Top 50 Albums of 2012
We made it to 2013 and the world didn’t end. Your reward, you ask? Only the greatest reward a human being can ask for…another albums of the year list. You lucky dog.
But before we get there, let us reflect on what was. England had a big year. The summer Olympics in London renewed our interest in gymnastics and gave us reason to doubt Danny Boyle and his ability to construct an opening ceremony, a prince went crazy in Vegas, a princess exposed her bubbies, and the country celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, which apparently is NOT a royal cruise, we cheered on Jesse Eisenberg (not sure why) when Facebook went public, then booed Mark Zuckerberg when stocks plummeted, there were plenty of tragedies with Jerry Sandusky, Hurricane Sandy, and Newton,
meaningful presidential elections took place across the globe, including one Mitt Romney and his misfit clan of overgrown boyscout children versus the new, overly aggressive Barack Obama, then we capped off the year with the end of the world. Yet we’re still here. Or are we? No, but seriously, we’re still here. Which brings me back to music. So never mind the bullocks, on with the show.
50. Polica—Give You the Ghost
49. Cloud Nothings—Attack on Memory
48. Japandroids—Celebration Rock
47. The Flaming Lips—The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends
46. Titus Andronicus—Local Business
45. Divine Fits—A Thing Called Divine Fits
44. Passion Pit—Gossamer
43. Kendrick Lamar—good kid, m.A.A.d city
42. Bob Dylan—Tempest
41. Tame Impala—Lonerism
Boner Jamz: Best Songs of 2012
Beach House – Myth
Beach House’s vocalist Victoria Legrand has a voice that sounds like it’s from another time, or possibly another world. Well, she is French, so that’s kind of another world. Anyway, that Frenchy sure knows how to sing.
Gayngs – The Gaudy Side Of Town
Justin Vernon’s side project?… yes please. The Bon Iver front man teams up with group founder Ryan Olson, and about 25 other musicians, including members of Doomtree, Digitata, Polica, Megafaun, The Rosebuds, and Har Mar Superstar to create swelling music that makes you feel like you’re attending a zombie prom in the future. It feels like ‘80s George Michael with a contemporary and sort of eerie twist. “The Gaudy Side Of Town” is totally retro and totally fresh at the same time.
Phillip Phillips – Home
I never would have expected to write an endorsement for an American Idol winner’s first single, but Phillip Phillip’s “Home” really doesn’t fit the previous mold. The melody of the refrain will stick with you for days, and have you whistling the tune without even knowing it. It also doesn’t hurt that it was the theme song for the 2012 Olympic Women’s Gymnastics team, so it has that patriotic Springsteen quality. Maybe you’ve heard it 3,000 times over that past few months, but it’s still a damn good song.
Frank Ocean – Thinkin About You
Frank Ocean has redefined cool with his debut album “channel ORANGE.” It’s a little bit Kid Cudi mixed with some Prince, all done in a very understated and effortless fashion. It really is some sexy shit. Deservedly so, the album has received lots of critical acclaim since its release, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more Ocean in years to come.
The Shins – Simple Song
If you don’t like The Shins there’s a good chance you’re kind of a dick. Frankly, there’s not much to dislike. They’re clever. They’re sincere. They’re fun. They’re hip. They’re everything to all men. Well, maybe that’s a bit much, but they’re damn good. “Simple Song” was the first single from “Port of Morrow,” and is one nice ‘n’ meaty track with a theme we can all relate to. “I know that things can really get rough when you go in alone… I told you about all those fears, and away they did run.”
Grizzly Bear – Sleeping Ute
Brooklyn Indie Pop Rockers Grizzly Bear have created a distinctive sound that is all theirs. From the high, haunting vocals to the clean electric guitar tone, and syncopated beats, they’ve solidified their musical identity this year. “Sleeping Ute”(Ute is a Native American Tribe) mixes an aggressive acoustic guitar with a catchy electric riff and wafting synth to create a partly art house, partly pop, but all good song.
“VALTARI” BY SIGUR ROS
The Icelandic post-rockers are back with their most ethereal album to date. Valtari
is a slow-paced meshing of sound washes and pads that is sure to saturate your
soul and pierce your psyche. Billowing guitars and flowing string arrangements are
accented by Jonsi’s siren-like, falsetto voice to create beautifully timeless music.
It often sounds like alien transmissions from a far off land are being intercepted,
as the vocals ebb and flow in a foreign language, which apparently is some form of
Icelandic gibberish. But frankly, I don’t give a damn. He could be singing about Rosie
O’Donnell’s sweaty gooch, and I’m sure it’d still sound beautiful.
