Sean’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 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! –

Sean‘s “Top 12 Albums of 2012”

12. Bad Books – II

“Supergroup” Bad Books returned with II this year, a long anticipated follow up to their self-titled release. Comprised of Kevin Devine, along with members of Manchester Orchestra, the album ties up the loose strings their debut left hanging, while crafting new story lines and harmonies you would only expect from the Devine-Hull songwriting team. “Forrest Whitaker” is very well one of the best written pop songs of 2012.

“Forrest Whitaker”, “The After Party”, “Pytor”

11. Wowser Bowser – Wowser Bowser

Why this band is not touring the States with the likes of Grouplove, Imagine Dragons, Reptar etc. is beyond me. This album gets down just as much as it picks up, weaving charming synth patterns with huge choruses. As far as live shows go, Wowser Bowser tops my chart for 2012, I just wish the album was a bit longer and the band was a bit more active.

Standout Tracks – “Water Stories”, “E Dialeda Ho”, “To The Pleasant Life!”

10. Cheap Girls – Giant Orange

A pop-punk storybook, Cheap GirlsGiant Orange is a deeply introspective journal that is as raw as it is finely tuned. The three piece from Michigan built a dedicated fan base through an exasperating amount of touring on their two prior releases, but the signing to RISE Records made 2012 their best year yet. This is bedroom-to-garage punk at its finest, blending personal experience with no-holds-bar riffs, stop/start drumming, and singalong choruses. I didn’t expect this one to make my list the first time around.

“Ruby”, “Communication Blues”, Manhattan on Mute”

9. Two Gallants – The Bloom and The Blight

Since my introduction to the duo years ago, I’ve been more and more impressed with their dark-garage rock. The Bloom and The Blight champions in both the lyrical and musical department, and has taken the band on a tour through Europe and the States. This was easily one of the most explosive releases from ATO Records this year, and distinguished the already popular act among a roster of great artists. Two Gallants seem like an act that listeners can expect a number of more records from, each holding its own.

“Halcyon Days”, “Ride Away”, “Winter’s Youth”

8. Shovels and Rope – O’ Be Joyful

I’m proud to claim the Palmetto State as home, but I’m even more proud of the amazing music that’s come out of it over the past few years. Charleston and Columbia have a strong music scene, and thanks to SceneSC and a group of folks, word is spreading. The dynamic duo from Charleston, Shovels and Rope, have been criss-crossing the country for the past few years gaining notoriety from their live shows, but the release of O’ Be Joyful has launched them onto the major playing field. On stage, the married couple exudes a sentiment echoed in the album’s title, and the record is soaked in stories of Southern hospitality, trials and tribulations, and the ever-changing grip of emotions.

Standout Tracks – “Birmingham”, Kemba’s Got the Cabbage Moth Blues”, “Hail Hail”

7. Keep Shelly in Athens – In Love With Dusk / Our Own Dream

The Athens (Greece, not Georgia) duo began gaining recognition from producers and remix artists in late 2010 with the release of their debut EP, and quickly spread through the blogosphere, becoming fast favorites of Gorilla vs. Bear, Pitchfork, and the like. Their 2012 full-length release combined two previous EP’s and hosted some of the most hyped and remixed chillwave tracks of the year. The duo is a prime example of two artists finding each other and creating beautiful compositions. I can’t think of the number of times I’ve road trippedEagerly awaiting a US tour.

Standout Tracks – “Runnin’ Out of You”, “In Love With Dusk”, “Our Own Dream”

6. Pomegranates – Heaven

For a band that’s released four full-length records in just over four years, Cincinnati’s Pomegranates delivered in a way that hadn’t yet with the release of Heaven. Following the addition of guitarist Curt Kiser (Enlou) to the band, they penned out the tracks that make up Heaven and made no mistakes in trimming the fat. The band pulled the elements of previous albums that fans had grown to love, soaked them in the darkest filters, and delivered an art-pop staple that’s made a home with their new label, Modern Outsider.

