Monday, July 2, 2012

Best Of The Year 2012: First Half Update

Welcome to MuzikDizcovery's second edition of quarterly updates in 2012. Every staff member will put out a top five list, allowing them to showcase their absolute favorite records of 2012 to date. Additionally, it will be able to alert you of albums that you may not have heard of otherwise. This list does not only include albums that have been released as of June 30, as any album that we have heard so far this year is free to be included. Beach House, The Tallest Man On Earth, The Menzingers, fun., mewithoutYou, John Talabot, Athletics and Take One Car all feature prominently in our lists. If you click on the album name, you will be led to our review for the album (if we have done one). All the lists can be seen below the jump.

Casey Whitman
1. fun. - Some Nights
In a year where four early candidates for my end of year top ten list (Say Anything, Foxy Shazam, Sleigh Bells, Motion City Soundtrack) disappointed, fun. easily remains at the top of this list.  Nate Ruess has shown that he can make pop music better than practically every other artist out there, working with bandmates Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff to arrange some of the most surprising hits of the year. "We Are Young" was one of the better tracks in the mainstream, yet it's possibly the worst track on Some Nights. Now, new single and album highlight "Some Nights" is surging up the charts and on its way to being fun.'s second enormous song of the year. A year ago, fun. was our best kept secret. Now, they're on their way to being the biggest band of 2012.

2. Jukebox The Ghost - Safe Travels
Jukebox The Ghost dropped a little bit of the quirkiness and added an enormous sheen of production, and have made their best record because of that. The hooks are absolutely massive in songs such as "Somebody," "Adulthood," and "Oh Emily," but the thing that makes Safe Travels stand out from the rest of the band's discography is how stronger a vocalist and lyricist pianist Ben Thornewell is, as the majority of his songs are the stronger ones on the album. But guitarist Tommy Siegel also does an excellent job on his songs, and along with drummer Jesse Kristin, shows a massive improvement in instrumental display.

3. Now, Now - Threads
Now, Now's latest album could be the 2012 counterpart to Mansions' excellent 2011 album Dig Up The Dead. Like Dig Up The Dig was, Threads is an emotionally powerful album that just keeps getting better on every listen. However, while Dig Up The Dead resembled a combination between Bright Eyes and Manchester Orchestra or Brand New, Threads resembles a female led Death Cab For Cutie, which makes sense due to Chris Walla's involvement in the creation of the album. Cacie Dalager's ethereal vocals flow perfectly in tracks such as "Wolf" and "But I Do," while every member showcases their musical prowess in the fantastic "Oh. Hi."

4. First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar
In pure loveliness, you won't find another album like The Lion's Roar in 2012. Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg must have been genetically manipulated inside the womb, as the girls have perfectly complementary voices that lead to absolutely gorgeous harmonies. It's just unfair that they're also excellent songstresses, creating infectious melodies to go with fantastic lyrics in "Emmylou." Connor Oberst even makes an appearance on another of the album's highlights in "King Of The World." But the Söderbergs don't let Oberst outshine them one bit, as it's still their song, and they make sure that you know that in one of the finest collaborations of the year so far.

5. Take One Car - It's Going To Be A Nice Day
I don't have nearly enough nice things to say about the guys in Take One Car and the music that they make. The guys have already been a part of a show that I put together, and their performance absolutely blew everyone in the crowd away. It's Going To Be A Nice Day is such a brilliant record for such a small band, combining the ambience of Moving Mountains' older material with O'Brother's crunchier moments, while adding in vocalist Tyler Irish's intense vocals in the style of Aaron from mewithoutYou, but with more brute force.

Honorable Mentions:
The Menzingers - On The Impossible Past
Japandroids - Celebration Rock
The Tallest Man On Earth - There's No Leaving Now
Cloud Nothings - Attack On Memory
Mickey Factz - Mickey MauSe
The Forecast - Everybody Left
Athletics - Who You Are Is Not Enough
The Composure - Stay The Course (EP)
Athletics - Stop Torturing Yourself (EP)
The Decoration - Anywhere Is Home (EP)
Daniel Rossen - Silent Hour Golden Mile (EP)
Gates - You Are All You Have To Fear (EP)

Bonus Album:
Yellowcard - Southern Air
I've only had Southern Air for one day, but I'm 99% sure that this will land in my top two by the end of the year, with a large chance of it making a repeat for Yellowcard at the top of my list. "Here I Am Alive" is going to be enormous. Full album thoughts coming soon. Preorder this fantastic album here. I already ordered both the vinyl and the CD package, will you? It's worth it.

