Thursday, December 20, 2012

Best Music of 2012: Part 2

I started a little on the late side, and plan to take a long weekend to celebrate Little Chuck's second Christmas, so I'm counting them down a little faster than usual this year.

After this post, only the top ten remain. I'll be returning on December 27 to reveal those albums gradually between that date and New Year's Eve, when I'll announce #1. I know, I know. Much ado about nothing.

Anyway, if you celebrate the holiday, Merry Christmas. If you don't, Happy December 25th.

20. Stars - The North
Canadian artists tend to be the second most highly represented in my lists, and this year is no exception. Five Canadian bands and solo artists are here in total, including Kathleen Edwards (already revealed), this outfit and three listed below.

19. The Shins - Port of Morrow
The Shins win the award for most inconsistent album of the year, one that was top ten material based on its best tracks—most notably "Simple Song" and "No Way Down"—but contains some borderline unlistenable stuff as well, particularly the album closing title track.

18. Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Psychedelic Pill
When I heard this album, it made me kind of regret my decision to pass on this year's Neil and the Horse tour. There's nothing lyrically tremendous here, but in his advanced years, Young seems to be making the statement that simple and direct is the way to go. Or, perhaps, he's just become less creative. Either way, this one definitely made up for the mediocre affair that was their early 2012 release, Americana.

17. Metric - Synthetica
Since I've previously tried and failed to get into this band, I should go back and give the rest of their catalog another shot I suppose. Recommendations anyone?

16. Shearwater - Animal Joy
The album opening "Animal Life" is definitely one of my favorite songs of 2012. Obviously, the rest of the album doesn't quite maintain those lofty standards, but it's clearly this band's best to date.

15. Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan
One reviewer wrote about this album "...there are songs here that suggest the band has finally found the formula that finely balances its well-meaning musical intellectualism with actual pop songs." That pretty much sums it up.

14. Beach House - Bloom
There aren't really any killer songs here, just a beautifully cohesive set of tracks that, in the end, yield a "whole is greater than the sum of its parts" result.

13. Patterson Hood - Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance
Hood is still at his best when teaming with Mike Cooley to lead the Drive-By Truckers, but this ranks as his best solo effort, in my opinion.

12. A.C. Newman - Shut Down the Streets
The New Pornographers frontman beats out Neil Young and Metric for this year's highest ranking Canadian.

11. Craig Finn - Clear Heart Full Eyes
Of course, when it comes to storytelling, there is no one in modern music who tops the Hold Steady's lead singer. I'd probably rank this album behind every one in his main band's catalog, but that's more a testament to how great they are than anything else.

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