15 more favorites from last year, to go with the 10 local albums listed below.

  1. Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion
  2. Dirty Projectors, Bitte Orca
  3. Sister Suvi, Now I Am Champion
  4. Shrag, Shrag
  5. Bibio, Ambivalence Avenue
  6. Atlas Sound, Logos
  7. Animal Collective, Fall Be Kind
  8. Maayan Nidam, Nightlong
  9. Abe Vigoda, Reviver
  10. DJ Koze, Reincarnations – The Remix Chapter 2001-2009
  11. God Help the Girl, God Help the Girl
  12. Sonic Youth, The Eternal
  13. Durutti Column, Love in the Time of Recession
  14. The Juan Maclean, The Future Will Come
  15. Mountains, Choral

ghtgGod Help The Girl is a side project of Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch. All the details can be found here in an interview or here in a video, so there’s no need to repeat them all here.

But, just to summarize. Murdoch writes a bunch of songs that would sound better performed by a 1960s-era female vocalist than by Belle and Sebastian. So he runs a newspaper ad: “girl singer needed for autumnal recording project.” And auditions a bunch, several of whom appear on this delightful self-titled lp.

So, yes, the record sounds just like you’d think a Stuart Murdoch 1960s girl-group-inspired side project would sound. But leaving it at that fails to do the whole thing justice. Beyond the wonderful vocal performances and instrumental arrangements, what really makes this album great is the songwriting. The poetic stories that Murdoch has come up with, and the charming characters he introduces to help him tell us those stories, put God Help The Girl on par with the very best of Belle and Sebastian’s work.