Jennifer Farmer

Top 10 Albums

White Lies

So the album didn’t pack the same punch as 2009’s To Lose My Life, but Ritual still stands out as one of the years’ best. Perpetual gothic drone and post-punk crescendos combine to make this beautiful orgy of ’80s sounds. I think singer Harry McVeigh’s vocal homage to Ian McCulloch more than makes up for any wanton imitation.


Kaputt is Dan Bejar’s little pet project. He puts his oft-witty and wonderfully sincere heart and soul into this album. The simplicity of it all is overwhelming. The ’80s soundscapes combined with the sparse, yet moving, lyrics tie past to present in a sexy symbiotic way.

New Brigade
What’s Your Rupture?

I had the pleasure of seeing this Danish quartet in Columbus one evening and was completely blown away by just how young they really look in person. I mean, they weren’t even alive during gutter punk’s formative years, yet they do such justice to the genre. Even their attitude was spot-on. To wit, the guitarist walked offstage in the middle of one of their songs and eventually, the band said “fuck it” and followed him, ending their blistering set. It’s debatable whether punk is dead, but I think it just found the leaders of the next coming.

Fleet Foxes
Helplessnes Blues
Sub Pop

Helplesness Blues is somewhat of a rarity in this day and age: it’s just a simple, solid record from a simple, solid band. Robin Pecknold and company don’t rely on frills or gimmicks to make what amounts to a comprehensive, cohesive and beautiful album, replete with lush harmonies and an unapologetic straightforwardness. The simplicity of it all is something to be appreciated.

Kurt Vile
Smoke Ring for My Halo

This record solidified a fact which I have suspected since Childish Prodigy: I really shouldn’t listen to any Kurt Vile record alone in the evening with a bottle of wine. Before you know it, I’m knee deep in introspection and writing fucking poetry or something. Smoke Ring is just so intimate and raw and illuminating, all at once, and sometimes that’s just unbearable. In the end, though, these songs envelope you like a warm blanket and cradle you to sleep.

Center of the Sun

I couldn’t have dreamed up a stranger mixture of musical stylings. Even now, after a month or so with this album on repeat, I still have trouble fathoming how in the hell someone can put Sabbath and Pink Floyd in the same mixing bowl and come out with such deliciousness. While there’s nothing quite like seeing them live, EYE’s mind-bending twist on metal and psychedelia translated flawlessly into recorded form.

Spills Out

Spills Out is the best kind of mindfuck. The completely schizophrenic and frenetic soundscapes Pterodactyl create are so intricate that it’s hard to focus on any one particular element, but somehow everything comes together into a precise, harmonic amalgamation. The outro on “School Glue” (“House paint, school glue, how safe are you?”) is probably one of my favorite lines of the year, summing up our culture of fear with such profound simplicity. Still, I feel as though I should insert a “dude” on the end here.

Crystal Antlers
Two-Way Mirror
Recreation Ltd.

These Long Beach natives return to their roots with this subtle, rock-infused homage to surf rock and psychedelic soundscapes. Two-Way Mirror is a perfectly hazy and laidback counterpart to 2009’s Tentacles—except much more nuanced and never annoying or over-the-top. The punchy drums, combined with meandering guitar riffs and Johnny Bell’s trademark howl, got me through many a numb, neverending summer day.

Real Estate

The lazy, hazy surf-rock sounds that Real Estate makes kind of work like a sun lamp: summertime in my mind all year round. It’s blissful and elegant, and rather than falling by the wayside after their much hyped, albeit entirely brilliant, 2009 debut, they came back even stronger this time around, producing a solid, consistent record that provides 10 songs’ worth of wistful, spacey bliss.

Panda Bear
Paw Tracks

It just continually impresses me that Noah Lennox can break away from a band like Animal Collective and make such beautiful bursts of music that manage not to sound like Animal Collective 2.0. The fact that he calmed down, harnessed some of that trademark frenzied energy and distilled it into a 50-minute fairytale is beyond me, though I sense that some ADHD medication was involved. Regardless, I couldn’t and still can’t stop listening. Bravo.