For the fifth year, the Old Man picks his favorite three albums of the year. This year's albums were released in the first half of the year and remained atop my list until the very end.
Second Nature – Lucius
Oh, the joy of Lucius. This is such a fun album. Earlier this year I wrote, "This album channels so many retro sounds. Love the disco vibe from the opening track, “Second Nature.” Part of being an old man is that songs like this remind you of acts like Denise Williams and Shalamar.” Then there is the unavoidable ABBA comparison. But before you settle in with the feeling that this is just a disco album, the second track, “Next to Normal” throws in a little funk into the verses and a distorted guitar in the bridge.” This is such a good album. I had the good fortune of catching Lucius in concert this year as well. It was a great show. If you get the chance to go be sure to wear something sparkly.
Uncanny Valley – COIN
I've been hearing COIN quite a bit lately on SeriusXM. That's not a big surprise. In June I wrote, "Nashville-based band, COIN, has created something special with Uncanny Valley. COIN, comprised of members Chase Lawrence (lead vocals, keys), Ryan Winnen (drums), and Joe Memmel (guitar) have created the type of album that launches a band. Uncanny Valley manages to be a reflective album and at the same time, it’s packed with bops. The resulting sound fits nicely on both a rock and a pop playlist. There are numerous tracks on Uncanny Valley that you'll want to add to your playlist. I can also say after taking the band in at a small historic venue in Tulsa that these guys are terrific musicians and ready to rock big venues.
angel in realtime – Gang of Youths
The Gang of Youth's album, angel in realtime, is simply a stunning production. When the band goes big, like in the song "The Angel of 8th Avenue", the sound and energy are palpable. When they strip it down a little the music is incredibly moving. About this album I wrote, "I could listen to Gang of Youth’s lead singer Dave Le’aupepe talk or sing anything. That’s important. So much of this album is Le’aupepe narration. Gang of Youths, the Australian band now based in London, has created a terrific album. The album is beautifully produced. There are layers of sounds and richness… Ultimately, this is an album about the loss of a father. “spirit boy” was a very emotional song for me. There are so many ways to enjoy this album.”
List of prior years' favorites:
2018: Mt Joy – Mt Joy, Nathaniel Ratliff and the Night Sweats – Tearing at the Seams, Leon Bridges – Good Thing
2019: The Regrettes – How Do You Love?, Black Pumas – Black Pumas, Oh He Dead – Oh He Dead
2020: Taylor Swift – Folklore, Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud, Ondara - Folk N’ Roll Vol. 1: Tales of Isolation
2021: Joy Oladokun – in defense of my own happiness, Middle Kids – Today We’re the Greatest, Brett Dennen – See the World