December 31st, 2012 at 11:17 am
Ah, yes. The annual compilation of my favorite albums of the year has arrived. And that leads me to an important disclaimer (as always): Obviously, this list only includes albums I listened to this year. Which means it’s a limited list. There was a lot of wonderful music released in 2012, and I listened to only a fraction of it. Particularly, I’m aware this list is probably missing some great metal, country and bluegrass albums. But it’s also impossible to get to everything. So, do yourself a favor and keep exploring. I know I will.
If you’d like to add your list (or otherwise start a debate with me), feel free to add your comments to this post.
Also, two other items of note: Listen to me talk with KUAF’s (that’s 91.3 FM) Kyle Kellams today (Dec. 31) at noon and 7 p.m. on the Ozarks at Large program. We’ll discuss these albums. Or, click the link after each individual entry to listen to a song by the artist in question. You’ll need the Spotify program to listen to those tracks.
10) âAnimal Joyâ by Shearwater â The piano-driven melodies of Shearwater might be slow to build, but build they do. Ex-Okkervil River member Jonathan Meiburgâs gorgeous rock ballads pick up where previous works left off. While perhaps never reaching the heights of previous works such as 2008âs âRook,â âAnimal Joy,â despite the titleâs assertion, never reaches bliss. Itâs a sometimes sad, sometimes outright depressing album.
9) âAttack on Memoryâ by Cloud Nothings â Summoning the spirit of forerunners such as Sonic Youth, the noise rock leanings of Cloud Nothings comes as something both urgent and worthy of loud volumes on car stereos. The Cleveland-based band carries a hard edge, but songs such as âOur Plansâ carry insightful underpinnings, too.
8) âThe Carpenterâ by The Avett Brothers â A return to their previous folk rock form after a brief departure on their previous recording, âI and Love and You,â the brother-duo-plus-friends band from North Carolina offer some wonderful melodies on âThe Carpenter,â particularly on the song âLive and Die.â Some of the tracks, such as âPaul Newman Vs. The Demons,â fall flat, but the scope of the work holds up with previous releases.
7) âBoys and Girlsâ by Alabama Shakes â Brittany Howard, lead vocalist of Alabama Shakes, is a force of nature. But even beyond Howard, the Shakes boast infectious songs of love and lust of the straight ahead, rock ânâ roll variety. Borrowing heavily from Creedence Clearwater Revival and other acts in the southern rock vein, the Shakesâ album spent a lot of time in my play queue this year.
6) âGeneralsâ by Mynabirds â A rambunctious, wild, call-to-arms audio assault, Mynabirdsâ âGeneralsâ stomps out a collection of sometimes tribal, sometimes folk, almost always political songs. Essentially the one-woman project of former Bright Eyes sidewoman Laura Burhenn, âGeneralsâ charts a growth in depth and maturity that exceeds that of the groupâs previous release.
5) âBlunderbussâ by Jack White â Speaking of rambunctious, Jack White (formerly of The White Stripes) may best define the term rock star. He wears the badge well on âBlunderbuss,â his solo debut. Itâs somewhat reminiscent of his work with former projects such as The Stripes and Raconteurs. Hereâs what you need to know: Jack White writes a mean hook, and he plays a monster guitar. Thatâs plenty.
4) âThe Lumineersâ by The Lumineers â Of all the records released this year, I spent more time listening to the self-titled collection by The Lumineers than any other. Filled with a radio-friendly set of quirky (but never cloying) tracks, especially the smash âHo Hey,â The Lumineers maintain a friendly demeanor throughout. They were recently nominated for a couple Grammys and they likely have more accolades on the way.
3) âGossamerâ by Passion Pit â An equally flamboyant and dance-happy record as the bandâs previous work, âManners,â Passion Pitâs âGossamerâ treads similar territory as it delves into mania and, well, passion. Coupled with lead singer Michael Angelakos announcing he suffers from bipolar disorder shortly before the recordâs release, âGossamerâ makes sense as a record comfortable with both the highest highs and lowest lows. Perhaps itâs a little bit more on the manic side, but thatâs probably the point â it gets you dancing.
2) âCelebration Rockâ by Japandroids â I suppose any record that begins and ends with the sounds of fireworks should be a party rock affair. Thatâs the gist of âCelebration Rock,â the second full-length record from Japandroids. âCelebration Rockâ is a cause for a party itself.
1) âLonerismâ by Tame Impala â Imagine some of the Beatlesâ weirdest and wildest psychedelic jams, maybe something from the âSgt. Pepperâsâ era. Thatâs the baseline comparison for Tame Impalaâs finer moments on âLonerism,â the Australian bandâs second album. Thatâs not to attempt to make equals of the two â the elders win on all marks. But when Tame Impala get rolling on songs such as âFeels Like We Only Go Backwardsâ and âElephant,â the legendary band from Liverpool will be the first comparison to come to mind. Tame Impala succeeds at creating a mood and a colorful, infectious blend of nuanced, world-weary rock.
Honorable Mentions(in no particular order): Bat For Lashesâ âThe Haunted Man,â Twin Shadowâs âConfess,â Beach Houseâs âBloom,â Of Monsters and Menâs âMy Head is an Animalâ