Best of 2012 Albums
I think this was even harder than last year. A lot of bands that have been my favorites for a long time were beat out by bands I recently fell in love with. And my music taste broadened the more I was exposed to. But overall, it was a really great year for music and for my passion of music, and I’m pretty satisfied with my final list.
Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon
Beacon is TDCC’s sophomore album and my favorite album of 2012. I knew I always had a thing for TDCC ever since I first heard “Something Good Can Work,” but this album really took it to the top for me. From the moment I heard “Sleep Alone” on the radio and correctly guessed it was by them, I was hooked and in anticipation. Beacon just has that high energy, fun, rhythmic, distinct sound that lead TDCC to success. “Next Year” starts the album with a bang, “Someday” keeps up the tempo with a fresh pace, “The World is Watching” introduces Alex Trimble’s compassionate harmony with Valentina, and the track that hits my soft spot “Settle” is a melodic moment of romanticism. Having seen the band live twice, once just before Beacon and once after, (and let me tell you, the after show, I came back from Global Festival dead tired with only 5 hours of sleep in 48 hours, and this woke me up. I know, I’m crazy.) I know they deliver live, and listening to the album bring me back to that moment of energy and passion for music. Read my previous review here.
Band of Skulls – Sweet Sour
This album was also on my half year list. It’s almost kind of unexpected for me, in terms of how my taste in music has broadened over the past couple years. While I did love their first single “I Know What I Am” back in 2009, I didn’t expect to fall for their second album so hard. It’s edgy and raw, yet a little bittersweet at times. It has major jam and an unexpected bass drop. There’s attitude put against sentiment, speed riffs of angst paired with slowed down smooth groove, and a sweetness that blends perfectly with the sour. “You’re Not Pretty But You Got It Goin’ On” packs a speedy punch, “The Devil Takes Care of His Own” is a sly, underplayed single, and “Bruises” is heartfelt and endearing. My previous review might sum it up, read here.
Shiny Toy Guns – III
First, let me just say thank everything that Carah Faye Charnow is back! Now that that’s out of the way, this album was the reunion that I was desperately hoping for. It’s such a maturation of their sounds, without losing their essence and charm. Carah and Chad Petree’s voices still work so well together, with their alternating vocals and sparkling harmonies. The synthed out, blurred beats, the continuation of the zooming guitars, and the ‘kinsy’ keys define STG’s goal. “Somewhere to Hide” is playful while “Speaking Japanese” is edgy and sexy (the “Le Disko” of III if you will). The emotions might be dark at some points, but they gleam through the synthetic fog with the perfect blend of tenderness and rawness. I love them and this album so much, I ventured out into the pre-Hurricane Sandy mess to see them live. Big surprise, I also reviewed this album, click here.
Morning Parade – Morning Parade
This was also on my half year list, so it’s really not a surprise. I adore these guys almost more than anything else I’ve adored this year. That sounds really weird. Eh, let me explain. I first heard of them and met them when I interviewed them and saw their set back in March. Since then, I’ve seen them 5 more times, interviewed Steve Sparrow on the phone, went bowling with them, and now occasionally keep in touch with them on Twitter. This is part of the reason I am so fond of them. When a band is friendly and nice, I tend to want to listen to and support them more. It just so happens that I really love their music, so it’s a double win. Their single “Headlights” is the perfect representation of them, the harmonies, the sweetness and vulnerability in the lyrics, and the raw compassion of the overall tone. My favorite songs on the album are probably “Us & Ourselves” and “Speechless.” This is one of my strongest recommendations of the year to see live. (And don’t be afraid to go say hi to them if you do!)
Royal Teeth – Act Naturally EP
This band is going to be HUGE in 2013. Honestly, if it was a full length, I wouldn’t hesitate to put it at #1. Five songs is just not enough, even if single “Wild” is massive. They’re just so damn catchy and I’m really hoping it’s infectious. Remember how I said I adored Morning Parade, well these guys (and gal!) are almost on that level. Seriously, check them out, and just remember who told you first (yea, I’m being *that* girl). They also replied to a piece I wrote about them here.
From the Olympics to Popblerd’s year-end list. Nice, huh?
Muse – The 2nd Law
This really pains me to not have Muse (my all-time favorite band) as #1, or even in the top 5. While this album was my most anticipated, it just didn’t live up to what I wanted it to and I just couldn’t rank it as high. And I know I’m not the only one. It’s not a bad album, it’s really not. Going by Muse’s standards, it’s grandiose and a bit ridiculous. It’s massive, and heavy, and orchestrated, and also gentle, and sentimental, and passionate. Stealing my own words from my first listen as a whole album, “When it rocks, it definitely does rock. The intense parts are so epic, as true to Muse style. There are a bunch of cheesy parts though, which makes me wonder what the hell they were thinking. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Chris’ songs were two of my favorites, along with Animals and Explorers. I don’t hate the dubstep, I’m open to it, especially because it’s not computerized, it’s actual guitars.”
