Kevin Moore’s Favorite 20 Albums of 2012

Kevin Moore has been compiling a favorite 20 album list since 2009. He was inspired by Eric Funderburk.

He compiles a list at the beginning of the year and crosses them out until he reaches 20. That list then gets ranked in order of preference.

“It is part of the grassroots sharing of music. I actually prefer finding out music by this method as opposed to blogs, magazines or websites. Sharing music with a fellow music lover who shares similar interests is such a rewarding experience. That is why I continue to make my favorite list each year as well as listening to other friends’ music lists too.”

20.
Artist: People Get Ready
Song: Windy Cindy
Album: People Get Ready

Formed in part by Yeasayer drummer Luke Fasano, this new band lies at the
direct intersection of creative rock and contemporary dance. The group started
out in live dance and moved into making an album as a companion piece to
their performances. Their sound incorporates world beats on top of beautiful
soaring synths and vocals. It is easy to see how their music can be inspired by
contemporary dance and, therefore, offer a fresh approach to the independent rock
universe. Whether seeing their performance live or listening to their new album,
they offer a great and creative experience of the senses.

19.
Artist: Andrew Bird
Song: Orpheo Looks Back
Album: Break It Yourself

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHFKw9OJ6jE

‘Break It Yourself ‘offers a more laid back sound than Andrew Bird’s previous
album ‘Noble Beast’ (instrumental and stage albums aside here). Some of Andrew’s
songs go into a more bluegrass direction but still maintain his unique sound. These
bluegrass jams (complete with his characteristic whistle and violin) are classic.
This album has these highs as well as quiet and contemplative songs that give a full
range. Overall this is an excellent addition and a nice follow-up to ‘Noble Beast’.

18.
Artist: Menomena
Song: Plumage
Album: Moms

Portland, Oregon based experimental rockers’ 5th studio album continues in the
same sound as their previous. However, this album has marked the departure of
one of the founding members Brent Knopf. The name of this album ‘Moms’ pays
homage to the remaining members moms. They seem to have picked up where the
last album let off. The signature sounds of sampling, saxophone screech, guitar riffs,
and non-conformist beats are just as good as the previous. It is a good follow up
album even despite losing an original member.

17.
Artist: Fanfarlo
Song: Tightrope
Album: Rooms Filled With Light

Three years after their debut album, Fanfarlo has finally followed up with their
sophomore album ‘Filled With Light’. The new album pushes aside a lot of their
previous folk rock leanings similar to Beirut in favor of a darker more refined post
punk / new wave inspired sound. The strings and horns are still present, but they
seem to offer more of a gloomy backdrop to the wiry beats put out by the band.
The new sound fits perfectly with lead singer Simon Balthazer’s angelic but chilling
voice. All this makes for a perfect maturing of their sound and a welcome addition
to their discography.

16.
Artist: Yeasayer
Song : Henrietta
Album: Fragrant World

Yeasayer’s new album has completed their transition to a more dance-electronic
based world / experimental sound that was started on their previous album ‘Odd
Blood’. Gone is the Middle Eastern influenced psychedelic dance rock of their first
album ‘All Hour Cymbals’ and replaced by straight up electronic / dance. While the
wisdom in this change is completely subjective to the listener’s taste, the new album
showcases a more sterile electronic sound yet retains the experimental dabbling
that defines their style. The delicate balance of this is hard to maintain, but they
have successfully accomplished this here. The album is neither straight electronic
nor is it experimental rock. This album is a great collection to their eclectic line-up
and could beg the question.. .where next?

15.
Artist: Howler
Song: Back of Your Neck
Album: America Give Up

Channeling an upbeat garage rock and punk sound complete with fuzzed out jangly
guitars this is the debut (full length) album from these Minneapolis rockers. The
deep voice of the lead singer (Jordan Gatesmith) and ‘messy’ sound will indeed
remind people at times of the Strokes. They have additionally incorporated surf
rock riffs into their sound which effectively lift up the sound out of the murky garage
rock depths. This combination offers a great first start to their discography.

