The part where I talk too muchHello folks! 2012 has been a crazy year in all things related to music. The abundance of amazing albums released this year made the list below an extremely difficult task considering the quality of the music put out over the past twelve months. Whilst certain genres may not have had the best of years, it certainly was the year of the emo band, with labels like Count Your Lucky Stars and Topshelf Records putting out some of my favourite releases from the genre in the past decade or so. Bands such as Modern Baseball, Annabel and Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) are establishing themselves as big guns in the future and it's becoming impossible to ignore this until recently, relatively contained scene. One of the best things about this resurgence, unlike the pop punk revival a couple of years back, it's not just the main figures being innovative or bringing something new to the table, it's every band putting their own refreshing twist on the genre and no one trying to make a quick buck off the scene, and with the first couple of weeks of the New Year bringing the release of Brave Bird's debut album and a release from Tiny Moving Parts, it appears that this is only the start.
That's not to say the rest of the music scene was in a barren state. Although one of the quieter years in recent times for pop punk, excellent releases from Pentimento and Undesirable People ensured that there is a younger generation of pop punkers ready to keep the genre alive, without falling into the either/or trap of re-creating the early 2000s or wandering in to metalcore territory. Post-hardcore had a battle on its hands considering the fact that 2011 held releases such as Endless Days And Sleepless Nights and Wildlife, however, as with pop punk, the younger, smaller bands this year have been extremely exciting with both Gatherer and Old Gray being bands that EVERYONE should check out as these guys are going to explode. On the more indie side of the spectrum, spectacular releases from the likes of Grizzly Bear, Wild Nothing, The Mountain Goats, Dry The River and, of course, Andrew Bird, ensured that the genre is just as eclectic and satisfying as ever.
Personally, music in my life has been a bit mental. 2012 has been the year in which I went from listening almost exclusively to hardcore and pop punk to pretty much anything and everything. Hardcore has been accidentally phased out of my listening habits and it's been quite a strange thing to watch Neutral Milk Hotel and Bon Iver replacing H2O and Have Heart on my most played playlists, but hey, change happens. 2012 has also been the year in which I became a staff member on this here Absolute Punk ship, which is something I'm still absolutely (geddit?) delighted about, and is something I'd wanted since first becoming a lurker on the site at the bright, young age of eleven. So, thanks to all the staff members for being super helpful, and thanks to all the users for being (mostly...) friendly in these early days! Now, 'nuff said and onwards with the lists!
Best Albums Yellowbirddd - Highway Birches
Although Bright Eyes' The People's Key was an excellent release, it did leave an Oberst sized hole in modern folk music, but never fear, Liam McCormack's Yellowbirddd is more than enough to fill the gap. Highway Birches is one of the saddest, most tender, beautiful albums you'll hear this year. Filled with heart-felt, sparse folk songs, simplicity and emotive lyrics Highway Birches is the sign of a fully fledged, mature singer songwriter who, should, in the next few years be strumming his way to the hearts of thousands. Grizzly Bear - Shields Japandroids - Celebration Rock Dry The River - Shallow Bed Cloud Nothings - Attack On Memory Andrew Bird - Break It Yourself Modern Baseball - Sports Wild Nothing - Nocturne Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band - One Of My Kind Beach House - Bloom
Exitmusic - Passage Annabel - Youth In Youth The Dandelion War - We Were Always Loyal To Lost Causes Andrew Bird - Hands Of Glory The Mountain Goats - Transcendental Youth Alt J - An Awesome Wave Perfume Genius - Put Your Back N 2 It The xx - Coexist Bad Books - II M. Ward - A Wasteland Companion
You Blew It! - Grow Up Dude Regina Spektor - What We Saw From The Cheap Seats Crystal Castles - (III) Funeral Suits - Lily Of The Valley Joie De Vivre - We're All Better Than This Two Door Cinema Club - Beacon Pentimento - Pentimento The Lumineers - The Lumineers The Men - Open Your Heart mewithoutYou - Ten Stories
