This was an intense year, for a million reasons both obvious and not. In some ways, this slowed me down in my feverish music consumption, but it also forced me to go deeper into the things I was listening to. As much as I wanted to just sit back and listen to music in my living room with my mind off, life got in the way. So it ended up being a soundtrack to a long drive, a nap, a flight, a hospital visit, a birth, a sleepless night. It was both a focus tool and a distraction tool depending on what I needed at the time. I don't think my overall listen count was as high as past years - probably just under 200. That means that I am every bit as confident in the top 30 or so as in past years, but the tail end of the list is a little less focused. No one was really reading anything above the top 10 anyway, right?
Anyway, I hope you find something you like in this list. I provided a Spotify embed for each of the albums. Last year, I picked a distinctive song and embedded that instead, which I should have done this year. Oh well.
Also, I screwed up my count and only did 97. Say, la veeeeee.
My rating system is not scientific. I consider two albums and decide which I liked better, and move on. I look at the overall list and drag around until nothing jumps out as incorrect to me. There is no scale, no formula. Most of this music is Americana, Folk, Country, Indie Rock, and Post-Rock (or some combination of those). I'll often rank a mediocre album that falls in that wheelhouse higher than one that doesn't, because it's what I listen to. I try to give a shot to critical darlings, but if their genre or vibe falls outside my preferences, they probably don't show up here. Solange didn't make the list. Diarrhea Planet did. So be it. The text of my reviews is often super dumb and repetitive. I use the same words over and over, and don't know enough about music writing to add anything to the conversation. Mostly just a gut reaction sentence to provide guidance. Sometimes I go back and read things I wrote in previous years, and cringe. But we move on.