M&T Best Albums of 2012

The moment you have all been waiting for is finally here– Maimed & Tamed’s Best Albums of 2012. We labored long and hard with this list, but in the end we’re happy with how it turned out. You can check out a Spotify playlist with a track from each album (those that are on Spotify at least) here and read on below for the full list including our take on each of the albums in our Top 10. Here’s to some more great music in 2013!

30. Sharon Van Etten- Tramp

Essential Tracks: “Give Out”, “Serpents”, “Leonard”

29. Dirty Projectors- Swing Low Magellan

Essential Tracks: “Gun Has No Trigger”, “Dance For You”

28. The Wooden Sky- Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon A Sun

Essential Tracks: “Bald Naked and Red”, “It Gets Old To Be Alone”

27. Alcoholic Faith Mission- Ask Me This

Essential Tracks: “Running With Insanity”, “Into Pieces”

26. Kishi Bashi- 151a

Essential Tracks: “Manchester”, “Bright Whites”

25. Sydney Wayser- Bell Choir Coast

Essential Tracks: “Atlas”, “Dream It Up”, “Wolf Eyes”

24. Howlin’ Rain- The Russian Wilds

Essential Tracks: “Self Made Man”, “Can’t Satisfy Me Now”

23. Friendly People- Shake

Essential Tracks: “New York”, “A Lot of Work To Do”

22. Bad Books- II

Essential Tracks: “It Never Stops”, “Forest Whitaker”, “Friendly Advice”

21. Heartless Bastards- Arrow

Essential Tracks: “Marathon”, “Only For You”

20. Titus Andronicus- Local Business

Essential Tracks: “Still Life With Hot Deuce On Silver Platter”, “Ecce Homo”

19. Plants and Animals- The End of That

Essential Tracks: “The End of That”, “Lightshow”

18. Wild Cub- Youth

Essential Tracks: “Thunder Clatter”, “Shapeless”, “Colour”

17. Howler- America Give Up

Essential Tracks: “Beach Sluts”, “Back To The Grave”, “Back of Your Neck”

16. Cloud Nothings- Attack On Memory

Essential Tracks: “Fall In”, “Stay Useless”, “Wasted Days”

15. Mean Creek- Youth Companion

Essential Tracks: “Evel Knievel”, “Young and Wild”

14. Hop Along- Get Disowned

Essential Tracks: “No Good Al Joad”, “Some Grace”

13. You Won’t- Skeptic Goodbye

Essential Tracks: “Three Car Garage”, “Who Knew”, “Television”

12. Rah Rah- The Poet’s Dead

Essential Tracks: “Art & A Wife”, “Prairie Girl”

11. Grizzly Bear- Shields

Essential Tracks: “Sleeping Ute”, “Yet Again”

10. Father John Misty- Fear Fun

Father John Misty took the cake for our top song of the year, but Fear Fun was no one-horse-show. Josh Tillman teamed up with producer Jonathan Wilson to create a witty, unrelenting record that is inspired by both traditional folk music and psychedelia. Tracks like “Misty’s Nightmares 1 & 2” and “I’m Writing A Novel” have that country twang to them, but Tillman works to keep things interesting with songs such as “Nancy From Now On” that create an upbeat, danceable tempo.

Essential Tracks: “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”, “Misty’s Nightmares 1&2”

9. Japandroids- Celebration Rock

There was a lot of pressure on this Canadian duo to follow up 2009’s Post-Nothing, but Japandroids’ Celebration Rock certainly did not disappoint. There’s still the distorted guitar, nostalgic lyrics, and rigorous drumming that we remember from their last release, but with Celebration Rock Dave and Brian take it to the next level. Most other publications had “The House That Heaven Built” as the standout track from this record, but for us “Continuos Thunder” is the perfect representation of Japandroids.

Essential Tracks: “Continuous Thunder”, “Fire’s Highway”

8. Wooden Dinosaur- Spaces

Vermont’s Americana outfit Wooden Dinosaur was one of our early favorites for our “Best of” lists, and their record Spaces certainly held its own against everything else that came out this year. Lead singer and songwriter Michael Roberts covers some dark and weighty topics in his lyrics, but still finds a clever way to incorporate hopeful melodies and elegant harmonies. Start with “Good Winter” and you’ll be hooked.

Essential Tracks: “Good Winter”, “Hey You”

7. Fantasy Rainbow- Bos Taurus

I’m not even quite sure who first told me of the UK’s Fantasy Rainbow, but their 2012 release Bos Taurus quickly became one of my favorites when I heard it in early November. From track 1 to track 11 it may certainly be one of the most diverse sounding records of the year as each song has it’s own distinct identity, which is sure to keep the listener on their toes. From the upbeat tracks like “Condominium” to the darker songs such as “Bread Biscuit,” Bos Taurus states its case for one of the strongest records of the year.

