My Year 2012 In Music – Mid-Year Edition

Last December, I did a post that I was very excited about doing – a post about music.  I’d say I purchase quite a bit of it.  Some I’ll listen to once or twice; but others I’ll have on repeat for weeks.  The following is a listing of great albums I’ve purchased this year, complete with Amazon links and, if available, a YouTube link to one of my favorite tracks.  The list is in no particular order.

1. Hospitality – Hospitality

This is a great new indie-pop band that just released their first album, the self-titled Hospitality.  And I’d say they are off to a good start.  The album is a nice collection of fun, catchy tunes.  You’ll definitely dig this album if you’re into bands like Camera Obscura, Belle & Sebastian, etc.  The track that stuck out to me was “The Birthday”.

2. Allo Darlin – Europe

It’s hard to describe Allo Darlin without sounding cheesy.  Their songs are utterly infectious tales of love and happy times.  I’m not exaggerating when I say this band will raise the spirits of all but the most jaded listener.  Their second album expands and grows their sound, refining it while still being insanely fun and sweet.  Your sample track is “The Letter”.

3. Trampled By Turtles – Stars & Satellites

Bluegrass is simply one of my favorite forms of music.  It’s hard to match the energy it can provide.  There are many great bands out there today, but this album by the group Trampled By Turtles has provided me with many enjoyable listens.  The whole thing is good, but your sample track is “Alone”.

4. Tennis – Young & Old

Tennis is a bit of an oddity.  It sounds like something straight out the 50’s and 60’s, but yet fresh.  They are powered by the husband-wife duo of Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley.  Alaina’s vocals are consistently strong and sweet, and the songs consist of great little pop tunes, all under 4 minutes long.  Great summer listen. Sample song is “Origins”.

5. Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal

This is an awesome new folk/chamber pop band out of Iceland.  They are already starting to get attention, and I honestly think they could be huge.  Their songs are layered, catchy and often beautiful.  My favorite is called “Sloom”:

6. Sara Watkins – Sun Midnight Sun

Sara Watkins produces a nice blend of country, bluegrass, and indie pop.  I couldn’t find it on YouTube but the song I keep coming back to is “Lock and Key”.

7. Regina Spektor – What We Saw From The Cheap Seats

Ah, Regina.  She’s settled into her own niche of super-quirky pop that her fans, myself included, can’t get enough of.  He latest is another great collection of songs.  It’s better than Far, not quite as good as Begin To Hope.  Standout tracks include “How” and “Firewood” but the whole thing is worth a listen.  Here is the aforementioned “How”:

8. Okkervil River – I Am Very Far

Finally, a bit of indie rock.  Okkervil River makes me think of Wilco with some My Morning Jacket.  Very good stuff.  Favorite tune is “Piratess”:

And that about does it.  There’s plenty of other stuff out there that I’m sure I missed.  Feel free to suggest things you think I’d like… I love to find new stuff!

My year in music – 2011

Music is something I greatly enjoy, yet it is something I rarely get to talk about.  I have a few friends on Twitter that have similar tastes but the subject just does not come up that often.  So, in order to share a little bit about what I like and have been listening to this year, I thought I’d share a smattering of music I purchased and enjoyed in 2011.  No human alive, save for those for whom it is their job, can listen to everything that comes out.  So if you by chance see my selections and think there’s another artist I might like, don’t hesitate to comment or speak up!

In no particular order, here are a few albums I bought this year, along with links to Amazon and, if I could find one, a YouTube video.

1. Wye Oak – Civilian

This is a fantastic album.  The title track, “Civilian”, was one of my most listened-to tracks of the year.   Wye Oak creates a sound that is complex and somewhat haunting, with interesting religious overtones and just enough of a rock edge.  Listen to the track below… it is awesome.

2. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

As a massive fan of Fleet Foxes’ first offering, this one had high expectations from me, and did not disappoint in the least.  This is one of those albums that gets better with each listen as you discover new levels.  Expertly crafted songs.  My favorite track is hard to pick, but I’ll go with the title track, “Helplessness Blues.”

3. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

Now this one was a bit of a departure for me.  I’ve never been a fan of music with a lot of electronic sounds.  But this one quickly won me over.  It is a complex, interesting collection of songs that is simply a great listen.  Tracks I particularly liked include “Cruel” and “Cheerleader”.

4. Pistol Annies – Hell on Heels

I don’t buy a lot of country music (maybe one or two albums a year).  A lot of it, quite frankly, sucks.  But the Pistol Annies go back to classic country goodness to produce a very enjoyable record.  Favorite tracks include “Lemon Drop” and “Bad Example”.  Below is the only one officially on YouTube, the title track.

5. The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow

This is just a fantastic debut by two musicians who have amazing chemistry and produce some of the most pleasant music I’ve heard this year.  Pretty much every track is a nice listen.  One of my favorites is “Girl With The Red Balloon”.

6. The Head and the Heart – The Head and the Heart

I’ve heard this band compared to Mumford & Sons, another one of my favorite groups.  But I found this ensemble to be somewhat lower-energy, a little more laid-back.  There are some great tunes here though, I’d suggest “Lost in my Mind,” “Ghosts,” and “Down in the Valley” to start.

7. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

This one I just discovered about a week ago so it just made it under the wire.  Really good music, with a harrowing theme about England in turmoil.  Worth a purchase for both reasons.

8. Belle and Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister

Yes, first of all I do realize this album came out in 1996.  So I’m a little behind here – give me a break, I wasn’t always a big music fan.  But if you’re someone who has not heard this, or even more so if you’ve never heard Belle and Sebastian, this is pretty much the most perfect indie pop I’ve heard.  Every song’s a winner.  I’m so glad I decided to dig into B & S this year – better late than never.

So there you go.  As promised, a sampling of what I was buying and listening to in 2011.  I bought plenty of other stuff too (through eMusic and Amazon) but I either haven’t had the chance to fully take it in, or it just simply did not stick with me.  I might add one or two if I discover a glaring hole.  But for now, I’d invite you to enjoy the videos I posted and perhaps discover some wonderful new music!