The Best Albums of 2012

This past year (well past by this point might I add) provided us with a slew of good to great music. There were new albums from Ben Gibbard, Muse, The Killers, and B.o.B. to name a few. They all made solid efforts in 2012, but they didn’t quite crack the top ten albums. Below is my list, long overdue.


01: Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal

From the opening of the first track you can almost sense that this is a special effort. There is a quiet intensity, a captivating beauty, that threads through every melody and harmony on this wonderful debut album from Iceland. By the time you get to the final track you’re only thought will be to press play again.

mp3 : Of Monsters and Men – Yellow Light


02: The Lumineers – The Lumineers

Another brilliant debut album on the list. Bursting with raw emotion and well written lyrical vignettes this album is filled with driving drumbeats and folk fueled romance. Although a few of their tracks are more aligned with radio friendly airtime it’s when they slow down that their true talent shines through.

mp3 : The Lumineers – Submarines


03: John Samson – Provincial

Many of the songs that appear on his debut solo effort closely mirror his top shelf work with The Weakerthans. While some reviewers this past year found this off-putting I find John Samson’s lyrical storytelling to be just as captivating with or without his regular band.

mp3 : John Samson – Heart of the Continent


04: Mumford and Sons – Babel

Not much needs to be written about this band or this album. They’ve grown up from an indie darling quartet to a full on success recognized the world over. This album is a worthy continuation of their career.

mp3 : Mumford and Sons – Where are You Now


05: Sufjan Stevens – Silver and Gold

I know; this is a Christmas album that’s actually a collection of five separate EP’s that were written over half a decade and they just happened to be released as a box set in 2012. I know all the reasons that this technically shouldn’t be on a list, but the entire collection is simply so good that it can’t be relegated to one month of listening every year. On top of that you can listen to each EP in chronological order and follow along with the evolution of his musical style.

mp3 : Sufjan Stevens – Christmas in the Room


06: The Walkmen – Heaven

On this album The Walkmen continue their waffling between being effortlessly cool and trying really hard to channel Bob Dylan. The magic is when both of those efforts combine into a single glorious song. This is their best album since Bows + Arrows.

mp3 : The Walkmen – Line by Line


07: Beach House – Bloom

Although not quite as captivating as their previous effort (Teen Dream) their latest effort provides the same breathy vocals and building crescendos that have become their trademark.  This music would fit in almost any scenario.

mp3 : Beach House – Myth


08: Matt & Kim – Lightning

If you didn’t feel like dancing you will after a single listen to this album.  Or you might have a seizure.  It’s honestly a tossup.  Matt & Kim put out a solid album this time around and their one weakness (vocals on slower tracks) is kept to a minimum this time around.

mp3 : Matt & Kim – Now


09: fun. – Some Nights

It began for most people when their song We Are Young was featured prominently in a primetime commercial (possibly debuted during the Big Game?)  If you were daring enough to jump into the full album from that snippet you would find yourself treated to a modern day pop musical; complete with letters to moms, hanging out with friends, and pleas to find true love.

mp3 : fun. – All Alright


10: Jack White – Blunderbuss

I feel like I’m breaking an unwritten rule putting Jack’s first solo album this far down my list.  The problem is that for every brilliant track on the album, there is another track that reminds you how great Jack White is when he’s surrounded by other creative people.  This is a solid album, but it’s not his best effort.  I’ll go ahead and label it the Josh Ritter effect whereby an album starts off brilliantly and then veers into head scratching territory.

mp3 : Jack White – Freedom at 21

 

The Best Albums of 2011

I fully understand that my best of the year list is usually published far after many of the hip new kids.  The World Forgot has long been a dessert blog, if you will, that might not provide enough sustenance on a day to day basis to get you through life, but I do provide a sweet finish.  On top of that I’ve been able to listen through all of the albums I heard in 2011 for an extra month.  In all reality this is the definitive list.  Enjoy the music.


01 : Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Fleet Foxes crafted a pitch perfect sophomore album that cleverly showcases all of their strengths.  There really isn’t much you could change about this album.  It’s the perfect soundtrack for a long drive and is very enjoyable to sing along with tales of Montezuma or of owning an orchard.

mp3 : Fleet Foxes – Montezuma
mp3 : Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues


02 : Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Bon Iver came out swinging with his sophomore album as well.  In fact he almost topped the chart (and depending on the weather outside my window when writing this he probably could).  His second album proved beyond a doubt that he has a bright and long future ahead.

mp3 : Bon Iver – Holocene
mp3 : Bon Iver – Hinnom, TX


03 : I Break Horses – Hearts

I fell in love with this album as soon as I heard the first two tracks.  There is something overwhelmingly captivating about their synth heavy crescendos.  (And as icing on the cake they’re supposed to tour with M83 in 2012).

mp3 : I Break Horses – Hearts
mp3 : I Break Horses – Empty Bottles


04 : Foster the People – Torches

Somewhere between becoming extremely radio friendly (with their single Pumped up Kids) and having songs featured in the video game Fifa 12 as well as on Nissan commercials I feel like a lot of bloggers and critics wrote them off without listening to their entire album.  Let’s face it, this is a great pop/indie album; this is the kind of album we all wanted MGMT to make.

mp3 : Foster the People – Helena Beat
mp3 : Foster the People – Miss You

05 : Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys

And just like that roughly 80% of you have stopped reading this list.  Get over it.  Yes, I know that this isn’t as good as Transatlanticism (or maybe even Plans).  But this is a solid album with signature Death Cab moments sprinkled throughout.  It keeps the hope alive that the man who brought us the Postal Service album Give Up and the aforementioned Death Cab masterpiece Transatlanticism in the same calendar year still has what it takes to create amazing songs.

