January through March had some pretty great albums, and the streak continued into the second quarter of the year, particularly in April, where four of my favorite albums from that quarter were released. Now, it’s interesting to note the way we find music or new artists. Sometimes new discoveries are stumbled upon, while others take root from other bands we like. The best way, I think, is when you meet someone new who introduces you to something you really fall in love with. Whether the relationship or encounter was fleeting, the music stays.
5. ‘Lemonade’ by Beyoncé: Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of Beyoncé. I’ve admired her talent and acknowledge her strong presence in music, but I was never part of her diehard fans, though I do remember owning a HitClip of “Survivor” (you remember the mini boomboxes that came with little 30-second clips of popular songs) when I was younger . When ‘Lemonade’ dropped on April 23, it caught my attention more than any of her other albums, however. It was diverse, lyrically diverse and completely unapologetic. “What’s worse looking jealous or crazy? Jealous or Crazy? Or like, being walked all over lately, walked all over lately. I’d rather be crazy.” She spoke her mind and brushed off any and every stereotype about women she could think of.
4. ‘Stranger to Stranger’ by Paul Simon: One half of Simon and Garfunkel, Paul Simon that is, released an album June 3, and what an album it was. ‘Stranger to Stranger’ is a hodgepodge of sounds and tones. From his always prevailing maturity to a newfound humor, Simon crafts an aloof and interesting album hard to describe and even harder to pinpoint, both of which are a compliment to Simon. Although Simon has had some blundering albums in the past, ‘Stranger to Stranger’ does not fall into that category.
3. ‘Everything You’ve Come to Expect’ by The Last Shadow Puppets: A side project of Arctic Monkeys front man Alex Turner and British musician Miles Kane, The Last Shadow Puppets are an allusive duo releasing albums on a whim and caring little for how people receive it, although, their two albums have been pretty well received. Almost eight years after their first release, Turner and Kane returned this year to release an album on April 1, a James Bond, strings infused nymph of an album. The duo makes it clear that they’re rock stars who lead sexy, unexpected lives full of excitement, and yes, sex. They pull it off though and make the listener feel just as cavalier.
2. ‘A Sailor’s Guide to Earth’ by Sturgill Simpson: There are many reasons why ‘A Sailor’s Guide to Earth,’ released April 15, is one of my favorite albums of the year. Truthfully though, I almost never heard of Simpson. My discovery came after a plane ride from Portland to LAX where I had a surprising conversation with a fellow passenger. It was a beautiful discovery, and ‘A Sailor’s Guide to Earth’ came out just a month after that plane ride. The album itself is a wonderful journey. It’s personal, drawing from Simpson’s time abroad in the navy, and wonderfully crafted, Simpson’s unique voice layers over a multitude of instruments that span the sound of many genres. This album blew me away, and still does.
1. ‘Case/Lang/Veirs’ by Neko Case, k.d. Lang and Laura Veirs: “Wow, this is beautiful. What is it?” “It’s music, my dear.”Jokes aside, this was the response my partner gave me when I showed him the debut collaborative album by musicians Neko Case, k.d. Lang and Laura Veirs. ‘Case/Lang/Veirs,’ released in June is perhaps one of the most beautiful pieces of music this year. The three lovely singers lend their smooth vocals to songs that are sweet, coy and heartfelt. It’s an album that shines with experience, pulling from Lang’s long-lasting career, while still maintaining a quirky and innocent aura to it. While “Best Kept Secret” lightens the mood, “Honey and Smoke” exudes a beautiful and graceful demeanor. The album is a perfect concoction of grace, sincerity and wonder.
Source:: The Year’s Best Albums: Part two