Mat Fukano
1. Cursive - I Am Gemini
A perverse tragedy, a tragic horror, a horrifying masterpiece, I Am Gemini is a emotional and mental leech that attaches to your consciousness and makes you paranoid. Its beautiful lyrics, absolutely questionable in sanity, transform the album from a typically whimsical, slightly edgy rock album into a work of real value. A lot of Kasher's emotion poured into the album, showing off not only strong musicality, but a truly awe-inspiring story that takes you by the hand and shows a macabre display of character and the breakdown of man, all to a fantastic musical set exhibiting clear cut songwriting throughout the album. Absolutely pick this one up, because it'll be continuously referenced and mentioned by me throughout the year.

2. Take One Car - It's Going To Be A Nice Day
A musical favorite among some of us Muzik Dizcovery staff members, Take One Car's sophomore release is a marvel to behold. The combined post-rock / post-hardcore effort brings both power and ethereal awe into a fantastic record, incorporating harsh vocals from Tyler Irish, and heavy riffs to couple. Take One Car has a certain way about their darker material, and really brings it around to an emotional roundabout, truly helping to bring the record about and give the listener resolve after listening to wrenching chords and being left behind, as is the case in "Dear Ronnie." This record is something to behold, and definitely worth a listen.

3. Athletics - Who You Are Is Not Enough
Very recently released, the new Athletics release nonetheless struck me as something incredibly special. The album itself is a theme and variations of the first part of the song, "I," and is technically a five-part song. Who You Are Is Not Enough has the creativity to spin four beautifully unique variations off of a solid foundation theme, and the honest way that Athletics released this album on their own in order to preserve the genuine spirit of it is really inspiring for the music industry. An album that shows its own individuality with ease and clarity, definitely take a look at Who You Are Is Not Enough.

4. The Sun Explodes - Emergence
When I first listened to this album, I had no idea that it would grow on me as much as it did. The post-metal / progressive release had a lot of positives to the slight number of negatives in comparison, and really had a lot to appreciate musically. Dave Maclachlan's vocal talents are as varied as they are powerful, and it's tracks like "Line One," with it's powerfully moving guitar work and musical fills that really make this record something fantastic. For a fantastic album that will grip you long after you're into it, pick up Emergence.

5. If These Trees Could Talk - Red Forest
With the sophomore album from If These Trees Could Talk, they descend deeper into their post-metal tastes. The band works Red Forest to push beyond their introduction with a hybrid post-rock / post-metal debut, and ultimately forces a change in their sound in order to garner a truer, darker spirit. "Left To Rot And Rust" brings a perfect example of the cacophonous spirit of the revitalized band, extending their musical boundaries to new limits. For your post-metal, melt-your-face musical needs, take a look at Red Forest.

Perry Maltese
Before I begin listing my favorite records of the year thus far, I want to make it known that this will be my last post on  I simply do not find any enjoyment in reviewing anymore and would rather continue to appreciate music without the stress of rating albums on a number or letter scale.  To anyone who has ever read, laughed at, or disagreed with any of my reviews, thank you.

1. The Menzingers - On the Impossible Past
Now that I have been listening to this record steadily for six months now, I think it is safe to say that On the Impossible Past has withstood the test of time.  Still as melodic, charming, and intimate as the first time I heard it, this record has all but prematurely secured its place as my album of the year.

2. Light Black - Ex Wives
The biggest and best surprise of the year thus far, Ex Wives is a nearly flawless amalgamation of screamo, midwest emo, and post-hardcore with an endless amount of depth and replay value.

3. Raindance - New Blood
After seeing Raindance all but rip apart the living room at a house show and then do the same several months later opening at a larger venue for Ceremony, I'm convinced that these guys are one of the best (and most innovative) bands in hardcore right now.  New Blood is as heavy as it gets, but is devoid of clichés and shortcuts that many bands of the genre so often take.

