Luke’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
Luke Goddard’s “Top 12 Albums of 2012”
Let’s make no bones about it: we, the people of United States, can all be grateful for the talent in the UK. This past year was a massive one for the British 5-piece, Morning Parade. When bands like this put out such a robust debut, you wonder where they’ve been all this time. The record makes clear the path for the band’s future: sold-out stadiums. A sleek indie rock band with everything they need to be the next big thing from across the pond. I was a little late catching the band, as the first song that got my attention was “Headlights,” which came after their first single, “Under the Stars.” But with the chorus in “Headlights,” it makes it an easy choice for the must-hear song you must check out from Morning Parade’s debut.
Standouts: “Headlights,” “Under the Stars” “Speechless”
Leaving us on the edge of our seat since releasing The Resistance three years prior, Muse lays down the law with their sixth release, The 2nd Law. The truth is a lot of folks hated this record. In fact, I’d venture to say that the majority of music critics wrote it off as garbage. I couldn’t disagree any more. The band doesn’t disappoint by remaining true to their gigantic, drama-rock sound. With tracks like “Survival” and “Supremacy,” Muse just shove greatness in your face to the point that it’s almost overwhelming. Without a doubt though, the most brilliant moment of the record comes in on the second track of the album in “Madness.” There was not a more groovin’ song released in 2012. Period.
Standouts: “Madness,” “Survival,” “Supremacy”
I once asked a friend of mine why he thinks Jack White is so genius– just to see if we are on the same page. His answer: “He is sooo adventurous.” Jack White is probably the boldest rocker out there. With Blunderbuss, White gives us the ultimate break-up record making us all feel better about our past romances that went south. Quite possibly the most bizarre and intriguing aspect of this release is White’s ex-wife and former member of the great White Stripes, Karen Elson, is all over the record singing backing vocals. We all know about their strange “divorce party” that they threw together, but Elson accepting White’s invitation to be included on his first solo record is unexpected, yet oddly appropriate. The stand-out track is “Love Interruption,” where he sings, “I want love to roll me over slowly / Stick a knife inside me / And twist it all around.” And apparently, this is exactly what happened to Jack as the record declares throughout its entirety.
Standouts: “Love Interruption,” “Sixteen Saltins,” “Freedom at 21”
Let me be clear here– I have completely out-grown the electronic dance music that has seemingly dominated the past couple of years in the blogosphere and on satellite radio. With that said, there is absolutely no way I can sit here and fool myself and everyone else by not including LA-based Capital Cities debut, self-titled EP. I also cannot tell you how many times I’ve played the single “Safe and Sound” in my car. It’s one of those tracks I honestly put on repeat on my computer until someone finally asks me to turn it off. It just doesn’t get old and it’s a great representation of the five track EP as a whole. Do me a favor– please buy the EP, put “Safe and Sound” on in your car and go find some straight-away road and just drive fast and sing-a-long as loud as you can. That’s the only way to listen to Capital Cities’ debut.
Standouts: “Safe and Sound,” “Center Stage,” “Patience Gets Us Nowhere Fast”
Brian Aubert, frontman for Silversun Pickups, certainly does nothing new with Neck of the Woods, but why should he? When you’ve got a good thing going, ride it out. Sometimes there’s just no need to take huge risks when the going is good. This album is vintage Silversun Pickups with it’s dark and moody flare, as it recounts stories that belong in a horror movie. A true music critic certainly pays close attention to both aspects of a record: the music and the lyrics. I’ll have to be honest– I couldn’t care less about these horrifying stories Aubert is so fascinated with portraying throughout the album. The grit in his voice and the overall mood of the record just makes it one to remember for a good while. It really does move you. The track “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)” is precisely what Aubert, in my opinion, should never venture away from in his future releases. Just do that every time, Brian.
Standouts: “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings),” “The Pit,” “Skin Graph”
It’s fairly obvious that Fun.’s singer Nate Fruess gains most of his inspiration from the great Freddie Mercury. And this is a good thing. Truly, there are no limits to this dude’s voice. Full of energy, Some Nights is full to the brim with infectious singles that stay in your head for months. With perhaps the song of the year, “We Are Young,” Fruess pairs up with Janelle Monae to produce a gigantic single that has nearly been on every commercial known to man throughout 2012. I must say though that my favorite song off the record is the title track, “Some Nights.” Fruess channels his inner Michael Jackson in this track and it gets my blood pumping every time.
Standouts: “We Are Young,” “Some Nights,” “Carry On”
Good grief, I love this band. Imagine Dragon’s hit single, “It’s Time” is an obvious gem and it had no trouble getting its due recognition as we saw it covered on Glee, heard it in movie trailers, and heard it constantly on the radio. Here’s my take on this band and more importantly in this case, the album: Not every song is gold, okay? But it’s still ahead of the rest of the releases in my list simply because the handful of moments that are gold shine brighter than any of the other records behind this one. Imagine Dragons will be around for a long time because they have the ability to put out these massive hits that’ll stick around for the long-haul.
