What happens when you put a bunch of music nerds in a room and ask them to talk about their favorite music of the year so far? Why you get a Top Ten List of course! There's been a metric sh@# ton of great music this year, with new releases from the likes of Punch Brothers, Leonard Cohen, Alabama Shakes and more, but ultimately there can be only TEN that make the cut.
With over sixty albums mentioned the whittling down process was arduous and sometimes painful, but in the end we came together and saw our way through the adversity/diversity to deliver unto you this list of the best that 2012 to date has to offer.
#10 Hospitality - Hospitality
KEVIN - New York hasn’t sounded this cool since the glorious heyday of CBGB’s, Blondie and The Talking Heads. Complex, confident, and unabashedly poppy, this is easily the most memorable debut record from any band on a long, LONG while.
ANDRE - I recommend talking to Kevin on this one. Just remind him that the first step is accepting you have a problem. I dig it as well, just not as much as Kevin...because that's impossible.
#9 Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls
CARRIE- It’s a rare and beautiful thing when a band can evoke a lot of other sounds, yet be derivative of nothing. There’ve already been gallons of ink spilled for reviews of the album despite its only weighing in at 11 songs and a scant 37 minutes (not counting the bonus Heavy Chevy, which adds another 2:41), but one listen and you’ll totally get why this band has been invited to every music festival on Planet Earth this summer
#8 Sharon Von Etten - Tramp
MATTHEW - Sharon Van Etten's third full-length effort, Tramp, is that rare signer-songwriter record that needs no embellishment: it is simply brilliant. It combines early Cat Power's soulful vocals, the resignation of an Edith Frost, and the startling warmth of a woman who has lived her songs and come out wiser on the other side.
#7 Chromatics - Kill For Love
PAUL - The soundtrack to that impossibly cool, slightly surreal neo-noir you’ve been meaning to write for the past ten years. Or is that just me? Play it the next time you find yourself walking through a darkened lounge in slow motion.
#6 Pond - Beards, Wives, Denim
Andre - GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon General, excessive dosages of Pond in the confines of a van may result in the slowing of the expansion of the Universe. (2) Over-consumption of Beards, Wives, Denim may cause you to suddenly wake from a six week dark period where you indeed have grown a sweet beard, are married to the Shaman’s daughter, and have a newfound love for the Canadian tuxedo.
KEVIN - F!@!ING WHOA MAN!!!!!
#5 Beach House - Bloom
RODDY - They're practically locals, and well, what can I say? I'm a sucker for this dream pop stuff, especially in duo form. Yet another party I'm late to, I'll be spending some hours exploring Teen Dream and the rest of the back catalog that led to this wonderful album by a band that clearly demands a much deeper dive.
PAUL - Some have criticized Beach House for not deviating from the successful dream pop formula of Teen Dream. But to my ears Bloom is a refinement of their now trademark sound…and I’ve never complained about having too much of a good thing.
#4 Damien Jurado - Maraqopa
KEVIN - After over a decade of grinding away at the music biz, Damien Jurado produced not only one of the best albums of the year so far, but possibly the best of his career. A soulful journey through subtly psychedelic landscapes and impossibly perfect folk explorations, Maraqopa is a place that’s a little hard to find, but unforgettable once you’ve arrived there.
#3 Lower Dens - Nootropics
KEVIN - Where some (most) bands fall prey to the sophomore slump, there are a few who manage to sidestep it to produce an album that is as good as, if not better than their first. Sounding like the bastard offspring Joy Division, Tangerine Dream and Neu, Baltimore’s Lower Dens didn’t just one up themselves this time out, they shattered any notion of what people thought the band was, or could be. And Jana Hunter’s vocals? To quote herself speaking of fellow Baltimorian Jen Wasner “That b@#ch can SING!”
#2 Father John Misty - Fear Fun
ANDRE - Oh J. Tillman, why you gotta be so sensuous. You could sing about standing in the line at the DMV or a description of the funk under your toenails and it would sound interesting.
PAUL - A bit uneven for my tastes but the highs (“Only Son of the Ladiesman,” “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”) are rapturous enough to more than counteract the Fleet Foxes B-sides that pop up from time to time.
#1 Japandroids - Celebration Rock
CARRIE - If you want a soundtrack for some mayhem, then done and done, son. Starts with fireworks, ends with fireworks, and everything in the gooey half-cooked center is pure face-annihilating gold.
JUSTIN - This record deserves every accolade it’s currently getting. It’s the kind of record that makes you wake up in the morning and be happy that you can listen to it.
PAUL - Fireworks lead off the album and fireworks end it. In between, its just pure fist pumping, chorus shouting, rock awesomeness. Play it before you go out, play it during your party, play it while you drive down the open road late at night on your way to the party (but watch your speed)…really just play it…and enjoy.