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Posted on Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Dave!Time for my annual wrap-up of my favorite albums that were released this year.

As usual, a lot of my time spent listening to music was rediscovering old bands I hadn't heard in ages. I just can't seem to escape the 80's I guess. 2012 was a depressing year for live music... with the exception of Matt & Kim, I don't think I went to any concerts. Though The Local Strangers did come to Redneckistan, so there's that. Here's hoping I make more time for seeing the bands I like in 2013.



#1 Elysium by Pet Shop Boys
When I first heard this album, I figured it would be lucky to break my top five. Sure it has some nice slow-pop magic by one of my favorite bands, but the lack of amazing dance-based tracks that they usually unleash left me cold. Even worse, I immediately dumped three songs that I didn't like even a little bit (Your Early Stuff, Ego Music, and Hold On). But then, inexplicably, I found myself listening to the remaining Elysium songs more and more. Often times without even realizing I was going there. And then I fell in love with the sublimely beautiful track Memory of the Future... and the rest followed...

Note: The above YouTube song is the original hauntingly beautiful album track... not the butchered pop trash remix they released as a single. Brilliant, brilliant stuff. Yes, I still wish that three or four tracks were killed in favor of some dance tracks... but there's enough great stuff here to nab my #1 spot.

#2 E.P. 1 by Father Tiger
I used to restrain from putting EPs on my list because they're not a "real" album. But, for whatever reason this year, a good chunk of my favorite music was on EPs, so I just went with it. And, in the case of Father Tiger's EP, it came dangerously close to being my No. 1 album of 2012... despite having only four tracks. Which I can kind of explain like this... Vince Clarke, a founding member of my favorite band, Depeche Mode, quit to go on and form two new bands... Yazoo with Alison Moyet, then Erasure with Andy Bell. Both of which are total synth-pop genius that I love. And if somebody were to ask me to describe Father Tiger, I'd tell them that it's a cross between Yazoo and Erasure. I first became aware of them in August when they got some attention for a video they made that was composed from Instagram photos...

Then I kind of lost track of them until they released a video for On Christmas Day that got forwarded to me. It was kind of clever and funny, and sounded great, which got me interested in them all over again...

I ended up buying their EP and loved all four tracks... my favorite being Right Now, which will undoubtedly end up being played at weddings around the globe...

What I don't understand is why Father Tiger didn't pile more tracks on their EP. Their YouTube channel is packed with other great songs I'd gladly buy (especially this one, called High Road... oh, and this one, called First Love). But, oh well... four tracks or one track, Father Tiger has some of my favorite music this year.

#3 Lightning by Matt & Kim
Well, no surprise here. Matt & Kim are easily one of my favorite bands, and Lightning is yet another winner. The sound is less of an evolution from Sidewalks that we previously heard from Grand, but that's not a bad thing at all...

Not uncoincidentally, the above video for Let's Go is my favorite this year. I laugh every time I see it. And now I count the days until I can experience Matt & Kim in concert again.

#4 St. Lucia EP by St. Lucia
The thing about hearing a cool snippet of music in a television commercial is that you don't know if it is representative of the entire song. Plenty of bad songs have a nifty music riff that sounds awesome in a 20 second burst, but fails miserably when listened to in context of the full song. Or, even worse, not representative of the entire album. So when I heard a beautiful, soaring piece of pop splendor in the Victoria's Secret "Sexiest Gifts" ad, I was naturally skeptical...

Or blinded by angels. Nevertheless, I went ahead and Googled the lyrics to discover the song was All Eyes on You by a one-man band called "St. Lucia." A quick trip to iTunes so I could preview the self-titled EP, and I was hooked. It may have only six tracks, but they are really good tracks.

#5 Nocturne by Wild Nothing
In what I can only describe as a dreamy love-letter to the mellower side of the 80's, Wild Nothing has crafted an exquisite album that was pretty much my soundtrack for the last days of summer...

So long as you're giving a listen to Nocturne, I'd recommend taking a listen to their previous effort, Gemini, which is equally amazing.

#6 Port of Morrow by The Shins
James Mercer is the musical genius behind The Shins and their mind-blowing smash album Wincing The Night Away. That he chose to follow that success by abandoning the band and moving on to a new project called Broken Bells was cause for concern. Would we ever get new music from The Shins? Turns out the answer is yes... but with Mercer repopulating the band with all new musicians. Turns out that wasn't a cause for concern, because the new album was as brilliant as fans could have hoped for...

