During college, I was up on all of the new music. The collaborative environment of a dorm made my musical tastes and exposures explode, and I was continually discovering new music.
After college, I went through a bit of a lull. I moved, had less free time, and my new friends didn’t share my tastes. It took me a while to get back into the swing of exploring new musicians and making time to listen to an entire album from start to end, not just putting some old favourites on “Genius.” 2012 has been a year of beautiful music. I’ve even pulled out my guitar a few times and learned a few of these new tunes. I hope you’ll enjoy them as well.
#5 – Worth Fighting For by Act of Congress
Act of Congress was a breath of fresh air when I discovered them through a free NoiseTrade download. They were the closest sound I’d ever heard to my beloved Nickel Creek newgrass, and their rendition of “Such Great Heights” simply blew me away. Their sound still has some work to do, with need for a little more cohesion on the next album, but I look forward greatly to seeing where this young band will go.
Song picks: One Will Break, Call Your Bluff, Time, Carry Me
#4 – Babel by Mumford & Sons
I hate to include this merely on principal as I know it will top many other “Best of” lists this year. This album created such waves in my social media world when it came out from such a diverse group of people that I knew I had to buy it. I was a little late to the Mumford & Sons bandwagon, but discovered that I already knew and enjoyed many of the songs from their first album and was not at all disappointed by their sophomore efforts. Yes, I love banjoes and the mandolin and am not ashamed of it.
Song picks: I Will Wait, Babel, The Boxer, Where Are You Now
#3 – My Head is an Animal by Of Monsters & Men
If anything, you’ve probably heard this band’s “Little Talks” song on the radio. This group’s European roots attracted me (originating from Iceland), but their melodic alternative sound and beautiful album arrangement earned their place on this list.
Song picks: Mountain Sound, Little Talks, Dirty Paw
#2 – Some Nights by Fun
If you’ve only listened to rock anthems “We Are Young” or “Some Nights,” then you’re missing out on the fullness of this signature album. Years ago, I used to listen to The Format and Steel Train, both middle-of-the road bands who, it seems, just needed to team up to make magic and top hits happen. The new sound reminds me of Queen and makes me want to sing and dance in my kitchen.
Song picks: Some Nights, We Are Young, Carry On, All Alone
#1 – Bear Creek by Brandi Carlile
I’ve spent a year-long love affair with this album. so I didn’t even have to think twice when making my top pick for album of the year. There is a solidarity and raw strength in Brandi’s voice– a soloist if I ever heard one. She’s a lovely blend of folk-rock and Americana, the perfect road-trip accompaniment.
Song picks: Hard Way Home, In the Morrow, Keep Your Heart Young, A Promise to Keep
Cedar + Gold by Tristan Prettyman. After Miss Tristan announced her retirement from singing a few years ago to follow her other talents, including modelling and surfing, I didn’t think I would see another album from her. But she’s back. This is a breakaway from Tristan’s traditionally acoustic style with more of a pop/rock vibe, but still doesn’t disappoint.
First Fruits – EP by Judah & the Lion. If you love Mumford & Sons and all kinds of stringed instruments, check out this new band out of Belmont University!
Open Your Doors by Jenny & Tyler. A beautiful, harmonious follow-up to several established albums from this acoustic duo. A recurring guest at Common Grounds in Waco.
Former Lives by Ben Gibbard. First full-length solo album by the frontsman of The Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie. Sadly recently divorced from Zooey Deschanel.
What We Saw from the Cheap Seats by Regina Spektor. Nothing groundbreaking, but more of the same stellar songwriting from my favourite Russian songstress.