4. State Lines - State Lines EP
Even despite my over-inflated expectations for State Lines' follow up to their 2011 LP, Hoffman Manor, their self-titled EP delivered in every sense of the word.  Painfully catchy vocals, imaginative lyricism, and gritty old-school pop punk instrumentation have made the 7" my "go-to" summer album - if only it were more than eleven minutes long...

5. The Dopamines - Vices
"A forty hour plus week sounds less appealing than living on a street."

Honorable Mentions
Ali Welford
1. The Walkmen - Heaven
In all honesty, I didn't think that The Walkmen had a record like this in them. But for years they've seemed destined to be indie rock's nearly men - always a pleasure, never quite capable of pulling alongside the Nationals and Arcade Fires of this world. With Heaven, however they've finally taken that crucial step, delivering fully on their potential whilst simultaneously perfecting the formula that's served them so well for the past decade. Oozing class and self-assurance, it's an album which should gain them a place among the genre's elite, an achievement we all hoped for but feared would never materialize.

2. Beach House - Bloom
Everyone raved about Beach House's 2010 effort Teen Dream, but that was a record from which I could only find mild enjoyment. Thankfully, Bloom is a step up in every sense, and sees Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally deliver the near-classic we all sensed they had in them. It contains precisely nothing in the way of variety, but that scarcely matters when every single element of their sound has been refined to optimum levels - something for which producer Chris Coady as well as the duo themselves can take a lot of credit for. Polished, consistent and utterly spellbinding, this could well turn out to be Beach House's defining statement.

3. Sharon Van Etten - Tramp
You know how it goes; You enter a relationship, shit goes down, your relationship implodes, you get depressed, you write an album about about it. It's a sequence that's bordering on cliche, but it's also one that's inspired some truly great music, with Sharon Van Etten's Tramp the latest in a long line of heartbreak classics. Reflective, somber and occasionally biting, the assessment of her own predicament is as honest as it is harrowing, with the singer equally as likely to go on the offensive as she is to wallow in self-deprecation. It may take a while to settle in, but once it does it's the type of record to which you can become utterly attached.

4. John Talabot - Fin
Striking an effective balance between comforting familiarity and exuberant freshness, John Talabot's first full-length is an accomplished and accessible house record the likes of which don't come along very often. Songs such as "Destiny," "El Oeste" and "Last Land" are already causing a stir in festival tents, and given their endurance could well end up becoming staples over the summer months. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs' Trouble was another mightily impressive house debut, but Fin's consistency and seamless diversity allow Talabot to reign supreme.

5. Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball
If I were to rewrite this top five tomorrow, there's every chance that First Aid Kit's wonderful sophomore The Lion's Roar would feature. Today, though I'm finding it impossible to overlook The Boss' latest unequivocally brilliant offering, one which arguably ranks as his finest since the late 70's early 80's golden era. Most of it's songs could scarcely sound more stereotypical, but the likes of "Easy Money," "Death To My Hometown" and "Wrecking Ball" prove that his peerless formula is as peerless and powerful as ever. Oh, what I'd have given not to have missed out on his UK shows...

Jacob Royal

1. Sithu Aye - Isles
I get pretty damn concerned when one of my favorite genres becomes polluted, with more individual musicians following Cloudkicker's lead than anyone could have anticipated. Progressive metal has needed a catalyst for quite some time, somebody to step it up to the next level and create something truly monumental. I've realized that 2012 is Sithu Aye's year, that Isles covers everything expected of it as well as other things I couldn't have ever anticipated. There are riffs that come at you full-force, but there are also ambient rests in which the listener can respite. For every tasteful guitar solo, there's a humble build-up that builds tension only in the most natural manner. For all of this variety, too, Sithu Aye's latest offering comes together logically, all of the pieces fitting together as only the most meticulous musicians would have it. I'll be surprised if another artist tops this bombshell this year, that's for sure.

