2012 was a great year for music, with some of my favorite artists releasing new albums, some after many years with no new releases. Here are some of my favorites from the past year, but be aware that I am biased and I KNOW IT! :)
Honorable mentions: The new Band of Horses album Mirage Rock and the Imagine Dragons album Night Visions are two that I need to listen to some more. Both are pretty awesome from the few times I’ve had a chance to listen to them, and it was definitely a lot of fun to hear some of the new Band of Horses songs live in December. The new Mumford & Sons album, Babel has some really great songs on it, including Hopeless Wanderer. However, after how much I loved Sigh No More, this album was a bit of a disappointment, compared to what I expected and what I think it could have been. Train’s album California 37 is also one that I love a lot, but was ruined for me a little bit since Drive By was the only English song played on the French radio station at work and I’d hear it about five times a day all summer long. I do think the poppy, super catchy tunes work really well for Train, but I do still prefer some of their older music.
10) The Script - #3
This album is definitely my least favorite of The Script’s albums, and seems to have more of a rap influence than the other two. I still love a lot of the songs though, in particular, Glowing and Six Degrees of Separation. Hearing some of these songs live was incredible, which is why it still made my top ten list for this year.
9) A Silent Film – Sand & Snow
A big thank you to my friend Ginger for showing me this band just last month! After hearing their song Harbour Lights, I knew I would love their sound, and immediately bought this CD. Rustle of the Stars is also an incredible ballad type song that I fell in love with after just one listen.
8) The Early November – In Currents
The first new release from The Early November since 2006 was not at all disappointing. With a similar sound to their previous releases, this album still feels unique and as if they have grown a lot in the past six years. Some favorites include In Currents, Call Off the Bells, and That’s Not Your Real Name.
7) The Fray – Scars & Stories
The first two albums from The Fray have a very similar sound throughout most of the songs, but something about this album feels different to me. A lot of the songs seem to be inspired by some travelling that the band did, which I think is a really cool concept. Rainy Zurich in particular is a favorite of mine, which is sung by guitarist Joe King, who has a great voice and I think should probably have more vocal parts in their songs. Munich is another favorite, as well as the ballad I Can Barely Say.
6) Say Anything – Anarchy, My Dear
This band is so awesome and weird and funny and their songs never fail to leave me laughing, smiling, and in awe. Max is a brilliant song writer, and part of Say Anything’s charm is in his strange lyrics and unique vocals. Say Anything is a great song from the album, and another favorite, So Good, features vocals from his wife, Sherri. Their voices sound awesome together and seeing them sing this song live together with such chemistry is amazing.
5) Tyler Hilton – Forget the Storm
This was the first full length release from Tyler Hilton since 2004. After such a long time, I wasn’t really expecting to even hear anything new from him, but I think that this album is even better than his first one. Some of the songs were featured on the last season of One Tree Hill, and they fit just perfectly with the storylines, including Prince of Nothing Charming, Kicking My Heels, and Loaded Gun. I had the pleasure of seeing Tyler perform live for the first and second time in 2012 after being a fan since my early teens, and he is so charming and great to watch as a performer. I have a serious weakness for seeing musicians play both harmonica and guitar in a live performance, and a perfect example for why I feel that way can be described by his song Can’t Stop Now, my favorite from the album.
4) Snow Patrol – Fallen Empires
Snow Patrol has been a favorite of mine for many years, and each album they release is consistently amazing and just as good or even better than the last. They are definitely one of my all time favorite bands to see live, and put on one of the best shows you will ever see. Gary has such passion and energy, and also such a goofiness about him while onstage that makes it impossible not to fall in love with them. New York and This Isn’t Everything You Are quickly became two of my favorite songs of all time. Their song Lifening is also a perfect example of why Snow Patrol is such an amazing band with incredible lyrics. The song is about appreciating all of the little things, and as Gary sings in the chorus “this is all I ever wanted from life” you can tell how genuine and relatable the lyrics are.
3) Safetysuit – These Times
Safetysuit’s long awaited second album was released in January, 2012, and is at least as good as their first, Life Left to Go. This band has so much energy on stage and seeing them perform live is such an incredible experience. The first song, Believe, is so high energy and such an amazing song to kick off both a show and the recorded album. Hearing Doug sing that super high note towards the end of the song is kick ass! These Times is probably the song on the album that has the best, most relatable message for me, and I think many others as well. It’s such a simple thing, but hearing someone else say that “these times are hard, but they will pass” is so comforting and it is also the truth! Hearing that song live for the first time this year was such an emotional moment and one that I will never forget in my life. Life in the Pain is another great, relatable song, and has a kind of similar idea to the final song on their previous record, Life Left to Go. Other favorites include Crash and Staring At It, also both high energy songs that are incredible to see live.
