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My Top 10 Of '12

Title says it all - my favorite albums of 2012 (I'm behind on these lists)
1Bad Books

2012 was a weaker year of music for me as few albums really blew me away. However, Bad Books, the side project of Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra's Andy Hull, immediately grew on me. A decently paced album, filled with a combination of catchy hooks, some four-chord pop rock, emotional outpourings, and acoustic wanderings by each singer. The music is simple, but fun, the lyrics are attention-holding, and the melodies and harmonies are undeniably enticing.
2The Gaslight Anthem

Though the pace has slowed to an extent, The Gaslight Anthem has found a terrific balance between punk, rock, and the folk-y type story-telling that originally caught listeners' ears and drew comparisons to Bruce Springsteen, an obvious idol of the band's. "Handwritten" is the glossiest Gaslight album yet, with sleeker production, crunchier, fuller instruments, and more refined melodies. It's hard to see the New Jersey natives deviating very much from the sounds they've been producing for the last six years, but they're flirting with the title of "masters of their craft".
3Minus the Bear
Infinity Overhead

Minus the Bear holds a special place in my heart for their earlier, better work that I enjoyed so thoroughly through high school. "Infinity Overhead" is not up to par with albums like "Planet of Ice", "Menos el Oso", or "Highly Refined Pirates". However, I applaud the band's effort on this album. It seems to me that singer Jake Snider has attempted to expand his lyrical stylings beyond recaps of drunken adventures and enticing women. The melodies on this album are weaker, but the music and instrumentation are far more interesting - even borderline captivating at its strongest points - than on "Omni", the band's previous album. I give credit to guitarist Dave Knudson and drummer Erin Tate for waking from their momentary slumber and giving us some enjoyable "jams" on "Infinity Overhead".
4Titus Andronicus
Local Business

Admittedly my first introduction to Titus Andronicus, so while I can't compare it to the band's more praised work, "The Monitor", I can say this is one of the more enjoyable punk albums I've heard in awhile. In a similar vein as The Gaslight Anthem, Titus Andronicus (fellow New Jersey natives) weave folk-y, story-telling aspects into their punk rock, albeit with a generally more light-hearted approach than Gaslight. At times this album overstays its welcome, but in its best moments, the extended riffing, and melody and pace-changing makes for an entertaining listen.
5Dirty Projectors
Swing Lo Magellan

Similarly, I didn't listen to Dirty Projectors' previous work, but "Swing Lo Magellan" was a captivating, if not somewhat frustrating find in 2012. At times, it's hard to nail down exactly what Dirty Projectors like to do in their music other than harmonize vocals and throw in some kooky rhythms and percussion. For me, this makes for an aggravating, occasionally dull listening as the tracks can blend into each other. Furthermore, when the band creates beautiful, thoroughly enjoyable songs like the album's title track or "About to Die", it seems they're capable of so much more than what comprises a chunk of the album.
6The Tallest Man on Earth
There's No Leaving Now

Kristian Matsson's vocals have gotten stronger, his melodies tighter, his guitar-playing as pretty and ear-grabbing as ever. The Tallest Man on Earth has created such a portfolio of terrific work that it seems impossible for him not plateau in the future. "There's No Leaving Now" boasts a slightly expanded sound that only further enhances pure listen-ability of Matsson's indie folk. Another ho-hum release from one of the best in the business.
7Every Time I Die
Ex Lives

Sit down, crack a beer. Stand up, shotgun a beer, spill some beer down your beard. Headbang a little. Wish more bands could write as clever, humorous, awesome lyrics as Every Time I Die's Keith Buckley. Few in the business craft metalcore with a southern twang and knack for sing-along melodies as well as ETID.
8 Pebaluna
Carny Life

Singer Lauren Coleman joins up with RX Bandits' frontman, Matt Embree, to form some pleasant melodies combining elements of jazz, pop, alternative rock, and folk. Coleman has a soothing voice that fits her blend of styles.
9Passion Pit

Sleek production, synths abound, and more foot-tapping, get-up-and-dance melodies from Michael Angelakos and the Massachusetts electro-pop hipsters. A thoroughly enjoyable listen that seems to build upon the previous work, and hint towards an even brighter future.
10Tigers on Trains

Few bands write a blend of alternative, indie, folk, and pop as well as Tigers on Trains and don't receive credit for it. "Foundry", the band's second LP, features more lovely vocal harmonies, pleasant guitar work, and emotionally-involving lyrics.
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