Standouts: “It’s Time,” “Radioactive,” “Demons”
The best thing Josh Tillman ever did was leave Seattle and throw his anchors down in Los Angeles. Oh and change his solo stage name from J Tillman to Father John Misty. Something changed with Tillman creatively when he made this transition because he literally morphed into something different when he changed his name– almost as if he fired one muse and hired another. This is Tillman’s eighth album, which is nuts, and it is clearly heads and shoulders above his others. To be honest, if 2012 wasn’t slammed-full with great albums, this record could easily be my number one, as it is with most Top Albums lists this year on the interweb. Tillman draws out his inner Paul McCartney with “I’m Writing A Novel,” which can definitely be compared to the Beatles’ hit, “Paperback Writer.” I don’t see it as a rip-off, but more of a moment true Beatles fans can appreciate. I’d have to say my favorite moment on the record is the third track, “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings.” Such a fantastic album that only gets better as it unfolds.
Standouts: “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings,” “Funtimes in Babylon,” “Nancy From Now On”
Now here’s a record you either love or hate. No middle ground. Cloud Nothing’s frontman Dylan Baldi’s vocal style is throaty and his grunge vibe is reminiscent of Nirvana in parts, especially in the dark, droney track, “No Future / No Past.” If you’re like me and occasionally prefer the lo-fi quality of music, then I can’t see how you wouldn’t love this record. It should be noted that this is Cloud Nothing’s first record that frontman Baldi didn’t produce himself. “Stay Useless” comes in right in the middle of the record at track four and it is undoubtedly the most brilliant moment on the album. This is where producer Steve Albini’s efforts are most evident and while I was pessimistic when I heard Baldi was hiring a producer for this record, “Stay Useless” continues to remind me why I shouldn’t jump to conclusions.
Standouts: “No Future / No Past,” “Stay Useless,” “Wasted Days”
Most everyone who has followed The Blue Indian from the beginning know that I tend to gravitate towards good, indie folk music. While it doesn’t necessarily define me as a critic, it is certainly a big part of who I am as a music lover. But as you can tell by my list, I don’t arrive and stop at indie folk music. I’m not that dull. With that said, yet again, this is another record that could have easily been my number one. It has everything I want in an album– “la la la’s,” “hey heys,” stomps, claps, acoustic guitar, group vocal chants, male and female singers, and even some Motown drums. Of Monsters and Men hit SXSW by storm and have basically played every other festival known to man. And that’s the thing: these songs were meant for huge crowds in outdoor amphitheaters. This record is taking this band just where they need to go. “Mountain Sound” may be one song I’d pay hundreds to hear live . . . just that one song. I’m serious.
Standouts: “Mountain Sound,” “Little Talks,” “Dirty Paws”
Let’s begin by saying: There is no female vocalist alive as soulful and naturally as fiery as Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard. And I mean, no one. The band wastes no time is demonstrating Howard’s gospel-esque, bluesy style, as they throw you into the first song, “Hold On.” This girl doesn’t play around! I remember hearing “Hold On” for the first time and literally getting up and dancing. I never do that. It’s her voice, man. It’s just so vulnerable emotionally and it’s from the belly. What makes Alabama Shakes so special though is the fellas in the band manage to allow the spotlight to deservedly stay on Howard while maintaining the unique ability to compliment such a powerhouse vocalist in Howard so well by employing brilliant instrumentation and backing vocal harmonies. This record is truly something to behold. Sweet Lord, thank you for the Alabama Shakes and the lovely Brittany Howard.
Standouts: “Hold On,” “I Found You,” “Heartbreaker”
I recently tweeted that something happened that I never thought would happen for a good while– at least years down the road. I tweeted that I discovered a band that released a debut better than The Head and The Heart’s self-titled debut. Unfortunately for me, my friends in The Head and The Heart saw my tweet and tweeted back in disappointment. Oh well, life goes on.
When you talk about music that’s right in my wheelhouse; this is it. The Lumineers is good ole’ rootsy, backwooded-foot stomping- whistlin’- bar crowd chanting folk music. I literally love this sound. The song that put them on the map after countless shows in the New York and later Denver, CO area is what I’d boldly say was the most brilliant moment in 2012– the magnificent song “Ho Hey.” The combination of talking, yelling, chanting, mandolin, acoustic guitar, and kick drum banging in a 4/4 time will surely get you on your feet. And while “Ho Hey” is certainly the album’s “big moment,” I promise it’s nearly a toss up with the seventh track, “Stubborn Love.” If that song doesn’t move you as it builds, you are dead. I honestly don’t care what music genre you prefer– if you listen to this album from start to finish and do not absolutely fall in love with The Lumineers, you are only fooling yourself!
Standouts: “Ho Hey,” “Stubborn Love,” “Classy Girls”