Northbound - As Long As The Sun Is Up Tame Impala Lonerism Certain People I Know - Certain People I Know Crywank - Narcissist On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown Stars - The North The Oh Hellos - Through The Deep Dark Valley Dikembe - Broad Shoulders First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar A Place To Bury To Strangers - Worship Dowsing - It's Still Pretty Terrible
Dinosaur Jr - I Bet On Sky The Vaccines - The Vaccines Come Of Age Make Do And Mend - Everything You Ever Loved Best Coast - The Only Place Peace Be Still - 64 Glocca Mora - Just Married METZ - METZ Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - Here This Is Your Life - Before We Fade Away Mumford & Sons - Babel
Albums That I Didn't Check Out Enough, But Are Sounding Good Deftones- Koi No Yokan, Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind, Circle Takes The Square - Decompositions Volume One, The Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten,
Best EPs Gatherer- Postcards The Antlers - Undersea Peace - EP Delicious Arrows In Her - Leaving Daniel Rossen - Silent Hour/ Golden Mile The Staves - The Motherlode Old Gray - Everything I Let Go & The Things I Refuse To Hudson Taylor - Cinematic Lifestyle Undesirable People - Eugenics Milo - Milo Takes Baths Nurture - Nurture Real Friends - Three Songs From The Last Year Of My Life Moving Mountains - New Light Ólafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm - Stare Our Sunday Affairs - City Of Dogs Pull Strings - Autumn/Winter/Spring The Measure Of - Borne Rhetoric Julius Way - Relics Prawn - Ships Looking For Alaska - Sing Your Heart Out Flare Jeans - Fall Tour EP Losing Battles - Impasse
Best Songs Japandroids - The House That Heaven Built
"The House That Heaven Built" is the definition of what a rock song should be. Everything about it, the simplistic but inspiring lyrics, the rebellious attitude and the air of an anthem that seeps from every aspect of the track, makes Japandroids feel like the leaders of a very disenfranchised youth. Who doesn't like this song?! Grizzly Bear - Yet Again Cloud Nothings - Stay Useless Andrew Bird - Three White Horses To Kill A King/ Maud In Cahoots - Fictional State (Acoustic) Yellowbirddd - Eternal Vacation Japandroids - Continuous Thunder Alt J - Breezeblocks The xx - Chained Madeliene - Valley Street (Hepsabeth Dudley, 1854) The Lumineers - Ho Hey Beach House - Myth Modern Baseball - Tears Over Beers Mumford & Sons - I Will Wait Of Monsters And Men- Little Talks
Best Various Artists
1. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower OST (David Bowie, Michael Brook, Cocteau Twins, XTC, Sonic Youth, Cracker, The Smiths, The Innocence Mission, New Order, Galaxie 500, Dexy's Midnight Runners, The Samples)
2. Count Your Lucky Stars Sampler #4 (Certain People I Know, Dowsing, Snowing, Annabel, Football etc, Empire! Empire!, Moving Mountains, Boyfriends, The Reptilian, Merchant Ships, Hightide Hotel, Warren Franklin, Penfold, Joie De Vivre, Into It. Over It, Kid Brother Collective, Perfect Future, Cloud Mouth, CSTVT, Boris Smiles, Mountains For Clouds)
3. Count Your Lucky Stars 4-Way Split #2 (Empire! Empire! I Was A Lonely Estate/ Driving On City Sidewalks/ Two Nights/ Mountains For Clouds)
4. Split 7" (Arrows, Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate))
5. Split EP - (William Bonney, Droughts)
6. Split EP - (Little Kingdoms, Emo Side Project)
7. Feistadon (Feist, Mastadon)
8. Still Alive Clothing Compilation (Caleb Lionheart, Casting Call, Challenges, Clever Words, Doses, Far From Proper, FLS, Forever Came Calling, Handguns, Heart To Heart, Holy Ghost!, I Call Fives, I Was A Hero, Light Years, Major League, On My Honor, Pentimento, Plastic Smiles, Real Friends, Saving Honesty, State Champs, True Things, We Still Dream, With The Punches, Young English)
9. Twilight: Breaking Dawn Pt 2 OST (St. Vincent, James Vincent McMorrow, Passion Pit, Ellie Goulding, Green Day, Feist, POP ETC, A Boy And His Own Kite
10. Couples Therapy (Modern Baseball, Marietta)
Artist Of The Year Andrew Bird
What a year for Andrew Bird. After having released the amazingly beautiful masterpiece that is Break It Yourself, Mr Bird must have found himself at a loose end and decided 'hell, I'll do it again' and decided to put out the similarly beautiful, and more stripped back Hands Of Glory. Whether it be Break It Yourself or Hands Of Glory, Bird established himself as one of the most tender, poetic songwriters on this planet and also one of the most innovative. Whilst many people may tend to overlook Andrew Bird and much praise tends to be heaped on his peers such as Sufjan Stevens or Conor Oberst, Andrew Bird is one of the most consistent, intelligent artists around and someone that should be appreciated far more. Can't wait to hear more from him.
