My Jersey friend and occasional Cajun Tomato correspondent Lloyd Nelson objected to the idea of me listing my 2012 Favorite Album finalists with three months left in the year. So naturally I decided to go forward compiling my list. This is subject to revision. Late releases by Titus Andronicus, Big Boi, and Kendrick Lamar could all find themselves in the discussion.
Here, in alphabetical order, are my finalists for Favorite Album of 2012.
Beach House, Bloom. At this point, Baltimore duo Beach House are the Mariano Rivera’s of indie music. They do one thing and do it incredibly well. Rivera has his cutter. Beach House has their hazy, dream pop.
Frank Ocean, Channel Orange. I shunned this album when it came out due to the tidal wave of hype it received upon its release. While I am still not sure it’s the best album front-to-back, there are too many great songs on Channel Orange to deny it a place here. “Bad Religion” is my 3/4′s frontrunner for song of the year.
Japandroids, Celebration Rock. Celebration Rock is an adrenaline shot to the heart of anyone who wonders what happened to the good ‘ole days and nights of yesteryear. Stop wondering, grab a beer, yell like hell to the heavens, etc. A vital rock record, low on fat and full of heart.
Jessie Ware, Devotion. Ware doesn’t possess the pipes of Adele or the soul of Winehouse but she is compulsively listenable like her fellow Brits. Ware’s silky voice aches over beats that recall the sultry, fog-covered R&B and pop music on early 1990s radio.
The Walkmen, Heaven. Triumphant, serene, winning. Heaven is arguably the NYC quintet’s best album, and that’s saying something. Repeat listens make it more difficult to pick a favorite song.
Alabama Shakes, Boys & Girls. Acts as a worthy tribute to retro soul and southern rock without feeling derivative. Brittany Howard is a star.
Cat Power, Sun. Chan Marshall is my baby’s mama. Translation: I love her smoky, southern voice. I also love how she sounds on Sun like she’s looking down on the valley, reflecting on her travels and missteps in a positive way.
Grizzly Bear, Shields. I wasn’t high on their previous album, Veckatimest. Many of its songs were pretty but lacked intrigue. They just hung in the air like a chandelier. Shields hits the sweet spot – pretty, intriguing, and worthy of repeat listens.
Joey Bada$$, 1999. Why I listen to hip-hop: deft wordplay, effortless flow, smooth jazz-inspired beats. Could also say the same about why I listen to Illmatic. Bada$$ can be as good as he wants.
Lemolo, Kaleidoscope. The lovely ladies of Lemolo capture all the beauty and hopefulness of the Pacific Northwest in their keyboard and drums.