I have this tendency that when I write my year end album reviews, I always miss a few albums that came out earlier in the year because the back half of the year becomes so saturated with awesome music and with major label artists trying to get their albums out before the November cutoff for Grammy consideration.
Especially in September and October, there are a lot of artists I enjoy that are releasing albums. Some are even releasing them on the same day! So what’s a dimension hopper like me to do? Well, keep track, hoard the albums like a dragon’s treasure, and just put in a partial year assessment for the albums that have already come out and what I’ve already enjoyed.
With that in mind, here are my top six albums of 2012 so far!
6.) My Head Is An Animal by Of Monsters and Men – I really didn’t want to bother with this album. I heard ‘Little Talks’ constantly on Dave.FM (preferred radio station when I’m stuck in modern day Atlanta!) and I enjoyed it greatly, but I wasn’t sure if the rest of the album would be as enjoyable. Such is the case with many indie bands that seem to only have hipster credibility. Well, when I saw the album on discount on Amazon, I decided to give it a shot. Well, I was pleasantly surprised! My Head Is An Animal is an extremely well done folk rock album that gives a little Icelandic twist to the genre that’s been on the rise since Mumford and Sons became popular. The use of horns and atmosphere give Of Monsters and Men a particularly refreshing sound and make My Head Is An Animal one of my biggest surprises of 2012.
Suggested Tracks: ‘Little Talks’, ‘King And Lionheart’
5.) Hey Hey Cabaret by Frenchy and the Punk – I love my friends Scott Helland and Samantha Stephenson, and I love the first of two albums that they’ve created for this year’s release. Hey Hey Cabaret is a continuation of their previous album Happy Madness. Filled with boundless energy and a lot of cheekiness, the New York duo solidify their cabaret sound with eleven tracks filled with happiness. Magic and steampunk can-do-ness sums up this album fairly well and shows why Frenchy and the Punk are so good at what they do.
Suggested Tracks: ‘Confession of Jack Bonnie and Sally Clyde’, ‘Birthday Fanfare’
4.) Leaving Eden by The Carolina Chocolate Drops – I already waxed poetic about the Drops when Songs from District 12 and Beyond came out, but Leaving Eden just confirmed my love for them. Equal parts continuing folk music tradition and the band expanding their own songwriting skills, Leaving Eden is an excellent album in the band’s lineup. The Drops are the best at what they do, and Leaving Eden is just as worthy of attention the way the Grammy-winning Genuine Negro Jig was. Plus, they’ve been getting a good chunk of attention with the ‘Country Girl’ video playing on CMT. It just makes me sad that their cover of ‘You Be Illin” is only on the deluxe edition.
Suggested Tracks: ‘Ruby, Are You Mad At Your Man?’, ‘Country Girl’
3.) Not Your Kind of People by Garbage – When I heard that Garbage was releasing their first album since 2005’s Bleed Like Me, I nearly cried. Shirley Manson has been my idol for a long time and I never thought I’d see the day when Garbage would release a new album. I eagerly anticipated it for months and it did not disappoint! Falling somewhere between Version 2.0 and beautifulgarbage, Not Your Kind of People brings Garbage’s dark electrorock full steam into the digital age. First single ‘Blood For Poppies’ is extremely catchy in a way that brings back memories of ‘I Think I’m Paranoid’, Shirley’s vocals have never been so darkly sweet the way they are on ‘Control’ and ‘I Hate Love’, and ‘Automatic Systematic Habit’ carries on the tradition of Garbage’s amazing album openers that knock the doors down. Great album, and a great band that I’m sad I will be missing at Music Midtown.
Suggested Tracks: ‘Blood for Poppies’, ‘Control’
2.) Garage Hymns by Empires – This was already going to be on my list, but then I saw Empires live for the first time ever. Something about Sean Van Vleet nearly knocking me over from the stage as he sings ‘Hard Times’ just sort of seals my love for Garage Hymns. With a sound that could raise Hell, Empires continues and refines the precedent set with their debut album Howl and EP Bang. The songs have something of a hardrocking, supernatural quality to them and definitely prove why the band got as far as they did in the Rolling Stone contest. It’s onward and upward for Empires and Garage Hymns gives the other bands in Empires’ circle a quality to strive for.
Suggested Tracks: ‘Hell’s Heroes’, ‘Hard Times’
1.) O’ Be Joyful by Shovels and Rope – I already went on about this album for Steampunk Chronicle. It’s good though, and shows why Shovels and Rope are better with two than most bands with four or more. Hence why this high energy album is my number one… so far.
Suggested Tracks: ‘Kemba’s Got The Cabbage Moth Blues’, ‘Hail Hail’
By the end of this year, this list will surely be updated, but here’s what I’m enjoying so far!
I’m hoping to update more this week as I continue my job hunt, but Dragon*Con prep takes a long time and is very stressful! Still, if any one following this blog is going to Dragon*Con, please let me know and I do hope to see you there! I will post more information on my wherabouts closer to the convention starting.