14.
Artist: Divine Fits
Song: My Love is Real
Album: A Thing Called Divine Fits

This is the debut album from the latest ‘indie supergroup’ consisting of Britt Daniel
(Spoon), Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs) and Sam Brown (New
Bomb Turks). The album sound seems to float between the driving post punk
rock of Spoon and the vintage new wave synth landscape of Handsome Furs. This
combination of sounds, while obvious given the musicians, seems to fit hand-
in-glove with each other. A majority of the singing is done by Britt Daniel so it
feels more specifically like if Spoon were to go more electronic. Still, it’s sleek /
shimmering melodies and sludgy beats are a great intro to their sound. As far as
supergroups go, this is a promising start and hopefully there is more to come in the
future.

13.
Artist: Animal Collective
Song: Applesauce
Album: Centipede Hz

As ambassadors of the ‘freak folk’ movement of the early 00’s, Animal Collective has
been churning out genre bending experimental rock for around 10 years. Their last
album ‘Merriweather Post Pavillion’ (2009)started moving towards a more melodic
and psychedelic rock sound. This latest release seems to revert back a slight bit
from that trend. ‘Centipede Hz’ takes the soft layered melodies of ‘Merriweather
Post Pavillion’ (2009) and combines them with the more experimental, jagged, and
chaotic sound of ‘Strawberry Jam’ (2007). This delicate balance makes for a great
album that can be enjoyed by fans of either sound.

12.
Artist: Patrick Watson
Song: Blackwind
Album: Adventures In Your Own Backyard

Soaring angelic melodies with quiet guitar all the way to powerful chamber pop
bursts of energy give this album quite a gamut of sound. Patrick is an artist that
seems to layer his sound so carefully. Although, it does take patience to get enjoy
this music to the fullest due to it’s slow pace. If you give it a chance it is worth the
wait.

11.
Artist: Lord Huron
Song: Ends of the Earth
Album: Lonesome Dreams

Lord Huron’s debut album offers indie folk / Americana songs with harmonious and
sunny afro-pop rhythms. The album’s music and lyrics both embody a connection
with nature. One can conjure up images of sitting on a hillside overlooking a vast
ocean at the sound of their music. Each song seems to display a sense of familiarity
and comfort yet still seems to remain distant and mysterious. This contradiction
adds depth to the album and gives great promise for this new artist.

10.
Artist: The Helio Sequence
Song: October
Album: Negotiations

The Helio Sequence have been doing music for about 12 years. The experimental
combinations of synths, rhythms and rock anthems of their earlier albums have
given away to a grown up more mellow sound on their latest album. The sound
is by no means ‘watered down’, but retains a fullness of sound and creativity that
catapulted their original sound. The keyboards give an expansive fill to the angelic
singing and melodic guitar strumming. It is evident that the years of experience of
playing has brought them to a place that applies their creativity to new heights, but
does not sacrifice their identity or sound.

9.
Artist: Dirty Projectors
Song: About to Die
Album: Swing Lo Magellan

The Dirty Projectors definitely take a unique approach to music. Their new album
is full of changing rhythms, pitches, styles, instruments, sparse vocals, etc. This
creative approach include songs of folk as well as R&B/soul/gospel inspired beats
/ vocals. This eclectic approach may appear disjointed, but there is a common
sound that unites the songs together as an album. The creativity alone here is quite
inspirational. It really is an otherworldly combination of sounds that hasn’t really
been done before but still gives us the occasional melodic hook that makes it more
accessible to a larger audience. This is quite refreshing in music these days.

8.
Artist: Beach House
Song: Lazuli
Album: Bloom

This album take’s Beach House’s sound to new gothic heights. Their previous
album Teen Dream was a more raw album. Their new album, Bloom, tends to
add a fuller wash of sound that only amplifies their dreamy and soaring dark
melodies. The occasional synths give an eerie and cold feel that is both distant and
grand. In addition, the album art portrays this same feeling of orderly, distant, but
abstract. Overall, this album is a bit more produced than their previous, but it takes
advantage of this for the better. All in all, it is a great collection of songs cast to an
awesome soundtrack.

