Kintsugi / Death Cab for Cutie - This album is very much a typical Death Cab for Cutie album, but that's why it made my list. The familiarity of lyrics and melodies made this feel like a cozy blanket, and while that may not mean it truly is a great album, it is what I needed, and isn't that the point of music? Top tracks: The Ghosts of Beverly Drive, You've Haunted Me All My Life, Everything's a Ceiling, Good Help (Is Hard to Find)
What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World / The Decemberists - I love this album. It starts with a track addressing the audience which draws you in and is followed by upbeat, folk songs that reveal a refreshed band. This album is compelling and catchy. Top tracks: The Singer Addresses His Audience, Philomena, Make You Better, Lake Song, The Wrong Year
Back on Top / The Front Bottoms - This band is so good. I remember seeing them open for Motion City Soundtrack years ago and thinking that the singer was very good. When I went back to listen to their albums, I was hooked. This new one, Back on Top, is my favorite. The strong, deep lyrics are masked with hand claps and upbeat melodies. The album makes me feel like, "yeah, life can be hard sometimes, but everything is going to be just fine." Top tracks: HELP, The Plan (Fuck Jobs), Laugh Till I Cry, Plastic Flowers
Every Open Eye / CHVCHES - I can't believe this album made my list because it's out of character for me to like synth pop. Chris got me hooked on a song from their previous release called The Mother We Share and now I am a fan of the band. Top tracks: Leave A Trace, Clearest Blue
I Love You, Honeybear / Father John Misty - A beautiful yet heartbreaking album. The story is complicated, and sometimes the hurt is covered up by humor, but it's so sincere. Top tracks: Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins), Strange Encounter, The Ideal Husband
Beat the Champ / The Mountain Goats - I heard about this album on NPR's Fresh Air and thought it was an odd concept, I mean, professional wrestling? But lead singer, John Darnielle, was a fan as a kid. But after listening to the album, it feels nostalgic due to expressive vocals. Top tracks: Foreign Object, Heel Turn #2, Choked Out
No Cities to Love / Sleater Kinney - This album to me is so empowering because it's smart, cool ladies rocking out. Women are not powerless and this is a brilliant reminder. Top tracks: No Cities to Love, A New Wave, Bury Our Friends
No Closer to Heaven / The Wonder Years - This album is complex yet familiar, heartbreaking yet uplifting. I can’t explain the amount of emotion their music makes me feel. The lyrics are so incredibly real and beautiful. With each album these guys continue to grow and improve. The entire album is really good, but my very favorite track is The Bluest Things On Earth.