Amanda’s Top 20 Albums of 2012, Pt 2: #10-1

Alrighty, folks! Here is the second half of my Top 20 list. (If you missed the first half, it can be found here). Since yesterday I’ve been tinkering with it EVEN MORE. I just cannot decide where some of these albums should be. So again, if you disagree with the placement, I probably agree with you. Seriously, pretty much any of the top 10 (except #1-3) could be pretty much ANYWHERE before and after each other. *shrug*

In any case, please enjoy and please feel free to sound off in the comments. (At the end you will find a Spotify playlist with all the albums).

And off we go!

#10: Theatre is Evil – Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra

Amanda Palmer, formerly of the Dresden Dolls, is an internet QUEEN. Last year she started a kickstarter project to fund her new studio album, and raised over a million dollars! I was one of the people who donated to that project, and received the really kick-ass special edition vinyl and the art book for the album. Coincidentally, the whole album kicks so much ASS. Amanda Palmer’s special brand of “punk cabaret” at its finest.

My favorite song: Oh lord, half the album… but if I’m pressed to choose, maybe “Killing Type” or “Trout Heart Replica” or “Bottomfeeder”

#9: Lonerism – Tame Impala
These guys are still pretty new. Their first album came out in 2010. They’re Australian. And they are SO TRIPPY. Tame Impala is psychedelic rock with a dream-pop twist, and they will make your head spin (in the best way possible). Every song on Lonerism is just pure groovy guitar goodness (trying saying that five times fast).

My favorite song: either “Elephant” or “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control” (seriously, the whole second half of “Nothing…” is just MINDBLOWINGLY AWESOME)

#8: My Head is an Animal – Of Monsters and Men
Oh man. Part of me feels like this album should be higher up than this… Oh geez. This is so hard! My Head is an Animal is a BRILLIANT album. Period. End of discussion. No but really. This indie folk/pop band is from Iceland. They released an EP in 2011 that I absolutely FELL IN LOVE with and I waited with baited breath for this album to come out. And it did not disappoint. It is expressive, controlled, and beautiful.

My favorite song: God, I don’t even know! Maybe “King and Lionheart” or “Little Talks” or “Six Weeks”…? GAH! TOO MANY AWESOME SONGS TO CHOOSE FROM!

#7: Shields – Grizzly Bear
Okay, honestly, I’m still torn about this one. I keep going back and forth over whether Shields should maybe be behind My Head is an Animal. Even as I type this, I’m considering moving them around. UGH. Either way, this album is wonderful. What I love about this band is that they pull from so many different styles. They’re indie rock, but they mix in a lot of folk, psychedelic, lo-fi, and even some pop. Also, I seriously LOVE Edward Droste’s voice. Also, they’re from Marfa, Texas – so another local-ish band makes the mix. Yay!

My favorite song: “Speak in Rounds” (probably… or maybe “Yet Again”)

#6: Milk Famous – White Rabbits
Here’s another band you can thank (or blame) on my brother. He introduced me to White Rabbits a few years ago. Their first album, Fort Nightly, is also awesome. Just so you know. And I love Milk Famous so much. It’s opening song, ironically called Heavy Metal (and the whole album) is a bit more laid-back than some of their previous work. But it still makes me want to dance. It’s got a great groove to it. (And yes, this is yet another indie rock/psychedelic/lo-fi mash up – I listen to a lot of bands like that, okay?)

My favorite song: “Temporary” (at least for the moment)

#5: Neck of the Woods – Silversun Pickups
I cannot possibly oversell how much I love Silversun Pickups. I just can’t. Their 2009 album, Swoon, is one of my favorite albums EVER of everything ever. The only reason this album isn’t slightly higher up is because a) it doesn’t quite match up to the awesomeness of Swoon, and b) there were a TON of really fucking fantastic albums this year (and I’m still wondering if I should put it ahead of the next album…). Trust me though, this album still ROCKS.

My favorite song: possibly “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)”

#4: Port of Morrow – The Shins
The Shins were here in Houston in OCTOBER and I didn’t get to see them and I am STILL SO UPSET OVER THIS! YOU HAVE NO IDEA! *flails* …ahem… anyway. Yes, The Shins… Port of Morrow is The Shins first new album in FIVE YEARS, so we had to wait awhile for this one. But it was WORTH it. Indie rock with a great dream-pop vibe (and its REALLY dreamy in parts), and James Mercer’s fantastic almost-wailing lead vocals. LOVE IT!!!!

My favorite song: definitely “The Rifle’s Spiral”

Okay, so. Before I proceed, let me just say this: #1-3 are all pretty much TIED. These are definitely my top three favorite albums of the year. This is based on the honestly shamelessly RIDICULOUS number of times I have listened to these three albums. Sometimes I would listen to just these three albums over and over again for a week at a time. Sometimes I would pick just ONE album and play it on repeat for four or five days straight. I’m not even kidding. I have these songs stuck in my head all the time. I dream them. I wake up with the on my tongue. SERIOUSLY. And, quite frankly, for those of you who are also on my Facebook or Tumblr… if you can’t guess what these three bands are, you haven’t been paying much attention to all my ranting…

So, without further ado, #1-3 of my Top 20 albums of 2012:

#3: Safe Travels – Jukebox the Ghost
Jukebox the Ghost. I once put all three of their albums on a playlist and let it play straight through on repeat for SEVEN DAYS. SEVEN. Yeah. They have this amazing ability to be really bouncy and pop-y and dance-y and fun, while still having this underlying melancholy over EVERYTHING (a lot like The Killers, actually) and I absolutely LOVE that.

My favorite song: definitely “Everybody Knows” – the number of times I’ve listened to this song is, frankly, gratuitous.