2) Matchbox 20 – North
This album is one that I had been waiting on for a very long time. For their first new full length release in TEN YEARS, Matchbox 20 could not have done any better. Even though they clearly took quite a bit of time on this record, all the work resulted in something perfect. The classic 90’s Matchbox 20 sound is still there, but it is obvious that all of the guys have matured musically in the past decade. There is a perfect blend of catchy pop tunes, slower ballads, and a few that fall somewhere in between. Rob’s vocals seem to be getting better and better, and guitarist Kyle Cook even sings lead on their song The Way, which is one of my favorites on the album. She’s So Mean is super catchy and sounds totally 90’s but still very current, and was a perfect choice for a first single. Overjoyed, the second single, is a slower song that I think is one of the best on the album. Some other favorites include Parade and Sleeping at the Wheel, a perfect ending song for the album.
1) Lifehouse – Almeria (DUH)
Let’s be honest here…did anyone expect anything less? I’ll start off by saying that this definitely is not my favorite Lifehouse album, and it and did take some getting used to. Matchbox 20’s North is an album I enjoy probably at least as much as this one, but I don’t think it would be physically possible for me to rank any other album ahead of a Lifehouse one haha! While this album feels like a big departure from their ordinary sound, I feel like each of their albums is almost like its own entity, and this new sound still works for them. Despite whatever statements they have made with the new images or the cheesy Western album cover, most of the songs on the album are still undeniably Lifehouse. The record starts off with Gotta Be Tonight, an upbeat song that sounds awesome when played really loudly in the car. It’s clear that they tried some interesting new things on this album, like the chains in the background of this track, and even backup vocals by another artist, which is something they don’t do very often. Between the Raindrops, the first single, is such a pretty song, and I think Jason and Natasha’s vocals sound amazing together. This song sounds really cool acoustic, and I think a bonus track of that would’ve been awesome on the deluxe edition. Nobody Listen is a song rumored to be the next single, and while I don’t think it is necessarily the best choice, the catchy beat and chorus could maybe allow it to do pretty well. Moveonday is a kick ass rock song that I think would be perfect as an opener for a live show. Just from videos, I can already tell that it’s going to be awesome live, and I can’t wait to see Jason’s awkward dancing and tambourine shaking, and maybe have a chance to reacquaint my face with his stomach. Slow Motion is a slower song that has a really cool sound, with a really neat melody. The next song, Only You’re the One is one of my absolute favorites on the album, and I think it would be the perfect choice for a single. The live videos look incredible, and I love how Bryce sings the bridge. This song kind of falls in between being upbeat and a ballad, and I feel like that could make it feel both like a really high energy song and also something that could be easily relatable and emotional. Where I Come From is another favorite of mine on this album. I feel like this song could be really great in an acoustic set, and I can picture Jason playing this one. Right Back Home, featuring Peter Frampton, was by far my least favorite in the first few listens of the album. I started off really hating it, but it has grown on me to the point where I do enjoy it. Some of the guitar parts are really cool sounding, but something about this song feels a little too country to me. Compared to other albums, there were a lot of collaborations on Almeria, and I think that is something I don’t enjoy as much on a Lifehouse album. While it may be necessary to work with other artists from time to time, it often results in some songs that are lesser favorites of mine. Barricade also has a bit of a Western sound, but I feel like it works better for this song. This is another one that I can picture Jason singing in an acoustic set, and I would really love to see that. And the last song on the album, Aftermath….ahhhhhhh. Anyone who has even so much as spoken to me in the past month knows how I feel about this song. First of all, I am absolutely in love with piano ballads, and I wish that Lifehouse had more of them. This song is so incredibly beautiful and Jason’s vocals sound so perfect and haunting. There is a chorusy part towards the end that felt really strange to me on the first listen, but actually fits so perfectly into the song. There are those certain songs that have a sound or lyrics which when you hear them, you feel like it’s one of those songs that is so universal and anyone who hears it couldn’t possibly dislike it. Aftermath feels like one of those songs to me, and it’s also one of the only songs I’ve ever sat and listened to on repeat multiple times. There’s something so soothing about the music and how Jason sounds in this song. The feeling this song gives me is just indescribable, but it quickly became one of my all time favorite, and most played songs, all within a week of first hearing it. Overall, the album is amazing, just as one such as myself would expect from Lifehouse. Lyrically, it sometimes gets a bit repetitive and doesn’t feel as profound as some of their older songs, but I think the beauty of the album is mostly in the music itself…the melodies and instruments and some of the strange new techniques that they tried out. Despite not being exactly what I expected, a Lifehouse album never disappoints!