Essential Tracks: “Condominium”, “Bread Biscuit”

6. David Wax Museum- Knock Knock Get Up

I’ll admit it, I wasn’t sure what to expect from David Wax Museum’s follow-up to Everything Is Saved, but what they delivered with Knock Knock Get Up definitely exceeded any expectations that I may have had. David Wax and Suz Slezak have added even more instrumentation and boisterous sounds to their repertoire while still staying true to their Mexican inspired style. You’ll be addicted from the first listen and if you’re anything like us, it’ll be on repeat for a solid two weeks after that.

Essential Tracks: “Will You Be Sleeping?”, “A Dog In This Fight”

5. Big Scary- Vacation

You know when you’re listening to a record and one songs ends, but you know exactly how the next song starts since you’ve listened to it so many times over and over again? For us that’s Big Scary’s Vacation. Although it may have been released in the duo’s native Australia in 2011, it is just too damn good to not include it on this list following its worldwide release in October. Much like Fantasy Rainbow’s Bos Taurus, this album takes a group of songs with their own individual identities and compiles them into a masterpiece of varying sounds and emotions.

Essential Tracks: “Gladiator”, “Mix Tape”, “Falling Away”

4. Alabama Shakes- Boys & Girls

It should be no surprise to see this record so high on our list. Brittany Howard and co. delivered one of the most passionate, energetic and flat-out fun records of the year with Boys & Girls. Of course everyone has heard “Hold On”, unless they have been living under a rock for the past year, but the rest of the album is equally as strong. Everyone thinks of Brittany when Alabama Shakes comes to mind, as they should, but like we mentioned on our best songs list, the guitar work of Heath Fogg is ridiculously underrated on this album.

Essential Tracks: “Hold On”, “Rise to the Sun”

3. Dry The River- Shallow Bed

Some of the tracks from Dry The River’s Shallow Bed were released prior to 2012, but this full-length effort brought everything together for the boys from East London. Epic doesn’t even begin to describe the songwriting and singing of frontman Peter Liddle. His voice is heavenly, but not in the sense of being soft or gentle, rather like a preacher who has come to deliver the sermon of epic folk-rock. With the majority of the band’s members coming from post-punk and hardcore groups, these guys certainly are not your typical folk troubadours. “Lion’s Den” gives a window into the band members’ former lives while “Weights & Measures” and “No Rest” will simply make you want to stand up on your chair and sing along to the choruses. Rumor has it that the group is heading back to the studio in early 2013 to record again, and rumor has it that the M&T crew is ridiculously excited about that.

Essential Tracks: “No Rest”, “Shaker Hymns”, “Weights and Measures”

2. Two Gallants- The Boom and the Blight

When a friend who hadn’t heard of Two Gallants and who had never listened to The Boom and the Blight asked why it was one of my favorite albums of 2012 I replied, “So much double bass in your face.” It’s true that Tyson Vogel’s work behind the drums on this record is masterful, but I explained further to my friend what makes this album so special. There’s the deft guitar playing and raspy vocals of Adam Stephens, and the fact that just the two of them are capable of making so much noise. Throughout the record, each guitar riff is so fluid and the drums unfaltering, all while Stephens’ signature howl permeates through your speakers. We waited five years since the duo’s self-titled release back in 2007, and oh man was it worth the wait.

Essential Tracks: “Halcyon Days”, “Winter’s Youth”, “Song of Songs”

1. Tango In The Attic- Sellotape

I said it back in the summer and I’ll say it again now, this album is incredible. For me the ultimate test of a good record is how many times you can listen without getting sick of it. When talking about Tango In The Attic’s Sellotape, the answer is infinite. Even after hundreds of listens over the last six months, I don’t think that any track from the Scottish group’s 2012 release will ever grow old for me. Each song flows into the next so seamlessly, yet the individual tracks are still powerful and memorable on their own. I’m not sure how to concisely describe the band’s sound or compare them to other contemporary artists because I’m not sure that there is a genre to place them in or a band to compare them to. It’s rock, it’s experimental, it’s alternative, it’s avant-garde, it’s all of the above and more. I was worried that it would be difficult to recreate such a sonic masterpiece in a live setting, but after catching Tango In The Attic at CMJ this year, all of my worries were put to rest. The band cruised through tracks from Sellotape, bringing the album to life with ease, much to the pleasure of yours truly. 2012 has been an incredible year for music, but to us Tango In The Attic’s Sellotape was the clear choice for the best record of the year.

Essential Tracks: “Paw Prints”, “Suncream”, “Swimming Pool”

Posted on by Eric in Best of 2012

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