2. Of Montreal - Paralytic Stalks
I guess I'm not surprised that Kevin Barnes' latest experiment in psychedelics and Bowie-isms have resulted in a rather dispersed collection of opinions. I honestly haven't even heard much else by the group, but what reason have I had to go past this album in the discography? Paralytic Stalks covers so much ground while it soars, going from 70's-inspired funk ballads to catchy anthems of which Sufjan himself would be proud. It's as abrasive and colorful as its artwork implies, but first impressions leave the listener wondering if it's all intentional. The reason for this is how dense the album is at first. I won't lie - I was intimidated by "Ye, Renew the Plaintiff," and not just because of its verbose title. The song warps and distorts itself, accompanied by a glitchy drum beat into the underbelly of the music our parents listened to, and then back out into a delightfully modern context. Then, you realize the song's only been playing for two minutes. I can easily see this album growing on me even more with time; in the meantime, I suppose I should check out more of their discography.

3. Ne Obliviscaris - Portal of I
The hype always has a drastic impact on the end product. While I won't deny that the grandiose statements I'd heard about Portal of I distorted the way that I viewed it at the time, I can also attest to the album being just as appealing today as it was at the time. The album moves and shakes, takes breath away and gives life simultaneously. Acoustic passages take place to disorient the listener, and this is done without disrupting the flow one bit. Rolling passages of modernized black metal coax the listener into following along, and Ne Obliviscaris make sure to keep their fans interested by applying variety when necessary. Every song is a statement in itself, though; that's one thing about Portal of I that makes me quite impressed. Rather than acting as a single emotional statement, the album bolsters particular moods as it pleases, and it still makes precisely as much sense as it needs to at the end of the day.

4. Fero Lux - Some Divine Ashtray
It's funny how browsing through bands' Facebook pages can result in some perfect matches being made. For instance, I was perusing through certain hardcore acts and stumbled upon these guys - I shortly discovered that they were releasing a debut album soon, and decided to follow up on it. The instant I heard it I knew it was worth my time, too. There's a faint Glassjaw vibe here, and a distant Every Time I Die feeling there, but at the end of the day these guys have a certifiable sound that's unforgettable. The lyrics are incredibly insightful and memorable, and the music is a delight from one turn to the next. There's even an emergence of singing, an art with which the group haven't played too much, and for the most part it's an experiment worth having. Overall, though, Some Divine Ashtray is a testament to how much impact one group can have on a scene with just one release.

5. Beach House - Bloom
Let's just pretend that Beach House was this great from the get-go. Sure - I've heard that they haven't evolved "all that much" since their humble beginnings, but let's be frank here - Bloom is the only album of the group that I've been able to recall afterwards. That paints the album as less than it is, though. Beach House's latest offering has finally offered me a reason to get lost in music again, to listen to "Wild" over and over again and forget about the little things that don't matter. Each track is breath-taking, too; the entire album is hypnotic from beginning to end. What a pleasant surprise.

Honorable Mentions:
John Talabot - Fin
Athletics - Who You Are Is Not Enough
The Mars Volta - Noctourniquet
Suis la Lune - Riala
Fantastic Mr. Fox - San'en
Icarus the Owl - Love Always, Leviathan

Jonny Hunter
1. Pepe Deluxe - Queen of the Wave
The main danger I noted whilst reviewing Queen of the Wave was the likeness of something so vibrant becoming a little dull over time. I guess I’m lucky in the fact that the initial shock of facing something so alien was slowly replaced by a deep respect for its composition. The sheer excess and ambition of the project, along with the meticulous production, myriad styles and fantastic sense of tone, lead to one of my favourite albums of all time; and one well deserving of the top spot as we sit at the halfway point of the year.

2. Bersarin Quartett - II
I’m a cynical bastard, I won’t lie. It’s a surprise, I know, but this rather out-of-place confession of my flaws does have a point to it: it gives me a rather strong disposition towards any album that can break down this heart hardened by overindulgence. So when Bersarin Quartett’s II reached my ears in late April I couldn’t help but fall in love with the thing that had me paralyzed in place for a good hour or so. Sadly, a couple of patches have made themselves known in time, but I still hold nothing but admiration for the album that managed to crack the hardest of eggs.

3. Burial - Kindred
The closest anything’s come to being a suite in this grey area between dubstep, garage and whatever else the kids are calling it these days. It’s warm, deceptively minimalist and surprisingly personable: a darker offering than Untrue but the first release since that breakthrough album that not only lives up to hype but raises it. If he carries on like this, Burial stands a chance at being remembered as one of the most influential musicians of this age.

