I had a really hard time making my list and now I’m at the point where I’m not even really sure if 2012 was a really good year for music or a really solid year for music. Up until, well, now, I had 20 albums I felt were worthy of being called my favorites of the year. On one hand, that’s really exciting that I had so many I didn’t want to leave off. On the other hand, that means I didn’t have the handful of truly outstanding albums that I absolutely needed to have on my list. Maybe it’s because this was my first year as an Rdio subscriber, which resulted in me listening to well over 80 albums, significantly more than I had in one year before. Anyway, here’s the 10 I ended up on, in an order that is more arbitrary than you might think.
Everything I wrote about in the 2012 Music Recap
Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls
Hospitality – Hospitality
Metric – Synthetica
The Shins – Port of Morrow
The xx – Coexist
Grizzly Bear, Grimes, Field Music. In the end, the 10 spot came down to these three. Field Music got bumped because I gave it three and a half stars because there are parts of it I’m not that into, despite ultimately really liking that album. In the battle between Grimes and Grizzly Bear, it’s hard to know what is the right answer. Grimes’ album Visions is really amazing, I have a lot of respect for that one woman show. But I’m going to give it to the men of Grizzly Bear for crafting another sparse, yet expansive, album in Shields. It’s not Veckatimest, but literally only one thing is.
I had to put the whole title in there. I needed to see it. And I know that Pawn album has a longer title, but come on Fiona Apple, what’s the deal? Do you think you have to make the title longer to make up for all the time between your albums? Anyway, The Idler Wheel… doesn’t restore my faith in humanity like it apparently does for Colin, but it sure does impress me. It’s amazing how much Apple gets out of just her voice and an instrument or two.
I seem to be getting hard to please. Over the past few years my favorite bands – Radiohead, Coldplay, My Morning Jacket, Sigur Ros, Grizzly Bear, Metric, The xx, it goes on – have put out albums that don’t hook me as well as their early works. Most of those albums were critically well-received, so I have to believe it’s me. Maybe it’s my desire to hear something new, maybe my constant search for new artists is diluting the joy I get from the ones I already know. Maybe not, because oh my damn is Bloom a great album. No, it’s not up there with Teen Dream, but Beach House really kicked 2012 in gear for me, quickly replacing Port of Morrow as my go-to album as we entered the summer. Nobody does atmosphere better than Beach House. They really know how to hit me right in the feelers.
And now we slowly start moving out of Colin territory. Like I said when I last wrote about Given to the Wild, I don’t know shit about The Maccabees before this album. Were they good? Did they suck? Are they really throwing out their sound just to try to sound like popular bands? Don’t know! Don’t really care, either. Because I really like listening to this entire album. That’s my only criteria for an album: Do I like listening to it? Check.
Here’s an album that straight up got bad reviews, proving once and for all that I should not be a music critic. ∆, or alt-J, made my go-to album for a few weeks in 2012, and so I reward them with a spot on my list. Would I have liked them as much if I had read the reviews first? Maybe not. Maybe I wouldn’t have even check them out, which makes me sad to think. There’s so much music out there, so many sounds that I want to hear. But I still don’t have a really great system for finding them. I guess I should befriend some record shop guys or something. Man, this problem is not a problem anyone would ever care about.
I’ve never had to write anything about Lonerism before. It’s, uh, good? I don’t know. Colin already pointed out that “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” is the definite breakout song and John talked about how it did a great job honing psychedelic pop into something awesome. What’s left? Is this the only album to make all of our lists? I guess that probably means it’s already our pick for album of the year.
Man, these guys. They just go for it. So did I. Uh, not much else to say about Japandroids either. Recap: first album came out, I liked it, saw them play the last show of their first tour, grew to really like their album, second album came out, instantly really liked it. This is the sound of enthusiasm.
I wouldn’t expect getting into illustration and dance would help make such an awesome album, but I guess that’s what makes me different from Thom Yorke and the lady Bat for Lashes. What’s her name? Natasha Khan. Way to go Natasha, you’re great. You’re also naked on the album cover. Good thing you had that man to cover up your shame. Man, if the link to the album cover image is broken and you’ve never seen it before, you’re going to think the art is way saucier than it is.
What do you want from me? I can’t control what I like and don’t like. I don’t really know that much about music. Do I have a ton of respect for My Head is an Animal? No, I know it’s designed to manipulate people like me into liking it. But the problem is, it worked really well. They’re cashing in on my indie pop sensibilities by making music with the right amount of whimsy and catchiness that I just can’t resist it.
Yeah, I didn’t think this would be here either. The seed was planted in my head when I wrote about Diluvia in the 2012 music recap and actually had trouble picking just three songs to call my favorite tracks, not usually a problem of mine. While I was writing those posts, the Freelance Whales were the group I kept coming back to, their songs were the ones that would pop into my head, to the point that I had to listen to them. I don’t mind long songs, and in fact when it’s lavishing, atmospheric, dreamy music like this, I love it. Freelance Whales, you have a really dumb name, but I’m all about you guys.