Joe Lally, "Message From Earth"
I don't know why I'm surprised at how minimal Lally is willing to get, given how even the most spare Fugazi songs still had a lot going on. But, it's silly to get surprised by that, as Lally has always clearly been talented, and there's no reason to believe he'd just make Fugazi Light once on his own.
J Church, "Chemicals"
We've discussed many times how J Church has put out a ton of compilations in their time, but when I look at their normal albums, I think Prophylaxis is my favorite of the bunch. It's hard to pinpoint why exactly, as J Church didn't really vary their sound much over the years. I suspect some of that is just that it was one of their earliest, so I spent more time with it. When you encounter an album at 19, it makes an impression! But, whatever, it's my favorite! You can't take that away!
STS X RJD2, "Hold On, Here It Go"
This beat just comes out of the gate shining. It's enormous. I'm surprised there was even any room for STS to bust any rhymes. And then it gets dialed so far back to let STS shine, which is a sweet move. RJD2 is on top of his game on this album, STS is wrecking it, and this whole record is a delight.
Wilco, "Someone Else's Song"
I go back and forth on which is my favorite Wilco album, but I land on Being There more often than on any other one. Part of that is cheating - it's a double-album, and a great one, so it just has more stuff to listen to than anything else. But the willingness of Tweedy to include songs like this, which hark back so clearly to Uncle Tupelo, also charms me.
Palace Music, "Old Jerusalem"
The closer to the magnificent Viva Last Blues. We're really covering some of the titans of alt-country here! Oldham sounds vulnerable here, with his crackly voice and simple accompaniment, but that's often when he's at his best.