Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Somewhere in the world of Twitter earlier this year, the exact outlet lost to history, a writer quipped (paraphrasing) "2012 was the year that vibe replaced songwriting" - or something to that general effect. As much as we try to stay positive here - there were too few great ALBUMS this year. Somevelvetblog wrote: "the most over-hyped overrated album: Fiona. hands down. go ahead. sing me one song from that record." We couldn't agree more. It was hard to sing along to many albums this year. Sure there were many great tracks, killer electronics, very COOL, excellent, and thrilling new artists. But where have the more traditional songsmiths gone? Do people (besides me) even care that there isn't as much attention paid to songcraft these days? Why are so many artists (outside of the pop realm) so afraid of melody, bridges, song structures, and hooks? Those who read this will say "oh, there are so many out there, you're just not finding them." Sure - there are 40+ records below, with some really excellent songwriting, and many many artists out there writing some pretty solid songs. We're not out for OK though. We're here for GREAT. As 2012 goes, it was a pretty OK year for albums.

There will be no #1 album this year on the below list. Just a top 10. Frank Ocean ran the table this year with critics. For what it's worth, I don't truly love listening to that genre. It's an important and monumental album announcing the arrival of a massive talent. The people that read Stark (the humble few) already know about Frank Ocean and they likely don't come here to read about him. Congrats though to Mr. Ocean on his arrival and the creation of a massive album - you're just not on my list below. **Also, I've not included several fantastic albums that I worked with professionally this year, for obvious reasons.

Honorable Mention:
Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid: M.A.A.D City
Beth Orton - Sugaring Season
John Fullbright - From the Ground Up
Cody Chestnutt - Landing on a Hundred
Taylor Swift - Red
Baroness - Yellow and Green
Django Django - S/T
Julia Holter - Ekstasis
Lindi Ortega - Cigarettes & Truckstops
Vijay Iyer Trio - Accelerando
The 2 Bears - Be Strong
Dum Dum Girls - End of Daze
Metz - S/T
Bill Fay - Life is People
Norah Jones - Little Broken Hearts
Quantic & Alice Russell Look Around the Corner
Idiot Wind - S/T EP

TOP 40
40. Mike Cooley - The Fool on Every Corner
39. Pond - Beard, Wives, Denim
38. Family Band - Grace & Lies
37. Evans the Death - S/T
36. Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man
35. Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten
34. Ty Segall - Twins
33. Matthew E. White - Big Inner
32. Beach House - Bloom
31. Patterson Hood - Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance
30. Breton - Other People's Problems
29. Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again
28. Robert Glasper - Black Radio
27. Exitmusic - Passage
26. Heartless Bastards - Arrow
25. Field Report - S/T
24. Ice Choir - Afar
23. Jamey Johnson - Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran
22. Woods - Bend Beyond
21. Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls
20. fun. - Some Nights
19. Grizzly Bear - Shields
18. Dirty Projectors - Swing Low Magellan
17. Andrew Bird - Break It Yourself
16. Spiritualized - Sweet Heart Sweet Light
15. Dr. John - Locked Down
14. Cat Power - Sun
13. Justin Townes Earle - Nothings Ever Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me
12. Titus Andronicus - Local Business
11. Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory TIE Jessie Ware - Devotion TIE Sharon Van Etten  Tramp

TOP 10 - (Alphabetical) - After the JUMP

Allah Las - S/T

Alt-J - An Awesome Wave

Chairlift - Something

Chromatics - Kill for Love

Father John Misty - Fear Fun

Japandroids - Celebration Rock

Jessica Pratt - S/T

Policia - Give You The Ghost 
*Late Dec 2011 release that still deserves recognition

Bonnie Raitt - Slipstream

Tame Impala - Lonerism

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