At the end of the every year, my brother, Adam, and I obsessively create lists of our favorite new music. He and I love debating and comparing. His list is usually filled with a solid amount of electronic alternative indie rock, whereas I tend to prefer artists with strong harmonies and a use of classical instrumentation (folksy and introspective, if you will).
It just so happens that today is Adam’s 31st birthday, and what better a way to celebrate than to talk about music?! You can check out my top 10 albums from 2011 here, plus Adam’s 30th birthday post here…I’ll keep this one free of embarrassing family photos 😉 Now for the list…
10. Milo Greene – Milo Greene
Milo Greene first caught my ear when NPR Music interns listed them as a group their bosses had wrongfully overlooked. The catchy indie pop melodies made me instantly fall in love with them. This is their inaugural full-length album, and I look forward to seeing where they go from here!
Favorite tracks: “1957”, “Don’t You Give Up On Me”
9. Efterklang – Piramida
I love the sweeping melodies and strong rhythms of this Copenhagen-based band. This album is graceful, but strong – moody, yet light. A great new discovery!
Favorite tracks: “Sedna”, “Dreams Today”
8. Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls
This album is full of soul! Lead singer Brittany Howard has an incredibly powerful voice. The strong drumbeats, combined with her singing, encourage nonstop foot-tapping. Alabama Shakes gained major notoriety in 2012 with this debut album, and they seem to be getting more popular with each passing day.
Favorite tracks: “Hold On”, “You Ain’t Alone”
7. alt-J – An Awesome Wave
I have my friend, Paul, to thank for this album. I (creepily?) saw him listening to alt-J on Spotify, and since Paul has great music taste, I had to investigate further. What I found is an offbeat, odd British indie band…and for whatever reason, I love them. The album is quirky and full of strange melodic twists. I’m not sure why I enjoy it so much, since similar music from the likes of The Dirty Projectors and Beirut has never made my list of favorites…but I’m hooked!
Favorite tracks: “Tessellate”, “Dissolve Me”
6. Of Monsters & Men – My Head is an Animal
Ah, I adore a good Icelandic band – especially when they make awesome folk-indie-pop. This album has clapping, a strong use of the word “hey!”, and lots of other fabulous things that make me smile. I first heard it early on in the year, and it has stuck with me ever since as a go-to for easy listening.
Favorite tracks: “Dirty Paws”, “Little Talks”
5. Jukebox the Ghost – Safe Travels
Every new Jukebox the Ghost album is a bit different from the last – this trio is constantly evolving. I’ve loved this band ever since they were The Sunday Mail back when we were students at GWU together. Seven years later, they keep getting better and better. Safe Travels didn’t hit me right away, but rather, it grew on me steadily over time. I love their intelligent writing, plus I’m always a sucker for any band with an awesome piano player.
Favorite tracks: “Don’t Let Me Fall Behind”, “Everybody Knows”, “The Spiritual”
4. Kishi Bashi – 151A
NPR Music played the song “Bright Whites” off this album months ago, and I’ve been addicted ever since. I constantly play these uplifting beats, especially during late nights spent retouching at my computer. 151A makes me want to skip in a field, drive on a safari, or dance alone in my apartment (okay, I may have done that last one). This album has so much energy!
Favorite tracks: “It All Began With a Burst”, “Manchester”, “Bright Whites”…but those were hard to pick!
3. Beach House – Bloom
Where Beach House’s 2010 release, Teen Dream, slowly grew on me, this album hit me right away. Bloom is “dream pop” at its finest, ethereal and so full of texture. It’s easy to get lost in lead singer Victoria Legrand’s deep, elegant voice. I could daydream through this entire album on repeat for hours and not realize any time had passed.
Favorite tracks: “Myth”, “The Hours”, “Irene”
2. Lord Huron – Lonesome Dreams
This record snuck in at the last minute, thanks to another one of NPR’s handy lists. I had been searching for a full-bodied, original folk album all year, and Lonesome Dreams finally filled that void. This album is romantic and inspiring, encouraging anyone who listens to run up a mountain in search of true love.
Favorite tracks: “Ends of the Earth”, “The Ghost on the Shore”, “She Lit a Fire”
1. Father John Misty – Fear Fun
My cousin, Mat, put on Fear Fun while we were all enjoying a gorgeous night out on his patio, and it instantly caught my ear. Father John Misty, aka Joshua Tillman, quit his role as the drummer for Fleet Foxes and moved to California to embark on a solitary bohemian adventure. This album was its result. I love all of the allusions to Los Angeles in the lyrics, not to mention the pretty harmonies and catchy melodies.
Favorite tracks: Hard to pick a favorite, but I especially love “Writing a Novel”, “Nancy From Now On”, and “Only Son of the Ladiesman”
Since photos are a necessity for every entry, here’s a tribute to my #1 record. I tried to keep my vinyl purchases to a minimum this year, but this one made the cut. Having album art is very important to me. While this cover is probably my least favorite thing about the record (really, you had to include that creepy snake in there?), I love seeing the whole package. It always adds that much more personality to the music!
To close out, an all-too-appropriate photo of Adam from our sibling adventure day this past September. Happy birthday, Bro!
What were your favorite albums of the year? Please share!