Kyle Meredith’s Best of 2012

 
 
It’s become customary to talk about what “an amazing year of music this has been,” and it usually is.  But while there were a ton of great songs, this was the first year in a while that I had trouble finding great albums. Still, that’s not to say that there were none for me, and here are five that really hit the spot.

5. Band of Horses – Mirage Rock

Their fourth LP threw a lot of fans for a loop, as it’s based more on acoustic guitars and classic rock leanings than what they’ve been known for in the past. But once you let that settle in, Mirage Rock opens up as a disc full of great stories and songs.  In fact, working with Glyn Johns was the perfect move to get this America inspired album to it’s prime sound.  I may not heave heard it on the first listen, but it quickly became a touchstone for the year.

4. Chairlift – Something

One of the few bands that’e been able to write something even better than the Apple iPod song that made them famous. Something is drenched in the sound of 80’s fantasy/sci-fi movies, but takes it all to an entire new place, and song by song, has more melody than I’ve ever heard crammed into one record.

3. Ben Sollee – Half-Made Man

I don’t think that Ben has ever written a bad record. I was instantly drawn to Get Off Your Knees, but the most jaw-dropping moment is the soloing in The Pursuit of Happiness. I’ve hit repeat on that moment more than any other this year.

2. Father John Misty – Fear Fun

Completely inventive in both sound and lyrics, J. Tillman’s resurrection as Father John Misty provided an album that can hold your attention whether you reply on story or melody. Plus, there is a “novel” included as the liner notes, and if you’d like to go even further down the rabbit hole, just go watch any interview the man gave this year. They are hilarious, insightful, and unlike anyone else on the planet.

1. Shearwater – Animal Joy

How do you describe a record like this? It’s sweeping, cinematic, smart, proggish at points (without being proggy), thematic, beautiful, tasteful but daring, and completely amazing. And awesome. It sounds like nothing else and still as fresh as my first listen. I play it when I’m running and chilling out. Is it perfect? Pretty damn close.

(a close runner up would have been Sean Rowe’s The Salesman and the Shark.  I think if I had more time with it, it may have been even higher.  Take it as an extra recommendation for originality, fans of Tom Waits, and other any type of music fanatic.  There is much to discover in that one.)

And if you’re interested, I’ve posted my favorite songs of the year over at The Weekly Feed.

Marion Dries’ Best of 2012

 
Since 2012 is about to become a musical memory for us, here are my top five albums of the year as well as a playlist with some of my favorite songs.

5. Workers – Both Hands

Let’s hear it for Louisville boys making good with their second release under the Workers moniker. Both Hands grabs you by the ears, nose and throat with, um…

4. The Helio Sequence – Negotiations

Bandmates Brandon Summers and Benjamin Weikel have been making warm, ethereal music together since 1999. This is their fifth release and includes hints of eighties synth pop.

3. Pinback – Information Retrieved

As a long time Pinback fan, I was delighted to see the band break a five-year recording drought. This album is great to spin at night while watching the stars drift by.

2. King Tuff – King Tuff

The sophomore release from King Tuff (aka Kyle Thomas), this came out in May and knocked Jack White’s Blunderbuss from the top of the CMJ chart. The song Keep On Movin’ will keep you movin’ for sure.

1. Django Django – Django Django

Coming out of left field (if you consider London left field) and claiming that their name has “absolutely nothing to do with Django Reinhart,” fun stuff is had on their debut album – especially the insanely catchy song Default.

Laura Shine’s Best of of 2012

laura-photo

It’s been another great year for our dearly-beloved radio format known as Triple A (Adult Album Alternative), which mostly means great music presented to you by WFPK. It has not been easy to have to choose from so many fantastic albums. Please keep in mind that we are inundated with hundreds of records all year long, so for a few to get through the mazes of CDs that cover our desks at all is quite extraordinary! Here are my picks:

10. Landline – Greg Laswell

I have loved all of Greg’s albums so far but especially liked the female vocalists he employed for backup on this record including Sia, Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles.

9. Mirage Rock – Band of Horses

Check out A Little Biblical and Knock Knock. Aw heck, check out the whole thing!

8. Some Nights – fun.

The ever-inventive band fun. returned with another brilliant album this year with perhaps what could be the anthem for a generation We Are Young.

7. Maraqopa – Damien Jurado

The whole album is amazing but Museum of Flight steals the show.

6. Boys & Girls – Alabama Shakes

Great Southern rock and soul made this little young band one of the most talked about artists of the year. Check out Hold On.

5. Making Mirrors – Gotye

He’s from Belgium. No, wait, he’s from Australia. No, wait, he’s from both! Wally De Backer is his real name. Who cares?! His album is one of the best of the year with each song very different from the next and we played many of them many times! Check out Somebody That I Used to Know.

4. Half-Made Man – Ben Sollee

Our Kentucky boy on his bike pulling a Cello behind it has stolen our hearts once again on his best record to date. It’s raw and jam packed with emotional and thoughtful lyrics plus superb instrumentation. Check out Unfinished and The Healer.

