Well, I honestly didn’t think it would take me this long to get to this. It seems that when you work in healthcare, that you are so drained when you are home from work, that you just want to vegetate; well, at least, that seems to be my norm at least. Needless to say, I have been working all the darn time, and have far less time to blog and enjoy music than I would like. That being said, I do want to highlight the amazing albums that I fell in love with in 2012, and continue to enjoy now. Here are my favorite albums of 2012:
1. Mumford and Sons – Babel
No other album captured my attention in 2012 like Babel. This album builds on their previous album, Sigh No More, and brings a more well seasoned and polished, but somehow more raw and richer sound to the band. They are making the music that I love listening to most right now, and it is fair to say that I cannot get enough of Mumford and Sons. I was very happy to see them win a Grammy for the album of the year for Babel, because it is very, very well deserved. This is definitely the album I listened to the most in 2012, far and above all the rest. There isn’t a bad track on this disc, and it firmly cemented these guys as one of my favorite groups. Highlights: I Will Wait, Babel, Holland Road, Lover of the Light.
2. P!nk – The Truth About Love
I have loved P!nk for years, and like a fine wine, she seems to only be getting better with age. I had some high hopes for this album due to a very strong lead single with Blow Me (One Last Kiss), and my hopes and expectations were not only met, but completely blown away. I was fortunate enough to see P!nk live recently, and she is certainly growing stronger as an artist; and this album proves it. She has found her niche, honed her sound to her sensibilities, and she is making amazing music. She’s not only a great singer, but a clever song writer, and outstanding artist who has earned the respect that she so rightfully deserves. Definitely my favorite P!nk album so far. Highlights: Try, All We All We Are, Blow Me (One Last Kiss), Walk Of Shame.
3. Marina and the Diamonds – Electra Heart
Much like I Am Not A Robot generated overwhelming excitement for her debut, when I heard Radioactive, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the sophomore album from the fabulous Marina and the Diamonds. While I did have to wait a little while (Radioactive was quietly released late in 2011), what I got was sheer delight. Marina is one of those artists that has such talent that it cannot be masked. This album only builds on her debut; she continues to make very strong, very well written and produced pop. It felt like she was growing and spreading her branches, looked out into what other areas she’d like to explore with her sound; and the result is spectacular. I was fortunate enough to see her live (finally!), and she was magnificent, as expected. As I have been doing for a while now, I will continue to keep my eyes and ears glued to the happenings and music of this fabulous pop chanteuse. Highlights: Primadonna, Radioactive, Lies, Power and Control, How To Be A Heartbreaker.
4. Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal
You may have heard the kinda overplayed (not really, though, it’s a magnificent song that I am still firmly in love with) hit Little Talks, and thought, this is a lot like songs from Mumford and Sons and the Lumineers! And while it is in the same vein of folk driven rock, these guys have a quirk that begs for their own bit of the spotlight. After falling in love with Little Talks, I had to check out the rest of their album, My Head is an Animal, and I am glad I did; the entire album is full of well spun tapestries of folk rock with haunting Icelandic vocals from the band’s leads. The entire album is a delightful folk rock adventure that finds itself very welcome in this days popular music canon (It’s a folkspolsion!); and very prominent and in heavy rotation on my iPod as well. I love when a lead single takes you on a journey of fantastic musical discovery, which is exactly what happened here. Highlights: Little Talks, Dirty Paws, Love Love Love, King and Lionheart.
5. Benjamin Gibbard – Former Lives
What can I say, I am a sucker for this nerd-do-well’s swoon-inducing voice, and while it is a (slight, everso) bit tamer than a Death Cab for Cutie record, it is a fantastic mini-departure that sounds like something Benjamin has been waiting to get out for some time. It’s always a risk when a very well known band’s lead takes a step out from the front of the band to make a solo record, but in this case, it is a welcome and fanatic effort that is down right wonderful from beginning to end. Obviously, it isn’t TOO different from a Death Cab for Cutie album, seeing as he writes the songs and is the singer for the band, but it has a bit of a more country vibe that the band doesn’t really showcase. When I heard he was doing this album, I knew I would love it, and you know what, I do! Highlights: Bigger Than Love, Lady Adelaide, Lily, Dream Song.
