Father John Misty, Fear Fun: The reborn sounds of Laurel Canyon continue to gain steam. Father John Misty writes laid-back folk pop a la the Mamas & the Papas or CSNY; even his voice seems like a throwback to early 70s radio. Fortunately he’s not just imitating a sound—his songcraft is impeccable and his wit cuts off any tendencies at over-earnestness.
Converge, All We Love We Leave Behind: Metal and punk should get together more often. The genres share an emphasis on speed, loudness, and defiance, but cultural differences in their origins usually keep punk and metal far apart. Converge weds punk brashness and noise to the breakneck mosh of thrash and even throws in some virtuosic math rock for good measure.
Of Monsters And Men, My Head Is An Animal: Man, there’s something in the volcanoes in Iceland. There just aren’t that many people there, yet the island nation keeps breeding up great acts like Bjork, Sigur Ros, Jóhann Jóhannsson, and now Of Monsters and Men. Romantic, sophisticated, and assured, this album weds grand chamber pop to fun, shambling folk. Truly an outstanding debut.
Bob Mould, Silver Age: Bob Mould in a trio playing loud power pop? Cool, it’s 1992! Silver Age is very similar to Copper Blue, Mould’s first album with Sugar. There is no bad in that—this new album is everything modern guitar rock should be.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, The Heist: This is the hip hop album that I keep going back to this year. Confessional and honest, Macklemore concerns himself here about manliness in the best sense of that word. He’s got great flow and a unique voice in modern rap that can speak to struggles with alcohol and fun in thrift shops on the same album.
Café Tacuba, El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco: One of indie rock’s absolute best bands, but not well-known in the States because they’re Mexican. Café Tacuba are long-time veterans of the music scene with twenty years’ worth of recording under their belts. Never content to rest on their laurels, this album brings bold new production and a 21st century sound barely recognizable to fans of their early work.
Field Music, Plumb: Sometimes it’s a fine line between delicate chamber pop and swaggering prog rock. Field Music tap dance on both sides of that line, recalling both XTC and ELP. It’s complex pop music that remains accessible and satisfying. If only more music like this made it onto American radio stations!
Martin Rossiter, The Defenestration of St. Martin: For fans of Antony & the Johnsons and other heart-renders. Rossiter’s songs sound like solo Morrissey pieces with a wider sense of melody. Confessional, adult, and deeply touching.
Julia Holter, Ekstasis: Beautiful, delicate, literate, and layered, Ekstasis is contemporary art song as much as it is indie pop or post rock. It’s an album that rewards careful listening. Holter reminds me of no one so much as a young Laurie Anderson, and I hope that bodes well for her career.
First Aid Kit, The Lion’s Roar: For my money, the feel-good music story of the year. Talented sisters who nurtured a love for American folk rock in the snows of Sweden, the Söderbergs started recording and putting out YouTube videos as young teenagers. It took a few years of records and touring, but The Lion’s Roar broke the act to real success. It’s a gorgeous album, and one that I’m sure I’ll be listening to for years to come.
Joe’s favorite music of 2012, or see below the cut to look at a list.
I know that not everyone has/uses Spotify, the software I’m using lately to build playlists of the music that gets me revved up. Below is a simple text list of my favorite albums of the year.
Ana Tijoux: La Bala
Alcest: Les Voyages De L’Âme
Burning Hearts: Extinction
Pepe Deluxe: Queen of the Wave
Bombay Royale: You Me Bullets Love
Ty Segall Band: Slaughterhouse
St. Vincent and David Byrne: Love This Giant
Shovels & Rope: O’ Be Joyful
Dylan Mondegreen (read lyrics too)
Deerhoof: Breakup Song
Aluk Todolo: Occult Rock
Grizzly Bear: Shields
Low Cut Connie: Call Me Sylvia
Amanda Palmer and Grand Theft Orchestra: Theatre Is Evil
Mountain Goats: Transcendental Youth
the School: Reading Too Much Into Things Like Everything
Father John Misty: Fear Fun
Converge: All We Love We Leave Behind
Of Monsters And Men: My Head Is An Animal
Bob Mould: Silver Age
Macklemore: The Heist
Café Tacuba: El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco
Field Music: Plumb
Martin Rossiter: The Defenestration of St. Martin
Julia Holter: Ekstasis
First Aid Kit: The Lion’s Roar
Frankie Rose: Interstellar
Galactic: Carnivale Electricos
Gift of Gab: The Next Logical Progression
Shearwater: Animal Joy
Air: Le Voyage Dans La Lune
Tin Hat: The Rain is a Handsome Animal
Lost in the Trees: A Church That Fits Our Needs
Baroness: Yellow & Green
Jimmy Cliff: Rebirth
The Tallest Man On Earth: There’s No Leaving Now
Doomtree: No Kings
Dustin Wong: Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads
fun.: Some Nights
Andrew Bird: Break It Yourself
Chelsea Wolfe: Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs
Tamaryn: Tender New Signs
Alex Winston: King Con
Asteroids Galaxy Tour: Out of Frequency
Sweater Girls Were Here
Dr. John: Locked Down
A.C. Newman: Shut Down the Streets
the Staves: Dead and Born and Grown