I have been sitting on ranking these albums for quite some time and now it’s a year late! Oh well. It’s not like the music of 2012 just disappears and is forgotten. So these are my top albums of [last] year that still remain relevant a day into 2013. Happy New Year!
8. The Parlor – Our Day In The Sun
Dreamy and light one track, haunting and eery the next. The first 6 songs of this album are perfect and I can’t get enough of them. Luckily The Parlor, formally We Are Jeneric, are local and play plenty of shows in the Albany area. You should definitely try catch them if you haven’t already. Our Day In The Sun can be streamed in its entirety here, and I highly encourage it.
Favorite Tracks: Superstitious Witches, Tear Down The Coastline, We Are Free // On A Boat On A Sea, You’re In My Eye, My Teeth Are Falling Out In My Dreams
7. Wintersleep – Hello Hum
This is Wintersleep’s 5th full length album and apparently not their fan’s favorite of the bunch. But it’s the first I’ve heard by the band and I think it’s great. Hailing from Canada, the band has opened up for Paul McCartney, performed on David Letterman, and won the Juno award for New Group of the Year in 2008. So why is this the first I’m hearing about them?! This album is ambient, heavy, pulsing, and energetic. Not many bands sound like this today.
Favorite Tracks: Resuscitate, Permanent Sigh, In Came The Flood, Hum, Nothing Is Anything (Without You)
6. Oberhofer – Time Capsules II
This was one of the first albums that stood out to me this year. Straight up indie-pop-rock that’s easy to enjoy and also has it’s awesome “whoa” moments. I think the guitars are the real ear-catchers for this band, sometimes reflective of Minus The Bear or even Vampire Weekend. Lead singer Brad Oberhofer’s voice is unique. I’m excited to see what’s next for these guys. If you haven’t heard Time Capsules II yet, you should. You may even recognize one of their songs from a commercial.
Favorite Tracks: Away Frm U, I Could Go, Gold
5. Circa Survive – Violent Waves
Any Circa Survive fan should be psyched about this album. Although the band’s sound and style was taken into a new direction on Blue Sky Noise released in 2009, it was still widely accepted and enjoyed by most Circa lovers. Violent Waves was self-released this past summer and the sound reflected more of that from 2007’s On Letting Go. From start to finish, not one song deserves to be overlooked. I probably listened to it 50 times in a row when I first heard it. Anthony Green’s voice is, and has always been, one of the most beautiful musical instruments I have ever heard. Circa Survive sold out at Terminal 5 in September and put on one of the most intense and energetic shows of my lifetime. I walked out of there with broken boots, bloody cuts, bruises all over my body, and clothes drenched in sweat. It was perfect. And so is this album. The ambient and full sound, the lyrics, the passion. Ugh, I love this band forever.
Favorite Tracks: Sharp Practice, My Only Friend, Bird Sounds, Blood From A Stone, Phantasmagoria
4. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…
This album is ugly in the Fiona Apple kind of way, which is actually really beautiful. The way she transitions from one extreme to another is impressive both musically and emotionally. It’s powerful. She can get really angry and do that deep and heavy yell, and then sing gorgeously and endearing within seconds of one another. You already know Fiona’s an incredible artist, and this album is no exception to her talent. She’s only getting better with age. You need to listen to “Hot Knife” right now.
Favorite Tracks: Hot Knife, Anything We Want, Every Single Night, Daredevil, Warewolf
3. Dr. Dog – Be The Void
So much fun. So much rock! I’m an idiot for not seeing Dr. Dog earlier this year. I can’t put it into words but this album is just so likable! It makes me happy and that’s a notable thing. Oh, and then the second to last track “Warrior Man” makes me feel like I live in a cave in the ’60s. It belongs on the ’60s. FUCK YEAH! So. Cool. Go listen to this.
Favorite Tracks: That Old Black Hole, How Long Must I Wait, Do The Trick, Heavy Light
2. Lana Del Rey – Born to Die
If the only time you listened to Lana Del Rey was on that episode of SNL, I feel you. I judged, and I judged very harshly. I had been extremely interested in LDR based on the fact that she became an instant celebrity over night. I read about her. I did some research. But I didn’t listen to Born To Die until months later when it was the only thing my boyfriend played in the car during the summer. Here’s how it went down. First listen: alright, this isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Second listen: this song is cool, I like this one. Third listen: I’m singing along to any song I could. This album is amazing, you just have to be prepared for something different and time for adaption. The coolest thing about this album is the production, especially in the percussion section. It’s slightly faded but it’s deep and carries the whole album. It feels old fashioned with a modern twist, but I can’t really compare it to anything I’ve ever heard before, which is why it’s a stand out album for this year. It’s almost an acquired taste but but one that lingers for a long time in the best way possible.
Favorite Tracks: Radio, Video Games, Dark Paradise, Off to the Races, Summertime Sadness
1. Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE
I have been hearing about Frank Ocean for months and as per usual (similar to Lana Del Rey) I caught on later than I should have. You’ll be seeing Frank Ocean all over the place if you haven’t already. He’s nominated for Record Of The Year (“Thinkin Bout You”), Album Of The Year, Best New Artist, and more. Frank’s vocal range is impressive and effortless. His lyrics are deep and revealing. The beats vary greatly from one track to the next and they’re all so good. “Pyramids” runs for nearly 10 minutes but you’ll never get tired of it. “Pink Matter” is calm and slow but Andre 3000 has a killer verse and Frank’s lyrics are so cool. I don’t dislike anything about this album. I keep changing my mind for which song to post for you so go listen to the whole album.
Favorite Tracks: Pyramids, Thinkin Bout You, Pink Matter, Super Rich Kids, Bad Religion, Pilot Jones, Forrest Gump