I listen to music for many reasons, but none bigger than the pure aesthetic of it. Music brings us pure joy and sorrow, smiles and tears, challenges to our being and a reflection of our world. That purest form of expression builds us up and flashes light into darkness, revealing our insides.
Through the year, we’re afforded just a few breathtaking memories if we’re lucky. This year I’ve been blessed to have enough to fill an album. Each moment carries a song. My brother’s beautiful wedding filled with the Beatles in the background. The long drives in the background with Call Me Maybe blaring and the kids dancing in the backseat. An anniversary trip to Mexico with my wife with Pink Floyd, mariachi and the Black Keys as the soundtrack.
They’re indelible moments, which fleeted away like the waves. And hopefully like those waves, the will return to shore in my conscious when that music comes to play.
If I’m lucky, there will be more memories remembered from other music this year. It was a great one and here’s some music I hope triggers more moments in the future.
Albums of the Year
Shields by Grizzly Bear
There may not have been a more thorough album released in 2012. From start to finish, the harmonies, the melodies are as tight as anything produced in the past decade. A brilliant record by a band, which seems to be hitting its stride.
The Carpenter by The Avett Brothers
No album hit home with me like this brilliant album by a personal favorite. After learning of the illness of a bandmate’s child, they dove deep together, touching on moments and memories, all with a deeply personal touch that resonates.
Milo Greene by Milo Greene
A sentimental favorite for me. In the group’s debut, their harmonies sound as powerful as anything made by current harmonic masters like the Fleet Foxes or as good as those made by Simon and Garfunkel. A brilliant start.
The Heist by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange has gotten a ton more play, but there’s not a more eclectic, more important hip hop record this year than the Heist. Same Love is the perfect song for this time (more on this later) and the duo seamlessly bounces from its depth to the light-hearted brilliance of Thrift Shop.
Some Nights by Fun.
Perhaps the most complete pop album of the year. You can put any of the first four songs up against anything made in the past decade and make them stand. We are Young will be sung in bars for eons and Some Nights borders on the brilliance of Queen and Freddie Mercury. Fun. will be huge in the upcoming years.
Other Must-Hear Albums
My Head is an Animal by Of Monsters and Men
Babel by Mumford and Sons
Home Again by Michael Kiwanuka
The Lumineers by The Lumineers
3 Pears by Dwight Yoakam
Boys and Girls by Alabama Shakes
Delta Spirit by Delta Spirit
Blunderbuss by Jack White
Wrecking Ball by Bruce Springsteen
Tempest by Bob Dylan
Homeward Companion by M. Ward
Locked Down by Dr. John
Celebration Rock by The Japandroids
Country, God or the Girl by K-Naan
Handwritten by The Gaslight Anthem
Song of the Year
Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
For many in my generation and those younger, we’ve been searching for a way to shout our disagreement with the treatment of others. Macklemore and Lewis take on the issue of gay marriage with this brilliantly written, performed and produced song, but it could easily be translated for any facet of our lives.
“No law is gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever god we believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it’s all the same love
About time that we raised up”
In a time when it’s easy to be lost in the shuffle, in the world, in our own heart and mind, Macklemore’s lyrics bring us back to the center. When mass shootings fill the headlines and consume us with fear, eating our hope away, it’s love that remains. When we all figure out love trumps all, we will have reached our destination.
North Side Gal by JD McPherson
Bright Whites by Kishi Bashi
The Seed by K-Naan
Thrift Shop by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Tell Me a Tale by Michael Kiwanuka
Life by The Avett Brothers
Through my Prayers by The Avett Brothers
A Father’s First Spring by The Avett Brothers
Ho Hey by The Lumineers
King and Lionheart by Of Monsters and Men
Some Nights by Fun.
We Take Care of Our Own by Bruce Springsteen
Locked Out of Heaven by Bruno Mars
I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons
Home by Phillip Phillips
Merry Go Round by Kacey Musgraves
A Simple Answer by Grizzly Bear
Yet Again by Grizzly Bear
California by Delta Spirit
Call Me Maybe by Carley Ray Jepsen
Moddison/Cutty Love by Milo Greene