These may not be the best albums of the year, but they are my favorite:
■ PORTUGAL. THE MAN, “Evil Friends”: Frontman John Gourley’s voice often sounds as if it was emanating from some awestruck kid with eyes as wide as hubcaps, and that childlike spirit of adventure informs “Evil Friends,” which hopscotches genres — pop, psychedelia, folk, hard rock, electronica. It’s a record that never sits still, and neither will you as long as it’s spinning.
■ DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, “One of Us is the Killer”: “Killer” fans out like buckshot, exploding in several directions all at once. And yet, the chaos is calculated and controlled as some of metal’s most exacting players soundtrack the genre’s forward momentum.
■ GOLDFRAPP, “Tales of Us”: Alison Goldfrapp disrobes, figuratively, on this unadorned album, where her gorgeous, lonely sigh of a voice flickers free of the electronic backdrop this duo normally employs. The result is an album as seductive as the whispered assent of some long-sought object of desire.
■ KURT VILE, “Wakin on a Pretty Daze”: What an all-consuming trip it is to free-fall down this rabbit hole of a record. Vile himself plunges headfirst through 9-minute acoustic daydreams, cosmic confessionals and enough food-for-thought to nourish a nation.
■ KINSKI, “Cosy Moments”: With guitars patterned after the scope and heft of the Cascade peaks that shadow their native Seattle, these amps-savaging indie rockers kick out the year’s densest batch of jams, many of them as bittersweet as they are blustery.
■ THE OCEAN, “Pelagial”: As gorgeous and foreboding as these German navel gazers’ namesake, “Pelagial” is an elegant, violent treatise in prog metal existentialism as layered with emotion, ambition and ferocity as an ocean is with depth zones.
■ CAITLIN ROSE, “The Stand-In”: Kacey Musgraves got all the love this year as Nashville, Tenn.’s latest trad country ingenue, but Rose is just as worthy of that designation on “The Stand-In,” where honky-tonk, R&B and rockabilly coagulate in a pool of melted hearts.
■ FIDLAR, “Fidlar”: These sun-baked, and just plain baked, Cali garage rock burn-outs cram lots of really bad ideas into really good songs best suited for humming in the back of police cruisers.
■ JASON ISBELL, “Southeastern”: Such a beautiful, biting record of exquisite sadness and alcohol-abetted resolve, where death, the loneliness of the open road and the coming and going of lovers past and present loom large until Isbell chops them down to size with a song.
■ GHOST B.C., “Infestissumam”: With its Blue Oyster Cult-worthy melodies and purring, Edgar Winter Group organ, you could imagine hearing this record all over classic rock radio — save for the lyrics hailing Satan and comparing humans to lice. And maybe someday you will, once ol’ Beelzebub gets his comeuppance.
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0476.