Sunday, January 13, 2013

2012 "End of the Year" Awards

Album of the Year 

Alabama Shakes - Boys and Girls

I’ve gushed about these guys before, devoting an entire post to them earlier in the year with a five-star review. My opinion hasn’t changed. For me, they beat out everyone else because of the quality they put out at the age in which they did. They are vastly young and under-experienced in comparison to others with releases this year but that doesn’t stop them from putting out a musical experience. It’s an album that my grandmother and my cousin could love and is sure to be looked to again in the future as the debut that started it all. Oh yeah, the home-state connection doesn’t hurt either.

Other nominations: 

Bad Books - II
The Black Keys - El Camino (Dec 2011)
fun. - Some Nights
The Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten
Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d city
Mumford and Sons - Babel
Of Monsters and Men - My Head is an Animal
Silversun Pickups - Neck of the Woods

Artist of the Year 


While fun. topped the pop charts over the year, don’t let that pigeonhole them into one category. This is a great band who deserves all the praise handed to them (expect them to take away at least one award at the Grammys). From a hit album, to fantastic videos to one of the best concerts I ever attended, 2012 was the year of fun.

Other nominations:
The Gaslight Anthem
The Black Keys
Kendrick Lamar

Debut Album of the Year

Alabama Shakes - Boys and Girls

(See above)

Other nominations:
Walk the Moon - Walk the Moon
Imagine Dragons - Night Visions
Of Monsters and Men - My Head is an Animal

Comeback Album of the Year

Linkin Park - Living Things; Anberlin - Vital

The last time we saw both Linkin Park and Anberlin, things weren’t looking good. Both tried new, different directions and the results weren’t what fans expected or wanted. This year, both not only returned to form but possibly even stronger. Living Things is filled with some LP’s best material in years and Vital that was grossly overlooked, showcasing a band that could be one of the best if marketed right. 

Sophomore Surge (AKA The Opposite of a Sophomore Slump) 

Mumford and Sons - Babel 

When Sigh No More was released to the world, it was a hard to find a music fan who wasn’t absolutely in love with it. It set the bar ridiculously high for a follow-up, but Mumford and Sons just may have put out something even better. Here’s to hoping they can continue to the trend with LP#3

Other nominations:
Neon Trees - Picture Show
Bad Books - II
The xx - Coexist
Band of Skulls - Sweet Sour
Sleigh Bells - Reign of Terror
fun. - Some Nights 

Most Disappointing 

No Doubt - Push and Shove

11 years is a long to build anticipation, so it can be forgiven if fans of No Doubt maybe overhyped the band’s return. Well, it could be if Push and Shove wasn’t so... lifeless. I’m not sure what approach Stefani and company were going for (and there’s a possibility that under different circumstances it could be halfway decent) but it is one of the fastest discarded albums in my listening history.


Gotye - Making Mirrors

I will go on record as saying I liked “Somebody I Used to Know” at first. But the more I listened the more I thought that Kimbra’s part is what made the song and after listening to the rest of the album I confirmed that to be true. When I listened to the album, it felt like I was listening to nothing. There wasn’t anything that stuck out to me so it still puzzles me to this day that there are some who think this was great. Though I have my own selections that will make some scratch their head (see the “pop album” category) so I guess to each their own.

Other nomination:

Frank Ocean - Channel Orange 


Benjamin Gibbard - Former Lives 

This album went so far under the radar that I even forgot I purchased it at one point. It’s definitely different than what can be heard on Death Cab for Cutie releases, but not by much. Former Lives allows Gibbard to stretch out a bit, giving the tracks more of a loose feel. Instead of crying in the dark, this is laying in the sun kind of music.

Other nominations:

The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter
Anberlin - Vital 

Pop Album of the Year

Taylor Swift - Red; P!nk - The Truth About Love 

While on opposite ends of the cookie-cutter to bad-girl spectrum, the new albums from Taylor Swift and Pink are closer in comparison than one might think. Both have mindless jams (“Never Getting Back Together”, “Slut Like You”) and ballads that showcase their range (“I Almost Do”, “Just Give Me a Reason"). In fact, take away Pink’s parental advisory sticker and have Swift sing about something else other than young love and both camps could probably come together to enjoy these. Pop doesn’t need a lot of depth to it to be great, it just needs to be fun. And both of these were.

Other nominations:

Maroon 5 - Overexposed 

Rap / Hip Hop Album of the Year 

Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d city

As stated before, Kendrick Lamar deserves every bit of praise thrown his way for his debut album. It goes great lengths in order to tell a great story, but the music is still good. Make no mistake, Lamar can flow with the best of them and shows it off here. The scary thing? He’s just getting started.

Honorable mention: Childish Gambino - Royalty (mixtape) If Kendrick Lamar hadn’t have come along, I would have seriously put this mixtape as rap album of the year. It was head and shoulders above last year’s major label debut Camp, where Glover seemed to try to do too much. But Royalty was was a shining example of hip hop at its finest. 

Other nominations:

2 Chainz - Based on a T.R.U. Story
Nas - Life is Good
Rick Ross - God Forgives, I Don't
Kanye West presents G.O.O.D. Music - Cruel Summer
Lupe Fiasco - Food & Liqour II: The Great American Rap Album Part 1  

Rock Album of the Year

The Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten

The last few years has seen so many variations to the “rock” category that it was refreshing to hear some good old-fashioned rock and roll. Handwritten is pure songwriting that’s put to instruments and played loud. With multiple albums in, if you have longtime fans debating if it’s one of the best in the discography then you know you produced a hit. 

Other nominations:

Jack White - Blunderbuss\
Silversun Pickups - Neck of the Woods
Pierce the Veil - Collide With the Sky
Muse - The 2nd Law   

Most Ambitious

Green Day - The Uno, Dos and Tre trilogy 

Putting here because I personally loved this release, but the confusion of three separate albums makes it hard to rank. It wasn’t perfect, but the effort has to be commended. 

(For more on these releases, click here here and here)

Other Notable Releases of 2012

Matt and Kim - Lightning
All American Rejects - Kids in the Street
Say Anything - Anarchy, My Dear
Motion City Soundtrack - Go
Bloc Party - Four 
B.o.B. - Strange Clouds
Minus the Bear - Infinity Overhead;\
Gary Clark Jr. - Blak and Blu 

Artists Who Showed Up on the Radar

Atlas Genius, Animal Kingdom, Capital Cities, The Neighbourhood, Morning Parade, Pop etc, Reptar, Tanlines, Wolf Gang


How about a gigantic playlist featuring 160 songs of 2012? Here you go...

And a HUGE thank you to Allison for the graphic at the top of the page!


  1. I wouldn't say that "We are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is mindless. Some girls, and guys, need a little reminder sometimes. It was my summer theme song. That said, my summer theme song was also Gotye's "Somebody that I Used to Know." for the same reason, only more of the sad side - not the empowering. Speaking of that song - the five people/one guitar version is still awesome. It launched the career of a much deserving band from my home town. (Walk off the Earth)

    I admit I never listened to the No Doubt album. The single was crappy enough. Huge disappointment!

    Anyways - thanks for the shout out for the graphic.

    1. Thank you for supplying the graphic! I remember seeing that video and it was really cool.

      I'm still bummed over the No Doubt album...

  2. Loved the list Matt! I agreed with most all of it, especially Benjamin Gibbard being underrated.

    1. Thanks man! Like I said, I almost forgot about him myself but I really like it


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