Your Wound is Your Crown
This album is full of ensemble grooves that spring forth like little parades, confident melodic character, and alluring propulsion.
2. Yo La Tengo
The simple four-letter-word title says so much. The trio, known for the long duration of their albums, has he created one of their shortest, though no less richly retailed. A hesitant embrace of the fact that nothing lasts.
The Invisible Way
Producer Jeff Tweedy helped bring the band back to their spare foundation, bringing to the fore the emotional heart of their songs, free of their forays into big rock sonics.
4. Art Ensemble Syd with Michael Gregory Jackson
Nearly 40 years after his work with Oliver Lake, Leo Smith, Anthony Davis, and others working in the overlap of different musics (jazz, classical, even a a bit of folk and rock), Jackson has teamed with this Danish quintet, writing and fronting the ensemble, and sounding like the follow-up to his own late ’70s releases.
5. Erin McKeown
Well into her second decade as a recording artist, McKeown remains hard to pigeonhole. She inhabits her own hybrid genre, the mark of a restlessly bold artist.
6. Kimberely Rew
Though not nearly as many people know his name as know his songs (look it up), he’s put out one fine album after another practically every year for the past decade or so from his English homebase in Cambridge. A great band of seasoned players and great songs (including the perfect autobigraphical closer, “Uncle Tony”).
7. Robyn Hitchcock
Love From London
Mortality and human frailties move through Hitchcock’s latest set, sometimes obliquely, but, with the closer, “End of Time,” explicitly.
8. Mavis Staples
One True Vine
A good year for Tweedy as producer, here again teamed up with Mavis Staples. A perfetc mix of well-chosen covers and numbers written especially for her (notable among those is Nick Lowe’s “Far Celestial Shore”).
9. Elvis Costello and the Roots
Wise Up Ghost
Costello’s pairing with the Roots has brought forth easy recapitulations of his history of sometimes unexpected collaboraitons, but that masks what’s coursing through this hefty set, drawing from past songs without actually playing them—layered with a sense of the workings of memory.
10. Swimming Pool Qs
The A&M Years
Bringing together their two mid-’80s albums (never before reissued on CD), this set also adds another disc of additional recordings from the same era and serves as a perfect introduction for those unfamiliar, and a reminder for those who are, what amazing things can happen when dazzling inventive guitars, a supple rhythm section, a pair of sympathetically matched singers and distinctly Southern literature are combined.