2012 saw the rise to fame of new artists like the ubiquitous
Carly Rae Jepsen and the baffling PSY through contagious singles, but the album charts saw material from a lot of veteran musicians returning to post their sixth albums ( No Doubt), ninth ( Cat Power), twelfth ( Leonard Cohen) or even seventeenth albums ( Bruce Springsteen). Artists both new and old have put out innumerable incredible pieces; here’s a sampling the year’s more successful, creative and/or influential albums:
Celebration Rock Japandroids The Vancouver rockers mince no words with the title to this short, rousing anthemic record.
Grizzly Bear has concocted something exquisite with the disparate sounds of Shields.
Coexist – The xx Purposefully leaked by the British outfit to a single fan days before the official release, Coexist went viral and has enjoyed comfortable popularity since. The album is characterized by pulled-back dream-pop and R&B instrumentation with subdued anti-duets, evoking both tenderness and conflict.
Bloom – Beach House Suspicions about Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally’s ability to provide a follow-up to Teen Dream are put to rest with the hypnotizing Bloom: worth a two-year wait.
Battle Born – The Killers The Killers play with past and present with epic Battle-Born. The synth-infused, reverberating guitar sound possesses all the arena-rock feel of U2 and Tom Petty, without tritely imitating them.
A Creation Liturgy Gungor For whatever “Christian music” is in its broadest sense right now in North America, Gungor may be the most important independent band. Producing liturgical post-rock that is equally technical, artful and enjoyable, their rise to popularity and their message disregard church walls. In October, lead singer Michael published a book on creativity titled The Crowd, The Critic, and The Muse.
Provincial John K. Samson Weakerthans frontman John Samson decided that for his first solo album, he’d write an apostrophic love letter to Canada. This album makes it onto this list partly for that fact, and partly because Samson does such an incredible job with his lyrics, examining topics from grad school to winter in Manitoba.
The London folk-pop quartet returns with a listenable yet stylistically similar follow-up to Sigh No More, pleasing fans, repulsing others, and nonetheless attracting considerable Internet buzz. The dulcent sound of “banjolin” has secured its comeback.
Gravity – Lecrae Appearing prolific and full of potential with two albums out this year, Lecrae’s Gravity peaked at #1 on Gospel charts and #1 on Rap charts while his free mixape Church Clothes rose to #5 on the charts, featuring contributions from notable up-and-comers like Beautiful Eulogy.
Satellite Kite Beautiful Eulogy Derived from a theological analogy of a kite tethered healthily in a way that enables the kite to fulfill its true purpose, Satellite Kite brings fresh textures and fresh insights to the rap scene, intended, as stated in a lyric from the album, to “make you logically stop and think doxologically cause honestly a little bit of music and theology never really hurt anybody.”
Ten Stories mewithoutYou Three years after their last release, post-hardcore band mewithoutYou re-converged to begin writing again. Vocalist Aaron Weiss found inspiration in William James’ tale of a tiger that because of habit dared not leave its cage when opened by a circus train crash. Weiss finds stupendous symbolism in the story and uses his unique lyrical gift to paint allegories in tracing the stories of various animals with his characteristic spoken-word and sung vocals.