mp3 : Death Cab for Cutie – Underneath the Sycamore
mp3 : Death Cab for Cutie – St. Peter’s Cathedral


06: Cults – Cults

Clever indie for the entire album.  It’s the type of album that’s hip enough for you to love, but if you threw it on a scratchy record player you might convince your parents it’s a band you can all enjoy together.

mp3 : Cults – Go Outside


07 : Hooray for Earth – True Loves

Maybe I’m addicted to shoegaze and synth (or maybe I’m finally starting to like this so called 80’s revival), but whatever the reason I fell in love with the Hooray for Earth album over the past five weeks.

mp3 : Hooray for Earth – Last Minute


08 : M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

Easily their most well received and easily accessible album to date this album by french artists M83 brought to light the fact that many artists have been perfecting shoegaze and synth (notice a theme here) for more than the past eighteen months.

mp3 : M83 – Midnight City


09 : Radiohead – King of Limbs

It’s hard for me to listen to a studio album from Radiohead and not immediately compare it to two things.  First, their live show is unbelievable.  Second, Kid A and OK Computer are still the peak of their recordings for me.  Also, to be fair, at times while listening to this album you’re thinking “I really wish every song was as good as Bloom.”

mp3 : Radiohead – Bloom


10: Adele – 21

A, her voice. B, her voice on the song Someone Like You. (that should be enough to be in a top ten).

mp3 : Adele – Someone Like You

That is my list for 2011.  We had a decent year as far as music goes.  Foo Fighters and Coldplay played true to their sound (although Rihanna tried very hard to ruin Coldplay).  Beastie Boys released an album that was, essentially, in homage to their former selves.  In addition to more established acts there were solid efforts by other bands like The Kills, We Were Promised Jetpacks, New Villager, Josh Garrels, and The Dodos.  This, however, is my list and I’m sticking to it.

For previous years just follow this link.

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The Best Albums of 2010

The past year was filled with unforgettable music.  As I was poring over all of the great albums I began agonizing (often vocally to my wife) about how I was possibly going to choose which albums would make this list.  Throughout the past two months I’ve been listening to twenty albums on constant repeat and below I present to you the fruits of this labor.

01 : The National – High Violet (amazon) (itunes)

The National crafted an album in 2010 that surpassed all of the hype that has been surrounding them since they released their album Alligator in 2005.  Of all the great music in 2010 this album narrowly surpassed the rest of the pack in grabbing and holding my attention the most.

mp3 : The National – Sorrow
mp3 : The National – Conversation 16

02 : Cloud Cult – Light Chasers (amazon) (itunes)

There are five or six albums in this list that could have easily laid claim to the coveted number one position.  Light Chasers sits at number two on the list because every single song adds to the story arc and each track contributes something new, yet cohesive, to the experience.

mp3 : Cloud Cult – The Invocation (p.1) – You’ll Be Bright
mp3 : Cloud Cult – The Arrival – There’s So Much Energy In Us

03 : Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz (amazon) (itunes)

Many people didn’t know what to think of Sufjan’s return to music.  He eschewed his well known banjo and modern folk interpretations and instead produced a sprawling epic that combines intricate storytelling with even more intricate electronic compositions.  Truly a great album.

mp3 : Sufjan Stevens – Now That I’m Older
mp3 : Sufjan Stevens – Vesuvius

04 : Jonsi – Go (amazon) (itunes)

Jonsi went solo this year from Sigur Ros and he came up with an album that sounds as great as his band, but it moves along with a joy and brevity that they don’t typically employ.

mp3 : Jonsi – Kolnidur

05 : Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (amazon) (itunes)

When you see Arcade Fire at fifth on this it’s easy to see just how hard it was to arrange the top ten.  The only problem I have with this album (which is the same as everyone else) is that it isn’t full of songs on the same level as Wake Up.  I know that isn’t fair, but it’s what we’re all waiting for.

mp3 : Arcade Fire – Rococo

06 : Vampire Weekend – Contra (amazon) (itunes)

In 2008 I was ready to write these Ivy League yuppie kids off as a typical flash in the pan.  On their sophomore album they’ve found a way to turn smug indie rock into something worth listening to over and over again.

mp3 : Vampire Weekend – Horchata

07 : Broadcast 2000 – Broadcast 2000 (amazon) (itunes)

The only reason this great album doesn’t move higher on the list is that many of the songs appeared two full years ago on their debut EP.

mp3 : Broadcast 2000 – Rouse Your Bones

08 : Freelance Whales – Weathervanes (amazon) (itunes)

Having been released back in early April it’s easy to see why many list makers completely forgot about this slice of well crafted folk pop.  The entire album is well crafted and infectious.

mp3 : Freelance Whales – Generator Second Floor

09 : Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (amazon) (itunes)

While I don’t agree with his lyrics, his message, his ego, or his personality I do agree with critics and listmakers across the globe that realize this album is worth looking past Ye’s flaws.

mp3 : Kanye West – Lost In The World (feat. Bon Iver)

10 : Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History (amazon) (itunes)

Each year I seem to find one amazing pop album that I can listen to again and again.  In 2009 it was Phoenix and in 2010 it was Two Door Cinema Club.

mp3 : Two Door Cinema Club – Eat That Up, It’s Good For You

Those are my top ten albums for 20010.  If you’d like to see my previous lists follow these links; 2009, 2008, 2007 (or click here to see all 4 years on one page).  I’m looking forward to 2011 in music as there will most likely be albums by Radiohead, Coldplay, Bon Iver, and The Strokes.  Enjoy the music.

+ more music @ twf hype elbows amazonmp3 itunes
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