [What’s Your Rupture?] [2013]
PoliçaGive You The Ghost (Indie/R&B/Pop) [Memphis Industries] [2012]
Power TripNightmare Logic (Thrash) [Southern Lord] [2017]
Psychic IllsOne Track Mind (Psych-Rock) [Sacred Bones] [2013]
Purity RingShrines (Pop/R&B/Drag) [4AD] [2012]
ShameSongs Of Praise (Post-Punk/Punk-Rock) [Dead Oceans] [2018]
ShellacDude Incredible (Post-Hardcore) [Touch And Go] [2014]
Sufjan StevensCarrie & Lowell (Singer-Songwriter) [Asthmatic Kitty] [2015]
The Soft MoonCriminal (Darkwave/Coldwave) [Sacred Bones] [2018]
The Tallest Man On EarthThe Wild Hunt (Singer-Songwriter/Alt-Folk) [Dead Oceans] [2010]
UniformWake In Fright (Thrash/Noise) [Sacred Bones] [2017]
White MannaWhite Manna (Psych-Rock) [Holy Mountain] [2012]
WU LYFGo Tell Fire To The Mountain (Indie-Rock) [LYF Recordings] [2011]