The Walkmen - "Lisbon"
I have faithfully followed The Walkmen's career since I was given "Bows & Arrows" some years ago. In that time, I've watched the band morph their New York garage rock fuzz into an easy countryside ensemble whose music unfurls at a leisurely pace. The band has settled into a sound sprinkled with chimey guitar tone, clanky piano, easy croons and even some New Orleans style horns. When I listen to this album, I'm in no hurry.
The Walkmen - "Angela Surf City"
Surfer Blood - "Astro Coast"
"Astro Coast" has a breezy carefree surf rock feel that seems so effortless. Each song has a youthful energy laced with extremely catchy vocal melodies, and just when you least expect it, a new section will sneak up and floor you before you can even figure out what happened. Tracks like "Harmonix" and "Slow Jabroni" don't grab you at first, but have refrains that tug at your heartstrings and evoke some sort of response. Hard to believe all this comes from a super young group of kids from Palm Beach.
Surfer Blood - "Take It Easy"
The Devil Wears Prada - "Zombie EP"
Even though this is only a five song EP, it carries the strength of a thousand albums. Themed as a zombie apocalypse story, this release finds the band expanding their sound further, darker and bigger, thanks in part to the spot on production by Joey Sturgis (Attack Attack!, We Came As Romans, Miss May I). Horror movie voice clips, broken piano arpeggios and haunting strings paired with the violent instrumentation of everyone's favorite post hardcore band makes for a thrilling ride. Album highlight: "Revive."
The Devil Wears Prada - "Revive"
Two Door Cinema Club - "Tourist History"
I couldn't help but fall for this album. The impossibly tight production. The gorgeous vocals and harmonies. The laser sharp dance drums with lo fi snare samples. The playful guitar work. It's almost as if Vampire Weekend and Foals had a baby. Makes me proud to be an Irishman.
Two Door Cinema Club - "This is the Life"
Delorean - "Subiza"
I put on "Subiza" everytime I got wanderlust this year. A desk can be a pretty dreary place when there's a mountain of work in front of you, so I let Delorean carry me away to a little beach in Spain where the dance party is always going strong. All I had to do was close my eyes and I could practically smell the coconuts and feel the sun baking my skin. A fun and uplifting listen with infinite replay value.
Delorean - "Endless Sunset"
The Ruby Suns - "Fight Softly"
I once saw the New Zealand psychedelic island pop group The Ruby Suns at a venue the size of a living room. The band played their sunny songs as a three piece with instrumentation and electronics. Since then, the band has slimmed down to just lead man, Ryan McFun, and honed the sound into more of an electronic vibe. It's impossible to capture the essence of the tropical synth mischief into words. You just have to listen. Album highlight: "Dusty Fruit"
The Ruby Suns - "Dusty Fruit"