My Favorite Albums of 2012
by Joe Thomas
Inspired by the Rev’s list of (excellent) albums from 2012, I have compiled one myself. I will preface this list by saying this is less a “best of 2012” list and more of a “here are a bunch of great albums from 2012” list because I haven’t listened to nearly enough of the terrific music that came out last year. So keep that in mind before impaling me for leaving off Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Beach House, Grizzly Bear, Ariel Pink, etc. I just haven’t gotten around to them yet. This list isn’t in any particular order; choosing twenty was hard enough, and how am I supposed to say whether Killer Mike’s album was “better” or “worse” than Dwight Yoakam’s? So completely randomized, here are my favorite albums I actually listened to in 2012.
Titus Andronicus- Local Business
One of my favorite straight-up rock bands around right now, I fell in love with Titus Andronicus about the same time most people did, when they released their album “The Monitor” in 2010. “Local Business” is a tremendous follow-up; it makes me want to do the twist and mosh at the same time.
Sharon Van Etten- Tramp
I didn’t like this album the first couple times I listened to it. I think it was because I first listened to it this past summer. I gave it another shot when the weather got cooler, and all of a sudden it clicked. The song “Give Out” is stands out to me.
Dwight Yoakam- 3 Pears
Dwight Yoakam has always been one of my favorite country singers. He has a unique voice and style and really stands out from a lot of country that gets played nowadays, which is probably why his new stuff doesn’t get played that much. This album is great, and features an ass-kicking version of “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke”.
Killer Mike- R.A.P. Music
Well produced, solid front to back, and angrier than hell. Killer Mike never holds back, and his albums are successful because of it.
Beachwood Sparks- The Tarnished Gold
Possibly my favorite album of the year. It’s the one I’m listening to as I make this list. I loved it when it was warm out, I love it now that its cold. I love it when I’m in a good mood, and I love it when I’m in a bad mood.
Fun.- Some Nights
Even though I got sick of the singles once they made it on the radio, there was a solid two months when this album never left my car CD player. That’s gotta mean something, right?
The xx- Coexist
Great relaxing album, very calming. This music makes you go “Ahhhhhhhh”.
The Temper Trap- The Temper Trap
“Sweet Disposition” is one of my favorite songs, period, so when this album came out I had high expectations. It’s really fantastic anthemic pop, buoyant music that makes me crave the summer.
Shovels & Rope- O’ Be Joyful
One of the best shows I saw in 2012 was Shovels & Rope, Jonny Corndawg, Matt Hudgins and His Shit-Hot Country Band, and Andrew Combs (who appears later on this list) at the Earl. Shovels & Rope, although a two-piece, creates this really full sound that makes their live show a real treat, and it translates really well to this record.
Cory Branan- Mutt
I’ve liked Cory Branan for a while, since I saw him play with Ben Nichols from Lucero. Anyone that Ben Nichols likes, I like. “Mutt” is a great punkish country album that highlights Cory’s trademark rasp and some really fantastic musicianship.
Justin Townes Earle- Nothings Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now
By this point, if I’ve had more than like three conversations with you I’ve probably talked your ear off about Justin Townes Earle. He’s quite possibly my favorite act on the road right now, and it pains me to be typing this just hours after missing his performance at the Melting Point in Athens. He’s an awesome songwriter, a terrific guitar player, a wonderful storyteller, a mean drunk, and I had the pleasure of being at Smiths Olde Bar once when he destroyed some Tech frat boy hecklers that were yelling to much. JTE rules.
Andrew Combs- Worried Man
I’ve already mentioned Andrew Combs in a “Joe Recommends” post, and everything I said there still holds true.
Diamond Rugs- Diamond Rugs
Guys from Deer Tick, Dead Confederate, Black Lips, and Steve Berlin from Los Lobos? I was intrigued. And I’m glad I was.
Lee Baines III & the Glory Fires- There Is A Bomb In Gilead
Gotta thank Bryan for this one. He told me about Lee Baines several times, and one night at the EARL I happened to look to see who was playing that night and it was LBIII. I caught the show and it was outrageous. Great music, great showmanship.
Alt-J- An Awesome Wave
I found out about these guys from my friend Arlo. It’s different than most of the stuff I normally listen to, but I really dig it. Spacy harmonies and driving beats, with guitar parts that remind me of Explosions In The Sky. Good solo driving music.
The Menzingers- On The Impossible Past
Just a great rock album. I don’t know how else to put it. I want to see this band live really badly.
Corb Lund- Cabin Fever
An album with track names like “You Ain’t A Cowboy (Til You’ve Been Bucked Off)”, “Priceless Antique Pistol Shoots Startled Owner”, and “Pour ‘Em Kinda Strong” gets on my list. It’s some kind of rule.
Kelly Hogan- I Like To Keep Myself In Pain
Several musicians I really like kept mentioning Kelly Hogan, and then my next-door neighbor mentioned he was friends with her, so I gave the album a shot. She has an outstanding voice and I really like her lyrics, they feel very honest.
Big Boi- Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors
Big Boi for life. Unlike any hip-hop album I’ve ever heard.
Album I Refused To Like Or Even Listen To As A Braves Fan:
Album I Had To Include Because Even Though I Didn’t Like It As Much As The Others, I Love The Artist So Much I Had To:
The Mountain Goats- Transcendental Youth