Favorite Albums 2012

So finally, my own, personal list of favorite albums of 2012. Anyone new to the list knows: a) this is a poor excuse for a music blog since I post once a year and I haven’t even been able to do that the last couple of years (hopefully made up for that with last night’s posts on 2010 and 2011 favorites), b) this isn’t a “best” albums because how the hell would I know…it’s more like my favorite of the increasingly limited number of albums I’m able to wrestle with every year (although I bet I’m still listening to more albums than most folks I know), and c) I do this to organize my thoughts (I like lists almost as much as I like parenthetical commentary within my own regularly scheduled commentary), and to motivate and incite you, my 6 or 7 readers, to tell me what you think – to comment here and/or in person about what I turned you on to, what sucks on my list (in your misguided mind), and what I missed…what were some of your favorites that didn’t show up here?

Over promise time – check back from time to time this year for posts I’m intending including best songs of 2012, best albums that didn’t make my 2012 list (driven largely by the comments you leave here), best albums of my first 10 (ok 11) years posting on this space, some of my early favorites of 2013, etc.

Ok, here goes…my favorite albums of 2012:

Top Ten Albums (alphabetically):

Beach House – Bloom

Another impressive knock out from Beach House, quickly becoming one of the bands I trust to consistently press albums I’ll listen to from start to finish, over and over throughout the year. It’s moody, layered, and gorgeous…almost as good as their Teen Dream two years ago. And, if you’re less indie and more mainstream, this might be the best investment you make in my list this year. It’s a big leap from the more mainstream sounds of Dr. Dog and Lumineers (supreme in their own right, but way more derivative than Beach House for you), but may be more “accessible” and immediately likable to you than some of the other albums on this list  (you know, because if you’re mainstream you’re lazy and you like it to come easy…this will come as easy to you as it does to me).

Cat Power – Sun

The snobbiest of my music pals put me on to her some time ago – she’s a beloved indie mainstay – but this is my favorite of her albums, and the first time she’s made my list; a detail that will probably render my views here flawed from the outset in their minds. Then again, one of my favorite parts of this list it to piss Matt B. off with my brain bending inconsistency. For the love of Lovie Smith, look at the name of my blog. Check out Cherokee, and Nothing But Time for standouts..

Dr. Dog – Be the Void

Love it when I disagree so strongly with so many of the popular year-end lists and get to give a shout out to such an excellent band. Fun album this year with one of my favorite lyrics of the year – I don’t wanna fight/but I’m constantly ready…I don’t rock the boat/but it’s always unsteady. Here’s betting you’ll find something in this one that hits home for you, too.

Father John Misty – Fear Fun

Fleet Fox alert – J.Tillman put that project aside for this one and struck gold. A little stranger than Fleet Foxes, but no less big sky, singing to the heavens. A late entrant thanks to a call for entries late in the year on Facebook – a few old reliable buds came through with this reco for me early just this month and they were right on. Hope it’s just as good a find for you.

Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

“Big, important” rap album of the year no. 1, we’ve been told. This guy made it to SNL for god’s sake…and John Mayer played some anonymous guitar next to an Asteroids machine in the background. So I guess that means he’s got a broad appeal and fan base, right? Thing is, he delivers on an even better album than his debut last year, which I also loved. All the heartfelt thoughtfulness an sensitivity here never hints at cheeseball, and outwardly belies the grandiose proclamations and rabid hype that’s propelled his rise all year.

Japandroids – Celebration Rock

Here’s a rocker. Theses guys punch the throttle down as usual…a nice loud standout in this year’s list. At a time when everyone seems to be working so hard craft and polish and squeeze every once of refinement, beauty and precision into their albums as they can, Celebration Rock…celebrates rock (!). It’s load. It’s a little obnoxious. It’s got some great big balls. It’s not sloppy, thoughtless or pompous, but it’s still a mess in all the right ways.

Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, m.A.A.d City

The other big important rap album of the year. Kendrick’s from Compton but takes the Compton sound somewhere fresh and new; proving that there’s plenty of room for fresh and new there after all. Much less dark…sort of a call to arms for hope and optimism and encouragement..but nearly as hokey as that sounds. Nice to see the genre still has plenty of wonderful places to go and promise moving forward. Backseat Freestyle is an unbelievably fun romp – but as NSFW as it gets.

The Lumineers – the Lumineers

So apparently these guys crashed on a bud’s floor in Chicago earlier this year. And yeah, I was invited to hang and watch these guys do their thing and maybe hang with the band after. “Um…don’t know them, no. And oh, man, work’s got me by the beans. I’m out. Sounds like fun,” Damn, I blew that, huh, Matt and Piper? Really good, “American” rock – reminds me of the Avett Brothers, Delta Spirit, Dawes, and American Mumford & Sons in a way, etc. You may have heard “Hey, ho!” Good stuff.

The Walkmen – Heaven

Just such a solid, smart, tight U.S. rock band. These guys are craftsmen and bang out good album after good album every time. Completely incapable of a dud. The track Heaven is one of my 5 favorite songs of the year.

The XX – Coexist

Album number two from one of the big new bands of 2009 is every bit as rich, textured and and beautiful start to finish. They take great care with every part of this album, but strip it all down to what I think is a really unique sound.

Ten More (ok, 12) I liked:

Andrew Bird – Break it Yourself
Avett Brothers – The Carpenter
Delay Trees – Delay Trees
Divine Fits – A Thing Called Divine Fits
Grizzly Bear – Shields
Heartless Bastards – Arrow
Jack White – Blunderbuss
Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music
Menomena – Moms
Metric – Synthetica
Mumford & Sons – Babei
Sun Kil Moon – Among the Leaves

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2 responses to “Favorite Albums 2012

  1. Thanks for sharing! Given the overlap on my list with yours, there are 3 that that I think you’ve got to check out if you haven’t already.

    First Aid Kit (The Lion’s Roar) – swedish chicks that worked with Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis to pull together an 70s-sounding-indie-folk-country album. Crooning swedes.

    Mynabirds (Generals) – chick version of Black Keys.

    Tame Impala (Lonerism) – fuzzzzzzzzzzzzy pysch rock. Awesome.

  2. I really like these First Aid Kit and Mynabirds – thanks for the recos. In heavy rotation right now. I liked Tame Impala’s debut, but NEVER got into Lonerism at all. Not sure why.

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