Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Top 25 Albums of 2012

Japandroids Celebration Rock
By Kenny Howell

After weeks of listening to mostly crappy, but some very good music, I have compiled my list of the Top 25 Albums of 2012. Don't think it was the greatest year for music, but there is good stuff out there if you look for it. Starting with No. 25.

25. Tame Impala - Lonerism

Australians take on psychedelic  rock in this album that could have been recorded in the late 60s or early 70s. Big, layered sound. "Feels Like We are Only Going Backwards" is a good introduction to their sound.

24. Chairlift - Something

The Brooklyn duo has mastered the 80s industrial pop sound, while being catchy and light. "I Belong in Your Arms" is a fun song.

23. Leonard Cohen - Old Ideas

The Canandian master takes on mortality in this tragic, beautiful album. You can't go wrong with "Amen" or "Come Healing."

22. Sleigh Bells - Reign of Terror

Not as good as their debut, but Sleigh Bells still amped up the noise for a good album, headlined by "End of the Line."

21. R. Kelly - Write Me Back

I am a surprised as you that I have this on here. I had no idea that I would like an R. Kelly album. But this sounds like it could have been produced by Quincy Jones in the 1970s. The songwriting is weak at times, but the sound is really good. "Feelin Single" is probably the best on the album.

20. Lana Del Rey - Born to Die

Yeah, I like Lana Del Rey. Get over it. I don't care how bad she was on SNL. I didn't think she was that bad anyway. "Video Games" is a strong song.

19. Vaccines - Come of Age

Good indie rock from the English band. "I Always Knew" is my favorite track on the album.

18. Santigold - Master of My Make-Believe

I don't understand why someone like Kesha is popular, but Santigold is not well-known. She is like Kesha, if Kesha was good. "Disparate Youth" is a great song.

17. King Tuff - King Tuff

Just solid rock from start to finish. "A Bad Thing" is a good place to start.

16. Kathleen Edwards - Voyageur

Yet another Canadian taking an American job. Edwards is a great singer-songwriter. "Change the Sheets" is a strong song.

15. fun. - Some Nights

Pop can be good. Fun is proof of that as they exploded onto the scene this year with great tracks like "Carry On."

14. Bat for Lashes - The Haunted Man

Natasha Khan continues to make great music, including the beautiful song "Laura."

13. Beach House - Bloom

I will be the first to admit that a lot of Beach House's songs sound alike, and if you don't like that sound, it's hard to get into them. I do like the sound, especially the ethereal "Myth."

12. Dum Dum Girls - End of Daze

This is just an EP, but it is fantastic work. The Sub Pop group put together some quality songs, with "Season in Hell" probably being my favorite.

11. The Men - Open Your Heart

Good Brooklyn punk rock, highlighted by the title track, and another great song "Candy."

10. Justin Townes Earle - Nothing's Going to Change the Way You Feel About Me Now

Country music shouldn't sound like the way it does now. What was once the white man's blues has turned into a pop-fueled, frosted tipped dudes dominated market. Luckily, people like Earle, who many don't consider that country, is still writing good stuff. The title track is good.

9. Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory

Great indie rock from The Cleve, Ohio. "Stay Useless" is one of my favorite songs right now.

8. Tribes - Baby

This was my first introduction to the British pop rock band Tribes, and they are slowly creeping into a heavier rotation in my favorite stuff. They remind me of Augie March, which I enjoy quite a bit. "Corner of an English Field" is really good track.

7. Passion Pit - Gossamer

Some of Passion Pit's older work is very busy. There is so much going on with each song, it's hard not to be overwhelmed at times. I actually like that, but I liked this album better. It's a little more controlled, and some strong songs come out like "Take a Walk."

6. Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel is Wiser...

I wasn't sure what to think the first time I listened to it. It wasn't the Fiona Apple I knew, which is a good thing in some sense, but it took me seeing her perform these songs live to really appreciate them. They are very sparse songs compared to her older work, but the pain and emotional lyrics are still there. "Anything We Want" is probably my favorite.

5. Ty Segall Band - Slaughterhouse

The Ty Segall Band released two albums this year, but this one was my favorite of the two. Just aggressive garage rock that they don't make very much anymore. "I Bought My Eyes" is a pretty killer track.

4. Spiritualized - Sweet Heart Sweet Light

From great struggles come great art, and that is true of Spiritualized's seventh studio album. Frontman Jason Pierce was battling a serious liver disease during the recording of this album, and what came from it was some really beautiful pop rock songs. "Freedom" is probably my favorite track here.

3. Nick Waterhouse - Time's All Gone

This is probably one of the few on my list that didn't show up on anyone else's. It's not groundbreaking or anything, it's just good old school R&B from a guy that takes the sound serious. I get more joy from listening to this album than anything on this list. Lot of great songs on here, but "Say I Wanna Know" may be my favorite.

2. Grizzly Bear - Shields

Grizzly Bear is definitely not a band that you like as soon as you hear them. But as you listen to them more and more, their sort of disjointed pop sound really settles in well. Check out their single "Yet Again."

1. Japandroids - Celebration Rock

I like rock and roll. Good, guitar fueled rock and roll. The Canadian band does it maybe better than anyone right now, and their album "Celebration Rock" built off their good debut, "Post-Nothing." Check out "The House That Heaven Built" and if you don't love it then you are dead inside.

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