Time once again for my annual review of the top albums of 2012 according to me. No apologies here…these are not the “best” albums of the year, simply my favorite:
- Babel — Mumford and Sons – They may have gotten a bit overexposed this year, but when you release an album as great as Babel the attention is well deserved. No other album got as much airplay on my Spotify account this year and I still find myself putting it on even as background when I’m reading or doing other things. Such a great album. Thank you Mumfords!
- Blak and Blu — Gary Clark, Jr. – After Clark’s EP last year I couldn’t wait for his first full-length album and it didn’t disappoint. He’s a genuine guitar god with a hint of R&B and I always turn it up and melt into the riffs. Best debut album in years.
- My Head is an Animal — Of Monsters and Men – It seems every year a single song sneaks up on me and catches my attention and this year I couldn’t get enough of “Mountain Sound” by Iceland’s Of Monsters and Men. And guess what? When the album was released in the U.S. in April the whole damn thing was great! Any band that incorporates a glockenspiel is all right by me. These guys are definitely taking advantage of the indie-folk resurgence and as you can see from my top 10 this year I’m all in.
- The Lion The Beast The Beat — Grace Potter & the Nocturnals – A solid follow up to 2010’s eponymous effort, which was my favorite album of that year. Grace has a rock and roll voice beyond comparison and her band can bring it. And it sure doesn’t hurt that she’s gorgeous!
- Brilliant – Ultravox – Yes, that’s right…Ultravox! Reformed after nearly 20 years, Midge Ure and company released Brilliant in 2012 and it was…well…brilliant! It’s hard to recapture the same sound after so long, but Midge’s voice is as great as ever and Brilliant could easily have been recorded in 1984. Love it.
- Sunken Condos — Donald Fagen – For his fourth solo album Donald Fagen dances with the date that brung him and the result is classic Fagen. If you don’t like Donald Fagen you don’t like music. Sunken Condos is nine jazz-infused pop gems.
- The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond – It’s pretty rare for a movie soundtrack to get much airtime in my rotation but when this soundtrack came out I couldn’t get enough. Great songs from The Decemberists, Arcade Fire, Neko Case, The Civil Wars and Glen Hansard. And yes, two excellent tracks from Taylor Swift, whom I had no interest in prior to this but I love both of her songs on this record.
- The Sound of the Life of the Mind — Ben Folds Five – I’ll admit this “reunion” album is not as good as the old BFF or even Ben’s solo work, but it’s BFF and that’s good enough for me. There are some great tunes here including the title track and my favorite – Do It Anyway.
- Blunderbuss — Jack White – I’ve always been sort of luke warm on Jack White, but for some reason the songs from this album, starting with Love Interruption, hit me over the head like a ton of bricks. Shakin’ brought it home and it’s easily one of my favorite albums of the year.
- Halcyon — Ellie Goulding – By all accounts I shouldn’t like Ellie Goulding because frankly I’m not much into “dance” music and I am definitely not a fan of dub step or anything those weird deejays like Skrillex and DeadMau5 play. But from the first time I heard last year’s “Lights” I was hooked and Halcyon is a lovely mix of musical goodness, topped off by Ellie’s unique voice. Still not sure why she’s dating Skrillex though!
Honorable Mentions: Smilers — Aimee Mann; Little Broken Hearts — Norah Jones; Port of Morrow — The Shins; The Only Place — Best Coast; Synthetica – Metric; The Idler Wheel — Fiona Apple; Gossamer — Passion Pit.