This year, my favorite albums tend to coincide with the best live shows I've seen. It was a great year for both.
The Year's Best Music, from WFUV
Song: Baby Doll
from Free Life
There's a fine line between sappy and beautiful, and Dan Wilson knows exactly where it lies. Here's an artist who says it's okay to be in love, it's okay to be happy and it's cool to put away your cynicism. At least that's what I hear on Free Life. (Listen: "Baby Doll")
You need not love the film (though I do) to love this collection of Bob Dylan covers. The eclectic lineup of participants includes everyone from Antony to Ramblin' Jack Elliott. The production is flawless, and many Dylan classics get a proper updating. (Listen: Stephen Malkmus, "Ballad of a Thin Man")
I've probably listened to this album more than any other this year. I love the stories the songs tell, as well as the artistic, poetic way the album addresses life during wartime. It's tres romantic and dramatic, too. (Listen: "The Night Starts Here")
Cassadaga places Bright Eyes as one of the greats. Beyond all the press and hype, it’s clear that Conor Oberst is the real deal as a songwriter. I hate to reference Bob Dylan, but I love the Desire-esque sound of Cassadaga. (Listen: "No One Would Riot for Less")