20. Moving Mountains – Moving Mountains (2013)
I had so much anticipation for this album, and it fully delivered. It leans a little more in the direction of straight-forward indie rock than their previous releases, and many of the post-rock elements that they used to feature so frequently are hard to find, but in the end it just shows that Moving Mountains has a more expansive comfort zone than many of us realized. Nothing here seems forced or unnatural for the band. The end result is an album ready for repeated plays at dusk on Fall evenings.
RIYL: Athletics, Gates, My Epic
19. Medical Morning – Ghost Riot, Vol. 1 (2019)
This is a beautiful shoegaze/worship EP that impacted me so much when I first heard it, that I had to see if I could help release it on Blurescent. While there have been several Christian shoegaze bands and albums, I don’t know if there’s ever been a worship artist that leaned so heavily on shoegaze, and the results are magnificent.
RIYL: Ascend The Hill, Young Oceans, Starflyer 59
18. Valleyheart – Everyone I’ve Ever Loved (2018)
There are so many elements to enjoy here: great songwriting, incredible musicianship, heart-tugging lyrics, memorable melodies. It’s emo, it’s indie rock, it’s post-hardcore. It’s so many things, done so well.
Genre: Indie Rock
RIYL: My Epic, As Cities Burn, Pedro The Lion
17. Chvrches – Every Open Eye (2015)
This is the album that I wanted Chvrches to make after I finished digesting their debut. It’s less glitchy and electronic, and instead more of a pure 80’s inspired synth-pop album. Transport this album back to the days of neon and spandex and there’s five or six radio hits here.
RIYL: New Order, M83, Purity Ring
16. Ascend The Hill – Hymns: Take the World, But Give Me Jesus (2010)
This album came out before the re-arranging of hymns was completely inescapable in churches everywhere. Thankfully, it still stands out among the crowd with its atmosphere and indie rock sensibilities. These recordings have become my preferred versions of many of these songs that I’ve been singing since I was a small child, which is no small accomplishment.
RIYL: Young Oceans, Hymns
15. The Daysleepers – Creation (2018)
Creation washes over me like almost no other music does. From song to song I feel like I’m floating in space, or swimming in the ocean, or sitting in my childhood bedroom. These songs take you places. The Daysleepers are easily one of may favorite musical discoveries of the decade and I’m kicking myself for not knowing about them in the 2000’s, when they were releasing even more music than they did in the 2010’s.
RIYL: Slowdive, The Cure, Medical Morning
14. Klimt 1918 – Sentimentale Jugend (2016)
It’s very rare that I’m completely pleased with a double album. I usually wish they had a handful of the lesser-quality songs removed in order to make it a single album, but that’s not the case here in the slightest. I adore every moment of this massive take on post-punk, post-rock, and shoegaze.
RIYL: The Daysleepers, Holy Fawn
13. Young Oceans – I Must Find You (2014)
Young Oceans are one of my most listened to artists of the decade, and this is probably their most well-rounded album thus far. The cover image is possibly the most fitting for any album I loved this decade, so if the musical equivalent of unbridled horses running beside a hazy, teal hillside seems like your cup o’ tea, you shouldn’t hesitate to push play.
Genre: Indie Rock/Worship
RIYL: Starflyer 59, Ascend The Hill, Mazzy Star
12. Postiljonen – Reverie (2016)
With only two albums, Postiljonen has solidified themselves as one of my favorite bands. I can’t get enough of their brand of dreamy synth-pop. Here, on their second album, they slightly expanded their sound with a more experimental opener and closer, but without losing the many things I find charming about them.
RIYL: Chvrches, M83, Priest
11. Various Artists – Blurescent: More Than Music, Volume 1 (2019)
Yes, I compiled and released this, but that’s not necessarily the reason that its here. It’s here because of all the great artists that contributed their songs. With exclusives from Seaside Holiday and Up N Adam, and some of my favorite tracks from many of my favorite bands, I can’t help but rank my favorite compilation of all-time so high.
Genre: Synth-pop, Dream-pop, Indie Rock
RIYL: Most of the bands on this list
10. Thursday – No Devolución (2011)
I have been a big fan of post-hardcore since the early 2000’s, but I was only ever a casual Thursday fan. It wasn’t until this, their final album, that I found some music of theirs that I truly loved. This brilliant album comes across to me like the post-hardcore version of The Cure’s masterpiece, Disintegration, with it’s huge sound and dreamy atmosphere.
RIYL: Moving Mountains, The Cure, No Devotion
9. Starflyer 59 – Slow (2016)
It’s weird to me that my favorite guitarist put out an album that makes me want to talk mostly about the lyrics, but here we are. SLOW is a reminder to me, as the father of young children, that time goes by fast, and I need to be sure to stop and enjoy these times. It also manages to help me wrestle with my oftentimes intense nostalgia. This album is a great friend who makes me feel understood in my battles, but also manages to give great advice to keep me moving in the right direction.