In recent years, Jonsi has been exploring a more pop driven style with songs
like, “Gobbledigook” and “Inni mer syngur vitleysingur” off the band’s last album,
and “Go Do” and “Boy Lilikoi” from his recent solo release. This shift of frame
“Happy To You” by Miike Snow
Like a lot of Swedes in music these days, Miike Snow is the coolest, skinny, bearded thing in just about any room they step foot into. Coincidence? Probably not. The INGRID label, still in its infancy was founded by Miike Snow, along with fellow hecka sweet Scandinavians, Peter Bjorn and John, Lykke Li, and Dungen. Of course, Miike Snow are the only founding members that can lay claim to writing and producing a Britney Spears’ song. And for those of you who want to knock the track, “Toxic,” may want to check yourself. Suspend judgment until you listen to the Mark Ronson version featuring Old Dirty Bastard, first.
Beyond being hecka sweet and rubbing elbows with Britney Spears, Miike Snow is actually a really talented, progressive group taking pop music to interesting places. The Guardian
summed up their sound best,
“Wrecking Ball” by Bruce Springsteen
Pull out your denim vest, your soiled white tee shirt and tie a red handkerchief around your worn-in jeans, then strap up your shit kickers because The Boss is pissed. What is he pissed at? Eh, the sort of stuff you’d expect from Springsteen—economy, hard times, torn relationships. The stuff you want him to be pissed about. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since the album is titled “Wrecking Ball” and contains tracks like “This Depression,” “Rocky Ground,” and “Death to My Hometown.”
Springsteen is a martyr of American music; his frustration, disbelief and hard times are our reward. And since the economy is still in the dumps, and general morale seems to stay stagnant, we turn to The Boss.
I should clarify however, this is not “Nebraska,” “Ghost of Tom Joad,” or even “Streets of Philadelphia” Springsteen. This harkens back
“Fallen Empires” by Snow Patrol
A decade from now I feel like I’ll look back on the sound of Snow Patrol and think of it in the same way I think of Rick Astley or Jon Secada. I don’t necessarily mean that as a compliment either.
Not that Snow Patrol is awful, I actually liked a few of their early songs a lot. “Chasing Cars” was solid, “Run” is still an amazing song. Now I just feel like they’ve settled into a sound that is fit to fill the air vents and aisles of Ross. And when I think of music, I don’t want it associated with ‘dressing for less.’
“Maraqopa” by Damien Jurado
Depression can be a sweet, melodic experience, as Jurado proves. The Seattle native has obviously spent many a year pruning in a rain-soaked existence. But hey, I’m not judging.
Good friends with David Bazan, Jurado’s music is a blend of Pedro the Lion and Jose Gonzales. It’s deep, mellow and timing out at 36 minutes, “Maraqopa” is the sort of album that’s over before you know it.
Damien Jurado’s solo career began
“Voice of Ages” by The Chieftains
U2, Irish Car Bombs (Guiness, Baileys and Jameson), potato famines, clovers, Boston Celtics, Irish Car Bombs (IRA), kilts, Collin Farrell, and of course, The Chieftains. Ireland has given generously to this planet we call Earth. And like the great country it hails from, The Chieftains continue to gives from its bountiful bosom. They’re one of those groups that only seems to be relevant these days when they’re collaborating, so…they do a lot of collaborating.
“Voice of Ages” takes on two distinct flavors from the first half to the second. In the first several tracks they team up with acts like Bon Iver, Pistol Annies, Civil Wars and Carolina Chocolate Drops, which feels more modern with an interesting blend of old world. The second half continues to
“Go Fly a Kite” by Ben Kweller.
It’s been 10 years since the release of Ben Kweller’s debut album, “Sha, Sha.” Giving Kweller fans a full decade to soak in the brilliance of it, and scratch their heads at the albums that followed. With the notable exception of his collaborative EP, “The Bens,” with Ben Fold and Ben Lee, he’s left Kweller fans more frustrated than anything.
Thankfully, Kweller has given us a reason to open our ear holes for him again. “Go Fly a Kite” is his first release produced solely by his own record label, The Noise Company
. It’s a perfect blend of what we want him to be: twangy and bluegrass, indie and hip,
Smut, Freaks, Trash: 10 Items of Less
I never thought I’d say this, but I miss Bob Vila. Specifically in the checkout line at the grocery store. But it’s not just Bob Vila I miss, I miss the way the entire magazine rack used to be in 1987. I miss the latest sit down with Barbra Streisand on her upcoming album, the year’s six new trends in holiday wreath building, far-fetched Super Bowl predictions and heated debates over U.S. involvement in third world civil wars. I even miss seeing the Global News reports on terrorist plots to seize King Tut’s tomb to sell to Martians in exchange for plutonium.
I didn’t realize just how much I missed these things until I arrived at the grocery store on a busy Sunday evening where I stood in line for a good 15 minutes. I had no cell phone, no interesting conversation in front of me to eve’s drop in on, not even a shopping list I could pretend to read. This left me face to face with the wrap-around magazine display.
As a kid I had a real affinity for magazines and was constantly sucked in by the cover stories, which seemed relevant. As the years past and the magazines reflected a more celebrity-crazed attitude I began to make more of a concerted effort not to look at the trashy tabloids. Opting instead to survey the covers of