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The Year’s Best Music

Need a music pick-me-up or pondering your gift list for the holidays?

We at PRP-FM are always looking for the latest & the greatest…here’s a rundown of the year’s music highlights to inspire you!

War on Drugs “A Deeper Understanding”

War on Drugs gifted music lovers with an outstanding, dreamy collection of tracks via “A Deeper Understanding.” Filled with Adam Granduciel’s stellar, cinematic songwriting, the album gave fans a more optimistic, expansive vibe than ace predecessor “Lost in the Dream.” With its deeper, more finessed take on classic rock, it’s yet another brilliant album to get lost in. The Guardian called it “a shimmering chrome dream caught between heartland and the heavens,” and that about says it all. The album is up for a Grammy in the “Best Rock Album” category.

Fleet Foxes “Crack-up”

This summer, Fleet Foxes delighted their fans with “Crack-up.” The band is well-known for their iconic indie sound and abundant folk-rock harmonies, but “Crack-up” was their first new album in six years. The new release rewarded them with accolades for compelling imagery, imaginative arrangements and artful songwriting.

The Shins “Heartworms”

Indie greats The Shins charmed music aficionados with upbeat, unique and engaging tracks on 5th studio release “Heartworms.”  Written and produced by their ultra-talented frontman James Mercer, the album earned the band its first No. 1 on Billboard’s Alternative Albums chart. With songs like “Name for You” and “Dead Alive,” the band re-affirmed that rich, synth-pop melodies with engaging lyrics are still their specialty.

Arcade Fire “Everything Now”

Arcade Fire, one of Canada’s most popular rock bands, released “Everything Now” in July. The ever-intriguing Indie rockers took an in-depth look at society’s failures via bright, upbeat pop melodies like “Signs of Life” and the title track. Yet another triumph for this artistic, 7 member powerhouse from Montreal, the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and is up for a Grammy in the “Best Alternative Album” category.

Aimee Mann “Mental Illness”

Where have all the good songwriters gone, you’re asking? Never fear, this year singer-songwriter Aimee Mann brought a boatload of talent to the table with “Mental Illness.” A gifted musician on guitar, bass, keyboards and percussion, Mann’s vocals on this, her ninth release, were equally captivating and first-rate. Delivering a more pronounced acoustic sound than previous albums, “Mental Illness” bestowed the music world with artful storytelling at its finest. The album is up for a Grammy in “Best Folk” category.

Manchester Orchestra “A Black Mile to the Surface”

The fifth studio release from Atlanta Georgia-based Manchester Orchestra was a marvel. The eleven alt-rock tracks boldly dispensed lush, layered arrangements with dark undercurrents crowned by talented lead singer Andy Hull’s stellar vocals. The album is a masterwork – headphones recommended.

Niall Horan “Flicker”

Mid-winter doldrums got you down? A bevy of infectious, pop-infused gems from former One Direction member Niall Horan should cure that. Horan’s fun debut encapsulates several genres (pop, country, acoustic, pop-rock) and showcases his knack for solid songwriting. A fine album from a promising young artist that’s sure to become a classic.

Waxahatchee “Out in the Storm”

The fourth album by Katie Crutchfield was a tuneful grand-slam in many ways, and almost sure to earn her new fans. Crutchfield, who performs under the name “Waxahatchee,” occupies a unique Indie rock niche (think The Cranberries meet Lucinda Williams). “Out in the Storm” – which examines a failing relationship – boasts a variety of winning arrangements, tight musicianship and Crutchfield’s superb vocals. Commendable blustery rock tracks that endure.

Beck “Colors”

Need a soundtrack for your New Year’s Eve Party? If it’s bright, full-throttle sound that floats your boat, we recommend Beck’s new “Colors” for its enthusiastic pop-rock kaleidoscope. You’ll especially love lighthearted romp “Dreams” and his Beatles-ish “Dear Life.” Aided by musician / producer Greg Kurstin (Foo Fighters, Kelly Clarkson, Adele) the new album’s scintillating pop deliciousness excites and uplifts.

Ride “Weather Diaries”

England’s Ride surprised the music world with a compelling cache of new music sure to please both old and new fans. Their first release in twenty years, have a listen to “Charm Assault” or their quintessential California tribute “Cali.” Their sound – layered guitars, bold chord changes and lush sound effects – is instantly appealing.

Cynthia Orlando

Cynthia Orlando is a music enthusiast who reviews pop, Indie, rock, blues & bluegrass artists. Also a certified arborist, you can follow Cynthia on Twitter.Listen to PRP

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