4. Listening Mirror - Resting in Aspic
Admittedly, it’s always been easy to make “good” ambient music. Youtube’s shown us that almost anything slowed down by 800% succeeds well enough. However, the gap between “good” and “great” is a leap too far for most, and from there only a select few achieve “outstanding.” That’s what Listening Mirror has done; he’s created something that externally appears calm yet inside hides endless bounds of emotion and torment. It’s the kind of music you fall into only to seep in slowly as if it were, say, aspic.

5. Amon Tobin - Amon Tobin
It might be considered unfair that this is effectively about 10 releases packed in one container, but for every dark spot there’s the reminder that currently Amon Tobin is still cranking out some of the best electronic music to be heard. By and large this remains an absolute essential for any fan of experimental electronic music, or indeed braindance in general.

Eli Kleman

1. Mount Eerie - Clear Moon
Well this one came out of nowhere.  I had always admired Phil Elvrum (formerly of The Microphones) and his penchant for pushing the boundaries of his indie/folk style of music.  Wind's Poem, his 2009 record, was the strangest and most groundbreaking yet, taking his acoustic folk and mixing it synths and a heavy layering of black metal.  That's right, black metal.  But for all the wonderful things that arise from his experimentation, Phil really impresses when he's just making great music with his acoustic guitar, a la Lost Wisdom.  What makes Clear Moon such a success is that it deftly blends the two sides of Phil's music, making a comforting but daring experience.  Clear Moon is an absolutely gorgeous album and should rank high on this artist's extensive discography.

2. The Tallest Man on Earth - There's No Leaving Now
Honestly, I didn't expect to like this as well as I did, and actually still do because I cannot seem to put it down.  The Tallest Man on Earth has always impressed me with his "twangy/folksy" music, but it never really did much aside from that.  While music lovers fawned over The Wild Hunt back in 2010, I merely found greatness rather than a transcending musical experience.  There's No Leaving Now has changed that all.  Instead of hearing his music, I now feel it, moreso than ever.  Every bit of this album is so painfulyy genuine that I cannot help but be fully immersed.  Added to that, he is one hell of a songwriter, and each track is played with such skill that it is simply astounding.  The Tallest Man on Earth has really hit one out of the park with this one.

3. mewithoutYou - Ten Stories
This is another one that sort of came out of nowhere.  While Ten Stories isn't the band's defining moment, it certainly is the most solid.  In the areas that it doesn't take chances, it polishes.  Some of the band's best material is here, with "All Circles" and "Grist for the Malady Mill" really stealing the show.  The band taps into their older material with some selections having more of a post-hardcore vibe.  Mix that with the solid indie rock of their last two albums and you have one excellent experience.

4. State Faults - Desolate Peaks
I genuinely believed that my favorite emotional hardcore album of the year wouldn't change, but here we are.  What makes Desolate Peaks such a wonderful listen is that it really is the whole package.  Where some bands shirk genuine emotion for a better production and more complex songwriting, State Faults bring it all.  The album sounds beautifully clear but lovably messy, and the band's consistently interesting songwriting keep you hooked.  It's a heavy and exceptional album that will probably be buried underneath the Loma Prietas and the Beau Navires, but it is something you should really give a listen.

5. Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel...
I have always really loved Fiona Apple's earthy, deep vocals.  Her cover of The Beatles "Across the Universe" still gets me ten years later.  However, I had lost interest due to Apple's inactivity, so much in fact that I had no idea The Idler Wheel... was coming out.  What a surprise to find out that not only did the album exist, but it was so damn good.  The Idler Wheel... is a mature and bold pop record with one of this generation's most interesting voices at the helm.

Blair Chopin
1. fun. - Some Nights

Aim and Ignite was a classic tribute to three of the most popular bands of all time in Queen, the Beach Boys and The Beatles. Just about every song had the energy of a hit Queen song, had the "relateable" lyrics of a hit Beatles song, and had the "fun" and fast paced instrumentation of a hit Beach Boys song. Aim and Ignite was of the utmost quality and essentially had no flaws besides the flaw that it was not "modern" enough for a mainstream and "radio" audience.

