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Another year, another top 10 list. They’re never easy to compile. With a plethora of favorite songs this year, it was very difficult to come up with my personal favorites. Quite a few records fell short of the eclectic list, but in the end the following ten bands released indelible, powerful, and thrilling albums.


10. The XX – “Coexist”
9. The Rest – “Seesaw”
8. Japandroids – “Celebration Rock”
7. The Gaslight Anthem – “Handwritten”
6. Twin Shadow – “Confess”

5. LORD HURON – “LONESOME DREAMS” – The aptly titled Lord Huron’s debut album really strikes a cord with the American people. In the age we live in, lonesome dreams are ever so apparent. “Lonesome Dreams” is a vast, ambitious, poignant piece of music. It echoes along the borders of Fleet Foxes with its harmonies, but they shouldn’t be restrained to just sheer comparisons. While Lord Huron may not be completely treading new ground, they’re at least carving their own path. It seems we’re all figuring how to do so and “Lonesome Dreams” may just be the soundtrack that leads you down it. There is this alluring attribute, a wistful sound that magically spans over the course of the 10-track album. The dreariness of long days and sleepless nights are alleviated thorough this tranquil resonance. It’s the epitome of a true American album and while the revelations exposed may not be all that new, it doesn’t mean they are any less true. The themes of immortality, impending doom, and helplessness blues can be discovered here, but also the whimsical cheerfulness in songs such as “Time To Run.” The record, an even keel of optimism and perennial caution, remains embedded in the blood that pumps out the veins of this album. “Lonesome Dreams” debuted back in October, but it still hummed along to a buoyant summer resonance, but also unequivocally finds itself in the melancholic autumn season. With this hovering layer of hope and idealism on “Lonesome Dreams,” it becomes a place where the heavy hearts, dreamers, and un-conformists can meet and unite as one.

4. TANLINES – “MIXED EMOTIONS” – Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm, the dynamic duo behind Tanlines, have already been on the scene for a couple years. However, it’s not until now that the boys from Brooklyn have released their debut LP, “Mixed Emotions.” The influences range from pop, indie, dance and even world music. The aptly titled record is exactly what the record feels like—a collection of mixed emotions developed into one of the most vivacious sounding records thus far this year. Despite the customary lyrics, the real attraction is the band’s overall sound and how Emm’s sprightly vocals oscillate with each line. The music absolutely brings the listener to a completely new emotional elevation. The bending of genres is both brilliant and utterly alluring. There is something naturally genial about “Mixed Emotions.” The songs are constructed in such an effervescent, expressive, and earnest manner. I’m not sure if another album this year was filled with so much raw passion, vitality, and ebullience. It’s amazing how everything feels perfectly executed. Tanlines have composed a record with songs that will either have your feet moving to the beats, your mind contemplating whatever troubles you, or your heart finding much needed relief. In the end, “Mixed Emotions” is an outstanding achievement that ultimately makes for a truly incredible debut presentation.

3. PASSION PIT – “GOSSAMER” – Hailing from Cambridge, Massachusetts, electropop darlings Passion Pit find themselves bursting back onto the scene with “Gossamer,” the successor to their 2009 breakthrough album, “Manners”. Simply put, “Gossamer” is pure awesomeness for the summer season. It’s glorious, beautiful, amazing in every aspect. It’s brighter and bubblier than their last outing, which is saying a whole lot if you’re already familiar with their previous material. Passion Pit mixes synthesizers, tweaked post-production vocals, funky beats, the occasional R&B vibe and an overall pop sound that is exceptionally revitalizing. “Gossamer” is a smashingly high-quality record that should cater to both indie and mainstream fans equally. The fun seriously never stops for its 48 minutes of length. While some people may mistake the album for being grandiloquent in nature, I absolutely love the overblown sound. The high flowing energy “Gossamer” brings to the table is not only mind-blowing, but also commendable on Passion Pit’s part. They slow down a bit in the R&B inspired tune, “Constant Conversations”. It’s a welcoming small departure that’s smooth, sexy, and is easily superior to anything that’s been released by artists who are confined to that genre as their dominant stomping ground. Credit is due for Passion Pit for their tremendous efforts of not only expanding upon their artistic abilities, but also pushing the envelope even further. The record outdoes its predecessor in every imaginative way possible and ends up being the closest thing to a pop masterpiece in quite sometime.

2. BEACH HOUSE – “BLOOM” – Dream-pop aficionados, Beach House, have somehow managed to stay within the margins of their genre of expertise, but further expand their dreamy and hauntingly immaculate resonance on their latest record. “Bloom,” comes off the heels of their acclaimed 2010 opus, “Teen Dream,” which wowed critics and fans alike. “Bloom” dazzles and hypnotizes with its atmospheric haze that embodies the ten glorious tracks. The innately organic tone Beach House offers is a marvel to become fully immersed with. There is something truly remarkable to the weightlessness each track plays off. That’s not to say they don’t provide any substance because they do, but attempting to discover this kind of utter beauty anywhere else may as well be a futile task. Darkly layered rhythms and immensely personal, “Bloom” takes you on an ethereal journey. Composed of stunning melodies and a deep complexity of arrangements, the album is a passage to an unearthly reality. Seemingly flawless from start to finish, “Bloom” is exactly what it’s named after—a period of time which sparks the utmost exquisiteness and imagination. The real treat with “Bloom” is the voyage from beginning to end—one I may add, will stay with you far after your return back.

1. MOTORAMA – “CALENDAR” – Motorama are a band hailing from Rostov-on-Don (Southern river port), Russia. Their sound is considered to be post-punk rock, but you’ll unmistakably notice the ‘80s new wave style blended into their unique style. However, to lump them into any genre isn’t fair. “Calendar” features ten remarkable tracks. The consistency of the album is astounding. That’s not to say the band plays anything too safe because they hardly ever do. Their talent of crafting soothing and peaceful melodies is rather astonishing. Rarely can a group put you in a perpetual reverie state like the way this five-piece band does. There is no denying how their sound induces a strong presence, one that needs not to be ignored or freely dismissed. If you’re looking for some of the best music offered in any country, look no further than Motorama. These guys will shock you on how great they are. , Motorama will completely surprise you on every track. Their sound is sweet and while it gallops fluently, it will draw you in like a strong vortex. Listening to their sophomore album, “Calendar” is like heading to unknown terrain. You don’t know what you’ll discover, but when you do find that something, you’ll realize it’s exactly that very thing you’ve been missing all along. “Calendar” brings you an arsenal of pensively twee pop tunes. There’s no lack of warmth, heart, or soul. Everything found on the album was unexpected pleasure matched with unparalleled beauty. With some of the best sounding arrangements I’ve ever heard, Motorama’s follow-up album, “Calendar,” is an extraordinary accomplishment on all levels of production. This isn’t just the best album of the year, but one of the greatest albums in quite sometime.

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News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.