Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Top 10 Albums of 2012 (10-6)!!!

And finally, here are my personal favorite records released in 2012! It's been a long time coming, but I've listened to most of these albums countless times, whether at home, at work, or during long commutes. They are have been the soundtrack to my 2012, and probably will stick around as some of my favorites of all time. 2012 was a very strong year of music for me, and I hope to share some of that passion with you now.

10.) The Lumineers - The Lumineers 
File:TheLumineersalbum.jpgThis record is incredibly infectious. It is sweet, quaint, and oozing with singalong choruses about romance and love lost. The banjo-pop folk rock group from New Jersey/Colorado blasted onto the scene by having their song "Ho Hey" included in several television shows and commercials. They sound like they just got off work from a long day, just want to get together with their friends and acoustic instruments and jam it out. Their down-home sound has kept me smiling all year long. How can you not fall in love with the simple and earnest words, "I belong with you, you belong with me, my sweetheart"? If that doesn't make a lady swoon, I don't know what will. Each song is as charming as the last, and the future looks very bright for The Lumineers. (See what I did there?)

9.) David Crowder Band - Give Us Rest or (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys])
File:GiveUsRest.jpg The truly triumphant final album from David Crowder Band is a double album masterpiece of worship, including 34 tracks, a set of 7 sequences, and walks you through a traditional church service with a modern heartbeat. "Give Us Rest" kicks off with footsteps entering a chapel with Latin liturgy being spoken from the pulpit, leading into a lush piano ballad with Crowder's signature Texan accent asking G-d to "give [him] rest." From there, the album span concepts, sounds, and genres that cover the entire DCB catalog, including danceable songs, songs perfect for a contemporary church service, bluegrass, and much more. It is quiet and empty when it needs to be, loud, pulsing, and big when that is required, but so full of soul that I found myself many times in tears reflecting on the lyrics and emotional builds of this record. "Give Us Rest" is a grandiose and thrilling conclusion to DCB's career.

8.)  Various Artists - Moonrise Kingdom (Original Soundtrack)
So maybe including a soundtrack is cheating, but Wes Anderson has a knack for putting together seemingly unrelated songs in his movies to make something unique and lovely. "Moonrise Kingdom" the movie was enchanting in its story-like wonder and discovery. I felt like I was part of their faux Boy Scout troop on an adventure of love and coming-of-age. The music reflects the adventure in dramatic fashion, including sections from Benjamin Britten's "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" and several selections from both Leonard Bernstein and Alexandre Desplat. Throw in some Hank Williams, a sultry French ditty by Fran├žoise Hardy, and some children's choirs, and you've got yourself an engaging, strange soundtrack that I can't get enough of.

7.)  The Chariot - One Wing
File:The Chariot - One Wing.jpg The Chariot, while completely un-formulaic in structure, has seemed to tap into a formula that works. Each release by the Georgia mathcore metal quartet is met by a ravenous fan base. It doesn't hurt that their live show is heralded as one of the best in the business, with lots of stage diving, moshing, unfiltered energy, blood, sweat, and tears. "One Wing" is no exception, building and growing out of 2010's "Long Live" but taking a stand completely on its own. It is definitely the strangest of their offerings, bursting through the speakers with two relentless visceral songs then taking a 180 for "Your," which is a harmony laden repetition of older Chariot lyrics by female vocalists. Then, back to the grinding action as if nothing happened on "First" which concludes with an old west breakdown. Does this make sense? Yeah, not to me either, but it is original and fun, especially for a band this intense to not take themselves too seriously. Thirty minutes later, you can catch your breath and regain your thoughts. Maybe.

6.) Of Monsters and Men - My Head Is An Animal
There is a upward swing in folk indie pop bands this year. I mentioned before how it might be because Mumford & Sons broke through the folk barrier and now, The Head and the Heart, Lumineers, The Last Bison, etc. can come out of the musical woodwork. Of Monsters and Men is now right up there with them, but instead of Americana rock, this Icelandic group does their own spin on the genre. There are almost constant male/female dual vocals that are peaceable and echoed in their harmonic layers. OMAM are storytellers, and their songs come across as tales and dreams that they are eager to tell. They remind me of The Lumineers with a less drawl and more rock, or early Arcade Fire with a flair for folk. OMAM's chamber pop coolness is not self-aware, allowing it to be honest and toe-tappingly good.

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