My Top 10 Albums of 2012
‘Tis that ending time of year when everyone is writing up their best of lists. With my love of lists, how could I resist? Following are my top 10 list of favorite album of 2012. In lyriquediscorde style, each album on the list will include a three-sentence shout out, as well as a song sample, and a link to each artist’s website. If you like what you hear I heartily encourage you to go out and buy the album either at a local record store (please keep them alive), or through various online music channels (especially artist website stores, where available). Support the artists out there in the world, and enjoy the music. Please comment below and share your favorites, as well (comments are love).
Happy “we survived the apocalypse year with damn good music” to all of you!
1. Tomorrowland by Ryan Bingham
By far, and without a doubt, my favorite and most played album of the year. It is full of worldly wisdom, desert roughness and vast ocean heart, gritty, vulnerable, damn fine rock and roll. This album hit me hard and deep, and has kept a hold of me in a way that is rare, pure and true. I was lucky enough to catch Ryan Bingham live this year, back in September, which was an amazing and unforgettable experience (best live show of 2012, as well).
Heart of Rhythm :: Ryan Bingham
2. Gossamer :: Passion Pit
Heartbreaking to listen to, but so honest and lush, beautiful and breathtaking, Gossamer captured me near immediately and was consistently part of the soundtrack of my year. This album’s songs hit very close to my heart and they rip me into tiny, painful shreds more often than not, but I still come back to it. The songs, and themes, are a reminder to hold on and love unconditionally, and to understand all of our struggles, especially the internal ones.
It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy :: Passion Pit
3. Strangers in the First Place :: Robert Francis
This album was an unexpected surprise that I stumbled on right at the end of the year, but even though it came at the end, I fell hard and fast for Strangers in the First Place and it found its place at the top of my list of favorites of the year. I was not the least bit surprised to hear Robert Francis describe that he wrote these songs as poems before he wrote them because they are just that to me, beautifully poetic. This album feels like the Santa Monica pier, wind blowing in my hair, and the hopes for change and resolves and love swirling around, to me.
Some Things Never Change :: Robert Francis
4. Battle Born :: The Killers
A favorite band of mine, The Killers released Battle Born this year, and I fell in love with it with the same passion and devotion that I fell for when Sam’s Town first came out. The desert had an impact on my life this year, as did the city of Las Vegas (where I was married, in May) and the stories I was filled with while visiting there, and this album fit right in with all of that, seemingly a soundtrack to those desert stories in my head. Here With Me and Miss Atomic Bomb are part of a story I am writing, slipping and sliding into the context of two characters, fitting right into them, and into how I am bringing them to life, which means a great deal to me.
Here With Me :: The Killers
5. This Could Happen Anywhere :: Justin Hopkins
Another artist I had the pleasure to see live this year, opening for Tony Lucca at the Roxy, Justin Hopkins released This Could Happen To You, which is one of those rare albums that actually captures an incredible artist’s live sound, without weighing it down unnecessarily with over-production. This album hit me in personal ways as I struggled with some of my own issues regarding love and life this year, at times feeling like a hand held in understanding which really helped to get me through the rough spots. Justin has plans in the new year with a new band and I cannot wait to hear what will come of it, but in the meantime, I have this album to get me by.
No tracks available via youtube to share, but the following is a live version of a song from the album which gives a spot on example of what this album sounds like:
Try (live) :: Justin Hopkins
6. Heart Shaped Bullets :: Leerone
By far the sexiest album of the year, to me, a fatal blow to the soul when played loudly, in that deliciously desirous way that make-out sessions in dark alleys, or car back seats are made of, hot and sticky, and passionate. I keep falling harder for this album, especially for the song Feel, which asks a question I have fought with my entire life, “is it better to feel, or be numb?” (I wish the song was available via youtube, but you can hear it here, where you can stream the album in its entirety). My end of the year resolution, that I will carry with me into the next is yes, it is better to feel, and to listen to great music like what can be found on this album.
No tracks from the album available via youtube to share, but he is a great cover of The Black Keys:
Howlin’ For You :: Leerone
7. The Heist :: Macklemore, with Ryan Lewis
Another late in the year surprise, this one which came courtesy of my oldest daughter Julia, is The Heist, a ground-breaking hip-hop album that had me dancing at some points, cheering at others, and brought tears, as well. I am grateful that songs like Same Love exist in the hip-hop genre, a rare voice of support to same-sex rights in hip-hop which is important and vital. Thrift Shop is my favorite song this year to workout to, a truly addictive tune that is hard to ever get enough of.
Same Love :: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, featuring Mary Lambert
8. Sun :: Cat Power
A welcome return of a favorite voice of mine, Chan Marshall released Sun under her musical persona, Cat Power, and it sunk in deep under my skin. This is another album that captures the starkness of the desert, and the depth and sometimes confusing way of love. This is another album full of songs I want to write to, just waiting to be soundtracks to yet unwritten characters just waiting to be born on the page, or computer screen.
Cherokee :: Cat Power
9. Continued Silence :: Imagine Dragons
A powerful and impactful EP that featured one of my favorite songs of the year, Radioactive, which keeps finding its way on playlists and mixes I have been making this year. The sound within is a shaken and mixed up blend of rock, “alternative”, hard core, pop and electronica, which I find irresistable. The album, though small, feels larger than life to me, and hugely cinematic.
Radioactive :: Imagine Dragons
10. Born to Die :: Lana Del Rey
A singer who was treated terribly unfairly, in my opinion, had one of my favorite albums this year, one that was released at the start of the year, but nonetheless is on heavy rotation as the year winds down. This album touches a deep place in me, featuring songs that tell the story of a Los Angeles I have lived, loved, sinned and redeemed myself in, a city of darkness and light, mistakes and resurections, and so many stories. I love Lana, and Born To Die, no matter what the fickle media wants to think, because one performance does not define an album, nor an artist, to me.
Born to Die :: Lana Del Rey