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| Monday, November 10, 2014

YUEmily Danaher
This year, Observer Scene writers wrote music reviews. They tirelessly listened to musicians who were and weren’t Taylor Swift. They then thought about why it was or wasn’t as good Taylor Swift. Then they wrote about how it could be more like Taylor Swift and rated it a certain number of Taylors out of 1989 Swifts. But no matter how many albums they listened to, no matter how many times they claimed they were going to “Six Characters In Search of an Author” “for the production value,” they managed to miss some records that didn’t sound at all like Taylor Swift but would be awesome if they did. Here, without further ado, are 10 albums The Observer didn’t review this year, but would totally have given at least 22 Taylors out of Swift.

Owen Pallett – “In Conflict”

Pallett’s latest record is sonically spacious enough to store all of Taylor’s ex-boyfriends and yet lyrically powerful enough to diss all of them. Essentially a group of pop songs disguised in haunting string arrangements and experimental song structures, “In Conflict” masterfully weaves soaring hooks into meticulous baroque pop compositions. An enthralling balance between accessible and challenging, “In Conflict” is one of the most rewarding singer/songwriter/producer records of the year.

Casualties of Cool – “Casualties of Cool”

Metal guitarist Devin Townsend teams up with folk singer Ché Aimee Dorval to craft a masterpiece that’s somehow blues, folk, ambient and post-rock at the same time. An exquisitely-produced and masterfully-performed record, Casualties of Cool’s self-titled debut is both one of the most gorgeous and most technically impressive records of the year. A must listen for fans of Taylor Swift who listen to Radiohead and Nick Drake on the side.

Ben Howard – “I Forget Where We Were”

Ben Howard is a stunningly poignant songwriter, and his latest release finds him exploring the very depths of the human heart with the grace and taste of a 3 a.m. Friday night Yak about “just wanting somebody to cuddle with.” Haunting guitar lines, soft pattering drums and Ben’s gorgeous voice craft a comfortable darkness that you’ll want curl up in for hours. Essential for fans of The National, Sufjan Stevens and, of course, Taylor Swift.

FKA Twigs – “LP1”

Imagine if Taylor Swift sang R&B songs really slowly and all of the best electronic producers twiddled knobs behind it. A soulful, technically astounding masterpiece, “LP1” is bursting with sonic power in the form of cascading drum machines, lithe synthesizers and Tahliah Barnett’s astounding voice. If you’re looking for pop anthems with the restraint and class of a night stargazing next to the lake, don’t miss FKA Twigs.

The New Pornographers – “Brill Bruisers”

Just look at that album cover. Neon lights, layered words, pretty colors. That’s exactly what you get from The New Pornographers on their latest record “Brill Bruisers” – an impressive group of supercharged indie tunes that glow like the screen you’re reading this on when you’re watching the trippy ND commercial. With fist-shaking anthems and vivid SYR ballads, “Brill Brusiers” has something for everyone. “Brill Bruisers” is something, say, Taylor Swift would be a big fan of, so you should be a big fan too.

Spoon – “They Want My Soul”

Just like every year, the people who say “rock is dead” are proved hilariously wrong. Alongside Ex Hex, Trophy Scars, Ought and many more, Spoon released a fantastic record chock-full of singalong choruses and air-guitar worthy riffs. From the I’m-super-cool-but-I’m-sad-too jaunt of “Inside Out” to the awesome update of Smashing Pumpkin’s 1979 in “Do You,” “They Want My Soul” has all that you need to feel at once like a teenager, a 20-something and your cool uncle. If you just listened to this record and Taylor Swift this year, you’d still be a happy camper.

Taylor Swift – “Fearless”

We didn’t review this record because it wasn’t released this year, but we know it’s no excuse. Sorry Notre Dame, we’ll try to do better next year.

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