It’s that time of year again, when we look back at the past year and prepare for the coming one. 2012 was an inspiring year for indie/alternative acts; I don’t know about you, but I found personal favorites in many different musical styles and genres.
The thing about indie music is that it’s nearly impossible to make a claim as to who is the best act, for the simple reason that there are so many indie acts out there that we might not even have heard of who are making fantastic music. So the best way to address my year-end list of “must-listens” is to tell you these records are my personal favorites and recommendations for the year. If I don’t mention your favorite album or band here, feel free to share your own faves in the comments so we can take a listen!
That being said—in no particular order, here is my list for indie music must-listens of 2012:
BEACH HOUSE, BLOOM
This isn’t merely an album; it’s an emotional listening experience front to back. Well-crafted, well-produced, creative—just listen to it.
OF MONSTERS AND MEN, MY HEAD IS AN ANIMAL
Considering the airplay and song placements these guys are getting, it seems the world is catching on quickly to how great they are. Catchy, sing-able, chant-able hooks and danceable rhythms—this is Icleand’s best import of 2012, hands down.
THE LUMINEERS, THE LUMINEERS
The fact that this indie-folk band has been topping the charts without the benefit of major label backing (let alone two Grammy nominations) should be proof enough that they are worth a listen. “Ho Hey” isn’t the only great moment on the record; there’s much more where that came from.
I can’t get enough of this honest, hauntingly beautiful album. The opening track, “Young and Cold” is one of my favorite tracks of the year, and will likely be on my list of top favorites for years to come.
FIONA APPLE, THE IDLER WHEEL…
Long awaited, and well worth it, The Idler Wheel… shows that Fiona Apple is just as raw and hard-hitting as when she started. Not a misstep on the record, in my opinion.
BAT FOR LASHES, THE HAUNTED MAN
As naked in her sound and her lyricism as she is on the cover, Bat For Lashes has put out one of her best records yet with The Haunted Man, mainly because the stripped-down vibe gives us a clear picture of who she is as an artist. Nude is beautiful, in more ways than one.
BAND OF HORSES, MIRAGE ROCK
Going back to their indie-rock roots (or indie roots/rock?) on this record was one of the best creative decisions Band of Horses ever made. Good to have them back.
SHOVELS AND ROPE, O’ BE JOYFUL
While perhaps not as well known (yet) as the other entries on my list, I have to say I love, love LOVE the raw passion and sound of this indie folk band. You need to hear them, if you haven’t yet.