#2: Phoenix – The Classic Crime
I came to these guys late. Just found them about six months ago, and it was thanks entirely to recommendations from Spotify. Ironically, this album was also made possibly due to funding from Kickstarter (but I didn’t contribute because I hadn’t heard of them yet). This album just hits me in the gut. Maybe it’s just my hidden emo coming out to play, but GEEZ, these guys just do something to me.

My favorite song: uh… um… do I have to pick one? Uh… “Beautiful Darkside”? “The Precipice”? “City of Orphans”? Probably one of those… maybe…

#1: Shallow Bed – Dry the River

And here we are. Number 1. Dry the River is a English folk rock band from London, and this is their debut album. And I just… I cannot describe to you how much I love this album. The lyrics are delicate, full of biblical references, emotional, powerful… the instrumentation is layered and complex and perfectly balanced. Peter Liddle’s lead vocals are high and clear, able to carry both gentle ballad and roaring anthem. In fact, the whole band shifts so perfectly from delicate to intense it still sometimes takes me by surprise. Which is saying something when you consider that I have listened to this album upwards of 100 times already.

My favorite song: Did you really think I’d be able to pick one? Haha. I could no sooner pick a favorite star from the sky (yeah, I made that reference, deal with it). Seriously, there is no possible way to pick one, or even several. This album is PERFECTION. Just listen to it.

I plan to post my 10 honorable mentions separately some time tomorrow. I probably won’t take the time to find all the album covers (that took forever!) or give long descriptions, but I will probably still at least list a favorite song or two.

Now, as promised, here is my spotify playlist of all the albums in the Top 20. I hope you enjoy it and find a new band or two to fall in love with!

Amanda’s Top 20 Albums of 2011, Part 2 (1-10)

Amanda’s Top 20 Albums of 2011, Part 2 (1-10):

As promised, here is the second half of my list of the best albums of the year.  If you haven’t seen 11-20 yet, please start here.  I would like to remind you all, as I said on Friday, that while I’m pretty happy with the placement of 1-3 and 16-20, all the other positions are rather fluid.  Still, I’d love to hear your opinion about what’s too high, too low, what you think shouldn’t be on the list at all, and you think I’m missing.

So, enjoy the list.  And please tell me what you think!

10) 21 by Adele

9) True Loves by Hooray For Earth

8) Cults by Cults

7) Old Tyme Religion by Hugo

6) Torches by Foster the People

5) El Camino by The Black Keys

4) Wasting Light by The Foo Fighters

3) Ceremonials by Florence + the Machine

2) Bon Iver by Bon Iver

1) Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes

So there you have it folks!  Also, as promised, I have made a Spotify playlist which contains all 20 of these albums in order, except for El Camino, which is too new to be available on Spotify yet.  The playlist can be found here (you do need a Spotify account to access the playlist, but it’s free!).  I hope you enjoy the playlist!  Maybe you’ll find your new favorite artist or song. You never know. ^__^

Again, please let me know what you think!  And I expect to see you all back here bright and early on Monday morning for the kick-off of the Scorpio Rising blog tour!

Amanda’s Top 20 Albums of 2011, Part 1 (11-20)

Free-For-All Friday: Amanda’s Top 20 Albums of 2011, Part 1 (11-20)

At first, I was thinking I’d do another post for the In Leah’s Wake blog tour to wrap up the week, but then I realized that if I did all three of my weekly posts for these blog tours that I have lined up through Christmas, I wouldn’t have time to do any of the other million things I’d like to talk about.  So decided that for each of the blog tours, I will do something Monday and Wednesday, but I’m keeping Free-For-All Fridays for myself.  If you haven’t checked out any of the In Leah’s Wake blog tour stuff please go here for an excerpt from the novel, and here for my review.  Each of those posts will also give you some info on prizes you can possibly win, but today (Friday) is the last day to get in on those, so hurry!

Anyway, I’ve been talking to friends about my (and their) top albums of the year, and I’ve been reading lists from TIME, Rolling Stone, Spin, and others, and I decided it was time to list my Top 20 Albums for 2011.  I couldn’t keep it down to 10, sorry!  I just couldn’t do it!  Also, while I’m pretty content with 1-3, and 16-20, all the ones in the middle keep moving around and pushing each other around, so those numbers aren’t quite so stable in hierarchy.  Anyway, without further ado, Amanda’s Top 20 Albums of 2011, Part 1 (11-20):

20) Nine Types of Light by TV on the Radio

19) The King is Dead by The Decemberists

18) What Did You Expect From the Vaccines? by The Vaccines

17) Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

16) Circuital by My Morning Jacket

15) Take Care, Take Care, Take Care by Explosions in the Sky

14) In the Grace of Your Love by The Rapture

13) Killing the Darlings by Pearl and the Beard

12) Codes and Keys by Death Cab for Cutie

11) Audio, Video, Disco by Justice

As you may be able to tell, I have extremely varied and somewhat eccentric tastes.  There were a number of other albums I thought about it putting in here as well.  I have a couple honorable mentions:

Silversun Pickups new single Seasick, which probably would have replaced TV on the Radio except it seemed silly to put a single with only 3 songs on the list.  Also, Hugh Laurie’s blues album Let Them Talk — some people don’t think it’s all that good, but I happen to really like it.  Tab Benoit’s New Orleans Blues album Medicine almost made the list too.

Anyway, rather than make you wait until next Friday to see the Top 10, I’m going to post the second half of the list on Sunday before my next blog tour starts.  So please stop back by on Sunday to see what made the Top 10.  Also, I’m putting together a Spotify playlist with all my Top 20 albums, which I will have posted for you all on Sunday as well.

Oh! and please feel free to chime in below! I’d love to hear what you think of my list so far.  What’s missing?  What should be higher or lower?  What have you simply never heard of before?  I am ALWAYS in need of new music, so please tell me what I’m missing!