When I read end of the year album reviews and best of the year posts, I am not looking to make sure my favorite albums made the list. Well there is a bit of curiosity about that, but what I really look for are albums I may have missed, second looks at albums I did not spend enough time with, and simply, more new music to listen to.
The double edged sword of music today is that there is so much out there and not always enough time to listen and enjoy. I could not possibly discover everything new that I would like to. I am thankful that my musical taste spans many genres. The end of the year is a wonderful time to cherry pick new music.
With my picks for best music of 2012, I selected the albums that I connected with most and played the most.
Polica - Give you the Ghost
This album hit my ears toward the end of Winter which is a time where a handful of albums will really stick due to the changing of my least favorite season (Winter) into one that I like (Spring). The song "Lay Your Cards Out" really drew me in to Polica's style. This album is just one rare example where I do not mind autotune at all. Every song is thoroughly emotional mixed with fresh beats and instrumentation. Others have compared Polica to certain bands, but for my money, there is no substitution or close enough relation to this collection of songs. I had this album on full repeat heavily this Spring. When I hear any song off of it now, it instantly transports me to Spring of 2012. This is powerful music that reminds of days, smells, and certain outside air.
Crosses - EP 2 (EP)
This set of songs feels like a an extension of EP 1 which is probably the best thing possible. If you like Chino Moreno's voice and cool, moody electronic type pop with hooks only Chino could sing, EP2 is it.
Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again
This album caught me by surprise. What I heard was not what I was expecting to hear. Kiwanuka's voice is like something brought to us from a soulful past via a time machine. I thought of Otis Redding, but even as old timey as these songs can feel, you can still tell that they are fresh and new. "Tell Me a Tale" is the single and rightfully so. I played that song a thousand times before I gave the rest of the album a chance.
Tennis - Young & Old
Tennis has a great sound. It has a bit of a retro pop feel to it but at the end of the day, the vocal melodies are what make Tennis a true standout. This album as well as Cape Dory previously, is simply enchanting.
Icona Pop - Iconic (EP)
For me, this EP sounds like something I would not normally like at first. Then, I think of La Roux's "Bulletproof", C.S.S, and even Santigold. This EP is filled with moxy and undeniable hooks. "I Love It" and "Manners" are fantastic. But the real standout is "Sun Goes Down". It starts off sounding like you left your back car window open and then the beat just gets downright dirty.
Passion Pit - Gossamer
This is possibly the best track 1-2-3 pop punch to start off an album this year. This album is full of easy-on-the-ears hooks. I got caught up in "Torches" by Foster The People last year. I think of this album as somewhat of a continuation of that.
Exotic Animal Petting Zoo - Tree of Tongues
This album is amazing but what is more important is that this band is amazing. I would put Exotic Animal Petting Zoo in the same category as Fair To Midland and Protest The Hero, not in terms of style necessarily, but in terms of how happy I was to discover them. Every now and again a band like this comes along with a heavier edge but offers so much more with their writing and style. I cannot wait to hear what they do next because this album left me inspired.
Deftones - Koi No Yokan
Deftones is one of my favorite bands of all time. Every one of their albums has a special place in my music library. Koi No Yokan though, is the best record I heard in 2012. It is the most complete rock experience I have had in a long time. It means a lot when an album comes along and it is the only thing I could listen to, front to back, on repeat for weeks. That kind of thing does not necessarily happen to me very often. It is one of those albums in which my favorite song changes as days passed. Deftones have been doing their own original thing for a long time now and I hope they continue for a long time to come.
These albums were merely the tip of the iceberg in 2012. Here is a playlist that includes more of my favorites from the past year.