Ashley’s Top Albums of 2012: 20-11

23 Dec

We’ve arrived at the big time, the top 20!

These are some of the best albums I’ve heard all year, obviously, but there’s also sometime special about albums 17-11.  I really badly wanted them all to be in the top ten.

A bottleneck like that is an amazing thing.

Read More:




20) Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It

perfume-genius_put-your-back-n2-it-200x200As a fan of Antony in the Johnsons, there was little chance I wouldn’t like this album, and that was all but proved upon hearing it.   That same falsetto-y goodness was the hallmark of this musical journey, with a bit more power behind the voice.  It’s a great album to hear on headphones, especially had a good time hearing it on that same California flight I mentioned before.

This album is pretty, gorgeous and it has been a constant companion through the year.  I can’t wait to hear more by this band.

Best Track:

19) Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten

the-gaslight-anthem-handwrittenI got into Gaslight Anthem in a big way in 2011, finally culminating in seeing them live this year.  My fandom has calmed quite an extent by this point, I admit, but before Handwritten came out, I had not been this excited for an album in quite some time.

This album was not everything I had been hoping for, but it was certainly a Gaslight Anthem album, and it certainly had that New Jersey rock I was hoping for.  They’ve turned into bigger Springsteen fan-boys than ever, which is just fine with me.

Best Track – an ode to the single:

18) Walk the Moon – Walk the Moon

Walk the Moon-thumb-200x200-15545Early in the year, Amazon declared “Anna Sun” to be the best song of the year.  I heard it and fell in love, but I fall in love with a band that sounds like this every year: Dance/Rock music that’s a little quirky and definitely is beat heavy.  First there was Hockey, then Friendly Fires and now their is Walk the Moon.

This was one of those situations, however, where I Was sure I was going to be disappointed, so I didn’t end up hearing the album.  By the end of the year, though I finally caved and listened and it has certainly been everything I’ve wished for and more.

Once again, the bonus is that they have another album out that I have yet to hear.  Hoping for another winner!

Best Track:

17) The Big Pink – Future This

the-big-pink_future-this-200x200All I have heard about this album all year is how disappointing it is.

I don’t know about that.  I enjoyed their debut, but I find this album better by a large margin.  It was only helped by the fact that they were one of the best live acts of the year.  My favorite moment of Lollapalooza.

This album is an amazing marriage of shoegaze, and a little bit of hip hop.  Yeah, hip hop.  Heavy beats, electronic music, it’s an exciting listen.

If you’re complaint about this album was that it’s not A Brief History of Love, I don’t know what to tell you, it’s your loss, I guess.

Best Track:

16) Passion Pit – Gossamer

gossamerThis album almost didn’t happen for me, but then the super-intrusive Pitchfork interview with lead singer, Michael Angelakos, regarding his depression occurred.

After that, the lyrics on this album really open up, you begin to really get a feel for some of the things he has been going through and then I definitely began to hope that this is not the end of this band.

Their debut is one of the best things to ever happen to electro-pop and the followup actually manages to improve on Manners.  Songs like “Cry Like a Ghost” and “Talk a Walk” hit you in that emotional core so hard, it’s hard not to wake up and take notice to the entire album.

Best Track:

15) Beach House – Bloom

BloomFunny enough, in 2010 Teen Dream (also by Beach House) was one of my least favorite albums.  I had no intention of hearing this release until the praise began to pour in.

Not praise from the usual suspects of indie either, but pretty much everyone who has heard the album loved it.

I finally listened to it, mostly because my husband just turned it on one day without even asking.  Of course, as you can see, I loved it.  Not only did I love it, but I went back and listened to Teen Dream, and while I didn’t love it too, I liked it enough to come around to these guys.

More importantly, they were again, one of the best shows I’ve seen this year, this time at Pitchfork Festival.   Unfortunately I was kind of sick during their set, but it was still a great show and I was glad to be there.

Best Track:

14) Sun Kil Moon – Among the Leaves

sun-kil-moon_among-the-leaves-200x200Mark Kozelek has consistently released a top 20 album for me three times in the last 4 years.  He’s also released  three albums in the last four years.  What I’m saying is, I always love what he does.  Maybe not enough to make my top albums, but enough to get me excited to see he’s got an album slated under his own name coming out next year.  Great to know that there’s already another one coming so quickly.

This folkster has a lot going for him.  Haunting vocals and beautiful lyrics, he’s truly released some awe-inspiring music.

Best Track:

13) The Ice Choir – Afar

afar-ice-choir-vinyl-cover-artMy favorite new act of the year right here.  As I mentioned here:

It may not be a good sign that I still can’t figure out if this band’s name has a “The” in it or not, but I’ll tell you right now, the last time I heard an approximation of a classic sound this good was Yuck’s self-titled debut (so really, it’s only been a year, but the point is, this is not something that happens once a week).  If you like Tears for Fears then stop reading this article right now and go check out Ice Choir.  It’s like they went to the studio Tears for Fears made their music in, stole all of the remaining equipment and whipped this bad-boy up in a lab full of bad haircuts and new romance.

As a fan of Tears for Fears, I had some trouble with this album at first, deciding if I only liked it because it sounded like TFF or if I liked it on its own merit.  When I found myself still singing the music days later and turning to the album again and again, I had my answer.

Unfortunately, this band is a side project, and it’s a side project of a fairly decent band: The Pains of Being Pure At Heart’s drummer, Kurt Feldmen, is the lead singer and pretty much mastermind of the act.  This tells me a lot of time may not be spent in touring this album, let alone in making more music.  I hope it’s not true, because there is so much room to grow here.

Best Track:

12) Stars – The North

Stars_TheNorth_200-200x200The last album by Stars, The Five Ghosts, managed to make it into my top albums ever.  To say I was excited for this album is an under-statement.

The lead single, “Theory of Relativity” proved to up the ante exponentially.

By the time the album came out, however, I was in the middle of a new semester at school, a new job and a lot of stuff going on in the rest of my life.  The fact is, I just didn’t have enough time to give this album the listens it required.  So, I heard it once, and then didn’t hear it again for about two months.  That second time I heard it, I was floored by  1) How long it had been since I last heard it and 2) How little I had heard it at all.

It’s a great album, only really hurt by two clunkers.

I could post so many songs as a favorite track, but I’m going to go with this one because there are some parts of it that just kill me, the Kate Bush vocals, the use of the word “Bastard” (something about songs like this and “Acrobat” by U2, tellin’ the Bastards what they can do are always fun for me), and of course the lyrics as a whole:

11) Twin Shadow – Confess

twin-shadow-confessOf all of the albums I’ve heard this year that were inspired by the 80s, this is far and away my favorite.

A dance album.

A New Wave album.

It’s definitely a keeper, for sure.  Again, funny, because I didn’t care much at all for his last album.  It’s not that I didn’t like it, but it didn’t strike me at all like this one did.

From the minute “Golden Light” begins, you know what you’re in for, it’s only unfortunate that the album hits its peak so quickly, as “Five Seconds”, the big time single, is track three.

Fact is, this is an album you’re going to turn to whenever you’re looking for something to pick up your mood and to get to that wonderful place of 80s goodness.

Best Track:

Tomorrow: The top 10.  This oughtta be a doozy.

Forgive some of the briefer moments here, I was watching National Lampoon’s Vacation while I wrote this, and couldn’t stop laughing long enough to really pound this out, but I didn’t want to draw it out and wait another day either.

One Response to “Ashley’s Top Albums of 2012: 20-11”


  1. Ashley’s Top Albums of 2012: 10-1 « An Ocean of Noise - 23/12/2012

    […] 20-11 […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: