This is a little late! The trip over the holidays and catching up at work have slowed me down a lot. 2012 wasn’t a great musical year for me, there were quite a few really good albums, but nothing like other years. I think part of it is that I’m just not buying as much music as I’d like to. Not spending as much time just listening to music and seeking out new music. Finding new good music really isn’t that hard. Look up some recommendations on Amazon or other sites like Last.fm. Buy an album. Listen to it and if you like it, find more stuff like it. Read music sites, etc. It’s pretty easy.
Right now I’m listening to the Coroner’s Gambit by the Mountain Goats. I’ve decided for 2013 I’m going to go back and buy there back catalog to start the year. After that, who knows. Regardless, I did have some picks for this year:
10. Beach House, Bloom: This record was probably better than their last release, which was my top record two years ago. That saying something. Strangely though, I didn’t give this nearly as many rotations as I’d have expected after buying. It’s got the same dreamy sound, with tighter melodies and some really good new musical breaks. For whatever reason, I just moved on from their sound. I’ll still probably pick up there music, but it wasn’t as good on the second time around.
9. Divine Fits, A Thing Called The Divine Fits: Britt Daniel and Dan Boeckner (SPOON and Wolf Parade, respectively) got together to form this band, which doesn’t seem like a one record deal based on their pub. This is really synth heavy, drum machine electronica with the aforementioned sharing vox. It grew on me as the year went on. Not as good as their other bands’ best records, but as good as some of their mediocre stuff, which is still really solid. I’m interested to see where their next album goes. If you like poppy indie stuff, or either of their first bands, pick it up.
8. First Aid Kit, The Lion’s Roar: This was a first time listen for me, due to the fantastic Emmy Lou single playing on the Current. The rest of the album has a lot to offer too. It’s very folky with two female vocalists and a Conor Oberst siting on the last track. He redid a White Stripes song with First Aid Kit as well. Overall this album probably got as much play as most anything else last year due to Teresa really enjoying it.
7. Two Door Cinema Club, Tourist History: Another first time listen, this was a really great album with tons of catchy melodies and a huge amount of energy. Very poppy indie rock with light and fast guitars and some really interesting things done with sampling. I’ve heard their new album is really good too, but all the singles that I’ve heard sounded slower, which wasn’t as interesting to me. Maybe I’ll pick it up next year.
6. John K. Samson, Provincial: This was a tough decision as I picked it up in early December and it didn’t have nearly as much time as the other albums listed to resonate. That said, it’s John Samson of the Weakerthans, one of my favorite bands and he does not disappoint. There are a great deal of fantastic songs here. It’s winter music for me, there’s something that reminds me of Minnesota and through interpretation, Canada. There is good diversity here and I think he’s one of the better song writers out there today. There aren’t many people who can write slower songs I genuinely want to keep listening to, but he has the knack. That said, it’s not for everyone. It’s literate indie/folk. It’s fantastic and could have easily been higher up on the list with more time.
5. Avett Brothers, The Carpenter: 2012 got A LOT of Avette Brothers play. This was a band introduced to me by Teresa, but I have to say they are as talented as near anyone I listen to. They make really good music that will stand up against the test time. They also take risks and publish stuff that isn’t necessarily in their wheelhouse. But the big thing that threw me over the top for them was this cover of Neutral Milk Hotel, holy crap:
4. One Be Lo, Sonogram: One Be Lo was in the group Binary Star way back when. I picked up this album because I realized out of the two in the group, he was probably the most talented and his rhymes were always on point. One Be Lo is a fantastic lyricist with songs that just barrage you with intelligent and well thought out ideas. He has a knack for the punchline and is just a phenomenal delivery MC. If you like hip hop at all, this is one of my top albums and well worth the money it cost.
3. Deer Tick, Born On Flag Day: I had picked up an earlier Deer Tick album last year, War Elephant, which had been on the precipice of my best of lists. This album absolutely blew me away at first listen. The lead singer has a very gravelly voice. It’s guitar heavy, without a whole lot of cute stuff, just rock and roll. There is a good amount of diversity in the music, not relying too much on any one type of song. The first half of the album is gold, the second half tails off slightly, but there’s plenty to keep you interested. From the progression on their earlier albums to this, their next album could be incredibly good and it’s a band I’ll be following closely moving forward.
2. Lumineers, self titled: This could have easily been the number one record of 2012. Teresa and I both really like the album and listened to it more than anything else. There are a ton of folk sing along gems and it just flows and flows. Very easy to listen to, perfect for the summer months and reflection. To think that this is their first album, they’ve set a huge precedent for themselves moving forward. The songs are confident, interesting and put together in such a way that repeat listens provide new wrinkles. I didn’t know anything about them and read some reviews, found that pretty much everyone had stated it could be album of the year and gave it a try. Pretty blown away that this was as good as it was.
1. Aesop Rock, Skelethon: This wasn’t an obvious choice for me. I knew Aesop would be high up on the list of albums for this year, but the truth is that this album didn’t get nearly the amount of rotation that others on this list did. It’s up there, certainly, but probably more like 4 or 5 in terms of listens. Yet here it is. I’ve listened to all of Ian Bavitz’ works and this is right up there with Labor Days in it’s complexity and scale. Every song is very good. This was all self production, and I’m absolutely blown away at how good Aesop has gotten at production. He produced the last Felt album and it’s no where near as good as this. For those unfamiliar, Aesop Rock has a completely different hip hop style that focuses on abstract word play with delivery that bends multi syllable words and sentences around heavy beats. The wordplay is so dense that I literally have yet to unwind in entirety the majority of his songs. They are simply too complex to do so, which only adds to the enjoyable nature of the songs. They last forever as you continually try to decipher what he may be alluding to. This album was a fantastic reprise of his best points. Below find a video for one of his singles, Cycles to Gehenna. Pick this up if you like hip hop.