This is my fourth year compiling an end-of-year music list. I listened to a lot of bad music in 2012 that didn’t make this cut in an effort to try to discover new bands or give ones I had dismissed a chance. I do look at publications lists that come out and I can’t say I have a whole lot in common with them, mainly because I don’t claim to be very diverse (sorry Frank Ocean!). Seriously, the Swans might have been the worst thing I heard all year and it’s racking up top 10 spots like they are the damn Talking Heads or something.
This year it was most difficult for the top spot because nothing clearly stood out to me unlike past winners The Decemberists HAZARDS OF LOVE, Arcade Fire THE SUBURBS and last year’s Felice Brothers CELEBRATION, FLORIDA. It helps me to put it all out on paper to add up all the hard work of listening to music while I’m either working or supposed to be working.
Feel free to let me know your thoughts if you would like. If we can’t discuss my personal taste in music, then we might as well just move to Libya and sell North America to some Tokyo businessmen. Merry Christmas to all.
51. Titus Andronicus – Local Business: I was a huge fan of The Monitor, however this didn’t resonate with me for the most part. I missed the themed punk rock.
50. The Sheepdogs – The Sheepdogs: This is good-timing Southern Rock straight out of the 70’s. Use accordingly.
59. Grizzly Bear – Shields: Lacks the instant appeal of a Two-weeks type single, but as a whole is enjoyable and just on the edge of experimentally acceptable for me.
48. Alberta Cross – Songs of Patience: A good rock album from a band that has a great, haunting rock voice. Not as good as their debut though.
47. The New Multitudes – New Multitudes: It’s my list so I can include a tribute album, this one of Woody Guthrie. It includes two artists I follow – Yim Yames & Will Johnson.
46. Purity Ring – Shrines: Normally not quite my style, I pressed on after it came highly recommended. I have to say, I can see where it would be fun live and I like her voice.
45. Gary Clark Jr – Blak & Blu: Without question the Blues release of the year. While I like some Blues every now and then, it helped he was at every festival to get on my radar.
44. White Rabbits – Milk Famous: I’ve always thought they were an under the radar band. This continues that trend but doesn’t have a track like Percussion Gun on it.
43. Todd Snider – Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables: I’m a sucker for some good tales from an alt-country singer/songwriter that is witty.
42. The Felice Brothers – God Bless You Amigos: The lowest profile release of the year. I found it on their website under a pay-what-you-want format. They released it to raise funds for a new touring Winnebago. Their brand of creepy, old-timey folk of mostly covers.
41. AC Newman – Shut down the Streets: Not quite good as his full-time band New Pornographers, but worth a listen. Did like his previous Get Guilty better as well.
40. Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball: I’ve never been a big Bruce fan but respect him and liked this a lot more than I initially thought I would.
39. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals – The Lion The Beast The Beat: I’m pretty sure a few years ago she decided to dress as hot as possible, cut down on the jam songs and write borderline pop tunes.
38. Old Crow Medicine Show – Carry Me Back: I wanted to like this more than I actually did. No, this isn’t the album that has Wagon Wheel on it.
37. Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan: A couple of years ago people would tell me to listen to their album Bitter Orca. It was critically reviewed but I didn’t like it. This is more accessible/better.
36. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!: This will have to do in place of a new Explosions in the Sky album. With only four songs, two are ambient filler. The other two are pretty badass though.
35. The Romany Rye – Quicksilver Sunbeam: I keep thinking these guys will get bigger and it just hasn’t happened yet. There’s still time to open up your hearts to their sweet twang America.
34. Tame Impala – Lonerism: This will have to do in place of a new Flaming Lips record. Once again, at the edge of my experimentalism at my old age.
33. Fun – Some Nights: When I listen to multiple songs at a time, it reminds me too much of Queen or else it would be higher.
32. Alt-J – An Awesome Wave: Some really good songs mixed in with some aiight ones. A relatively new discovery so it’s placement on the list was pretty fluid.
31. Ty Segall – Twins: Ol’ Ty put out like 4 albums this year under different names but this one was my fav. It’s garage rock In-Utero style. When I take the time to rock, I pull this out.
