1. Sharon Van Etten, "Tramp"
- An incredible album from start to finish - very strong and sharp lyrically. We had the pleasure of seeing her in Boulder earlier this year (video from that show above) and she was excellent. I really can't recommend this album enough. Interestingly, she toured with War on Drugs in the past (my favorite album of last year), and will be on tour with Nick Cave this spring.
2.St. Vincent, "Krokodil" 7"
- This two song Record Store Day 7" record was a thrilling surprise from St. Vincent. Well, it was was somewhat of a surprise - there were videos of her melting faces by covering the Big Black tune, "Kerosene" before the seven inch - but I still did not expect the heaviness of these two tracks. It is likely that fans of her earlier, sweeter albums may not be as excited about these metal-leaning developments but I love it. I think I also put this record so high on my list because of how much fun I've had collecting vinyl this year - and this was a special Record Store Day purchase.
3. Damien Jurado, "Maraqopa"
- I've listened to his music with varying interest for upwards of a decade now. Many of his previous records are melancholic, but this one and the last one stand out because they are more upbeat. He is working with Richard Swift on this album -who also does really great solo records, played with Starflyer 59, produced the new Jessie Baylin, and is currently with the Shins. At Jurado's concert in Denver earlier this year (reviewed here), he closed the show by saying, "“I’m moving on. I’m turning a new leaf. I like playing these acoustic songs and all but I don’t want to be sad anymore." That was a surprising and refreshing thing to hear from Jurado - and it was evident in the fact that he played very few songs from his previous records. After listening to "Museum of Flight" (hear it above), I pre-ordered the album and I've listened to it consistently all year.
4.Jessie Baylin, "Little Spark"
- Another album produced by Richard Swift (see above) -a fun 60s-ish pop record. These are well written and sincere songs.
5.Frank Ocean, "channel Orange"
- Yeah, this is a pretty mainstream album (recently: six Grammy nominations for Ocean), but the good songs on this album are emotionally intense and dynamic. I think it would be a lot better album as a whole if he had left off all of the filler skits - whittle it down to ten strong tracks and this would be a really solid record. Check out the great Bennie and the Jets piano bounce on "Super Rich Kids" above.
- St. Vincent's second time on my shortlist - this time with David Byrne (Talking Heads). "Love this Giant" is a really energetic and rhythmic album full of colorful horn sections.
- Synth, pop, pixie-like vocals and a touch of Enya's atmosphere - there's been plenty said about Grimes this year, so I'll keep it short.
- I don't know how much I'll listen to this album a few years from now (I'm also looking at you Sleigh Bells) -but right now it sounds pretty great. I'm excited about all of the music Purity Ring seems to be inspring as well.
- Not every track on this mixtape works, but there are a few killer tunes -especially the ones with Clams Casino beats.
- Excellent retro Rock N' Roll - super fun.
- Perfume Genius, "Put Your Back N 2 It"
- Missy Elliott put finally put out two new tracks - but they're not her best
- Pontiak, "Echo Ono"
- First Aid Kit
- Andy Stott
1. Black Swan, "Aeterna", "Heaven" - I'm so happy to have my art on the cover of this great music
2. Biosphere, "L'incoronazione di Poppea"
3. M. Sage, "Chautauqua", "Into the World" EP, "Lux Collapsing"
4. Gimu, "A Silent Stroll on Sombre St."
5. Brambles, "Charcoal"
6. 36, "Lithea"
7. Jacaszek, "Glimmer"
8. Guilty Ghosts, "Veils" (a couple of vocal tracks)
9. Caretaker, "Patience (after Sebald)"
10. Journey of Mind, "Oil Burner"
Colorado Based bands/artists/performers I enjoyed this year:
Adam Cayton-Holland (comedy)
Jeffery Wentworth Stevens/Morriconez +George and Caplin
Perry Weissman 3
Tracks: here's a playlist of some of my favorite tracks from 2012 - you can stream the whole mix:
Some of the best live shows I saw this year:
Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel), Fiona Apple, Sharon Van Etten, Damien Jurado, Murder by Death, Crushed Out
Favorites from 2011, 2010, 2009 , and 2008.