6. Ke$ha – Warrior
This album was a giant surprise to me; both in how much I liked it, and in how good it turned out to be. I have continually tried to frown on Ke$ha as a one hit wonder, or a flash in the pan, but when Die Young refused to leave the airways, or my head, and I found myself tapping my toes in time with the downbeat each time I heard it, I knew that Ke$ha was more than growing on me; she’d already done it. When Warrior was released I figured I’d at least give it a listen, considering how much I like Die Young, and honestly, I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed it; and kept enjoying it. It is fair to say that I couldn’t stop listening to this album, and I am glad that I gave in to “guilty” pleasure, and just enjoyed it for what it is; pure fun, trashy, never-taking-itself-seriously pop. However, speaking of guilty pleasures, as Dave Grohl said, “I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, I believe you should be able to like what you like. If you a like a fucking Ke$ha song, listen to fucking Ke$ha.”… it appears now, that he couldn’t be more right, and listen to Ke$ha I will. Highlights: C’mon, Die Young, Thinking of You, Last Goodbye.
7. Adam Lambert – Trespassing
I loved him on Idol, and unfortunately, I was a little bit disappointed by his debut album. That being said, when I heard the lead single, Better Than I Know Myself, I knew he had come into his own, and that this album would be the album that he wanted to make; and I was right. He clearly had a lot more input this time, and the result is a more mature record that really feels like a comfortable fit for him. His voice has never sounded better, and they highlight his incredible range a lot more on this album. This is the album I wish he would have made first, but I am glad he got the opportunity to follow up his debut with something this strong. He should be on the radio a LOT more than he is; this album is full of singles. Highlights: Better Than I Know Myself, Never Close Our Eyes, Broken English, Underneath.
8. Trampled by Turtles – Stars and Satellites
Yes, this is the third folk-rock/Americana album on my year end list, so you should have a sense of what kind of music I have fallen head over heels in love with, as of late. Someone was talking about Trampled By Turtles on one of the many social media sites I frequent, and I thought, what an interesting name for a band. Then, I saw them mentioned by several other people as being fantastic, so I figured I’d check them out; boy I am glad I did. When I first heard Alone, I was swooning so hard I knew I had to have more. The haunting vocals over banjo picking and soaring violins builds into an all out hoedown, one that I wish I could go to each and every night. I ended up listening to the entire album and loving it; although it is definitely routed in more southern, bluegrass driven folk than the previous two folk bands that are on this list. This was an excellent discovery that I am glad to have found thanks to the many friends that were talking about this awesome band. Thanks!! Highlights: Alone, Beautiful, High Water, Widower’s Heart.
9. Brandi Carlile – Bear Creek
If you are a fan of bands like the Indigo Girls, then Brandi Carlile is a no-brainer. I’ve loved this lady since her debut, The Story, which made my best of list waaay back in 2007, and followed her through her sophomore effort, Give Up The Ghost, which made my best of list in 2009. Needless to say, I was very excited to see a new album from her in 2012, and with the lead single That Wasn’t Me being one of her best efforts to date, I knew almost instantly that there would be another best of list Brandi would be a part of; and look a here, I was right. Her voice is so sharp that it could cut glass, and so delicate that it would pick up the pieces. Brandi’s songs tug at your heartstrings, and fill you with delight while inducing chills with her ability to take country folk down to the local church for a choir backed performance. This album is another shining example of a great artist making consistently great music, and it was one that I was glad to pick up in 2012. Highlights: That Wasn’t Me, A Promise To Keep, Hard Way Home, Save Part of Yourself.
And of course, other GREAT albums that I discovered in 2012 (some of which, just missed my best of list by a hair):
- Casey Abrams – Casey Abrams – Great solo album from one of my favorite Idol contestants that was clearly too talented to win the show. And he’s a cute ginger-bear!
