This year, the number of great albums increased twofold across all genres, from hip-hop to metal, from swing to punk. While the number of legit live music venues has been decreasing dramatically, at least we’re not seeing a dropoff in quality recorded music.The Low Anthem | What the Crow Brings
A corncrib of rustic vibes and acoustic strums recorded at home by Ben Miller and Jeffrey Prystowsky and recalling the bucolic beauty of the Band and Gram Parsons.
Route .44 | Worthless Lessons
Singer Jess Powers blows the doors out on Lessons and, along with the swinging licks of Lefty Lacombe, Route .44 serves up a roomful of rollicking rockabilly blues and roots.
Wheat | Everyday I Said a Prayer for Kathy and Made a One Inch Square
Like everything Wheat does, this one's a perfect fusion of art and craft, only Everyday is the sound of a band more confident with its blend of aesthetics.
Midnight Creeps | Give the Night a Black Eye
Without question and by all measures, this is the band’s best record to date and the punk highlight of the year in local music.
The Cold War | Le Petite Morte
Great, precise pop, beautifully recorded and mixed; my only gripe is that it’s too short and pressed in limited quantities.
Triangle Forest | Hostile Takeover
Coy and calculated electro-pop cheese — illogically good, perhaps not on paper, but on record and live, where it rocks the house.
Get Him Eat Him | Arms DownVarious Artists | You Must Be This Tall
Arms Down, the band’s second disc, is classic synth and power pop with impeccable arrangements adorning simple melodies.
The Rocky Point flick soundtrack features work by Johnny Carlevale and his spectrum of projects: His Band of All-Stars, the Bomboleros, etc., all of which take an acoustic approach to rhythm and blues, jazz, swing, and country blues.
Sage Francis | Human the Death Dance
Sage’s sixth album documents two of the most difficult years of his life, but it still displays humor and poignancy amid the punishing verbal dexterity and canny rhymes.
Allysen Callery | Hopey
Fragile picking and a haunting delivery reverberate with the ghosts of British folk like the hybrid, conjoined spirit of Sandy Denny and Nick Drake.
The ’Mericans | Where all Dead Leaves Go
Chris Daltry and the band fuse their material with elements of intrigue in every nook of their stellar acoustic sound, the mark of true craftsmen. Like all great discs, Leaves leaves us wanting . . . for more.
Becky Chace | A River Under Me
Chace’s acoustic persona suits her beautifully, providing her voice, lyrics, and shimmering arrangements the perfect, gilded frame.
Athletic Automaton | A Journey Through Roman’s Empire
Equal doses of high-powered rock and psychedelic drone that disguises the method behind its madness.
Whitey | The Whitey AlbumJohnny Lingo | Shake It Off
Andy Newman’s raucous trio has swallowed equals amounts of Robert Johnson and Jeff Buckley, with a helping of David Yow thrown down to create that nauseous feeling.
Lingo’s ivory-powered pop is fresh, frank, and provocative, with excellent songs and a bristling ensemble.
Barn Burning | Werner Ghost Truck
The EP continues Barn Burning’s winsome and rustic approach, with loosely charming arrangements and a ragged sense of mystery.