From a Basement on the Hill
It’s not just because it was his last album that I make it the first on my list. It’s that it would’ve been a singularly haunting, beautiful, bitter and hopeful collection of songs even if not marred by his untimely death. Achingly personal poetry with tinges of Radiohead guitar angst. My heart breaks every time I hear it and remember he’s gone.
Love smarts, don’t it? Sweet melodies and vocals simmered in wisdom gained through pain.
The ravishing raconteur with the oddball voice is up to his ruffled sleeves in flamboyant wonderfulness. Sure, “Want One” was stronger beginning-to-end, but there’s no one else like Rufus.
Li’l Cap’n Travis
In All Their Splendor
A twangy, melodic good time that’ll make you feel like you ain’t whole without a porch and a pitcher of fresh-squeezed lemonade.
Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?
I’ve been digging on the lo-fi tip of late and you can’t get more lo-fi than these basement band-sounding pranksters who know how to show a melody an invigoratingly good time. Coolest album cover of the year, too, with its Napoleon Dynamite-esque, colored pencil artwork.
Everyone needs a tropical vacation once in awhile and this sultry songstress will stamp your passport with a samba kiss. Plus, she sounds so damn cute when she sings “Baby, baby…”
The Clarence Greenwood Collection
I tend not to sample those who sample, but this former DJ dude has more than spinning skills. His squeezed-through-the-mailbox-slot voice is mesmerizing as are his syncopated beats.
Treble & Tremble
A gorgeous tribute to Elliot Smith. Imitation is the sincerest form, after all.
Saturday Looks Good to Me
More lo-fi fun. If you don’t mind a few flat notes here and there, you’ll enjoy the catchy homebrewed melodies.
La Maison de Mon Reve
This album sounds like two crazy sisters got trapped in an attic with all their childhood toys. In a good way.
Music to Start a Cult to
Sounds like what getting high in the high desert must feel like. Fear and loathing in Joshua Tree.
A Little Trip
OK, this album came out in 2002, but I just found it this year on cdbaby.com. A Beatles tribute with some of the prettiest songs I ever did hear.
Van Lear Rose
Such a predictable choice, but it’s pretty damn good.