Friday Top 5: Albums of 2012 (so far)

Well, everyone else is doing it, so why don’t we?  We’re going to toss out our top five albums of the year, except we’ll be doing it with our four main contributors, so hopefully that’ll mix things up a bit.  Obviously, we’re only half-way through the year, so things are subject to change, and by things I mean our minds.

Nicole Baumann

1. Beach House- Bloom

At first, this album for me seemed a bit like a step back for Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, especially after the glory that is Teen Dream, but with repeated listening, this album has really grown on me and continues to ‘Bloom’ with every repeat. There’s no mistaking the power that this duo has to offer, nor the cohesion of the album. Bloom offers huge tracks like “Wild” and “New Year,” but all the songs work together to generate something truly beautiful to listen to. It’s the dream pop of your dreams.

2. The Tallest Man on Earth- There’s No Leaving Now

As a longtime fan of this man’s intricate songwriting and soulfully raspy vocals, this album proved to be a wonderful addition to his catalogue. There is a genuine emotive quality that his voice brings to the table that allows listeners to connect to whatever Kristian Matsson is singing about. In a world of extensively increasing electronic music, There’s No Leaving Now is a nice relief from complexity in aspects such as the number of instruments used and it’s a real treat in songwriting and overall lyrical genius.

3. The Shins- Port of Morrow

Despite how much I loved this record when I first heard it a few months back, it seemed a little too good to be true of a band that hadn’t put out an album in such a long time. However, I find myself coming back to this album over and over to lap up the sunny indie pop that Mercer and company have done so well once again. This band’s still got it; the quirky lyrics, the groovy guitar hooks, and a bunch of new songs that show off how much energy they have.

4. Frankie Rose- Interstellar

This album shows a huge amount of growth from Frankie Rose since her debut album. From start to finish, there is an air of mystique and darkness to this jangly pop that grabs your attention. It is the very example of what a sophomore effort should be: dynamically different in all the ways you want it to.

5. The Walkmen- Heaven

Even though it was released recently, I feel like this album has already laid claim to a spot due to its merit; it’s a damn good record from a damn good band. The lush nature of this release makes it really easy to listen to, but it doesn’t put you to sleep either. Heaven’s got a little bit of everything tasty.


Nathan Lankford

1. Terry Malts – Killing Time

I said this early on, and I’m sticking with it.  These dudes crafted a pop record that sounds like the Ramones went and got wasted on fuzzy pop.  You can play this album on repeat over and over, and still, it never ever gets old. Probably one of my favorite albums not only this year, but in a really long time.

2. Cloud Nothings – Attack On Memory

This record took me by surprise; it sounded nothing like the earlier work, and yet exactly like it…only with the volume turned up extremely loud.  I was on the fence about my love for the album, but then I caught the group live, and it goes down as the best show I’ve seen this year, featuring almost every track from the record. It’s loud, it’s melodic, and it flat out deserves all the accolades its received.

3. Cats on Fire – All Blackshirts to Me

My adoration for this group continues. They make some of the smoothest pop music around, and even give a nod to football (soccer), so I can’t help but fall completely in love.  If they weren’t separated by the ocean, I think I’d follow the group around just to see them play these songs every single night. I dare you to listen to this album once and not fall in love.

4. Literature – Arab Spring

Okay, so we put this record out, but I wouldn’t have done that if I didn’t whole-heartedly believe in the talent of the songwriting by Nate and Kevin.  There’s some songs that come off as power-pop, then there’s gems that hit like indie pop.  Every time I listen to this record a huge smile comes to my face, my toes tap and I break out in song.  If that doesn’t do it for you then you need to see a doctor ASAP.

5. Royal Headache – s/t

Clearly, this a great year for rock n’ roll to reassert its dominance in an electronic-laden landscape.  No band did it as brilliantly as Royal Headache.  Imagine some of the best garage rock coming your way with Wilson Pickett, singing atop it all. Soul and rock n’ roll never sounded so magnificently intertwined. Seriously, you’re going to wear out your record player with this one.


Ray Ray

1. The Talletst Man On Earth – There’s No Leaving Now

His comparisons to Bob Dylan are bold, but with each great release, we all see him developing into a modern day legend. This release can make you cry while making you smile all at the same time. The emotion in this songwriting is unparalleled in the indie world.

2. The Men – Open Your Heart

Seeing this band play during SXSW only confirmed their spot on my list. With The Men, you’re going to get fast and loud rock n roll music with not one ounce of BS. This is really like a second number one for me right up there with Tallest Man.

3. Cloud Nothings – Attack On Memory

This is another incredible rock record from the young guys in Cloud Nothings. It reminds me of a similar favorite from Titus Andronicus from last year with it’s short and sweet rockers paired with lengthy instrumentals.

4. JBM – Stray Ashes

I guess you would call this my sleeper pick here on this Top 5. When this first came out, I gave it a few spins and forgot about it. I’ve recently come back to it and realized how beautiful the songwriting is on this record. This is just a pretty sounding record. I’d also highly recommend checking out his live videos from Ikonen on vimeo.

5. Beach House – Bloom

What else can you say about this record? Still don’t understand how ATH gives this 3.5 stars. Maybe I should have written the review on that one.


Brian Gray

So I have to follow that? I mean, what is left? I love the releases from Beach House, Terry Malts, Cloud Nothings, etc. Well, plenty.

1. White Arrows – Dry Land Is Not A Myth

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to think going into their recent show at Red7 opening for Beat Connection after getting three stars here. What I walked away with was a whole new appreciation for this collection of songs. Playing this back after seeing the show, it clicks. Play out loud.

2. Tanlines – Mixed Emotions

This is one of those albums that I put on in the background while going through pics. I make a habit of clicking the like button when a song catches my attention. All said and done, I had liked five of them, a solid hit ratio. Three tracks are still on my evening playlist. What can I say, I like the Brooklyn electro.

3. Standard Fare – Out of Sight Out of Town

I was tipped off by Nathan’s review of this record. It sums it up perfectly; “Out of Sight, Out of Town” is an effort that’s sharp, clever and ultimately enjoyable for all fans of pop music.” You don’t really want to highlight any individual tracks here, but if I had to, “Suitcase” wins.

4. Chairlift – Something

Something put Chairlift on my SxSW had-to-see list. Compared to Does You Inspire You, the songs are more well crafted, tugging at my sucker strings for nostalgiac 80’s synth tones – chimes and breaks, falsettos and harmonies, all pulled off well, even in a live setting.

5. Grimes – Visions

Yes, this was officially released in 2012. Does it have the staying power to make to end of year lists? Has Grimes already jumped the shark? The answers are probably not and probably. So let’s honor Grimes with a spot on the mid year before she drifts into “Oblivion”. Get it? No really, this was/is good album. Check deeper into it for the darker stuff.

5. DIIV – Oshin

Last minute change. This was released this week. We saw them at SxSW, we saw them wreck it for Frankie Rose by destroying her crowd in the middle spot of the line up. Listening to the full release will either encourage you to drive fast or find a body of water to float in, or drive fast to a body of water. It has instrumentals, it works played loud or in the background. It makes it in the list in dramatic last minute fashion.


We’ve got tons of things that we left out that we loved such as Gentleman Jesse and His Men, Hunx, Sonic Avenues, Sharon Van Etten and on and on.  Obviously, these were each of our own favorites.  What’s on your list? Are we wrong? Do tell!

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