Indie Current's Top 20 Albums of 2012

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Indie Current's Top 20 Albums of 2012

2012 brought on many great new discoveries for us here at Indie Current. Some were new and some were old, but for the most part, many of the albums that stood out to us this year were from artists past. Bands like Beach House, Mumford & Sons and Two Door Cinema Club came back with strong new albums, but it was the surprise of standout acts How to Dress Well and Caspian that real took us back. As a result, it took us a long while to finally bring our list down to a solid 20, but after doing so, we confidently believe that these were some of, if not, the best albums of 2012.

Beach House - Bloom

Beach House – Bloom

It’s hard to listen to Beach House‘s forth album Bloom without comparing it to the band’s airwave cracking release, Teen Dream. With it’s expansive and distant guitar drags, Bloom seemed to transgress out of the cleaner palette of Teen Dream and begin to embody something fuller. However, with Victoria LeGrand’s breathless and airy vocals it appears as though Bloom could not shake the sound which has quickly become so synonymous with duo.

Where Bloom really starts to diverge from Teen Dream though is when the duo drop the clean instrumentals and bring on a more expansive sound — most notable on tracks like “Wild” and “Wishes.” From the unfiltered backdrops and breathless vocals, to the soothing ambiance of just about every song to the album’s name, it seemed almost imminent that Beach House would capture our hearts again, and with the dreamy lo-fi aesthetic in Bloom, it looks like the Baltimore duo have been able to do just that.

Zulu Winter

Zulu Winter – Language

The Lumineers

The Lumineers – The Lumineers

Balmorhea

Balmorhea – Stranger

Miike Snow

Miike Snow – Happy to You

Ellie Goulding - Halcyon

Ellie Goulding – Halcyon

With her Calvin Harris collaboration aside, Ellie Goulding‘s sophomore release Halcyon really is something special. When we first heard Lights back in 2010 (and every point leading up to the release of Halcyon), we, and the rest of the world always knew Ellie Goulding had a sparkle about her, and in Halcyon, that sparkle really shone through. With singles like, “Anything Could Happen” and “Figure 8,” Ellie showed off her powerful electronic side, while in other singles like, “My Blood” and “Explosions,” we got to see her room-filling sound. The results of all of this versatility played in Ellie‘s favour and helped her put together one the best produced albums of the year.

How to Dress Well

How to Dress Well – Total Loss

Wintersleep

Wintersleep – Hello Hum

Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE

Caspian

Caspian – Waking Season

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - The Heist

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist

After 10 years of scraping the pavement, Macklemore and his partner-in-crime, Ryan Lewis, finally hit it big with their proudly independent release, The Heist. Between chart-topping singles, freshly remastered tracks, and a line of collaborations, the duo was able to compile a list of 18 tracks that encompassed a wide range of topics including, childhood dreams, playful ventures to the “thrift shop,” and most notably, the heavy subject matter of homosexuality in the rap game and beyond. The duo’s infectious collaborative skills meshed flawlessly to cohesively bring together an album that was not only strong on the front-end, but the back-end as well.

Mumford and Sons

Mumford & Sons – Babel

Two Door Cinema Club

Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon

Purity Ring

Purity Ring – Shrines

Urban Cone

Urban Cone – Our Youth

Last Dinosaurs - In a Million Years

Last Dinosaurs – In a Million Years

Australia really stood on top of the world this year when it came to new and exciting indie bands, and the ones that really topped the list amongst the Aussies was Last Dinosaurs. With the help of famed Australian producer Jean-Paul Fung, these young Aussies struck a chord with their beachy guitar riffs, jovial drum patterns, and refreshing lyrics that left comparisons to Two Door Cinema Club and Phoenix trailing in their path.

With every song just as exciting as the next, it becomes hard to decipher which track off of In a Million Years really gives this band the best run for their money, but with such a carefree transition between each song, you need not choose a favourite.

Of Monsters and Men

Of Monsters & Men – My Head Is an Animal (American Release)

Passion Pit

Passion Pit – Gossamer

The Weeknd

The Weeknd – Trilogy

Japandroids - Celebration Rock

Japandroids – Celebration Rock

If there was any set of music that spoke to us in 2012 — or at least myself anyways — it was the rock n’ roll workings of basement rockers, Japandroids. With the duo’s sophomore release, Celebration Rock, the two Vancouver natives are able to capture the “live-free, die-young” lifestyle in a jam-packed 7-track album that quite literally begins and ends with the sound of shooting fireworks.

From end to end, Celebration Rock truly is a celebration of all that is rock: bold, brash, and anthemic — the three key ingredients to any rock record. In the case of the album’s standout single, “The House That Heaven Built,” the duo grasp onto their last years of being young, wild, and free, and clench onto every lyric as if they were their last. This connection between lead guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse truly is something special to see, and with Celebration Rock, we were happy to have witnessed it on multiple occasions.

This “connection” of sorts, is part of what makes the album so special. While the duo hardly scream “dire straits” on any occasion, you get a sense of feeling that not only do both parts of the band feel passionate about their lyrics, but that they both had a hand in writing them. In the raw gravel of personal favourites, “Evil’s Sway” and “Younger Us,” it is easy to note this writing style, and it soon becomes easy to see the duo’s ability to relive their teen years even at the ripe age of 30.

It’s this appeal of living life to its fullest that is something of desire to most of us, but when listening to Celebration Rock you can really imagine it as reality. So, while we may not all be able to live life in the fast-lane, this album certainly helps some of us try.

Album List:
Beach House – Bloom
Zulu Winter – Language
The Lumineers – The Lumineers
Balmorhea – Stranger
Miike Snow – Happy to You
Ellie Goulding – Halcyon
How to Dress Well – Total Loss
Wintersleep – Hello Hum
Frank Ocean – channel Orange
Caspian – Waking Season
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist
Mumford & Sons – Babel
Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon
Purity Ring – Shrines
Urban Cone – Our Youth
Last Dinosaurs – In A Million Years
Of Monsters & Men – My Head Is an Animal (American Release)
Passion Pit – Gossamer
The Weeknd – Trilogy
Japandroids – Celebration Rock

Matt Pendrill

Editor-in-Chief | matt@indiecurrent.com View all post →