We were looking at each other for confirmation that it was, indeed, bedtime. Right as we were about to put out the cookies and head for bed, a song about Christmas trees arose on the movie. The Little One listened intently. Suddenly, she leapt out of her grandmother’s lap and ran up to our tree. Uncharacteristically speechless, she pointed at it, then at us, then at the song playing on the TV. After a few moments in this rotation, the song was over and she smiled. We turned off the movie and she cheerfully headed off to bed.
She seemed to make a connection, as if she figured out that the stuff that she has been seeing and the stuff that we keep talking about are all part of this same “Christmas” thing. In truth, I’m not sure exactly what happened there. I am just incredibly thankful to have been there to see it, because it was a beautiful moment.
The Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan: This quirky and undeniably musical pop album framed several defining moments in the new house this year. The Dirty Projectors take fascinating risks and tame them in every way imaginable.
The Format – Interventions and Lullabies: Although the inclusion of fun. in the top 20 sort of challenges the “one-entry-per-artist-per-year” rule, The Format is, technically, a totally separate project. I also think that Interventions and Lullabies is more consistent than Some Nights, and I most assuredly would not have followed Nate Reuss into the latter if I did not love the former so much.
The Dark Knight Original Soundtrack – It took me nearly all year to crack it open, but Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard’s soundtrack to the second Dark Knight movie has had a profound effect on my listening. It has reframed the way that I listen to current movie scores.
Tame Impala – Lonersim: Another album that initially defined our move into the new house, but in this case its depth unfolded into wider horizons. The distinctive songwriting defines the album, but there are intentionally crafted layers of sonic depth that seem unending.
Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused to Sing and Other Stories: A well-crafted and unique progressive rock album that allows its players distinctive voices to shine through its concept is a rarity. Its even more rare that this situation could arise on a solo album, but Wilson stepped aside just enough to allow The Raven to become one of the finest albums this year.
The Postal Service – Give Up: Sure, the album is over a decade old, but was totally new to me this year. No matter where I was or who I was with, Give Up was the soundtrack for nearly any occasion and it never, ever wore thin.