My favorite albums of 2012

Now that the year is almost burned down, it’s time for my annual post of my favorite music from the year 2012. This year was simply incredible for good music. I mean, even the throwaway pop hits like “Call Me Maybe” and “Gangnam Style” were stupidly fun.

It should be noted that these albums didn’t necessarily come out in 2012, but I bought them this year.

The Top 5 are in no particular order:

Paper Route – The Peace of Wild Things
I really thought there was no way that Paper Route could successfully follow up their last album Absence with something as good or better, but I was wrong. I don’t know if this album is better than Absence, but it’s pretty close. It’s a bold and loud album with a lot of soul giving bones to all of the electronic gloss.

Anberlin – Vital
I’ve only had this album for a month or so and it’s already on the list, that’s how good it is. Vital is closer to that awesome formula of sound that Anberlin perfected on Cities and New Surrender

Kye Kye – Young Love
An Estonian singer with trippy sounds, how is that not a great combination? It’s a peaceful album with soothing sounds and lyrics that relaxes me. The remix EP might be even better than the original CD.

Derek Webb – Ctrl
I’ve already written a post about this album. The CD is great by itself, but when the album is combined with the EP SOLA-MI released earlier in the year, the combination really rewards the listener.

M83 – Hurry Up We’re Dreaming
Dreaming indeed, this 2 CD release feels like one long dream. From the catchy glowstick-happy single “Midnight City” to the instrumental tracks in between to the anthemic “Echoes of Mine”, the package is one long beautiful journey.

The Next 5
Also, in no particular order.

JT Daly – Memory
A raw little EP where the lead singer of Paper Route reveals his heart a little bit, it’s not as polished and smooth as a Paper Route CD, but it’s got some catchy songs and showcases his individual talents.

Matthew Perryman Jones – Land of the Living
More than his previous albums, MPJ seems to be channelling a little bit of David Gray on this album. That’s not a bad thing, mind you. It’s pretty consistent with his last two albums.

Andrew Osenga – Leonard the Lonely Astronaut
A really bold project by Osenga. He’s cleverly disguised the album as a science fiction story, but at the core it’s an heartbreaking tale of loss and regret. Andy poured his heart into this album, even decorating his studio like a spaceship while recording to immerse himself completely into the story.

The Farewell Drifters – Echo Boom
Bluegrass is getting a nice resurgence after Nickel Creek broke up a couple years ago and I love this thoughtful little CD of tunes that have me humming the tunes for a days after listening to the songs.

The Choir – The Loudest Sound Ever Heard
It’s been interesting to listen to The Choir as a band with no expectations and no pressures from a label. Sometimes I think they could be pushed a little more and it would improve the product, but on the other hand, their unfettered whimsy has been nicely balanced with a little bit of wisdom and age.

I’ve created a playlist on Spotify so you can sample some of the tracks from these CD’s… please support these great artists and buy their music!

Moments in the spaces

Adriene at the Biltmore

This past weekend, our 12th anniversary, where my wife and I were together for the whole weekend without children for the first time in over a year, a madman went into a school and killed 20 children. These children were the same age as Erin and Grace and they were now dead. My Facebook feed yelled at me to “hug your children extra tight tonight!” That was a nice sentiment except that my children were over 200 miles away at their grandparents, safe, happy, and completely oblivious to the horror. I felt awful for those parents in Connecticut and I felt awful that I was enjoying myself away from my children.

I’ve been working hard this year to live in the present, avoiding nostalgia and avoiding longing for better times in the future. I guess it can apply to location as well. I am learning to be happy where I am and not where I am not. Last week I went to a concert in Rome, GA by Future of Forestry and singer/songwriter Eric Owyoung talked about how much he loved performing Christmas songs during this season and how in his versions he left “spaces” in the music allowing time for reflection in a busy time with busy songs. I can’t help but think this past weekend was one of the “spaces” in my life where we were afforded a rest and a break.

I don’t have anything smart to say about gun control, or mental illness, or really anything about the whole matter other than I hope we will learn in the coming week good ways to help contribute to worthy causes and pray a lot. Otherwise, all I could do this weekend was be the best husband and best father I could be and part of that was enjoying the rare moment away from my children as much as I could. So, Adriene and I toured the Biltmore House and were amused by quirky downtown Asheville. Hipsters in tacky Christmas sweaters, random hippies playing in drum circles, Sufjan’s Christmas music playing in a toy store, Asheville amused me so much in how almost predictable it’s quirkiness was. We ate great food and brought home bottles of wine and we enjoyed not having to say “sit down” 50 times during dinner and paying for kid’s meals at restaurants that would go only 1/4th eaten. We didn’t have to go through the long wind-down of bedtime and we slept in as late as we wanted.

And when we got home we hugged our children as hard as we could.