I know most people do end of the year lists during the year in question, but where’s the fun in that? I actually came up with this list in the beginning of December, but I wanted to wait until 2013 to see how well my idea of my favorite records matched up with the reality. And I had data that could be used to quantify “the reality.”
(Side note: I’ve kept an Excel spreadsheet of “what I listened to today” for years. Well technically, I’ve kept many spreadsheets, not just one, but you get the idea. I assume the idea came from my inner wannabe-archivist. Plus, it allows me to play in Excel 🙂 I run pivot tables and do all sorts of fun stuff with my “what I listened to today” data. I even started a “what I read today” spreadsheet last year, which is how I know that I read 52 different books in 2012.)
So, first the list and then a brief comparison between the list and my data. There’s 11 albums on the list and they’re listed in the order in which I thought of them. Also, I’m pretty sure that half of them (or more) came out before 2012, but whatever. I fell in love with these records in 2012, which makes them my favorite albums of the year, regardless of release date.
Walk the Moon – Walk the Moon
This is my favorite record that I bought as a result of radio airplay. (Radio still has some promotional value.) Even if the radio airplay did feature a really weird bit of censorship. But I already talked about that back in May or June. Walk the Moon was one of two bands I watched as part of the iTunes Festival (the other was Matchbox Twenty). They put on a fun show, which totally matched up with their fun record.
Standout Track: “Tightrope”
Kevin Devine & the Goddamn Band – Matter of Time
I commented on this record back in June, but it bears repeating. This is the first Kevin Devine record that I’ve loved immediately from front to back. Some day I will see him live, dammit – with or without the Goddamn Band. I would definitely seek out a Kevin Devine solo show, but I also wouldn’t be adverse to seeing him share a bill with Brand New, Manchester Orchestra, and/or Frank Turner (see below). Here’s hoping.
Standout Track: “No Time Flat”
City and Colour – Little Hell
City and Colour earned the title of my new favorite band of 2012. (Seriously, I now own all three of their records.) For whatever reason, 2012 was the year of indie-folk-singer/songwriters for me and I think this record had a lot to do with it. I’d heard “Fragile Bird” on Music Choice in late 2011 and really liked it, so I decided to use an iTunes gift card to buy this record. And I have been listening to Dallas Green (a/k/a City and Colour) ever since.
Standout Track: “Little Hell”
The Black Keys – El Camino
The Black Keys are the only band from the 2011 list to merit inclusion on the 2012 list. This may be because they are the only act on the 2011 list other than Bruno Mars to put out new music since I came up with my 2011 list. And if it weren’t for iTunes, I wouldn’t even know that Bruno Mars has a new record. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but I digress (wildly). It’s still hilarious to me that I own not one but two Black Keys records. But all it really says is I was super wrong about the Black Keys for years. Better late than never, right?
Standout Track: “Little Black Submarines”
O’Brother – Garden Window
The first time I heard O’Brother was when they opened for Brand New (at the best concert ever) in Atlantic City. I’d heard of them thanks to Manchester Orchestra, but I’d never had any desire to check them out. The live set didn’t convince me to check them out, either; I wanted to like them, but all I really heard was noise and incomprehensible vocals – not my thing. It wasn’t until Alt Nation started playing “Lo” that I was able to hear melody and less-incomprehensible vocals. This record is heavy and it does have a lot of noise, which doesn’t really fit my earlier “year of indie-folk-singer/songwriters” pronouncement, but I don’t care; I like this record anyway.
Standout Track: “Lo”
Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones
Frank Turner, on the other hand, totally fits that pronouncement. The funny thing is that I have no idea how I discovered him. I’m pretty sure it was the result of Spotify’s related artists feature, but I don’t know what inspired me to click on Frank’s page. But am I ever glad I did. I had the hardest time coming up with a standout track for this record; I could’ve just as easily picked at least three other songs. One of the things 2012 lacked for me was a record that I eagerly anticipated (with the exception of the hoped-for LP5 from Brand New that didn’t materialize), but 2013 won’t have that problem thanks to Frank Turner. (Actually, I believe Dallas Green is working on a new City and Colour record as well.)
Standout Track: “If Ever I Stray”
James Vincent McMorrow – Early In the Morning
I know that I checked this record out on Spotify due to a recommendation I read online. But I can’t remember who recommended it or where I read it. C’est la vie. It’s yet more indie-folk-singer/songwriter (that didn’t come out in 2012) and it is fantastic.
Standout Track: “Breaking Hearts”
Thrice – Anthology
I was bummed that Thrice’s 2011 record, Major/Minor, didn’t make my 2011 list, but happily their 2012 live record didn’t meet the same fate. I’m still bummed that Thrice broke up (or whatever euphemism they used) and even more bummed that I didn’t get to see their farewell tour. So getting this live record from said tour was a no-brainer. More bands should make live records, or at least more bands that I love.
Standout Track: “Beggars”
Mona – Mona
As I noted when I was compiling this list, the fact that I didn’t immediately think of this record speaks volumes. Sometimes I hate it when I’m right (which is funny because most of the time I love being right). I wouldn’t say that I burned out on this record, necessarily, but I haven’t really listened to it since June. It’s not that I decided it wasn’t any good or anything, either (which is, frankly, a relief); I just found other things I was more interested in listening to. I really do like this record, though. And I talked about it at length last year.
Standout Track: “Shooting the Moon”
Daytrader – Twelve Years
I decided to check this record out after reading a glowing piece on Daytrader in Alternative Press. I used Spotify first, of course, but liked it enough to buy it. Daytrader had quite a busy 2012: they put out a great record and broke up several months later. Looks like I’ll never see them live, but at least I have this record.
Standout Track: “Struggle with me”
Anthony Raneri – New Cathedrals EP
Last, and certainly not least, is Bayside frontman Anthony Raneri’s first solo EP. I loved Killing Time so much that it was only natural for me to buy this record when it came out. I always want to support artists I like when they branch out. Luckily, this EP is pretty darn good. It actually became my go-to dishwashing soundtrack; this record made washing dishes by hand much less of a chore.
Standout Track: “Please Don’t Leave”
Okay, it’s late and I’m tired, so just a quick comment on the comparison between the list and my data. I was honestly surprised at how closely the list fits my data. If my favorite records of the year were the ones I listened to the most, then this list is pretty much spot-on. There are only three significant diversions between the two. The first is that I didn’t include records I’ve loved for years on my list because otherwise it would’ve had a lot of Brand New. The second is that I decided I didn’t want to include more than one album per artist, which is why City and Colour’s second record, Bring Me Your Love, isn’t on the list. The third difference isn’t really significant; Thrice’s Anthology doesn’t qualify as one of my most-listened-to records of 2012, but it only came out at the end of the year and I did listen to it seven times (which isn’t insignificant). The thing I found slightly surprising, although it really shouldn’t have been, is that Mona’s self-titled record was my most-listened-to record of the year. (Brand New’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me and Deja Entendu are a close second and third.)