WPGU 107.1’s Top Albums of 2012: 40-31

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40 – Stars – The North

Glittery synth. Charming duets. Catchy melodies. This is what has come to be expected of indie-poppers Stars, and they have yet to disappoint. Although it was released earlier in the year, and winter in Champaign-Urbana is taking its time to be as cold as it is in Stars’ native Canada, now would be a good time to revisit The North. Let Amy and Torq serenade you through the cold.

Written by Maddie Rehayem

39 – Sharon Van Etten-Tramp

Sharon Van Etten is certainly a throwback.  Her soft and smooth voice definitely makes for an experience that is as easy listening to as it is satisfying.  Tramp was her third studio album, yet it showed some of her most noted growth to date.

Written by Boswell Hutson

38 – Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon

Two Door Cinema Club kind of burst onto the scene this year, though this was their second full-length album.  The Irish lads gained a fair amount of fame via an opening slot on Phoenix’s 2010 US tour, and built enough hype to show their talents in the main stream.  Though this CD is very well rounded, it has possibly one of the best singles of the year, in my opinion, in “Sleep Alone”.

Written by Boswell Hutson

37 – Silversun Pickups – Neck of the Woods

Neck of the Woods did not present the type of singles you might expect from this band, but the album still has some strong songs. I thought “Gun-Shy Sunshine” was the strongest track out of the bunch, as it was driven by a powerful riff. The album shows the band move to a more electronic sound, although they have always sort of had one, and change is done relatively well.

Written by Stan Polanski

36 – Metric – Synthetica

In her band’s 5th studio album, Emily Haines has mastered the art of bringing her voice down to a vulnerable falsetto as she ooohs or aaaahs on “Breathing Underwater” or sings lyrics like “Can you cover me/ cause I’ve got no armor” on “The Wanderlust” (a track that features none other than Lou Reed as a vocal foil), only belt out the next verse or chorus. Either way, her delivery is as earnest as ever on Synthetica. With all the hooks of 2010s fantasies, and some added edginess, this album rocks harder than Metric ever has before.

Written by Maddie Rehayem

35 – DIIV – Oshin

These four youngsters have proven that a band comprised of clichés can still be exciting and relevant in 2012. Keywords: guitar and drums set-up, reverb, dreamy, Brooklyn. You get the picture. What sets them apart, however, is that they know how to let the guitar do the talking. Sweet-talking, that is. While, arguably, it may be a bit repetitive throughout the whole album, it is always a joy to wallow in their well-crafted sound of swirling guitar melodies.

Written by Max De Moor

34 – David Byrne & St. Vincent-Love This Giant

According to David Byrne in How Music Works, Pitchfork once stated that he would collaborate with a bag of Doritos. In other words, he collaborates with everyone. That being said, a Byrne-Vincent collaboration never seemed too far-fetched. Rather, the two complement each other effectively. Despite receiving mixed reviews for their live shows, their album has many strong points. They bring out the edginess in each other, and their differing voices keep the album interesting and catchy throughout.

Written by Claire Schroeder

33 – Mumford and Sons – Babel

We knew it would happen.  We knew the hipster population (sorry, guys) would turn on Mumford and Sons at some point.  Just two years ago they were a really great English folk group that produced revolutionary music.  Now, however, they have been abandoned by the hipster community due to their fame.  Though Babel doesn’t quite add up to Sigh No More, to say it is not good music merely because the band is famous is both irrational and wrong.  Babel doesn’t have the striking singles that the freshman release had, but it produces good music nonetheless.

Written by Boswell Hutson

32 – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Mature Themes

Ariel Pink is the definition of a wild card, and of course so is his music. In the past he’s done everything from singing about menopause to covering the Smiths, but on his latest record, Mature Themes, he take it a step further – to singing about schnitzel (see “Schnitzel Boogie”). Pink maintains his mysteriousness on this album in that you never know whether to take him seriously. His sound is a patchwork of the past, and with lyrics like “If only in my dreams she’ll be right there next to me,” listening to it is almost a sad experience, until you see the music video and can’t help but crack a smile.

Written by Maddie Rehayem

31 – Woods – Bend Beyond

In a list that is dominated by familiar names and burst-out stars, Woods occupies this spot with surprising humility.  This is the seventh album from the Brooklyn-based folk crew in as many years.  Its incredibly relaxing nature is sure to mellow you out, no matter your mood.

Written by Boswell Hutson

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