Monday, December 24, 2012

Top Ten Albums and Favorite Songs of 2012

There's been enough good music in 2012 to warrant putting together a best-of list. Having looked at Pitchfork's Top 50 Albums of 2012, I know I'm getting old. So let me know what I missed in the comments. Hope you enjoy -- they're all listenable via Spotify through the link.

Shields is another solid album from Grizzly Bear. I don't love it as much as 2009's Veckatimest and there's not standout track like "Two Weeks," but Shields is a good listen start to finish.
Favorite songs: "gun-shy," "Yet Again," and "A Simple Answer"

I'm not one of those people that worships everything that everything Jack White produces, but he's got his own unmistakeable sound and an obvious talent, so occasionally I like his stuff.

Favorite songs: "Sixteen Saltines," "Love Interruption," and "Take Me With You When You Go"

I read somewhere that Chan Marshall wrote this album, then scrapped the whole thing and re-wrote it. That's not reason enough to like an album, but I respect any artist's willingness to completely abandon something if it's not working and start over. Especially when it leads to a fantastic album like Sun.
Favorite songs: "Manhattan," "Nothin' But Time," and "Ruin"

The safest, most mainstream of my picks is the self-titled debut of the Lumineers, but I'd be lying to myself if I said I didn't enjoy it.

Favorite songs: "Charlie Boy," "Dead Sea," and "Ho Hey"

Beach House's sound has a brooding, slightly dystopian, quality to it -- like the band might've been better suited to another time or to support the "Blade Runner" soundtrack. But there's also something really listenable about it. Sometimes I can't get enough of those minikorgs (or whatever keyboards they're using).
Favorite songs: "On the Sea," "Myth," and "Lazuli"

This one's kinda out of left field, but MTMTMK is easily one of my favorites of the year. The Very Best's melding of Afropop and electronica is both upbeat and catchy. Just try to not enjoy the slidewhistle on "I Wanna Go Away."
Favorite songs: "Yoshua Alikuti," "I Wanna Go Away," and "Rumbae"

So Andrew Bird can pretty much do no wrong in my book. Now that I've said that, Break It Yourself didn't melt my brain or anything, but he just continues to crank out some great music, particularly if you love anything with heavy pizzicato hooks as I do (see: "Orpheo Looks Back").
Favorite songs: "Lusitania," "Desperation Breeds," (love the wild electric violin towards the end) and "Orpheo Looks Back"

Canada's Bahamas didn't get on my radar until this year, but he put out an album last year that was pretty acclaimed that I'll have to get around to. There's a Mason Jennings-meets-M. Ward quality to this record, and not surprisingly, Barchords is easy listening. Not in a cheesy kind of way, just nice.
Favorite songs: "Okay Alright I'm Alive," "Any Other Way," and "Lost In The Light"

2. The Tallest Man On Earth – There's No Leaving Now

I've written before about the Tallest Man On Earth, the stage name of Kristian Matsson, who penned my favorite album of 2010. I continue to believe he is wildly under-appreciated. I get that his voice isn't for everyone and there's not a lot of production here, but There's No Leaving Now is an album I could see myself still listening to years from now. There's not a lot of other music put out these days that I could say that about.
Favorite songs: "There's No Leaving Now," "Leading Me Now," and "1904"

1. John K. Samson – Provincial

And so we've arrived at Provincial, my favorite album of the year. John K. Samson, lead singer of the Weakerthans, put this out in the beginning of 2012 and ever since I heard it, it's been on heavy rotation. The album is reminiscent of "Left & Leaving"-era Wekearthans, but with a few acoustic songs thrown in for good measure. I'll concede that there's nothing earth shattering about Provincial, and yeah, it's a little more accessible than the pop-punk sound through which they made a name for themselves, but I like every song here. It's well-worthy of the title spot.
Favorite songs: "Heart of the Continent," "Cruise Night," and "www.ipetitions.Com/Petition/Rivertonrifle/" (yes that's actually the name of the song)

Thanks for reading. I also put together a playlist of my favorite 40 songs of the year, listenable here: Favorite Songs of 2012.

Onwards to 2013.


Chris said...

I like the list - I've been having trouble with the ordering of mine, so here is my top 10, in my best attempt at an order, worst to best...

10. 'Undercover Vampire Policeman' - Chris Zabriskie
9. 'Put Your Back N 2 It' - Perfume Genius
8. 'Positive Force' - Delicate Steve
7. 'Astro' - Astro
6. 'Bloom' - Beach House
5. 'Out of Sight, Out of Town' - The Standard
4. 'Animal Joy' Shearwater
3. 'There's No Leaving Now' - The Tallest Man on Earth
2. 'Swing Lo Megellan' - The Dirty Projectors
1. 'Algiers' - Calexico

...and for a good album (originally released a few years ago) that is now available for free that reminds me of The Very Best (with French influence) is 'Soleil d'hiver' by Lessazo.
If the songs weren't so damn long, I'd listen to it more. 'Lendemain au café' and 'Je ne sais plus' are worth listening to next time you have a 1/2 hour to spare. 'Moussa' is a good 'shorter' song.

Enjoy! Merry Christmas!

Jeff said...

Listening to the Perfume Genius and Delicate Steve albums this morning -- and they are both really, really good. Thanks for the recommendation.

Nick said...

(slow sarcastic clap)

Just kidding, nice lists Pip and Poose. I've got a lot of listening to do.

Two albums I'd put at my top are Pop Guilt by Lands & Peoples and Celebration Rock by Japandroids. I also find myself putting on the Alabama Shakes album more often than I ever thought. How good does that bass sound?

Will said...

I also have a lot of catching up to do - but I finally got spotify thanks to this article, Pip, and I'm loving The Very Best MTMTMTMTMTMTMTMTMTMTMT right now. Fine work old man.

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