- A Fine Frenzy – Pines - An album I was very excited to see released, only to sadly, not get into it. Maybe it will get it’s chance later on.
- Agnes – Veritas – Different, more mature record than her saccharine debut, but some great stuff on here, nonetheless.
- Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel… – I adore Fiona, but I really didn’t get into this album. I was excited for it, but it never made it to the top of my list.
- Bat For Lashes – Haunted Man – The INCREDIBLE Laura made me long for this album, and when it finally came out, it was meh. What happened??
- fun. – Some Nights – The overplayed radio singles were great at first, but now I am bored; totally victims of too much airplay. Congrats on best new artist though!
- Gossip – A Joyful Noise – It would have been impossible to top their phenomenal major label debut, and well, it was. I still love Gossip, and want to actually see them live at some point.
- Carly Rae Jepsen – Kiss – Let’s all agree that Call Me Maybe was a phenomenon; one that she will probably never be able to acheive again. Hey, if you are going to be a one hit wonder, might as well make it a doozy! At least there are a few more pop treats to be had here, however.
- Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again – Great album full of sleepy, gorgeous folk. Great surprise.
- Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – The Heist – Not usually a fan of rap, they hooked me with the gay-friendly Same Love, and I came back for more with Thrift Shop. Also, could Macklemore be any cuter? Uh, no.
- Madonna – MDNA – There were a couple of good songs, and a bunch of terrible ones. I know it’s an unpopular opinion, especially amongst the blindly following gay boy fanatics, but Madonna is a pretty terrible writer; these songs have never been more trite.
- Maroon 5 – Overexposed – As usual, some great, but overplayed radio-ready hits, and some surprisingly even better ignored album tracks.
- Jon McLaughlin – Promising Promises – Promising, but didn’t resonate with me too strongly for some reason. Has a few songs from a previous album, and I just didn’t get to listen as much as I wanted, unfortunately.
- One Direction – Take Me Home – So NOW America wants to get on board with the British boyband craze? I love these guys, but they’ve got nothing on Westlife.
- Phillip Phillips – The World From The Side of The Moon – This is the season I decide to stop watching Idol. Nice. Great pick, and I love that he seems to be a very strong artist. Can’t get enough of his hit Home, either!!
- Joshua Radin – Underwater – I love this guy, and he makes the sweetest music.
- Emeli Sande – Our Version Of Events – Good thing she decided medical school wasn’t the way to go; she’s not only an incredible singer, but a great pop artist now!
- Scissor Sisters – Magic Hour – There is some good stuff here, however, and that’s a big however, they kinda lost me on this one; if they keep changing too much, nothing of the band that I fell in love with will remain.
- The Script – #3 – Their last album was so amazing, that I figured they wouldn’t be able to top it so soon; I was sadly right. Perhaps I will get more into it, but I didn’t love it as much as I did Science and Faith.
- The Shins – Port of Morrow – Good Shins album, solid; just not life changing.
- Silversun Pickups – Neck of the Woods – I feel like they lost A LOT of their oomph. This album is much more subdued, and honestly, lacks the fire they had before.
- Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror – Great sophomore album, just not as edgy and fresh as their first.
- Taylor Swift – RED – Surprise! I like a Taylor Swift album. I am sort of, but not totally ashamed.
- The Ting Tings – Sounds From Nowheresville – Big changes, almost abandoning their quirk, but still fun nonetheless.
- Usher – Looking 4 Myself – It looks like he found himself on a dance floor, and I love to dance.
Well, here it is… finally. My favorite albums of 2012. What did I miss? I know I missed out on Mika, as I have been told, but what other albums did I forget to mention, or haven’t heard of yet? What do you think? What were your favorites of 2012? Can you think back that far? Sorry it took me so long to get this out, but it is better late than never… right? Alright, perhaps I should go ahead and start my 2013 best of list so that I could try and get it done on time…