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Two of the Current's top critics agree on the local artist of the year … but not on the album 


Marcus Rubio's Hello Dallas (EP)
Put out in a rush job just days before his departure to grad school and the West Coast with it, Hello Dallas flew in the face of its rushed recording, revealing itself as Rubio's most complete and enjoyable release to date. Part of this shouldn't come as a total surprise, as Dallas' five tracks had been honed for years, and represented some of the Gospel Choir of Pillows' strongest live material. However by taking the bolder step of melding these pop-oriented songs with his more experimental leanings, Rubio managed to hatch the most challenging, engaging, and impressive record to come out of the Alamo city this year.

The other nine:

2. Third RootStand For Something

3. Nicolette Good - Monarch

4. Bad BreaksBad Breaks

5. Last NightersLast Nighters

6. We Leave At MidnightWe Leave At Midnight

7. Mission CompleteEmotionally Strong Enough To Be Your Man

8. Ernest GonzalesNatural Traits

9. Chris MaddinThe Tiago Splitters

10. Yes InfernoI Hate Myself And I Want To Die


Tame Impala's Lonerism

The litmus test for my album of the year choice always comes down to numbers, and at 15 spins (16 once I finish writing this), Tame Impala's brilliant second release is my 2012 record by a country mile. How this band of Aussies managed to craft a record that I'd gladly listen to over a dozen times comes from a completeness of execution. From the psychedelic swirl of the production, the potency of the songwriting, and the inventiveness of the playing, frontman Kevin Parker and crew absolutely nailed it on all levels. Time for spin #17. — J.D.S.


Marcus Rubio's None of the Birds
Despite delightfully worthy efforts from Pop Pistol, Chris Maddin, and Last Nighters, this is my far and away favorite local album of the year. Loose, idiosyncratic in all the most endearing ways, part folk and part unicorn, profound yet simple, lo-fi gigantic, cheeky chamber, doom twee — this album rewards, challenges, and amuses listen after listen. "Boss Vegas (The Song)" and "Song of Yourself," in particular, sit among my favorite tracks of the year.


Grizzly Bear's Shields

In a year where musical jolts and jarring jumps felt more natural than the pastoral naïveté of my youth — Grizzly Bear's fourth album stands as an alcove from the chaos. It's jazzy, direct yet melodramatic, filled with rich and cinematic harmonies, and distinguished by an ever sharpening knack for instantly penetrating melodies and delicately off-center rhythms. Standout tracks "Yet Again," "Sleeping Ute," and "Sun in Your Eyes" are among the most gorgeous songs I've ever heard.

Other favorites of the year include a left-field rap classic from the mysterious Captain Murphy (Duality), a postmodern R&B stunner from that dude Frank Ocean (Channel ORANGE), and the biggest statement of a seventh album ever from Woods (Bend Beyond). — J.C.


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September 23, 2020

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