What a great year (again) for new music and indie-rock! I’ve enjoyed dozens of full length albums in a world of iTunes singles. My method of discovering new music centers on CMJ’s Charts, Pitchfork, my local record shop (Freakbeat) and serendipity. I buy the CD (yeah, usually the CD, if possible from my local store), then listen to it in my car and if I like it, via my Apple devices.
To me, a great album is glued together by at least a half dozen great songs and a cohernet sound. So, without any more windup, here are my ten favorite albums of the 2012:
1. Purity Ring, “Shrines” – This Canadian duo delivers a downtempo, trip-hopian record that evokes Portishead, Massive Attack and Metric. The production is innovative and the record has song after song to get in your head and make your ear buds happy.
2. Jack White, “Blunderbuss” – The best songwriting of the year IMHO. White combines the best of his White Stripes style with his evolving sense of humor and willingness to bend the Delta Blues to his liking.
3. fun., “Some Nights” – This is the cool-band-that-blew-up this year, rocketing to the top of the charts and making the leap from indie to pop sensation. When you combine Queen like vocal layers with Green Day like enthusiasm, you have an infectious sound. The title track, along with We Are Young, will go down as the anthems of 2012.
4. Ty Segall, “Twins” – This is my favorite hard indie record of the year, just beating out Metz and The Men. Ty fronted Orange County based Epsilon before branching off to his solo efforts. Think Nirvana’s sound from Bleach combined with a male fronted Runaways and you’ve got it.
5. Passion Pit, “Gossomer” – If you mix four Berklee School of Music graduates with a dollup of MGMT’s sensiblity, you’ve got Passion Pit. They have greatly improved with this sophomore release and their hit “Talk A Walk” is one of my favorite singles of the year.
6. THEESatisfaction, “awE naturalE” – This Seattle hip hop duo is one of Sub Pop’s recent forays into alternative beat culture. They have the eloquence of the Fugees, yet a band like sound, much like the Roots. Great album to relax, dance or nod your head too.
7. Django Django (self-titled) – This London based quartet brought energy and vitality to bedroom-produced-pop with their debut album. If you love Franz Ferdinand or Kaiser Chiefs, you’ll love this band too. After a half dozen infectious electro-brit-pop songs, the band settles into an instrumental-electronica section to end the record on a high note.
8. Grizzly Bear, “Shields” – In this album, the band matures into a songwriting force to be reckoned with. Likely, their tours with Radiohead influenced their work, adding structure to their shimmer. Each track adds to the choral rock energy of the album, delivering a consistent indie-rock delight.
9. Big Pink, “Future This” – This UK duo delivers two of my favorite things: Anthem & Electro rock. Their hit “Superman” will lift you off the ground, and likely be your psyche-up song for your next big challenge or performance in life.
10. Alt-J, “An Awesome Wave” – Taken from a Mac command, this band’s name stands for “Slow Change.” They combine what I like about Fleet Foxes with what I love about My Morning Jacket: Shimmer tones and vocal swirls. The track “Fitzpleasure” will hook you on the band, so give it a listen and prepare to buy their album.