In an age of never-ending lists and music stats, I find myself willingly subjected to and as a self-imposed user of the relentless onslaught of tier lists and the vicious ecosystem of incandescent rankings. Every year since my early high-school days in 2017, I’ve maintained a ritual: crafting a January playlist that serves as a sonic scrapbook, featuring one song from each album I’ve encountered throughout the year. Attempting to rank them, I managed to nail down the top 50 or so. While at times all of this feels like a seemingly chore-like task, it has allowed me to stay current and on top of today’s freshest and finest music.
Over the years, I’ve learned this routine is more than just about lists and rankings; it’s a reflective exercise that allows me to sift through a year’s worth of music. What started as an innocent form cataloging to appease my tier-list dominant brain has become a valuable tool for discerning what withstands the test of time and ultimately, what resonates with me. While I’ve been somewhat reserved in sharing this annual musical archive, I’ve come to see this post as a fitting backdrop for a purposeful exercise—a canvas on which I can articulate why these albums hold a special place in my heart and have shaped the sonic landscape of my year.
However, before we delve into this curated selection, a disclaimer is in order: albums featuring live recordings, sadly, cannot secure a spot on this coveted list. Although they were taken into consideration during the selection and curation process, due to self-inflicted ethical complications, I must regretfully omit these contributions from my list—apologies to MJ Lenderman and Black Country, New Road.
All said, here they stand, albums that have continued to scratch the inner workings of my brain throughout the year.