The Classic Crime is a great example of doing an independent record right. After a split with their label Tooth & Nail Records in July 2011, the band worked with a relatively small crew in their hometown of Seattle to create the best record possible, without the constraints of a label and with the hopes of all of its fans looking for a bounce-back from their last, somewhat shaky LP Vagabonds. Working on the album saw a whole lot of new developments - their guitarist left (on good terms), they went through a successful Kickstarter campaign that showed their fans still hadn't left the band - but the final product ended up being one of the best straight rock releases of 2012. With a wholly consistent lineup of tracks and a stellar middle third, Phoenix showed that a fully independent, label-free record could still manage to be both excellent and accessible. It comes as no surprise that it was good, given the band's track record on previous albums Albatross and The Silver Cord, but the fact that it was as good as it was injected new hope into mainstream rock. The band proved what they needed to prove, and the album was in every way a success for a band that even before that point was already a stellar group.