Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Top Albums of 2012

January 6, 2013

2012 is over, and since I have a blog, I’m legally obligated to write a few “best-of-the-year” posts. I meant to do this last year—a true list of my favorite albums from 2011. But either I didn’t buy anything new or it was a really bad year for my kind of music. Either way, I went with a “most-played” list. 2012 was different. Lots of great music was released, and while I’ll admit there’s a lack of diversity genre-wise in what I listen to, here are my picks for my favorite albums of 2012:

Phillip Phillips - The World from the Side of the Moon

5. Phillip Phillips – “The World from the Side of the Moon” Somewhere I read a review that called Dave Matthews’ “Away From the World” the second best Dave Matthews release of the year. That’s because Phillip Phillips had the best one. I kid, I kid. I realize Phil won American Idol by doing one hell of a Dave impression, but you could tell there was a lot of talent beyond the role Idol forced him to play. “The World from the Side of the Moon” is surprisingly refreshing, probably because Phillips wound up with a lot more creative control and writing credit than most Idol winners’ debut. Also: not ashamed to admit that I love American Idol. Check out: “Gone, Gone, Gone

Smashing Pumpkins - Oceania4. The Smashing Pumpkins – “Oceania” Putting all the line-up changes, dickish interviews, and complaining he does about his band-mates, Billy Corgan is still one of my all-time favorite musicians. Sure, the original Pumpkins were the best. But I loved Zwan’s only album. And “Zeitgeist” had a great sound, even if it was almost an entirely new band. “Oceania” follows suit. It’s different, but that’s not a bad thing. Corgan’s signature sound is there, but with a new electronic/prog rock influence. Can’t say I think it’s a direction the band should continue in, but it made for a solid album and a fun experiment (which isn’t that all the Pumkins are anymore—an elaborate Billy Corgan experiment?). Take a listen to: “The Celestials

Actionslacks - Actionslacks

3. Actionslacks – “Actionslacks” Hopefully this won’t be the last Slacks release ever, but given the cover art and some of the comments made by the band members themselves, sounds like it might be. If so, this is a heck of a way to go out. A friend got me hooked on these guys more than ten years ago, and it’s been fun to hear the band’s sound progress from a raw, garage band to a well-polished power-pop sound. This EP seems to deliberately cover each stage in the band’s career. The tracks range from the darker, angsty punk stuff from their early days, to the catchy, pop song named after some historical figure that seems to appear on every album. As a stand-alone album, it’s not their best. But anyone who’s been a fan of these guys for a while will absolutely love it. Watch: “Helen of Troy

Of Monsters and Men - My Head is an Animal

2. Of Monsters and Men – “My Head is an Animal” I swear I was listening to “Little Talks” nonstop for a solid year before this album came out (it was my most listened to track of 2012). Absolutely love the way these guys can mix such an upbeat, horn-driven melody with such haunting, heavyhearted lyrics. I honestly had my doubts about this album at first because the 30-second samples of the other tracks from Amazon and iTunes didn’t do any of them justice. Shame on me for trying to judge it from those. The rest of the album more than keeps up with the awesomeness of it’s first single. Also pretty cool: “Mountain Sound

Mumford and Sons - Babel

1. Mumford & Sons – “Babel” 2012 was definitely the year of Euro-folk-rock, with Mumford & Sons leading the way. “Sigh No More” was filled with absolutely wonderful songs, but it was never an album I could listen to straight through. There’s always a song or two I’ll skip, depending on my mood. Or I’d just want to listen to “The Cave” on repeat forever. But with this newest album, M&S has put together their best work, even if they’ve pigeon-holed themselves into a very particular sound. Each track follows a similar pattern—starts off slow and simple, and gradually builds up to huge, resonant, rock-out instrumental. While some people complain that every track sounds the same, I think it gives this album a wonderful start-to-finish completeness. Favorite song: “Lover of the Light

You can keep up with what I’m listening to at any time at my Last.fm profile here.

2011 Music Recap

January 2, 2012

With 2011 wrapped up, I feel obligated to write some end-of-the-year recaps. I wish I could do a post about my favorite albums of 2011, but with my weird tastes, I haven’t listened to much that came out last year. In fact, I only bought one album actually released in 2011. So with that, here are the five bands I listened to most in 2011 (according to my Last.fm page).

Sherwood5. Sherwood – Discovered this band a couple of years ago after Amazon had their album ‘QU’ as a $3.99 album of the day. Listened to just a couple 30-second samples, and fell in love. “You Are” was easily my most-played on the album, and led me to discover what’s now one of my all-time favorite music videos. I went back and collected a lot of their older stuff, none of which disappoints. Still heartbroken that I missed them in Minneapolis, and wish they’d post some new tour dates…

Actionslacks4. Actionslacks – Quite possibly my favorite band of all time, and easily made my top five of the year despite no recent releases. Which brings me to my biggest disappointment of the year: no new ‘Slacks. There have been a number of updates over the last two years regarding a new EP—but nothing has come of it! Hopefully 2012 will finally bring some new tunes. Regardless, these guys’ stuff will always be at the top of my playlists. ‘The Scene’s Out of Sight’—a perfect blend of rock, pop, indie, and even some hints of jazz—was an album that got me through high school and the source of some of the first stuff I ever taught myself to play on guitar.

Jimmy Eat World3. Jimmy Eat World – Probably the band I’ve followed longer than any other, JEW sits high on my most-played list thanks to ‘Invented,’ which was released late last year. Great album, though very similar in style to their previous album ‘Chase This Light.’ I was kind of hoping for a slightly darker and emotional (to be read as emotional, not emo) sound like ‘Futures,’ whose title track will probably be my election-year theme song for the rest of forever.

Tron Legacy2. Daft Punk – Not a band (can you call them a band?) that I normally listen to, but the soundtrack to ‘Tron: Legacy’ was one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard. I’m a big soundtrack geek, and always have one going if I need background noise but still need to concentrate on something. So thanks to this album, Daft Punk gets the number two spot on my list. And the movie was pretty awesome too, even if the ending makes no sense. I mean, Jeff Bridges and new guy go in, new guy and Olivia Wilde come out. So the guy’s totally gonna hook up with a chick made out of his dad’s particles, right?

Foo Fighters1. Foo Fighters – ‘Wasting Light’ was the only new album I bought this year, and it’s awesomeness was probably the reason I didn’t need anything else and definitely the reason Foo takes the top spot. I hesitate to call ‘Wasting Light’ their best album yet, since their sound has evolved so much and it’s hard to say anything is better than ‘The Colour and the Shape.’ But this one definitely perfects their hard-rock sound, and is maybe the only one I can listen to from beginning to end without skipping one here and there or picking and choosing a song based on my mood. And this album offers more proof that great bands will put out some of their best material even after a studio forces a ‘greatest hits’ album (see R.E.M., Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, etc.)


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