By William Hoffman | firstname.lastname@example.org | @Wilbur_Hoffman
2012 has been a defining year in music. Many new artists have come out of the wood works as listeners focused on guitar-centered music from folk and rock and roll to the infectious riffs of boy band One Direction.
1. Frank Ocean, Channel ORANGE
A month before his Saturday Night Live appearance, I started hearing rumors of a new R&B artist with an amazing vocal range who can throw down some sexy beats and my love for Frank grew. Channel ORANGE has a familiar old school R&B sound but is distinctly original in a way that stops you in your tracks and forces you to think. His songs are filled with undertones of sexuality that are only personified by his smooth voice that pulls you into the music. Furthermore, he opened up to his friends, family and fans by coming out, proclaiming his bisexuality very publicly on Tumblr and explaining the true meaning behind his lyrics and his attraction to another man. No other R&B artist has captured my attention and the attention of the world as prolifically as Frank Ocean has with Channel ORANGE. He has changed a genre of music forever with this album, which is why it takes the No. 1 on my list, as well as No. 2 in Rolling Stones‘ end of the year list. Many great things are yet to come from this all-around artist.
2. Jack White, Blunderbuss
The egotism of Jack White could rival that of Kanye West. White has always been bursting with talent but continues to form band after band only to subsequently get bored with the project and move on to the next bust. This album, however, is the culmination of all of White’s talents and one of the best albums he has ever released. It is oddly reminiscent of The White Stripes 2003 record Elephant — with a more modern sound. Jack White continues to surprise me with roots rock that is award-winning and progressive.
3. The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of The Avett Brothers. But despite my obvious bias for this band, The Carpenter is not only a better follow-up to their award-winning album I and Love and You, but possibly their best album yet. The musicality of their songwriting is astonishing and gets stuck in your head like nothing else I’ve heard this year. One listen to “Live and Die” and I’m singing it for a week. Not to mention the heartfelt songs dealing with loss of life, love and friendship, as well as bassist Bob Crawford’s experiences with his daughter’s cancer.
4. Alabama Shakes, Boys and Girls
One look at lead singer Brittany Howard would not scream rock star, but Alabama Shakes has combined rock riffs, a soulful voice and punk elements in an infectious combination that is sure to garner them a great amount of attention in the months and years to come.
5. Mumford & Sons, Babel
Mumford & Sons simply captures the Americana folk style that has been so popular in recent years and hits this one out of the park with more solid songs and a great cover of “The Boxer” by Simon & Garfunkel.
6. Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball
This year was also characterized by older classic rock artists producing some new great music, and Bruce’s album surely shined above the rest. Wrecking Ball is easily one of his best in quite a few years and does a good job of incorporating new trends in music with the classic working man lyrics Bruce is known for.
7. Maroon 5, Overexposed
In a stark contrast to its 2010 release, Hands All Over, Maroon 5 comes back with a hard-hitting dance album that embraces the EDM sensation. And like all of the band’s albums, there are better songs in between the multimillion dollar singles that tend to define the band.
8. John Mayer, Born And Raised
Born And Raised is another album this year that made me think “I’ve never heard something quite like this.” It’s pop, it’s country, it’s Americana and it’s country western, but in the end it’s everything I’ve wanted from a modern country album and it came from the most unlikely source.
9. Fun., Some Nights
Despite my initial disdain for Fun., I’ve grown to like the band and all its electronic rock songs. It’s become impossible not to want to sing along to the album’s title track, and the rest of the album is filled with an epic electronic anthem.
10. Green Day, Dos!
Just when I had given up on Green Day they come back with three albums of hard hitting punk music with no over arching story, just solid, fast-paced, three-minute tunes. Dos! in particular is reminiscent of the old school Green Day with supercharged bass and guitar solos.
Best Local Album
1. Mind Fish, Watchout!
Nearly every track off the album sounds like a song I could hear on the radio. The band uses its odd antics and distinct music style to produce an amazingly solid album with pop elements and some lyrics that give the finger to the music industry and others in the “indie” music scene.