Here's the music that made sweet, sweet love to my ear holes this year (in no particular order).
  1. NEW ORDER - MUSIC COMPLETE. Their first new albm in 10 years combines the best of everything they do — guitar rock, electronic dance grooves, and a little weirdness. (One song, “Plastic,” even sounds like it was produced by Giorgio Moroder, wut?). Nearly every song is top shelf, and Bernard’s voice still sounds great.
  2. PINS - WILD NIGHTS. The first full-length album from these five women from Manchester. And it’s an amazing debut. Straight-up rock with an ethereal quality — and all of it just rough enough around the edges. Run don’t walk to your nearing streaming service now. (And thanks Gareth Kay for turning me on to this band. I’ll be forever grateful.)
  3. DISCLOSURE - CARACAL. I think this album was on repeat more than any other album this year. The two Lawrence brothers behind Disclosure have their own unique sound in a field crammed with same-alikes. It’s catchy as sh*t, and will make you shake.yo.rumpah from start to finish. Two thumbs up. It’d be three if I had thrumbs (see what I did there?).
  4. CRUISING - CRUISING. This EP immediately made my pulse race — like, where the hell did this come from? Two women and two men from Dublin, Ireland who play like they’re in a motorcycle gang. Between this band, PINS, Sleater-Kinney, and Bang Bang (see below), the ladies rocked it this year.
  5. DURAN DURAN - PAPER GODS. With this new album, they went full-on dance grooves and glitzy production. And they knocked it out the damn park. A ton of credit for its success goes to producers Nile Rodgers, Mark Ronson, and Mr. Hudson. It’s dancey, fun, and sometimes strange — three of my favorite music qualities.
  6. SLEATER-KINNEY - NO CITIES TO LOVE. Their big comeback after a decade off. And they made (IMHO) their best album to date. I saw them play live for the first time on this tour and was blown away. Kind of upset it took me this long to see them.
  7. PAUL WELLER - SATURNS PATTERN. He’s consistently all over the place style-wise, and this album is no exception. A sweet ballad here, an all-out rocker there, a mix of psychedelia now and bouncing piano later. He pulls each and every one of them off with ease. Geez, most artists can only dream of being this versatile.
  8. INTERPOL - EL PINTOR. Technically this came out in 2014, but I make the rules here. Now, most of the time I love it when bands experiment and keep things unexpected. This is one of the few bands that never strays far from its signature sound, yet for some reason I welcome their consistency. This entire album is finely crafted darkness, per usual.
  9. BANG BANG. Two women from San Francisco who rip it the ef up with only their voices, a guitar, and a set of drums. It's low-fi rock with a dreamy, haunting quality, plus harmonies, gutsy vocals, gritty guitar, and driving rhythms. They didn’t actually put out an album or even an EP this year, but they have a few tracks you can hear on their site.
  10. EDITORS - IN DREAM. This band keeps tweaking its sound with every album. In Dream is on the darker side, with a mix of electronic touches throughout the album’s mostly mid-tempo songs. They start it off with “No Harm,” a slow, emotional song that’s over five minutes long. That takes balls, and it works.