3. Blak and Blu – Gary Clark, Jr.

Jimi who? Perhaps the next greatest guitarist of all time has emerged and is Gary Clark Jr. Don’t believe me? Listen to his version of Third Stone From the Sun then get back to me, okay?

2. Fear Fun – Father John Misty

Former drummer for Fleet Foxes goes virtually unnoticed by not only the public but the band itself to reveal pure genius on his solo debut. Everyone is shocked! J. Tillman is Father John Misty and he’s coming to town on Jan. 9th at Headliners. Don’t miss it!

1. Bear Creek – Brandi Carlile

What do you get when you cross folk, country, calypso, rock, reggae, classical, soul and disco? Either one heck of a mess or a beautiful hybrid like Bear Creek turned out to be. This album is perfect for the one with A.D.D. in your life who also loves great singing, harmony, gorgeous melodies and superb songwriting. Yes, it’s all over the map in terms of tempo, styles and arrangements but Brandi’s voice along with The Twins she co-writes and sings with keep it consistently entertaining from one song to the next. I’m not even going to recommend one song. Get the whole thing!

James Bickers’ Best of 2012

 
Hello my lovelies, and happy new year to you …

Bruce Springsteen – We Take Care of Our Own

Frightened Rabbit – State Hospital
A brief warning that this video might be disturbing to those who have experienced domestic violence – but the ending is so lovely and hopeful.

And now for something completely different:

One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful
DON’T BE HATIN’. This is as perfect a bubblegum pop song as has ever been recorded.

Snow Patrol – This Isn’t Everything You Are
Wall-to-wall goosebumps…

Lake Dredge Appraisal
Not a song, but a sublime web series from the very innovative Onion video studios. Watch the entire series here.

Of Monsters And Men – Little Talks
The Mumfordification of the world continues, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Mumford & Sons – I Will Wait
Speaking of which…

Dear Esther original soundtrack
Dear Esther is an interactive storytelling experience, and it is amazing. A big part of that amazingness is the soundtrack by composer Jessica Curry.

Taylor Swift – State of Grace
Again, that old saying about books and covers…

fun. – Some Nights
On the whole I still prefer the previous album (Aim and Ignite) to this one, but this song is amazing, and I’m happy for their success.

Oh, and one last thing … this was the year I discovered that there is a thing called ICP Theater, in which everyone’s favorite clowns review things from popular culture. My belated holiday gift to you is this, in which the boys critique the ubiquitous Gangnam Style:

Michael Young’s Best Americana of 2012

 
Here are my top 20 Americana albums as featured on Roots ‘n’ Boots:

20. Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson – Wreck and Ruin (Sugar Hill)
19. Darrell Scott – Long Ride Home (Full Light)
18. Kevin Gordon – Gloryland (Crowville)
17. Malcolm Holcombe – Down the River (self-released)
16. Carolina Chocolate Drops – Leaving Eden (Nonesuch)
15. Justin Townes Earle – Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now (Bloodshot)
14. Sons Of Bill – Sirens (Thirty Tigers)
13. Iris DeMent – Sing the Delta (Flariella)
12. JD McPherson – Signs and Signifiers (Rounder)
11. Catherine Irwin – Little Heater (Thrill Jockey)
10. Jon Byrd – Down at the Well of Wishes (Longleaf Pine)
9. Buford Pope – Matching Numbers (Unchained)
8. Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires – There Is a Bomb in Gilead (Alive Naturalsound)
7. Dwight Yoakam – 3 Pears (Warner Bros./Via)
6. Tommy Womack – Now What! (Cedar Creek)
5. Kelly Hogan – I Like to Keep Myself in Pain (Anti-)
4. Chris Knight – Little Victories (Drifter’s Church)
3. Ray Wylie Hubbard – The Grifter’s Hymnal (Bordello)
2. Patterson Hood – Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance (ATO)
1. The Carper Family – Back When (self-released)

Stacy Owen’s Best of 2012

stacy-best-of

Here’s a list of five favorite albums from WFPK Program Director, Stacy Owen.

Band of Horses – Mirage Rock
I’m a big fan of Ben Bridwell’s vocals and every song tells a distinct story with beautiful arrangements.

Stars – The North
This makes the list mostly because “Hold on When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It” is my favorite song of the year.

Father John Misty – Fear Fun
Father John Misty is a quirky, fun, inspired project from a former Fleet Foxes member. Also one of my favorite live performances of the year. I saw him in Philly, and he’ll be at Headliners here in Louisville on Jan. 9!

Damien Jurado – Maraqopa
Another beautiful collaboration with producer Richard Swift from the godfather of Seattle folk/rock.

King Tuff – King Tuff
He’s known to the rock-nerd underworld as King Tuff, but songwriter Kyle Thomas crafted an instantly accessible and totally engaging release. My “put it on in the car and rock out” CD of the year.