#5. Johnny Cash - America V. In a time where most people couldn't pick Johnny Cash out of a line up Rick Rubin took a chance and signed Cash to his American Recordings record Label. Before his death they recorded 6 records worth of music together and the 5th was released this year. The record is a masterpiece of minimalist music making, and Cash's near death singing drives home words to songs both new and old. His cover of Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind" shows that a song only has as many lives as it has singers. Try and listen to "Rose of my Heart" with out being impacted and you realize you are thinking about June and Johnny's feelings about her. Favorite Tracks: Like The 309, Rose of my Heart, God's Gonna Cut You Down.
#4. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat. I am a big fan of all of Lewis' work, be it with Rilo Kiley, or The Postal Service so I ran out in January and picked up this record. Rabbit Fur Coat is an amazing listen, providing ups and downs and filling the spots in between with amazing vocals and lyrics. Lewis isn't just one of the coolest chicks in the music scene, she's also an amazing writer and performer who has a musical style all her own.Favorite Tracks: Handle With Care, Rise Up With Fists, The Big Guns
#3. Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country. It was so hard for me not to make Tracyanne Campbell and Co. my #1 record, because I loved it so much. This Scottish six piece has been at it for years, but they have reached their zenith with this 10 track masterpiece. I can't help think of all the best parts of the 80's when I listen to these songs, although I don't know if that is what they were going for. The slight bleed through of Campbell and Kenny McKeeve's Scot accent just makes their songs more intriguing and rich. Favorite Tracks: Lloyd I'm Ready to be Heartbroken, Dory Previn, The False Contender
#2. Artic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I am, That's What I'm Not. It's not much of a stretch for me to put this record so high on my list. After all not only does it kick ass, but some UK music mags (NME, I'm looking at you) have already called it one of the best British Records of all time. I don't know about that, but I do know that the songs on this record are smart, funny and ass kicking. There has been a bit of a push back, especially here in the US where the general public seems wary of the "new British Invasion" which we seem to be hit with every few years. In this case, I'm willing to play like the French and just surrender to this invasion, because this record is amazing. Favorite Tracks: Fake Tales of San Francisco, Still Take You Home, I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor.
#1. be your own PET - be your own PET. "Have fun, and be safe with it... jut kidding. Fuck shit up!" I think this quote from "Bicycle Bicycle, Your Are my Bicycle" is a good indication of the type of writing on BYOP's self titled debut. A kind of in-your-face, haphazard, and yet exceedingly creative 35 minutes of music. Taken track by track the songs are each great, but much like a Less Than Jake or Ramones record it's best to just put it in, press play and enjoy it as a whole. Before it's all said and done lead singer Jemina Abegg may end up as the face of modern cool, removing Karen O or Meg White types from that spot. The band has already lost two of it's original members, but it is Abegg who is the face, and as long as she is there this group will be a force to be reckoned with. Favorite Tracks: Bunk Trunk Skunk, Bog, October First Account, Adventure.