Like butter. But... different than I was expecting... somehow. It's as if this latest iteration of the band has not so much built upon what has come before, but instead tossed it out and started from scratch. I can't decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I like the album quite a lot so it probably doesn't matter.

#7 Battle Born by The Killers
Brandon Flowers has piercing vocals that could cut through steel, and any time he chooses to really cut loose on a song, you can be assured of it touching your very soul. Battle Born is remarkable because he cuts loose on most every track...

And, yes, that fucking incredible video was made by Tim Burton and stars Winona Rider(!!). Here's another track where the video is too good to be true...

If any band was more primed to throw caution to the wind and create a concept album in the vein of Pink Floyd... well, it would be Pink Floyd... but The Killers would be a close second.

#8 Night Visions by Imagine Dragons
After giving a listen to the polished sound of Night Visions, you'd be hard-pressed to peg this as a debut album. And yet, it is...

So pretty. And, just because I can't help myself, here's their latest video. It's pretty awesome...

If this is where the band begins, it will be very interesting to see where they evolve to.

#9 Shields by Grizzly Bear
This entire album could be the soundtrack for a Quentin Tarantino film, and I don't know how I could pay it a better compliment than that. Tarantino uses music to secure a sense of place for his stories... and it doesn't matter from which time period they come. Grizzly Bear has gone retro in a very unique way, creating their own sense of place, wherever that may be...

This album convinced me to check out the band's back-catalog, which is pretty impressive.

#10 The Truth About Love by Pink
If I were to die tomorrow, one of my regrets would be that I haven't yet seen Pink in concert. She's amazingly talented in a way that harkens back to sirens of old, and to experience that live would truly be an experience to be savored. The Truth About Love sounds a lot like what Pink has given us in past releases, but I think her lyrics are getting more clever...

Tell me that listing to Pink belt that one out to the cheap seats from on-stage wouldn't be awesome. You can't! Probably one of the most consistent vocalists working right now, I'd buy any new Pink album audio unheard. This release hasn't changed that.

#11 Living Things by Linkin Park
For reasons that just mystify me, hardcore Linkin Park fans have been railing against Living Things when I honestly feel it's some of the band's best work. It would be easy to dismiss the criticism if I thought there was some kind of new directional shift happening here, but it seems more like a shift back, which should be something that makes fans happy...

Oh well, I have -zero- complaints. The album is a fantastic listen and gets a lot of play on my car's iPod (good driving music!).

#12 Body Faucet by Reptar
I caught this band opening for Foster the People last year and was suitably impressed enough to check out their album debut when it dropped this Spring. My first reaction was "Meh. Nothing really special." But then I found myself playing it a lot more often than I ever thought I would. Body Faucet started growing on me. Like a virus...

Just good ol' fashioned FUN, that is! The album is pretty much more of the same. I think this might be a band to watch.



Home by Phillip Phillips
I don't watch any of the singing competition shows, so I had no idea who Phillip Phillips was. I found this track by using Shazam on my iPhone.

Unfortunately, there were only a couple other songs off his album I liked, so I gave it a pass. Still, it's pretty song.



Hall of Fame by The Script
Since I've already shown my favorite video (Matt & Kim's Let's Go) I thought I'd come up with a different video award this year. I can see how it would be easy to dismiss The Script as pop fluff... their first single release off of their third album (titled #3, get it?) features a track with for heaven's sake. But the album isn't that bad and there's a sensibility behind their music that reaches for something more. Except where their videos are concerned...

When I saw this video, I actually laughed out loud. I mean, seriously. A deaf girl and a boy from the wrong side of the tracks each aspiring for greatness? Holy crap... did they get Nicholas Sparks to write this crap? I kept waiting for Lionel Richie to show up with that blind girl from the Hello video. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have to use schmaltz to sell your song, regardless of how schmaltzy that song is, you're never going to be taken seriously.


And... that's a wrap! Rumor has it, 2013 brings us a new album by Depeche Mode. It's looking to be a good year in music already.

Categories: Music 2012Click To It: Permalink


  1. martymankins says:

    I love this list. I see we share a like in several bands. I wish I would had heard Wild Nothing when their album first came out (I just barely heard their song “Paradise” a week ago) because it probably would have made my list (although I also could have delayed posting my list to the end of the year).

    The Shins have proven over the years to be a great band that rarely puts out anything short of amazing.

    I have never heard of Father Tiger up until reading this post. Checking out this EP now.

    I saw Reptar open for Grouplove earlier this year. Very creative musically, even if the lead singer’s stage presence was a bit awkward.

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