Cameron’s “Top 12 Albums of 2012”
As the year begins to wind down and we look ahead on the work we have for 2013, all of us at TheBlueIndian.com want to extend our sincere thanks to each of you who have supported us in what marks our fourth year as “Georgia’s Indie Music Hub.” Some of us are newer than others, and we’ve expanded to not only have a close focus on music in Georgia, but to also expose our readers across the globe to the incredible music scenes throughout the Southeast. This site exists because we love what we do, and while our families, work, and personal lives limit us in certain ways, each of us are grateful for your attention. We asked each of our staff to compile a list of their personal favorite releases from 2012 for our year-end features. Since each of us have different preferences, we felt individual lists would be the best way to give maximum exposure to the bands we’ve grown to love. We hope you’ll take the time to listen to these artists and appreciate you feedback. Happy New Year! – TheBlueIndian.com
Cameron‘s “Top 12 Albums of 2012”
There is just something about this band’s sound that resonates deep within me. I have followed them from their first major single “Change [In the House of Flies]” off their 2000 release “White Pony” which immediately caught my attention and made me take notice of their work. On “Koi No Yokon”, they continue to display the sound and style that has defined them for over a decade. The album doesn’t allow you to settle in before delivering it’s opening blow and doesn’t let go until the final note is left resonating in your ears. Stand Out Tracks: “Swerve City”, “Romantic Dreams”, and “Tempest.”
Andrew Peterson is one of the best songwriters/storytellers in current music in my opinion. He has labored in Nashville for years churning out some of the best songs and stories ever penned of unflinching hope in the midst of great sorrow and darkness. His newest work contains some of the finest songs he has ever written displaying powerful turns of phrase and blending of literary echoes from “The Yearling” and the poetry of Gerald Manly Hopkins. The record also benefits from the creative production collaboration of Cason Cooley and Ben Shive. I have returned again and again to this record when I am in need of encouragement and need to be reminded that all is not lost. As a father of 2 (a 20 year old and a 17 year old), I cannot listen to “You’ll Find Your Way” which Peterson wrote for his teenage son without tearing up. Other standout tracks include: “Come Back Soon” and “Don’t You Want to Thank Someone”.
‘70’s folk music remains alive and well in this spare but beautiful work by Glenn Hansard. The album doesn’t stray far from what has gained him acclaim with the Frames and the Swell Season. The balance of restraint and unleashing of emotions amidst minimalist instrumentation calls to mind what made Cat Stevens the defining voice of an era. Standouts: “High Hope”, “Bird of Sorrow”, and “The Storm, It’s Coming”.
This is the 5th release for Mark Kozelek (formerly of the Red House Painters and a handful of solo releases that are mostly covers) under the Sun Kil Moon incarnation. It is more subtle and musically restrained than the previous releases. I have found myself liking the album more each time I listen to it. The songs chronicle Kozelek’s observations and experiences in and out of relationships and with a variety of fans and audiences. In a number of places, his revelations are a bit uncomfortable, but good art should cause us to be uncomfortable at times. There are very few who could translate such personal insights into an album’s worth of longing and beauty that beckons the listener to return again and again. Standout Tracks: “Sunshine in Chicago”, “That Bird Has a Broken Wing”, and “King Fish”.
Ryan Bingham is probably best known for contributing the key songs to the movie “Crazy Heart”, however, his album “Junky Star” (2010) is one of my all-time favorites. Bingham chose to go with a different line-up for this album departing with the Dead Horses that had helped to previously define his sound. The result is that “Tomorrland” marks a significant artistic progression for Bingham displaying more musical punch and a fuller sound than his previous records. His raspy, Americana roots are still clearly on display. Standouts: “Beg for Broken Legs”, “Western Shore”, and “No Help From God”.
I discovered this band and their 2012 release, “Preachers”, late in the year, however, it quickly got my attention (as did their other works). This band successfully marries equal parts the National, Modest Mouse, and the Psychadelic Furs to create something still yet unique. “Preachers” is their second full length release with an EP also in their catalogue that are well worth granting a hearing. This album has an urgency and brooding swagger to it that sets it apart. Standouts: “Preachers”, “Shatter Together”, and “Death Valley”
This album marks a distinctive shift in the artistic life of Damien Jurado. This concept record bears the artistic DNA of Richard Swift as he brings to life Jurado’s vision of a singer-songwriter who loses his way only to find what he was truly looking for. As the album/dream progresses, it becomes clear that Jurado is evolving along with the Musician from the dower songwriter chronicling sorrow upon sorrow to one declaring a hope previously unrealized. Standout Tracks: “Away From the Garden”, “Reel to Reel”, and “Working Titles”.
This is by far Matthew Perryman Jones best record to date which is significant given his previous releases. Land of the Living boasts a variety of musical styles that serve to weave together an outstanding whole. Jones vocal ability and songwriting craft are brilliantly on display from beginning to end as he pours himself into and out of each song. Standouts: “O Theo”, “How Do You Love Someone”, and “Land of the Living.”
Jesse Bryan Marchant’s second full length release is a perfect companion to the sparseness and necessity for reflection that comes with Winter as the New Year dawns. Given the muted quality of the vocals and music at times, each song requires the listener to lean in close to appreciate the haunting poetic prose that accompanies the melancholy mood of the record. The music is perfectly arranged in each song with elements drifting in and out like faint echoes in the barren landscape. Standout Tracks: “Only Now”, “Thames”, and “On Fire on a Tightrope”
This is the first release from Soft Swells, though lead singer, Tim Williams, has a noted body of solo work. I was sucked in immediately with the infectiously catchy first track “Every Little Thing”, which was the first release. This record manages to blend several styles feeling like it would have been perfectly at home amidst the ‘80’s synth driven bands without drifting into cliché or pantomime. Standouts: “Every Little Thing”, “Never Leave Home”, and “Decisions”.
This was an album that I just kept coming back to over the year. The raw, visceral nature of both the content and production make this stand out as a work that demands repeated experience. Justin Kinkel-Shuster and Andrew Bryant recorded this record around a condenser mike in an old, potentially haunted house in Mississippi in just 3 days. They captured perfectly (or imperfectly) the Southern gothic ethos of rebellious individuality, hair’s breadth of difference between saint and sinner, and lament-filled reflection. The duo has a new album forthcoming in 2013 entitled “Wyoming”. Standouts: “Rest”, “Short Hair”, and “On the Day”.
There is nothing particularly new in this first release by the Lumineers, however, there is something about the way they bring it to life. There are clear influences from music from an era gone by that was played in bars and other out of the way music halls. Wesley Keith Schultz is unapologetic about this fact which is clear in the brilliant and unflinching execution of the songs which beckon for the listener to join in singing and clapping along. There is a wonderful mix celebration and ache on this album that make it my favorite of 2012. Stand Out Tracks: “Classy Girls”, “Dead Sea”, and “Slow It Down”.