Favorite Albums of 2012 || 30- 21

30. Johann Johannsson –  Copenhagen Dreams
(Norman)

Johann

If you’re looking for it, it’s truly amazing how the right music has a way of finding you, and always right when you need it.  Throughout 2012 I found myself engrossed in periods of personal separation – some kind of mental retirement where I allowed myself to slow down and just think. And it was during these delightful periods of extended consideration that the music of the Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson kept reappearing — especially his impressionistic score for the film Copenhagen Dreams, released earlier this year.

Spotify: Johann Johannsson – Copenhagen Dreams – Music from the film
Key Track: A Memorial Garden On Enghavevej

29. Carla Morrison – Dejenmne Llorar

Carla

I owe NPR and their amazing team of music geeks my sincere appreciation for turning me onto Carla Morrison, a Mexican folk singer who fuses indie pop folk rock with a perfect amount of Latin flare. Her latest record, Dejenmne Llora, reminds me a lot of when I first heard Seu Jorge or Manu Chao – it’s world music that is also western music – it was like I had heard it before and it was completely new to me…all at once.  Morrison’s music, despite whether I understand everything she’s saying or not, captivated me unlike any other record this year.

Spotify: Carla Morrison – Déjenme Llorar
Key Track: “Eres Tu”

28. Porcelain Raft – Strange Weekend
(Secretly Canadian)

Porcelian

Released in late January, Strange Weekend was the first record of 2012 that got me back into that “musical mood”.  Italian born Mauro Remiddi, who records as Porcelain Raft, takes you on a David Bowie-esque space adventure, where Remiddi’s dreamy reverb-soaked vocals soar all around you and eventually, inside of you.  With its soft bedroom-friendly beats, Strange Weekend is an album perfect for when your next party is elegantly dying down.

Spotify: Porcelain Raft – Strange Weekend Vinyl: Click Here
Key Track: “Unless You Speak From Your Heart”

27. Andy Stott – Luxury Problems
(Modern Love)

stott

The word “pulsing” gets thrown around a lot in electronic music, but Andy Stott’s latest effort entitled Luxury Problems is really music that pulses, making you feel like you’re inside the heart of a quivering robotic entity that’s living and breathing in our natural world.  There is a consistent aura throughout this record,  allowing you to simply press play and lose yourself in the guts of the bending sounds and textured beats Stott produces.  This is an album in every sense of the word “album,” where each song’s spirit travels into the next track, building and tearing you down seamlessly and sometimes unnoticeably.  There’s no true single on this record, it’s kind of one of those things where the more you put into it, the more it will give back to you.

Vinyl: Click Here
Key Track: “Numb”

26. The Lumineers – The Lumineers
(Dualtone Records)

Lumineers

Usually when a band rises to the top out of no where, fans and critics become conflicted on whether or not they still want to love the band that they once adored with only a handful of other people.  But with a band like Lumineers, no matter how successful they’ve become, they haven’t run into this problem.  People from all walks of life adore The Lumineers music – from young teenie-boppers to old farts, from hipsters to radio-blaring divas.  It’s always wonderful when a band like The Lumineers can unite music lovers from across the board and all it took was Wesley Schultz’s ability to simply write a collection of straightforward, relevant, and delightful folk songs.

Spotify: The Lumineers – The Lumineers  Vinyl: Click Here
Key Track: “Dead Sea”

25. Spiritualized – Sweet Heart Sweet Light
(Fat Possum)

Spiritualized

When talking about The Velvet Underground’s debut album, Brian Eno once said something along the lines of, “While they only sold 30,000 copies in its early years, everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.” Jason Pierce and his band Spiritualized are the next generation of those heavily influenced by the neo-psychedelic rock & roll sound rooted in The Velvet Underground’s music.  In the past, all of Spiritualized’s work has been powerful listening experiences, but Sweet Heart Sweet Light, the band’s 7th studio album, is one of the most uplifting efforts of their career — with equal part elegance and equal part old-fashioned Rock & Roll.  If you’re one of those people who complain that “Music just ain’t what it use to be,” well, look no further than Spiritualized’s latest.

