Image from an advertisement for Tung-Sol Vibration-Tested Radio Tubes, c. 1945
Here's a hint for enjoying my Top 25 - try diagramming the one-sentence capsule reviews! You'll find some interesting nested compound structures and subordinate clauses. And you might just learn a little something ... about yourself.
#10 My Maudlin Career by Camera Obscura (4AD)
This year's Camera Obscura record may not have a stand-out track like "Suspended From Class" or "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken", but Tracyanne Campbell's songwriting is smarter and more nuanced than before on this set of melancholy pop songs.
#9 Hometowns by the Rural Alberta Advantage (Saddle Creek Records)
This trio of Torontoites display some real mixed feelings about growing up in Alberta (despite what their band name might lead you to believe) in a set of excellent songs built on boy-girl vocals and Paul Banwatt's low-key but perfect drumming.
#8 In & Out of Control by the Raveonettes (Vice Records)
The Raveonettes continue to smooth out the noisier edges of their Supremes-by-way-of-shoegaze pop without the routine getting boring - the highest praise I can think of is to say that this one is as good as their last one (and you can see how much I loved Lust Lust Lust here.)
#7 The Life of the World to Come by the Mountain Goats (4AD)
John Darnielle's greatest success this year is creating a "bible" record that doesn't skimp on doctrine but always avoids being preachy, with the Good Book simply providing a foundation for a great album about death and loss.
#6 Middle Cyclone by Neko Case (Anti- Records)
Neko's best album yet features two cover versions that show her understanding of her own songwriting heritage - like Harry Nilsson, she is a great interpreter of the songs of others, and she's getting to the point where she can match the Mael brothers of Sparks in her use of drama, wordplay, and humor to create thought-provoking and memorable lyrics.
"Red Tide" by Neko Case