So, on Some Nights, fun. decided to create the modern version of Aim and Ignite and the results is one of the best mainstream albums we have heard in years. "Some Nights (Intro)," is a condensed and more haunting version of Aim and Ignite's "Be Calm," "Some Nights" is an even more energetic version of "Benson Hedges," "We Are Young," is the 2012 version of "All The Pretty Girls," "Carry On," is a little cheesy and more catchy version of "I Wanna Be The One," "It Gets Better," is an auto tuned and less epic of "At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used To Be,) "Why Am I The One?" is a bigger, faster, and stronger version of "Light A Roman Candle With Me," "All Alone" is the poor man's version of "Walking The Dog," "One Foot" is the sped up and ballsy version of "Walking The Dog," and "Stars" is the auto tuned and "night out on the town" version of "Take Your Time (Coming Home)."

Some Nights is an album that takes all of the best qualities of Aim and Ignite and modernizes them. Think of it as the auto tuned and arena rock version of The Beatles, the instrumentation of the Beach Boys being produced to perfection, and lyrics that Freddie Mercury would write if he knew the world wasn't so judgmental. The album is the 2012 version of Sgt Pepper's, the 2012 version of Pet Sounds, and a 2012 version of The Night At The OperaAim and Ignite was a classic album because it successfully paid tribute to the Beach Boys, Queen, and the Beatles, but Some Nights might end up being a classic album because it was the album where fun. became the 2012 version of the Beach Boys, Queen, and The Beatles.

2. M. Ward - A Wasteland Companion 
M. Ward might not become one of the biggest artists in the world in the months and year following the release of A Wasteland Companion, but it is important to note that he has finally created a record that is vulnerable, free and modern enough to be considered by the mainstream. Instead of being a textbook that forces every facet of the past on you, A Wasteland Companion is a record that let’s you take time with you: it is a 2012 dinner by the lake with Henry David Thoreau, it is a night out on the town with Ernest Hemingway, and it is a record that can take any place you want to you just by listening. M. Ward has finally created a record that was more Midnight In Paris than a 45 minute documentary on the history channel.  Because of this he has not only created a brilliant and accessible record, but he has done something much more important: realized his potential.  I wish I could say the sky was the limit for M. Ward, but that might not do A Wasteland Companion or his musical future justice.  Because M. Ward might just end up making music that can bring the sky down to us.

3. Sun Kil Moon - Among The Leaves
On Among The Leaves, Mark Kozelek not only disproves the theory that an album with "songs that sound the same" cannot be great, but he also proves how good an artist can be when they have perfected an original, breathtaking, and free flowing style.  His sound is a seemless combination of just about every major folk musician of the past 40 or so years, yet his sound always sounds completely original and unique.   The  lyrics on Among The Leaves are sarcastic, witty, and simple, yet they never seem cliche or disingenuous.  Every song on Among The Leaves is powerfully consistent, yet never seems complacent in the least bit.  Among The Leaves is more than just a 70 minute epic that disproves any theory that an album  filled with similar sounding songs cannot be considered a success, it is proof of the power of an artist knowing himself.  The truth is that the beauty of Among The Leaves isn't specifically found in any of its tracks or lyrics, but is really found in the simple fact that you end up believing that this is the poetic masterpiece that only Kozelek could make.  You always feel like Kozelek was meant to be the only person who could make this album, just like your favorite author is the only person who could write one of your favorite books.  Among The Leaves is an artist realizing his strengths, capabilities, perfecting his sound, and making an album that proves "unique repetitive beauty" is always better than pitiful attempts at experimentation.

4. Drew Smith - The Secret Languages
The Secret Languages tells us that it is possible for an artist to pay tribute to a band like Radiohead using original instrumentation, lyrics, and atmospheres. It also tells us that an artist as talented as Smith can pay tribute to every Radiohead album lyrically, instrumentally, and atmospherically without us ever doubting that this is "his album." It is also a beautiful reminder that an artist as talented as Smith won't be playing for Tiny Cities that much longer. After listening to Smith's original and indirect tribute to every Radiohead album we are only left with one question of minimal importance: does he even listen to those guys?
When I look back at my favorite albums of 2011 it is easy to see that they all revolve around a theme of self discovery and "finding yourself." Destroyer's Kaputt was essentially all about "finding your place in America," Helplessness Blues was about finding your future by first forgetting your past, Strange Mercy was about defining your gender and your sexuality as something more than a simple cliche, and Knife Man was about finding a way to smile when the world won't stop beating you down. All of these albums were about finding your patriotism, finding your future through forgetting your past, finding your sexuality through experimenting and "finding out who you really are," and finding your reason to keep breathing through sarcastic social commentary. 2011 musically was a year of self discovery.