Spotify: Spiritualized – Sweet Heart Sweet Light  Vinyl: Click Here
Key Track: “Hey Jane”

24. John Talabot – ƒIN
(Permanent Vacation)

Fin

Straight up, this album is my jam.  From front to back, it’s that perfect intersection for so many sounds and styles you find throughout electronic music — house beats, haunting vocal samples, disco flares, dark synths…  Talabot expresses his sincere love for all music by showing off his vast range of rhythm and sampling choices.  Man, I dance to this album, I chill to this album, I drive to this album…I get shit done to this album.  Love it.

Spotify: John Talabot – Fin Vinyl: Click Here
Key Track: “So Will Be Now… (feat Pional)”

23. Dwight Yoakam – 3 Pears
(Warner Bros.)

3pears

While country music has successfully grown closer to my heart over the last couple years, it was really the artists of another era (Van Zandt, Steve Earl, Buck Owens, George Strait, Guy Clark) that helped transform me from being a strictly-hip-hop kinda guy, and convert me into a true country music fan.  But since I’ve really been keeping score, there’s only been a handful of modern recordings that lived up to the standards of my old country heroes – Hayes Carll in 2012, Jamey Johnson and Eric Church in 2011.  This year, that honor undoubtably goes to one of the greatest voices in country music – Dwight Yoakam.  On his 13th studio effort entitled 3 Pears, Dwight Yoakam refuses to get locked into that monopolized radio friendly sound his contemporaries live in.  Instead he continues to expand on his self-created urban country sound by blending Americana, Rock & Roll and good ol’ classic twang that feels urban and rustic all at once — it’s what some have coined as “Countypolitan.” For those who are too cool for country music, on 3 Pears Dwight even teamed up with Beck to help produce a couple of tracks.  Come on hipsters…That’s kinda cool…

Spotify: Dwight Yoakam – 3 Pears  Vinyl: Click Here
Key Track: “Missing Heart”

22. El-P – Cure 4 Cancer
(Fat Possum)

El-P

In the underground world of Hip-Hop, El-P is God.  His earlier works have always pushed the envelope and have never sounded like anything else flooding the Hip-Hop airwaves…and just is the case with Cancer 4 Cure, El-P’s latest album.  El’s unique arrangements with futuristic synth-heavy beats, have never sounded as good as they do on Cancer 4 Cure, where they mold and melt around his aggressive word play that comes off more as spoken word than just some rapper “flowing.”   This is not a user-friendly Rap album, in fact, the entire thing is quite demanding – but for those lovers of that incomparable Hip Hop craft we so rarely find in rap music today,  it’s Cancer 4 Cure that should find its way into your headphones as soon as possible.

Spotify: El-P – Cancer 4 Cure Vinyl: Click Here 
Key Track: “Oh Hail No” (Feat. Danny Brown, Killer Mike, Mr. Motherfuckin’ Exquire)

21. The Walkmen – Heaven
(Fat Possum)

walkmen

Like the bands My Morning Jacket or Wilco, I already kinda have a soft spot for the The Walkmen.  But regardless of my favoritism, from The Walkmen’s inception, their style has been a boundless evolution with none of their albums sounding like the previous, and all the while remaining distinctively The Walkmen.  On their latest, Heaven (produced by Phil Eck) Hamilton’s lyrics saunter within the enticing rhythms inside of each track.  On Heaven it feels like each moment is part of a continually unraveling ball of string; Each song feels immense and unrestrained within its proper amount reservation.  Heaven is easily my favorite work put out by The Walkmen and is a great addition to their already accomplished catalog.

Spotify: The Walkmen – Heaven Vinyl: Click Here
Key Track: “Song For Leigh”