Standout Tracks – “Pass Away”, “Surfing the Human Heart”, “Letters”

5. Ponderosa – Pool Party

Following their acclaimed 2011 full-length, Moonlight Revival, Atlanta’s Ponderosa decided to take a step back from the alt-country scene and dive head first into the project that would become Pool Party. The departure from the Southern anthems they had grown so comfortable with allowed the band to explore newer territory, much to their success. Reverb-soaked, radio-ready tracks like “Navajo” and “On Your Time” don’t set the pace for the album’s darker, dreamier tone, but they do offer a glimpse of what to expect from the band in the future.

Standout Tracks – “Navajo”, “Here I Am Born”, “Never Come Back”

4. Diamond Rugs – S/T

Ever since we received an email from their PR group introducing us to “our new favorite supergroup” and their debut tune “Christmas in a Chinese Restaurant”, a lonesome, bar ballad about a drunk who ruins Christmas, I’ve been hooked on this album. A collective of members from the Black Lips, Dead Confederate, Los Lobos, Six Finger Satellite, and Deer Tick, these guys know how to rock and prove so as they switch roles through the album. Aside from having the punniest band name of 2012 (spell it out..), tracks like “Blue Mountains” and “Gimme a Beer” give you an idea of what these guys enjoy. If they don’t wind up on some of the major festivals in 2013, I’ll be surprised.

Standout Tracks – “Blue Mountains”, “Gimme a Beer”, “Call Girl Blues”

3. Alabama Shakes – Boys and Girls

It’s a safe bet to say that a majority of the “Best of” lists from this year have Boys and Girls sitting comfortably in their Top 5. After receiving critical acclaim for their 2011 EP, the exploded onto the airways and blogosphere with “Hold On”, the shining single of their full-length. 2012 saw the Shakes on practically every major US festival, performances on Conan, Letterman, and Kimmel, and gracing the covers of dozens of publications. While at times it felt lyrically-lacking something bigger, Boys and Girls is soulful rock n’ roll, inspired by the greats and perfected in the cramped, sweaty music halls of the South. The momentum they gained over the past year has strong things on the horizon for 2013.

Standout Tracks – “Hold On”, “I Ain’t the Same”, “Rise to the Sun”

2. Efterklang – Piramida

One of our photographers, William, and I had just made it to Ohio to cover MidPoint and we’re running on a few hours of sleep. A friend there urged us to get up and go out on the town with him to get lunch and visit Shake It Records. I loved the store, but was feeling lazy and so we headed out shortly thereafter, our friend with Piramida in hand. The next morning, feeling hungover and lazy, he put the album on. I was trying to go to sleep and as much as it provided a perfect background for that, I sat awake until the album finished. The Danes have done it yet again! Piramida rings with graceful, yet bruised blues that are as haunting as they are inspiring. I’ve taken long hikes and bike rides to this album, I’ve gone to sleep listening to it and I’ve left for work with it still playing. This is evocative electro-pop at its finest.

Standout Tracks – “Hollow Mountain”, “Sedna”, “The Ghost”, “Between The Walls”

1. Father John Misty – Fear Fun

Fear Fun  marked the eighth full-length release from former Fleet Foxes drummer J. Tillman, but it was the first record I actually sat down with and gave my complete attention to. When the video for “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” surfaced online at the beginning of this year, I was floored. I remember watching it at least a dozen times in a row, the lonesome-muddy beat echoing throughout my apartment. As more songs from the album came online, I began to put together an idea of the psychedelic direction it would be headed in. This album topped my list as it felt more alive than anything else I’d heard and in some larger-than-life way, it became a soundtrack for a larger part of my year.

Standout Tracks – “Only Son of the Ladies’ Man”, “Every Man Needs a Companion”, Now I’m Learning to Love the War”, “Nancy From Now On”