2012 was a wonderful year for music in all genres! While last year belonged to rock and pop with the likes of Adele and Florence + the Machine, this year for me belongs to country and folk. This year saw the return of Sinead O'Connor and The Cranberries at full force, great follow-up albums, and significant debuts.
I've already gone in depth this album. The only thing that kept it from being higher up is that it may be too seasonal. But, hey, it beat out the rest of the competition! Check out my previous post on it.
As shown by Whedon and Taymor, you can still make Shakespeare fresh while staying true to its intent. What I love about this album, as previously posted, is that it uses the period's instruments to create a pop sound that is distinct in its own right. And it works.
Perhaps you've never heard me talk about Garfunkel and Oates nearly every of my life? That's okay. But hopefully you know now and that you'll be talking about them every day of your life, too. Each song is stellar in its brilliantly witty, alliterative, puntastic lyrics. From the accidental masturbating incident as described in "Go Kart Racing" to the google-stalking of new significant others in "Google", duo Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome never let the listener catch a breath, leaving them burning from an exercised diaphragm.
Surprised this didn't rank higher? Me too. But it says a lot about the top 6, I'll say. With top notch guests of the folk-rock world (literally from all over the world), The Chieftains have struck gold again with every single song on the record. With each guest's distinct vocals and musical styles, the album is more less of The Chieftains' sound and more of the guests contributing their twist on tunes to the traditional Irish folk scene. Highlights include Paolo Nutini on "Hard times Come Again No More", Low Anthem on "School Days Over", and Imelda May on "Carolina Rua".
Buy their album at their Spinshop, Amazon.co.uk, or iTunes. You can also get the deluxe edition that comes with a DVD documentary at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
I'm not sure what it is about this wee Scottish group, but they've gone from a great first album to an all-out wonderfully eclectic venture into folk-rock. There's not a less-than-stellar song, and they all sound different. I can't get enough!
I didn't care for Fun.'s first album. It mostly rehashed all the generic punk rock junk out there; it wasn't very original, but the sounds that did stand out were taken and honed to create a sound that is distinctly theirs (though slight Queen-esque at times) in their sophomore album Some Nights. and with a guest like Janelle Monae, you can't go wrong! I just can't wait for the next one!
Brandi Carlile can really do no wrong. It was a great year for her, getting married to her partner and releasing the long-awaited Bear Creak with an extensive tour. There's no weak song on the album, so it was hard to choose just one for my "Best of 2012" mix. Carlile seems to be becoming more "country" than folk-rock, much to my satisfaction. It works for her, too. With the traditional country powerhouse female vocals, like a modern-day Patsy Cline, it would be hard not to go that direction. When she sings of her childhood home, you know she's happy. It's such a wonderful album, and I can't get enough of it.
I already featured the album before it came out, but I just want to say how utterly lovely it was to have one of my favorites return with music like they never left. Their classic, trademark sounds are reflected throughout the album with just as much kick in the lyrics, instrumentals, and vocals as there ever was. Take a lesson, current bands!
So you've never heard of Anais Mitchell, huh? Well, she quite enjoys concept albums. The last one was a concept album, Hadestown, telling the story of Orpheus and Eurydice in an eloquent and poetic manner with special guests playing the parts. This time around it's a story of an immigrant trying to make it in America, and it's such a heartbreaking joy to go on this journey with our main characters. It's refreshing to have a unique storytelling style that doesn't even have choruses. Go on. Give it a go!
Karine Polwart can do no wrong. No wrong. She's absolutely brilliant, a true artist in every way, careful in crafting each tune, with each word, with each note. Somehow she outdoes herself with each album. I'm wondering how she can do better than this, but I know she will. See my post on the album for a more in-depth review.
Buy the album at her website, propermusic, Amazon.com (sorry; it's an import), Amazon.co.uk, or iTunes (U.K.).
I had a tough time, as aforementioned, but these were most of the runners-up.
Who's Feeling Young Now? (The Punch Brothers)
Almighty Love (Damien Dempsey)
Almighty Love (Damien Dempsey)
The 1861 Project, Volume 2: From the Famine to the Front (Various)
Living for a Song (Jamey Johnson)
All Fall Down (Shawn Colvin)
My Head is an Animal (Of Monsters and Men)
Wreck and Ruin (Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson)
I Like to Keep Myself in Pain (Kelly Hogan)
Sun Midnight Sun (Sara Watkins)
Blunderbuss (Jack White)
Once Upon an Olive Branch (Maeve Mackinnon)
Life in a Beautiful Light (Amy Macdonald)
How About I Be Me (Sinead O'Connor)
What We Saw from the Cheap Seats (Regina Spektor)
Leaving Eden (Carolina Chocolate Drops)
Into the Wild (LP)
State Hospital (Frightened Rabbit)
A Million Miles (Shannon and the Shortcut)
My Sister the Moon (Heidi Talbot)
Ahoy! (The Punch Brothers)
The Hobbit OST (Howard Shore, Various Artists)
Pitch Perfect Digital OST (Various Artists)
Brave OST (Various Artists)