the obligatory 2012 retrospective

I realize I’m about a month late on this. God forbid I take a couple of weeks to process the year. But new years never feel different than old ones, and although much changed in 2012, more stayed the same. I still measure my life in semesters and I still have the same goals, ambitions, insecurities, desires, and anxieties as I always have. Though my optimistic self does feel closer to where I ultimately want to be–even though that’s often changing. And it should.

When it comes to music, 2012 was pretty great. Definitely better than 2011. I had a hard time even coming up with 10 albums last year. Without further adieu, here are my top 10 favorite albums of 2012.

10. Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman: Ascension
A welcome return to form. They’re back with Josh Eppard and the producers of their first three albums. This is the sound I missed. Chris Pennie is a better drummer, but Josh fits this band’s style much better. It’s still missing the epic prog rock tunes that I know they’re capable of, like most of their last few records, but I still love this one. The title track is probably their best song in recent memory.

9. Kids These Days – Traphouse Rock
Rap/rock/R&B fusion done right. This record flows seamlessly between country, blues, indie rock, and hip-hop styles in a way that doesn’t seem forced or awkward at all.

8. Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls
This band seemed to come out of nowhere. Brittany Howard is the best frontwoman I’ve heard in a long time. Amazing live. They seem so seasoned, like something my parents would listen to, in a good way.

7. Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE
Most creative R&B record I’ve heard in a long time. “Pyramids” might be the track of the year.

6. Poliça – Give Up the Ghost
Solid debut. I loved Channy with GAYNGS so I bought this record the day it came out.

5. Earlimart – System Preferences
I just discovered this band in 2012…one of my best finds. A lot of their songs have a very Elliott Smith vibe.

4. Kishi Bashi – 151a
of Montreal’s former violinist with a really impressive debut LP. I’m already hearing him in MTV shows and on commercials, which is a sign that he’ll be big this year.

3. Titus Andronicus – Local Business
I just love this band. This is a more back-to-basics record than the ambitious The Monitor, but that’s a good thing to me. They’ve done an epic already…no need to do it again.

2. The Viking Progress – Whistling While the End is Near
Excellent debut that you may not have heard much about outside of Athens. Very much influenced by In the Aeroplane Over the Sea all the way down to the album artwork, and including the fact that Scott Spillane plays on this record. But at the same time, it doesn’t sound like it’s ripping anything off. Patrick Morales wrote these songs while working on two fishing boats in Alaska named The Viking and The Progress. It’s a concept album about God deciding how to end the world. Between the concept and the ITAOTS influence, it sounds overly ambitious, but it’s really not. It’s just a really pretty record all the way through.

1. Reptar – Body Faucet
This album received an undeserved panning from Pitchfork. Honestly, many outlets would have this in a top 10 if it wasn’t for Pitchfork and their unwarranted influence on the indie zeitgeist. This was one of my most anticipated records this year and it doesn’t disappoint at all. I’ve also seen them live many times and each time was uniquely one of the most memorable shows I’ve been to. They’re basically WU LYF meets Animal Collective, but they’ve been around locally for a pretty good while, so I’ve been listening to them before I started listening to either of those bands.

Honorable Mention: Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Like Bon Iver last year, the new Japandroids is also good but overrated. Post-Nothing is the better record, and I felt like I had already heard too much of Celebration Rock on their 7″ releases over the past couple of years for me to consider it all that new.

Lastly, here are 5 songs from bands not mentioned above that I thoroughly enjoyed last year.

5. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – “Maniac”
This album didn’t get the attention it deserved. Almost made it in my top 10, but it was barely edged out. It has some really great moments. This is one of them.

4. The Antlers – “Drift Dive”
Burst Apart was my #1 of 2011. This was only an EP so it wasn’t in my consideration for albums of the year, but I love this band.

3. Sam Means – “Something in the Air”
Sam’s voice and the way he always sounds a little lo-fi reminds me of M. Ward with less folk, more pop.

2. fun. – “Some Nights”
Overplayed song and terrible production on most of this album. I trashed the album when it came out. To an extent, I don’t care. I’ve loved these guys too long and this song is irresistible. On the other hand, I really wish they had kept Steve McDonald, who produced Aim & Ignite and Dog Problems with The Format. He kept them from going too far into bubblegum territory, which is what this song is–aside from the lyrics, which are some of the best I’ve heard in a top 40 song in a long time.

1. CHVRCHES – “The Mother We Share”
This band is going to blow up soon…this song is too good. No album or tour outside of the UK yet. You’ll know them well this time next year.