The Best Albums of 2012 (So Far), Selected by Sean Doyle – Marketing Coordinator
1. John K. Samson – Providential
Samson’s first full-length solo album is based off roadmaps from meaningful places in his life, but it is also a map to his own life. Samson’s textured lyrics explore the terrain of his own past and poppy guitar lines ensure the words will stay in your head. With stories of videogames and long nights spent on the road, the album manages to be perfectly nerdy and folky at the same time. It’s an album with tales that continue to draw you down the double-lines of the streets of Samson’s past, begging for a long cool night drive with the windows down.
2. Howler – America Give Up
‘50s rock progressions, surf-rock fuzz, Ramone-esque punk vocals all exist in perfect harmony on Howler’s debut album, America Give Up. These young rockers show an understanding of music beyond their years. An album that is young and brash—like being 18 and blasting a CD you knew your parents would hate—and musically dense enough to make you want to hear each undertone of these layered genres.
3. Reptar – Body Faucet
This band manages to effortlessly capture ‘80s-era Talking Heads while still holding onto their own identity. Body Faucet is an album that whisks you away to it’s own private beach with Graham Ulicny’s yelps and ohs that fit perfectly with afro-beat-inspired arrangements. The whole album feels like a summer afternoon spent dancing in the sand.
4. The Shins – Port of Morrow
James Mercer returns in full force with this one—this whole album is a chain of huge guitar hooks bound to even more epic vocal hooks. It’s an album you want to sing from start to finish, even if it’s not playing. Port of Morrow is one of the catchiest releases I’ve heard in years that also has enough interesting changes to cultivate multiple listens. You feel bad for people who say they haven’t heard it yet.
5. Lost in the Trees – A Church That Fits Our Needs
It’s rare that albums have clear themes and visions. A Church That Fits Our Needs is a symphony of chilling melodies that strike you at your core. Ari Picker’s voice is the bright fire flickering and growing in the room. It’s the perfect album for a day spent under a blanket, looking out onto growing banks of snow.
6. Tennis – Young & Old
This young couple has produced an album that will even have parents singing along. Young & Old’s overarching appeal makes it an album you want to share with everyone from your oldies-digging grandparents to your most indie-weathered friends.
7. Punch Brothers – Who’s Feeling Young Now
The combination of Chris Thile’s vocals with Punch Brothers’ tripped-out bluegrass arrangements makes this album feel as large as the Appalachians. Who’s Feeling Young Now captures the frantic string-blitz feel of bluegrass while still pacing itself through the album—with Thile leading the pack.
8. Yellow Ostrich – Strange Land
This album is absolutely fantastic indie fun. Frontman Alex Schaaf retained the driving, beat-focused song structure we first saw on The Mistress, but now he’s injecting hooky guitar licks and serious vocal energy in his newest tracks. It reminds me of early Death Cab For Cutie, just in a much bigger garage.
9. Silversun Pickups – Neck Of The Woods
Silversun Pickups are back to writing the hooks you wish you’d thought of yourself, and they’re combining them with infectious, driving beats. Neck of the Woods has Radiohead complexity while remaining accessible. It’s a radio-friendly album with deep indie roots.
10. The Walkmen – Heaven
Heaven’s simple arrangements are structured in such a way that you feel like you’re in a sleek, grand room that’s resonating around Hamilton Leithauser. This is the kind of album you’ll catch yourself singing all day, and you’ll sing it loud.