30. The XX – CoExist: Not as catchy as their debut. Also, the girl singer doesn’t have much in common with Grace Potter.
29. Beach House – Bloom: When I’m in the mood for abstract synth sorta-pop, I turn to this. Like it better than their first one.
28. The Henry Clay People – Twenty-five for the Rest of Our Lives: Fun times when you want something cruising the coast with the top down. I would imagine at least.
27. Band of Horses – Mirage Rock: Not terrible, just not near their other albums. If you are going to be a straight southern rockish band, at least write better lyrics. I love you though and Everything All of the Time is one of the best albums ever.
26. Calexico – Algiers: I found this not too long ago. I like it even though it’s kinda quiet, dad rock.
25. The Tallest Man on Earth – There’s No Leaving Now: I like this better than his previous The Wild Hunt, which everyone loved. There is no single like King of Spain though.
24. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros – Here: They got passed on the catchy/folk scale but they went for straight-hippie music and succeeded.
23. Andrew Bird – Hands of Glory: I’ve never been the biggest Andrew Bird fan other than a few songs but this is my favorite album of his.
22. Justin Townes Earle – Nothings Gonna Change how you feel about Me Now: Midnight at the Movies > this album > Harlem River Blues. This guy knows how to write a folk tune.
21. Sharon Von Etten – Tramp: Underrated as usual.
20. Glen Hansard – Rhythm & Repose: Nice front-porch sittin’ folk on a calm day while thinking about life plans.
19. M. Ward – A Wasteland Companion: I’ve listened to this more than any other M. Ward release. Nothing stands out but the songs go good together.
18. Sigur Ros – Valtari: This is pretty music if you think pretty music is mostly instrumental, abstract-sounding. I assume this how all Icelandic music sounds.
17. Dr. John – Locked Down: people spend their whole lives trying to be as cool as Dr. John.
16. Mumford & Sons – Babel: I think what hurts this album is I had heard almost half of it at their concerts over the past few years. Without a new formula, it doesn’t feel as “new” as the debut did when I first heard it.
15. The Shins – Port of Morrow: Think this gets over-looked by people/lists. It’s the definition of indie-rock by a guy who knows the blueprint for success.
14. Punch Brothers – Who’s Feeling Young Now?: Smart bluegrass. Also they cover the song Kid A. I’m surprised I didn’t put it #1.
13. Trampled by Turtles – Stars & Satellites: Close race between them & the Punch Brothers for my favorite bluegrass of the year. They make it accessible but not in a too catchy kind of way.
12. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar: If you like country-ish females singing in harmonies, this is your type of music.
11. The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter: Probably peaked with Emotionalism/Gleams, but this is still really good and kinda a nod to Four Thieves gone recording compared to I & L & U. If you haven’t heard, they write heart-tugging lyrics.
10. Japandriods – Celebration Rock: Better than the debut to me. It’s a fun rock’n’roll garage-sounding record.
9. Delta Spirit – Delta Spirt: Thought most of the album was outstanding and the new sound took a little while to grow on me. It’s my least favorite of their three though as they move to arena rock. This album has made way too few lists.
8. Langhorne Slim & the Law – The Way We Move: Best album of his I’ve heard. This finds its way into my rotation regularly. Alt-country at its finest.
7. Alabama Shakes – Boys and Girls: Like Charles Bradley last year, this album captures the soul of the year. Southern rock that is cool enough to be at every festival of 2012 practically.
6. The Lumineers – The Lumineers: A quick, fun album of three minute songs. I see that it’s in the background of commercials a lot these days.
5. Jack White – Blunderbuss: The amount of good/having him back outweighed a couple of tracks I now skip over consistently.
4. Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal: Winner of this year’s best folk sing-a-long using chants w/soft-to-loud choruses. Congratulations.
3. The Walkmen – Heaven: I’m a huge Walkmen fan so I’m extremely biased but this is great. The fact that I measure it against You & Me keeps it out of the top spot.
2. Father John Misty – Fear Fun: Gets better with every listen. True folk/Americana that I hope to hear in person in 2013.
1. Dr. Dog – Be the Void: Seeing this material live several times definitely helped to earn the top billing. I’m also including the EP “The Wild Race” which has the song BE THE VOID which is so good it should have made the original album. After a slick album, the production here is back to their roots and the songs couldn’t be catchier without being predictable.