After self discovery usually comes either action or acceptance. You either take action to embrace your new found freedom and confidence, or you accept a low standard for yourself and you just decide to be apathetic and move on. Beach House discovered themselves on Teen Dream and successfully created an album that embraced all of their talents with 2012's Bloom. Every song on this album displays all of Beach House's talents perfectly: every song on this album is absolutely gorgeous musically, every song on Bloom is extremely catchy, and every song on Bloom has a chance to be one of the best indie songs of 2012.

2011 was a year of self discovery in music: it was a year where musicians tried to find their niches, it was a year where musicians tried to perfect past sounds, and it was a year where albums were almost more "experimental" than they were "excellent." Bloom is the perfect album for the year where people are going to have to act on what they have discovered about themselves: every riff is a reminder that we have to ACT and vote in this election, every beautiful chorus is a reminder that we need to go back to work and perfect the talent that we worked so hard to discover last year, and at the end of every song is a reminder that some people think the apocalypse might happen at the end of this year. I will totally be fine with an apocalypse, as long as I get to hear albums as good as Bloom in the afterlife.

6. Islands - Asleep and A Forgetting
On A Sleep and Forgetting we are not just listening to another "break up" album. We are listen to an album by a man who has literally had his "will broken" in a relationship. But even though Thorburn's will is broken he still makes music that flows together beautifully, he still makes an album with seven to eight great songs, and he is still able to show off how good of a musician he is. Thorburn might be "lusting after dreams" about getting away and starting a new life, but this is an album that is so beautiful that it will be the soundtrack to your dreams and an album that you will be unable to get away from for weeks. Just like thoughts about an old lover.....

7. Oberhofer - Time Capsules II
The Internet era is weird because you can get famous without actually having a talent. The guy who thinks Dr. Dre was his knee surgeon is suddenly the guy making rap songs and new beats using something like Mixcraft, the Grandma who had a few funny racist jokes is suddenly a run away sensation on Twitter, and the woman who had a sex tape with a third rate rapper can get a reality show about her entire family! We live in a world where it is pointless to buy lottery tickets because you could get rich just by having a dog who has a bark that sounds like Morgan Freeman! In a world of recessions, unemployment, and general unhappiness it is quite ironic that happiness and riches could just be a click away. What we end up having is a brutal combination of hope, depression, and fascination.

So basically people are either inspired by this era, fascinated by it, or angry or depressed by it. Time Capsules II is a ten song "time capsule" that perfectly defines all three reactions to the "Internet era." It has songs that fascinate you, songs that depress you, songs that are angry, and songs that make you hopeful. It has songs that are hard rocking and almost sound metal, it has songs that are soft and sound like they should be on an album like Bloom, it has songs that are really atmospheric and sound like some b-sides from one of Animal Collective's early albums, it has songs that are catchy enough to be on the radio and songs that are experimental, and it has songs that sound like "America" and songs that sound like anything but America. It is an album for anyone who has ever had hope that there video might make it big, anyone who has ever blocked the E! channel because they were so disgusted by the sheer sight of a Girl Next Door, it is an album for everyone who has wanted something they knew they couldn't have. It is an album of grunge, post rock, punk, electronica, and indie songs that give us hope and DESPAIR in a world of recessions, unemployment, and "one click" happiness.

Other Key Albums
8. The Tallest Man On Earth - There's No Leaving Now
9. Regina Spektor - What We Saw From The Cheap Shots
10. Moonface - With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery
11. mewithoutyou -  Ten Stories
12. Magic Wands - Aloha Moon
13. La Sera -  Sees The Light 
14. The Maccabees - Given To The Wild 
15. Sigur Ros - Valtari   

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