Visions of Us On the Land by Damien Jurado
My 2016 was most defined by the artist here at #2, Damien Jurado. In a way, Jurado has been a part of my time here in Seattle since moving here in 1997. I first saw him perform when he opened for Death Cab for Cutie at what was then called Graceland (and is now El Corazón) back in 2001 (I’m pretty sure I was standing right next to this guy). And I’ve been following Jurado’s career ever since.
Unlike most every other band out there, I can say — unequivocally — that Jurado has gotten better and better. This is not just your typically clichéd comment about an aging rocker. For once, I mean it. Jurado’s last three albums, a trilogy created with producer Richard Swift, demonstrate that his songwriting is at the top of his game.
Jurado has been through his fair share of trials and tribulations. I had the immense pleasure of seeing Jurado perform twice this year, first at the Neptune back in May (with a full band), and then again, solo, in the beautiful St. Mark’s Cathedral on December 3. When you see him in concert, he is always sitting in a chair with his acoustic guitar on his lap. Which made the show at St. Mark’s all that more surprising, because he was performing standing up. Three-fourths of the way through the concert, he asked for a chair to be brought up to the stage, performed another song, and then told a long story that revealed the reason he asked for a chair ten minutes prior: he was having a panic attack, right there on stage. The show never stopped, the music was as powerful as always, and he performed through it. But wow if that’s not a moving experience.
All three of Jurado’s recent albums have been on the Top 31. Maraqopa at #5 in 2012 and Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son at #0 in 2014 (there was a clerical error that year that forced this album off the proper countdown, but it would have been in the Top 5 for sure). And now here at #2 is the coup de grace. It’s a truly phenomenal record.
I worry about where Jurado will go from here, with this trilogy now complete. Is this the pinnacle? Does he have more music in him? Will he work with Richard Swift again? I selfishly want even more out of him. But at least we have these three albums to listen to, forever. Visions of Us On the Land is his twelfth studio album. Jurado could stop writing music forever and be more than content in his body of work. Either way, I’ll be quite happy.
3. A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead
4. Blonde by Frank Ocean
5. Are You Serious by Andrew Bird
6. Lemonade by Beyoncé
7. Teens of Denial by Car Seat Headrest
8. Goodness by The Hotelier
9. The Mountain Will Fall by DJ Shadow
10. Junun by Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood & The Rajasthan Express
11. The Hope Six Demolition Project by PJ Harvey
12. Amen & Goodbye by Yeasayer
13. Sea of Noise by St. Paul & The Broken Bones
14. You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen
15. Painting Of A Panic Attack by Frightened Rabbit
16. Why Are You OK by Band Of Horses
17. Not To Disappear by Daughter
18. Sunlit Youth by Local Natives
19. I Had a Dream That You Were Mine by Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam
20. ★ by David Bowie
21. Farewell, Starlite! by Francis and the Lights
22. This Unruly Mess I’ve Made by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
23. LNZNDRF by LNZNDRF
24. Puberty 2 by Mitski
25. Light Upon the Lake by Whitney
26. A Corpse Wired for Sound by Merchandise
27. Away by Okkervil River
28. case/lang/veirs by case/lang/veirs
29. Love Letter for Fire by Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop
30. Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future by Underworld
31. Preoccupations by Preoccupations