WPGU 107.1’s Top Albums of 2012: 20-11

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20 – The xx – Coexist

The xx’s first effort was legendary.  It is the ultimate relaxation album that is certain to calm anyone down on first listen.  Coexist channels that exact same energy, though it seems less innovative.  What is unfortunate, however, is that the very first track on the album (“Angels”) is arguably the best one, which leaves it really nowhere to go.  All in all, it was a great sophomore effort.

Written by Boswell Hutson

19 – Of Monsters and Men – My Head Is An Animal

This album, from end to end, is one of the most solid of the year. It’s insane how many successful singles are contained on one album. Though I thought much of their fame was based in the success of “Little Talks”, their set at Lollapalooza was absolutely fantastic. Plus, they make me want to move to Iceland.

Written by Boswell Hutson

18 – Cat Power – Sun

Like many great albums, the story of Sun‘s creation is itself an epic tale of conflict and victory: after bankruptcy, pressure from her label, and severe bouts with depression, Chan Marshall didn’t want to touch her usual tools–the piano and guitar–and instead learned how to work magic with a synthesizer and drum loops.  The result is this alternative gem, songs where every element is beautifully wound together, and when she breaks out the guitar and piano, it’s better than ever.  Perhaps the greatest message of this album appears on “Manhattan,” where she sings “people come, people go, all the friends that we used to know ain’t coming back,” a message of moving on in the face of the great tragedy, a common theme for her, here most beautifully overcome with hope.

Written by David Christians

17 – Grimes – Visions

2012 has been an explosive year for Canadian musicians, and Grimes (a.k.a. Claire Boucher) is no exception. The Montreal-based artist’s third album has made waves in many circles, as it appeals to pop fans and hipsters alike. “Oblivion” is certainly one of the catchiest songs of the year, and the slower songs on the album are some of the most soothing of the year.

Written by Claire Schroeder

16 – Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet On Sky

The best part about Dinosaur Jr.’s newest album, I Bet On Sky, is that it didn’t have to be good.  After reuniting in 2005, the band has now put out as many albums as they did in their original run, and they’re all good albums, which is not something many people expect after a reunion.  Although this album still features their signature noisy sound, it sounds more restrained than usual.  The result is a more laid-back feel that matches with the image of an aging band that can still rock.

Written by Eric Holmes

15 – The Shins – Port of Morrow

Returning to the Shins after 5 years, James Mercer had to deal with expectations of mountainous proportions, which he handled excellently. Despite the drastically changed lineup, Port of Morrow still sounds undeniably like the Shins. James Mercer is one of the best song-writers working today, and his streak continues with this album. Nearly every track is an indie-pop gem and warrants multiple listens.

Written by Eric Holmes

14 – Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls

I first had heard of the Alabama Shakes when I had heard an interview of them on Chicago’s WXRT.  Their down-to-earth nature led me to check them out even further, and I was certainly not disappointed.  Rooted in soul, this album has one of the most unique sounds of the year, and thus its position on this list should be no surprise.

Written by Boswell Hutson

13 – Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself

Andrew Bird once personified by only a violin, guitar and his scientific lyrics has left that image of himself behind. In Break it Yourself Bird goes with a more full, band-y sound and for the first time in his career, actually put several love songs on the album. His album is one you can definitely begin to relate yourself with and even jam out to in your car.

Written by Joe Winner

12 – Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory

Cloud Nothings are a bit of an acquired taste.  Their low-fi style definitely takes some getting used to, but after repeated listens to Attack on Memory it is clear that it belongs among the best of the year.  Though I didn’t get to see them perform at Pygmallion (I was very torn that their set conflicted with Best Coast), I heard it was a phenomenal set, which after listening to Attack on Memory is absolutely no surprise.

Written by Boswell Hutson

11 – Beach House – Bloom

When Victoria Legrande and Alex Scally released the guitar riff from “Gila” on 2008’s Devotion, Beach House became an indie pop mainstay in the hearts of many. Since then, they’ve only honed their sound more and more, on their 2010 masterpiece Teen Dream and now Bloom. The songs on this album have a new life, as the synth crescendos to higher highs and lower lows, like the subtle pause before the chorus of “Other People” that makes those pleasant Beach House melodies all the better.

Written by Maddie Rehayem


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