Bands To Watch Out For In 2013 All bands linked to free music and/or stream.
Glocca Morra Emo
Tiny Moving Parts Post-hardcore
Last Call Pop punk
Old Gray Emo/post-hardcore
The Measure Of Post-hardcore
Peace Indie rock
Doxside Music Group Hip-hop
Arrows In Her Emo
Pity Sex Emo
Real Friends Pop punk
The Oh Hellos Indie folk
Noah Gundersen Folk
St Yorda Surf pop
Sweater Weather Emo
Little Kingdoms Emo
Flare Jeans Emo
Walter Mitty & His Makeshift Orchestra Folk punk
Best Record Labels Count Your Lucky Stars Records
Responsible for many of the releases in the lists above, CYLS Records is the child of Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate)'s Keith and Kathy Latinen. Founded in 2007, the label has real come into its own this year with releases from bands such as Annabel, Joie De Vivre and, of course, Empire! Empire!. In a time when a lot of labels are getting a bad rep for not being the best guys to deal with, CYLS is a label based solely on great people putting out great music.
Glass Nail Records
Founded at the start of this year, Glass Nail Records has quickly established itself as a label jam packed with some of the best young bands in post-hardcore at this moment. Bands such as Gatherer and Arrows In Her are shrouded in the same exciting air that surrounded La Dispute and their peers when they first started releasing and Glass Nail clearly knows how to pick an awesome band. Can't wait to see how this label moves forward in 2013.
Topshelf Records is somewhat an amalgamation of the previous to labels. With a highly eclectic roster ranging from Toe to Pianos Become The Teeth and back to Slingshot Dakota, the label has, by far, the most impressive roster around today. Every release put out the label is absolutely stellar and can always be relied on.
- Most Anticipated For 2013 Arcade Fire - TBA
Modest Mouse - TBA
Paramore - Paramore
Johnny Marr - The Messenger
Canadian Wedding - TBA
Youth Lagoon - TBA
The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law
Brand New - TBA
Rika - How To Draw A River, Step By Step
Brave Bird - Maybe You, No One Else Is Worth It
Tom Odel TBA
Bombay Bicycle Club - TBA
Best Movies The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky) Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson) Delicacy (La Délicatesse) (David Foenkinos/ Stéphane Foenkinos) Anna Karenina (Joe Wright) The Amazing Spiderman (Marc Webb) The Imposter (Bart Layton) The Dark Night Rises (Christopher Nolan) The Hunger Games (Gary Ross) Wuthering Heights (Andrea Arnold) The Hobbit (Peter Jackson)
1. Doctor Who
08:26 AM on 01/01/13
Never heard of Yellowbird, but I'm downloading it now. Hope it's good!
09:30 AM on 01/01/13
Definitely one of the better individual lists on the site this year. Good for you.
09:58 AM on 01/01/13
I ended up as food for wolves
Love Gatherer. Booked those guys for so many shows, and they kill it every time.
11:39 AM on 01/01/13
What do they know about friends?
11:59 AM on 01/01/13
Let me know what you think!
01:16 PM on 01/01/13
The Measure Of
02:43 PM on 01/01/13
The Staves - The Motherlode
Their full length Dead & Born & Grown came out this year - unfortunately not for physical release in the US yet. Definitely check it out if you haven't yet- it's an awesome record!!
04:26 PM on 01/01/13
your love for Conor is making me check out yellowbirddd. Can't wait!
05:12 PM on 01/01/13
Listened to it, it was nice. Can definitely hear the big Conor influence. Didn't love it on my first listen, but that's rarely the case with albums anyway. I'll definitely listen to it a few more times.
08:06 PM on 01/01/13
the men, gatherer, and this is your life? impressive
also, lol at crywank, so bad it's good type of thing.
10:19 PM on 01/02/13
Pushin' th' little daisies
List is amazing, even though The Menzingers took top spot for me. Only complaint about the album list is the inclusion of Two Door Cinema Club. Couldn't stand that album.
Also, great to see Continuous Thunder in the songs list, it's a great track. I really can't think of an album with a better closing trio of songs for many years (even though Younger Us is an old track it still counts).
10:44 AM on 01/03/13
You and I share a lot of likes. Great list. Just reminded me to make that playlist of The Maccabees for you too!
11:59 PM on 01/08/13
we have a bunch of bands in common I'll be sure to check out all on this list :o