Genre: Indie Rock
RIYL: David Bazan, Mike Adams at His Honest Weight, general reminiscing
8. Young Oceans – Young Oceans (2012)
Here is another album that was delivered just when I needed it: I had experienced a bit of personal spiritual revival and this was my soundtrack. Funny enough, it is also often my soundtrack when I’m feeling weary and depressed and needy. It’s also a great reminder that music can be great *and* explicit in its worship of God, which is something that I often need to be reminded of considering all the trite Christian music I hear.
Genre: Indie Rock/Worship
RIYL: Future of Forestry, Mazzy Star, All Sons & Daughters
7. Shadow Shadow – Riviera (2013)
I heard this album the old fashioned way: I heard the first single, ordered the vinyl, waited for it to ship to me from Switzerland, I believe (which I thought weird because the band is from Sweden), greatly anticipated its arrival for weeks, excitedly opened the package, turned out the lights and lied on the floor taking in every beautiful note. I still do this for bands I’m already a fan of, but never for newer bands. The reason: well, it just wasn’t available to stream in the US, and after hearing “Riviera”, I was dying to hear this album as soon as possible, which as you can tell by its ranking here, did not disappoint. I described this album then as synth-pop hits from a colder, darker planet, and I stand by that.
RIYL: Logh, S U R V I V E, Britta Persson
6. Postiljonen – Skyer (2013)
As you’ve no doubt noticed from this list, I’m a big fan of the synth-pop revival of the 2010’s. If anyone were to ever ask me what one album from this little movement I would recommend, it would be this one. It checks all the boxes of what I like in the genre: dreaminess; big drums; catchy, but not cheesy hooks; plus it has the added bonus of tasteful guitar and sax solos.
RIYL: Chvrches, M83, Priest
5. Falling Up – Falling Up (2015)
The consensus is that this final Falling Up album (please don’t really be the final album, I beg) is the best one, and I would agree…but, you’ll see that it’s not my very favorite, or even second favorite, yet here it sits as my fifth favorite album of the decade.
I tried to convince myself that it shouldn’t be ranked so high, just because it doesn’t look professional to have three albums by the same band this high, but this is a list of my subjective favorites and it is truly, as best I can tell right now, my fifth favorite album of the decade. The songwriting, atmosphere, musicianship, vocals…everything I love about Falling Up is on its A+ game here.
RIYL: Dredg, Young Oceans, My Epic
4. Moving Mountains – Waves (2011)
Waves really set the course for my taste in music this decade. It made me realize that a spacey atmosphere combined with heavy guitars and melancholy vocals is what I crave…and bonus point for cello and keys/synths. These are the elements present in most of my favorite music of the 2010’s, and it all started here for me.
One other thing that I became a huge fan of with this album is Greg Dunn’s vocals. I can’t really articulate why, but they are among my favorite in all of music.
RIYL: Thursday, Thrice, Athletics
3. Falling Up – Hours (2013)
This might be the most prog-y of Falling Up’s releases, but it’s not as exhausting and self-congratulating as I find most prog albums to be, possibly because it keeps my more preferred genres of atmospheric rock, post-hardcore, and synth-pop firmly in the mix. Thinking about the fact that they incorporate all of these genres that I love so much is giving me some clarity into why it is exactly that Falling Up are my favorite band: they incorporate little bits, and sometimes large chunks, of pretty much all of my favorite musical aspects, and they do them all extremely well…which isn’t surprising in the least when considering the diversity of all of Jessy Ribordy’s side projects.
RIYL: A Jimmy Eat World, Yes, M83, and Thrice salad.
Stream: Album with Extra Track
2. My Epic – Behold (2013)
One reason for my adoration of this album is clearly the thought-provoking, well-written, Christ-centered lyrics of Aaron Stone. There’s no cynicism, but there are hard questions. There are no trite cliche’s, but plenty of adoration. Despite the un-ignorable lyrical prowess of Stone, the rest of the band clearly make their marks, especially the drums, as expected from a Matt Goldman produced album. Behold is very heavy and somewhat dark in places, but beauty is the clear winner, and the beauty would not be as magnificent if not for the heavy and dark.
RIYL: Thrice, Falling Up, Moving Mountains
1. Falling Up – Your Sparkling Death Cometh (2011/2013)
Originally released in 2011, and then re-released in 2013 with “Darkspeed”: a new, but official addition to the album (there’s also a wonderful bonus track that was added).
This is the one. This is why I love music. It’s beautiful, it’s dark. It’s heavy, it’s light. It’s synth-y and atmospheric. It’s layered wonderfully. The guitars and drums are huge. The vocals and melodies are insanely good. The lyrics are meaningful, but not always obvious. This is a never-ending well of music to digest, and I plan on coming back to drink for as long as I live.
Genre: Space Rock