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Top Five Albums — 2012

It’s time again for my top five albums of the year. As I was preparing for this post, and I’ve probably always known this, I realized that while I love music, I’m not going to spend time searching for the unheard-of bands, or the albums that no one knows of. I’m not a true audiophile in that sense. But I do love good music. I could never compile a list like Steve McCoy’s. I don’t have the time or the budget. And to be fair, I’m certain that there are several albums on Steve’s list that would be included in mine. No, my tastes are slightly more mainstream. And while you’ll never see the likes of today’s Pop Stars on this list you will most likely know the bands that are mentioned here.

Top Five — 2010
Top Five — 2011

Just like last year, I thought I would mention several albums that were good, but didn’t make the list 1.

Honorable Mentions

This year’s most disappointing album was Battle Born by The Killers. I was really looking forward to it, but goodness, what a mess. They seem miles away from the band that gave us Hot Fuss & Sam’s Town.

Top Five

valtari5. Sigur RosValtari

This band is Icelandic. I have no idea what they’re singing, which is okay because some of their songs use a non-literal language…basically made up sounds. It’s called Vonlenska. Wikipedia calls them an ambient/post-rock band. It doesn’t matter their language, or what Wikipedia calls them…they’re good. The music is ethereal and mesmerizing.

Best song: Fjögur píanó

 
 
grizzlybear

4. Grizzly BearShields

I didn’t pick this album up until really late in the year…but I can’t stop listening to it. Initially it reminded me of My Morning Jacket. But Grizzly Bear is better, both musically and lyrically. This album features great harmonies between Edward Droste & Daniel Rossen.

Best Song: Sun In Your Eyes

Fallen once, you’ll fall again
And lean on
Your tired hands, the crawling grass
The soft ground

lumineers3. The LumineersThe Lumineers

You know the Lumineers because you’ve likely heard Ho Hey about a thousand times on the radio. Fortunately the album is more than that one song. And fortunately, most of the other songs are better than Ho Hey. Lyrically easy on the ears…and you can sing along with all the songs.

Best Song: Stubborn Love

It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all
The opposite of love’s indifference
Pay attention now, I’m standing on your porch screaming out
And I wont leave until you come downstairs

monsters2. Of Monsters and MenMy Head Is An Animal

The guitar intro on the first song, Dirty Paws, instantly hooked me…and I didn’t stop listening. This is an  album that takes the listener from a story about bees, birds, and creatures with Dirty Paws to a romantic discourse between lovers in Little Talks. Incidentally, this band is also from Iceland. What is it about good music coming from Iceland? I thought Björk was that country’s only export. The music is whimsical, wispy, a little folksy…and good.

Best Song: Little Talks

You’re gone, gone, gone away
I watched you disappear
All that’s left is a ghost of you
Now we’re torn, torn, torn apart
There’s nothing we can do
Just let me go, we’ll meet again soon

mumford1. Mumford & SonsBabel

In my past two years I’ve had albums that might have been slightly controversial…nothing major, but enough for some to question. Maybe Babel is this years controversy. Mumford, despite huge success and a brilliant first album, Sigh No More, have collected a group of haters along the way. Apparently Mumford is now formulaic…tired…not original. Apparently their second album was supposed to depart from who they are, and what made them successful. I don’t think U2 was asked to reinvent themselves on their second album. They didn’t try that almost disastrous experiment until their 8th & 9th albums. So let the haters hate. I love this album. It was easily my favorite album of the year. While My Head Is An Animal was good, it really was a distant second.

This album is filled with arena worthy anthems. Babel  is more polished than it’s predecessor, but still fills familiar. It is pregnant with spiritual undertones and hard love. It slows down, speeds up, stops, and then does it all over again.

It’s hard to pick a favorite song on this album. In fact, it’s easier to pick the few songs I didn’t like as much. One song that really grew on me was Lover of the Light. A first listen caused me to pause and say, “wait a second, when did they become the Dave Matthews Band?” Listen to the beginning of the song…you’ll see what I mean. But once I saw the video it completely changed things for me. We lived in Wales (UK) for five years…and the video for this song was shot in Wales. We became fans of Idris Elba while living there as well. Idris directed and starred in the video. It’s an excellent story. Watch for yourself.

Having said that, Lover of the Light isn’t my favorite song on the album. Hopeless Wanderer gets that title. It reminds me of U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (which happens to be my favorite song of all time). It’s a story of searching for truth…of knowing it, and then not.

You heard my voice I came out of the woods by choice
Shelter also gave their shade
But in the dark I have no name

So leave that click in my head
And I will remember the words that you said
Left a clouded mind and a heavy heart
But I was sure we could see a new start

So when your hope’s on fire
But you know your desire
Don’t hold a glass over the flame
Don’t let your heart grow cold
I will call you by name
I will share your road

But hold me fast, Hold me fast
‘Cause I’m a hopeless wanderer
And hold me fast, Hold me fast
‘Cause I’m a hopeless wanderer

I wrestled long with my youth
We tried so hard to live in the truth
But do not tell me all is fine
When I lose my head, I lose my spine

So leave that click in my head
And I won’t remember the words that you said
You brought me out from the cold
Now, how I long, how I long to grow old

So when your hope’s on fire
But you know your desire
Don’t hold a glass over the flame
Don’t let your heart grow cold
I will call you by name
I will share your road

But hold me fast, Hold me fast
‘Cause I’m a hopeless wanderer
And hold me fast, Hold me fast
‘Cause I’m a hopeless wanderer
I will learn, I will learn to love the skies I’m under
I will learn, I will learn to love the skies I’m under
The skies I’m under

Hopeless Wanderer – Live
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaIZhKkgteA&feature=share&list=UUhPzV-uAKhVMguKI7RB8uGQ

As always, let me know your thoughts – where you agree, or not.

Notes:

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