7.
Artist: Ramona Falls
Song: Bodies of Water
Album: Prophet

Side project of ‘Menomena’ band member Brent Knopf, this album is their
second release. ‘Ramona Falls’ offers a little more of a radio friendly version of
the ‘Menomena’ sound. Their signature sound incorporates driving rhythms
usually accompanied by piano and change throughout the song as though they are
movements of a symphony. Ramona Falls use seemingly every kind of instrument
to bring us into their world. This includes soft strings and synthesizers as well as
screeching guitars. All songs offer a sense of experimental pop genius that provide a
foot tapping rhythm but still have sense of artistry.

6.
Artist: The Walkmen
Song: Love is Luck
Album: Heaven

These veteran indie rockers have been around for 10 years. Over the years their
sound has mellowed a bit from their earlier albums, but it has not diminished their
talent. The croon of lead singer Hamilton Leithauser still harkens back to Bob
Dylan or Lou Reed. This album clearly showcases their updated approach to the
same garage rock sound of their earlier days. The album is a great upbeat affair and
some might argue a little slicker and more polished then their previous sound. It
still offers a great grown-up sound that hasn’t lost it’s appeal.

5.
Artist: Kishi Bashi
Song: Bright Whites
Album: 151a

Violin player Kaoru Ishibashi started playing for live tours with artists such
as ‘Sondre Lerche’, ‘Of Montreal’, and ‘Regina Spektor’. This is his first solo album
(under his nickname Kishi Bashi) and features his singing and violin playing. ‘151a’
combines sounds such as chamber pop, world beats and electronic looping with
his singing and violin. It is an uplifting and fun sound that has a bright and sunny
feel similar to bands such as ‘Of Montreal, ‘Andrew Bird’ and ‘Sufjan Stevens’. Live
performances so far have featured him performing with just his violin along with
layered recorded loops that he assembles live. The album has a full band complete
with drums, guitars, and other strings that provide a much fuller sound as opposed
to his live performances. Still seeing him create his song from scratch using just
his voice and the violin is pretty impressive. The album ultimately has the better
experience to feel his soaring heights of music though.

4.
Artist: Grizzly Bear
Song: Yet Again
Album: Shields

Picking up roughly where the last album let off, Grizzly Bear’s latest album has a
slightly bit more produced and honed sound. They previously established their sound
with their signature harmonies and out of the box layered sound dabbling and
driven beats. The new album provides a more mature, grown up, and radio friendly
version of this same sound. Where this could sound like it was a step back for some
the new album really does a great job at bridging the gap between creativity and
beautifully crafted and catchy songs.

3.
Artist: White Rabbits
Song: Are You Free
Album: Milk Famous

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaOS6R2tkTc

This album presents White Rabbit’s classic drum and rhythm based rock in a slightly
different direction. ‘Milk Famous’ adds a slightly darker, heaver , synth influenced
sound. Still present are their calypso/ska/reggae inspired drum beats that
underpin the new additions. The album has also feels a slight bit more produced
than their last albums (most notably their debut album). All the new sounds offer a
good addition to their sound and demonstrate the growth they have made in the last
few years.

2.
Artist: Django Django
Song: Hail Bop
Album: Django Django

This new British band is best compared to ‘The Beta Band’ from the late 90’s and
early ‘00’s . This makes sense since their drummer is the brother of The Beta Band’s
keyboardist. Django Django takes the psychedelic, electronic, folk rock of The Beta
Band but adds both more upbeat rhythms and old vintage spaghetti western riffs.
The combination of all this sounds quite overwhelming, but it’s implementation
feels just right. The sounds are familiar enough to give a frame of reference, but
different enough to be intriguing and innovative. They are a band to keep an eye on.

1.
Artist: Obenhofer
Song : o0Oo0Oo
Album: Time Capsules II

Oberhofer is a new Brooklyn band that couples a jittery psychedelic / garage
rock with Beach Boys inspired pop sensibility. Lead singer Brad Oberfhofer has
croon and yelps that give the music a playful and mischievous feel. In addition, the
xylophone present in certain songs seem to punctuate this playful feel. Overall, this
album has youthful energy and exuberance that seems to extend from almost every
song. It is a great debut and should not be missed.

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