Yea. After a lot more listens, I have gotten used to it, and I love it way more than I initially did. Although, I changed my mind and I think I love “Supremacy” the most. I still love Chris’ songs. “Panic Station” still makes me laugh.
Passion Pit – Gossamer
Passion Pit’s triumphant album #2! This album is a happy place. It’s catchy and upbeat, while at some points having a darker meaning. Michael Angelakos’ heart, mind, and soul was torn apart and poured into this album, and that’s what helps me connect. His story, while heartbreaking to read, makes this album more relatable and even better. Key tracks are single “Take A Walk,” honest and a bit concerning “I’ll Be Alright,” jumpy and sing songy “Constant Conversation,” and the mood lightening, sigh of relief “It’s Not My Fault I’m Happy.” Another big surprise *sarcasm* I reviewed it here.
Walk the Moon – Walk the Moon
These guys are just fun. They were also on my half year list. And they literally were the soundtrack of my summer (not even because I saw them 3 times and one of their songs is called “Anna Sun” and I got to paint my face with no regrets). A trend in my tastes this year, they were catchy and upbeat and happy. Just overall feel good music with a little bit of scandal and sexy. Aside from the obvious singles “Anna Sun” and “Tightrope,” “Next In Line” and most definitely “Shiver Shiver” are key tracks.
Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal
“Little Talks” pretty much exploded this year, and rightly so. This Icelandic band (who converse in their native tongue on stage with one another.. How dare you say that about us!) are such sweeties, and I personally believe they deserve all of the recognition they’ve gotten and much more. This album resonated with me so well mostly because I’m a softy for anything nature and animal themed and their music takes you on an adventure. Second single “Mountain Sound” paints a picture, “Six Weeks” has amazing harmony, and “Sloom” is gentle and captivating.
Cheat (Dec 2011) The Black Keys – El Camino
Other people have put this on their lists, so I’m going to too. I do what I want! But wow, what can I say about The Black Keys other than jaw dropping? So raw, so fresh, and most importantly so simple. They have those amazing jam sessions that make you wonder how so much sound is coming from only 2 guys. I saw them live at TD Garden, and then had the privilege to see them at Global Festival, and they absolutely killed it both times. Key tracks are “Lonely Boy” (now I want to watch the dancing guy video and sadly attempt to mimic), “Money Maker,” and “Run Right Back.” And “Little Black Submarines” gets me every time.
Now that I’ve gotten the Top 10, I’ll go easy on the word count. These ones also really don’t have an order, just kind of a thought process.
Ben Folds Five – The Sound of the Life of the Mind
Yay first BF5 album in 13 years!! (Granted that made me 7 when the last one came out… but I still jammed along to “Kate,” mostly because it was on the Sabrina the Teenage Witch soundtrack). “Erase Me” is so fierce and probably my favorite track. And “Draw A Crowd” makes me laugh in that sick and maniacal way Ben Folds most likely intended. Got to love his mind.
Jack White – Blunderbuss
Wooo-eee! Jack White’s first solo effort is such a jam. “Love Interruption” first got me hooked, with Ruby Amalfu’s sweet and bluesy vocals contrasting White’s snarl. I mostly love the idea of this record. He takes two bands, an all-girl band and an all-guy band, and doesn’t let them listen to one another. He decides which band will play with him the morning of a show, and sometimes even decides the setlist as he goes. White is an innovative genius.
Linkin Park – Living Things
Linkin Park will always have a place in my heart. Even though this album was so much different than everything else they’ve ever done, I liked the uniqueness. “Burn It Down” is a hell of a single, as well as “Lost In the Echo.” “Lies Greed Misery” threw me for a loop at first, but now I love it and find it a nice stress releaser to get the anger out.
Neon Trees – Picture Show
This was another on my most anticipated list last year. It’s so cheesy that I don’t think I can hold it up to the others, but I do really like and enjoy it. But, Neon Trees have been one of my go-to bands since they first came out in early 2010. Both singles, “Everybody Talks” and “Lessons in Love” are stuck in traffic karaoke delights. “Weekend” reminds me of their first album which I had on repeat for a whole summer, Habits, and “I Am the D.J.” is a great end track. Throughout the album and life, Tyler Glenn is so open and honest, and in music that is one of the most important things. I was still in high school when they first came around, and that and their compassion and emotion are probably some of the reasons I have such a soft spot for them.
Imagine Dragons – Night Visions
Imagine Dragons are another band who pretty much exploded in 2012. “It’s Time” is one of the best singles of the year, without a doubt. I don’t know why I couldn’t put this in my top 10, but I feel it does belong in this list of shifting numbers just below the top 10. “On Top of the World” is such a feel good, inspirational song. The composition of “Radioactive” is really tight and shows their strengths. In fact, the whole album is produced really well. Keeping this short because you can read my review here.
Notables because I didn’t really listen to them much/just started listening to them now.
Animal Kingdom – The Looking Away
Jukebox the Ghost – Safe Travels
Django Django – Django Django – I will say, 2013 has big things in store for them.
The Vaccines – Come of Age
Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls – “Hold On,” “Be Mine,” and “I Ain’t The Same,” just yes.
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