So, I thought I’d put together a little list of my favorite albums of the year. I never feel quite right about where I cut off the list, so to cope with my feelings, this year I’ve made an honorable mention consisting of…
Connect the Dots by Stacy Clark was an incredibly fun singer/songwriter album that crept up on my play counts. The Suburbs by The Arcade Fire had some standout tracks, but I couldn’t completely connect to the alt rock ensemble’s overdone anthem. Teen Dream by Beach House was at times truly haunting, Down the Way by folksters Angus & Julia Stone was charming, and undoubtedly Contra by Vampire Weekend was a strong effort for the indie-pop troupe. Eyelid Movies by Phantogram had more sultry angst, catchy beats, and hooks than nearly any other album. And, folk mainstays Josh Rouse, Rocky Votolato, and Josh Ritter each put out respectable albums. Lastly, my number 11, just outside the magnificent 10, was Go by Jonsi. This album explores emotional highs and lows as well as the best Sigur Ros albums, and come quite hook laden to boot.
10. Good Old War – Good Old War. This folksy Philly trio reminds me a lot of a lighter-hearted Fleet Foxes. Their harmonies are tight and their story-telling is captivating. Check out my favorite track “That’s Some Dream”
That’s Some Dream (removed 7/21/12)
9. Treats – Sleigh Bells. There’s no getting around the fact that this album is weird. But, I found its uniqueness refreshing and after letting it grow on me (substancially, I might add), I ended up really getting into the hardcore + beats + girl with beautiful voice combo. Standout track “Riot Rhythm” brings it home.
Riot Rhythm (removed 7/21/12)
8. Broken Bells – Broken Bells. I’ve always been a fan of James Mercer when I came across his team up with Danger Mouse man Brian Burton, I fell in love – quickly. The album borrows bits and piece from The Shins sound, yet making its own and keeping it interesting. It has impressive highs and lows and sufficiently enigmatic lyrics to warrant a spot in my top ten. My favorite track has to be “Ghost Inside”.
The Ghost Inside (removed 7/21/12)
7. Gorilla Manor – Local Natives. I was introduced to Local Natives through a free download of “Sun Hands” early in the year. I enjoyed the song, but didn’t see a need to investigate much further. Throughout the year, though, I kept seeing their name crop around LA (their hometown as well) with shows and eventually my interest was peaked enough to get Gorilla Manor. I definitely do not regret it. They are an indie rock outfit with hints of folk scattered here and there, which I love. Both catchy and smart, it’s a find.
Wide Eyes (removed 7/21/12)
6. Halcyon Digest – Deerhunter. It’s the dark mystique of Deerhunter that keeps me coming back. One of the artists of which I never tire and really connect. No song is overdone or skimped on. What impresses me is the album as a piece with just the right amount of ambience to tie it all together. They’re subtly inventive and never overwhelming.
Don’t Cry (removed 7/21/12)
5. Foreign Tapes – Parades. This album had me hooked from the beginning. The male/female paired vocal, ranging delicate to powerful guitars, and creative drumming did it. Really a captivating album with tons going for it. I’m surprised I haven’t heard more about this group. “Marigold” is a gem and really caps a well jelled album. With many favorites it was hard to chose, but enjoy another take-away – “Past Lives.”
Past Lives (removed 7/21/12)
4. Age of Adz – Sufjan Stevens. I’m a Sufjan fan and always look forward to how he’s morphed. His innovation is admirable and if it weren’t for his beliefs I think reviewers would be slobbering over him at every turn. When you consider Age of Adz in combination with All Delighted People, this guy did work this year. Truly a hero of the singer/songwriter, he, yet again, doesn’t disappoint. The album finishes especially well, and since “Impossible Soul” was too big to attach, enjoy “I Want to Be Well.”
I Want To Be Well (removed 7/21/12)
3. Tourist History – Two Door Cinema Club. This was my indie pop mainstay album this year. A definite “go-to” for a pick me up. The Irish Trio falls somewhere between the Arctic Monkeys and Passion Pit for me. This album is quick, smart, and energetic. No dull points, and no throw-aways. Really a great debut. “Something Good Can Work” is one of my favorite songs of the year.
Something Good Can Work (removed 7/21/12)
2. The Wild Hunt – The Tallest Man on Earth. One of greatest song writers of not only today but all time. At one point I actually found myself looking up what “cadejo” are. (It’s actually pretty interesting!) He’s a master of the story and a master of conveying emotion. His voice is raw, yet beautiful. I had the pleasure of seeing him live earlier this year and the experience really solidified it all for me. This will be an album I play for a long time. If you love Bon Iver, folk music, or just story telling, The Wild Hunt is a must.
King of Spain (removed 7/21/12)
1. High Violet – The National. Brilliant, moody alt rock. Few bands relay the human experience better than The National. It seems that with every album since Alligator, The National has been ebbing its way closer to my favorite of all time. Though the body of work doesn’t yet merit replacing Radiohead, if they have another decade keeping with this trend I don’t know if I could deny them the honor. It may take you a while to “get” The National, but the rewards are worth the wait. High Violet is about as real as it gets. I could honestly pick any song to put on here, and it took me a while to settle on “Anyone’s Ghost.” I truly do hope you enjoy.
Anyone’s Ghost (removed 7/21/12)
Bleed on friends!