Archive for February, 2013
10 Feb

The Top 11: Favorite Albums of 2012

If I could choose a word to describe the year in albums, I’d probably go with “bleh.” While there was some quality discs done, there was nothing released that would even come close to making it into my all-time favorites list. In fact, for a good chunk of the year I was hooked on older albums by artists I recently discovered. For me, there were no potential classics in the bunch and none that I listened to so intently and so often that I know the album front to back. But there were some that caught my attention and the following would be my favorites for the year.

1.  “Making Mirrors” by Gotye – Okay, yes, I know that chances are good he will come and go like yesterday’s dinner, but I really liked quite a lot of this album. It may not be the best and may only be remembered by its one major hit, but I think of all new albums listened to this year, I spun this one the most.

2.  “Some Nights” by fun. – I thoroughly enjoyed the updated retro sound of this disc. Parts of it are very Queen-esque and it sounds wonderful. They are an appropriately named band.

3.  “Blunderbuss” by Jack White – This one surprised me. The White Stripes were hit and miss with me so I never fully jumped on that bandwagon. But “Love Interruption” bowled me over and “Sixteen Saltines” stomped on me. I doubt it will win but I’m pulling for this to get the Grammy for Album of the Year.

4.  “Someday” by Susanna Hoffs – Again, another great surprise. Although it really shouldn’t be. She had been doing great work with Matthew Sweet on a couple of duet albums and the Bangles put out a fine collection last year. But I think it was just the expertly breezy and effortless sounding songs that hooked me. It sounds like an artist in her prime to me.

5.  “NORDO” by Air Traffic Controller – The crazy, catchy “Hurry Hurry” is the highlight, but the album is filled with terrific songs from this Boston-based band, produced by the brilliant Bleu.

6.  “Heaven” by Rebecca Ferguson – A runner-up on the UK’s “X-Factor,” the disc does not sound like the typical singing contest release. It sounds like a full-fledged artist who had some control over direction and writing her material. Once in a great while these show do find someone truly talented, and she is one of them.

7.  “Our Version of Events” by Emeli Sande – Another British singer/writer who I just happened upon while watching videos on a plane from the UK back home. I loved her song “Heaven,” but the album goes way deeper. This was the best-selling album in the UK last year and it is well-deserved. It’s a shame it didn’t catch fire here in the US.

8.  “The Sound of the Life in the Mind” by Ben Folds Five – The group’s return to the studio was welcomed and did not disappoint. The sound is there as well as a lot of the material, but at this point in time they are too long in the tooth to get college-quirky with “Draw a Crowd” stating “draw dicks on a wall.” But overall, a solid return.

9.  “The Truth About Love” by P!nk – She always has quality singles and solid album cuts, but it really all comes together on this disc. Probably her best overall album.

10.  “Out of the Game” by Rufus Wainwright – Oh, thank ye Mr. Wainwright for getting out of the dirge funk and getting back to what makes you special. It’s not all sunshine and roses (and shouldn’t be), but this was like the parting of the clouds and rays of light warming things up.

11.  “Fanatic” by Heart – Their previous album “Red Velvet Car” was outstanding. This one doesn’t quite match that quality, but it is still damn good. While some long-standing rock artists have softened their sound and struggle writing quality material, it’s great to see someone like Heart still out there, still rockin’, and still writing solid tunes.

Honorable Mentions:  “Wrecking Ball” by Bruce Springsteen, “Magic Hour” by Scissor Sisters, “Release Me” by Barbra Streisand, “Tinsel and Lights” by Tracey Thorn, “Skulk” by Jim Moray, “4th Street Feeling” by Melissa Etheridge, “A Different Kind of Truth” by Van Halen, “Synthetica” by Metric

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