I was starting to get worried. One of my goals of the year is to listen to even more new music than I did last year (where I estimate I listened to over 100 albums that came out in 2011 – gross, I know). But we were months into 2012, and I only had a few collections to my liking. Not only that, but my absolute favorite musician, Andrew Bird, had released a cut from his new album that, for lack of a better term, bored me. Despite its best efforts to hide, though, I totally Kid from Hook’d some great tunes out of 2012, and we’ve only just passed the halfway point.
“Kid from Hook’d? What does he mean Kid from Hook’d? There are a million kids in Hook. Did he turn into a bowling ball and steamroll songs like they’re pirates? Did he yell ‘Bang-a-Rang’ at songs he listened to? I don’t get it…” Stop that. You know what kid from Hook I’m talking about if you read the title and have any recollection of the movie. Do I have to do all the work for you? So lazy.
“Oh, he just meant discovered.” Yeah, I did just mean discovered. Or uncovered. Or appreciated. Or recognized. Don’t really know yet. Anyway, it’s here now, and that’s all you really need to be concerned with. I try to recommend music whenever possible on this thing I once called my blog (and I now call a barren wasteland of expired commentary), but I never know how to present it. So here’s what we’re going to do. First, I’m going to say subscribe to my 2012 playlist on Spotify, so I don’t have to keep pretending I know how to write about music. Next, I’m going to list five albums and a bunch of other songs that you need to check out (and if you don’t use Spotify – just find these albums however the heck you neanderthals listen to music).
Just to set some ground rules – when I say you need to listen to something, I don’t mean once. That’s not how you learn to love music. Give it a few tries before you pass judgment. Trust me, it pays off. Listen, you’re already proving you have nothing better to do than read unoriginal garbage on the internet during the middle of the day after a holiday week when you really should be catching up on work if you actually do work. So you’re not going to convince me you don’t have time to listen to all that music.
And now that I’ve gotten snippy and lost half my readers (so either my mom or my dad), let’s go ahead and get to the music.
I saw this group’s style described as “dream pop,” and even though I have no idea what that means, it fits pretty perfectly. This was an album I just skimmed through at first, thought it was pretty good, and moved along. When I came back to it again, and gave it some serious listening time, I realized it was the best album I had heard this year by a country mile (and still is). This might be a little aggressive, but I might as well show you what I initially thought was the best song on the album. (You know what solidifies an album as great? Besides the fact that I’ve easily listened to it 15 times through, my favorite song on the album changes with every listen.)
The Good Doctor can barely move. Seriously, I’ve seen him twice this year (alright I could barely see the jumbo screens at Jazzfest, so that doesn’t totally count), and the man takes a solid 3 minutes to walk from backstage to his piano. Yet somehow, his voice still sounds perfect (on the album and in-person), and he constructed a great album of compact rock songs infused with New Orleans-style jazz. I don’t think at the age of 8,000 (estimate) he’s actually trying to start a revolution, but he turns that topic into one heck of a single.
You know when you hear something for the first time, and it sounds so right, and so familiar that you swear you’ve known this song you’re whole life? This next track fits the mold perfectly for me. Soul, Motown, southern rock, whatever you want to call it – if this is the first time you’re hearing of the Shakes, you’re behind the curve, and you need to get on the curve (is that a thing?). Anyway, that’s not important here – what’s important is that you’re not going to find a better fit than Brittany Howard’s voice with a southern rock backing, and Boys & Girls has some tracks that will knock you off your feet. Plus, how good of a band name is that? Does “Alabama Shakes” say anything to you besides southern rock with a strong female vocalist? Probably. See, this is why I can’t write about music. So just let the music do the talking.
This was one of my most anticipated albums of the year, and I actually think it exceeded expectations for me. I was teased with “Replicate” for months, which is a short introduction track that does nothing but leave you wanting more. The rest of the album comes through, with an onslaught of hipsterific songs that you could only hear at a coffee shop in Allston while a bearded man in knee-length tattered jean shorts and an ironic T-shirt takes your bagel order under the brim of his mesh baseball cap. Or…you could also hear it in this YouTube clip below. The YouTube doesn’t come with a bagel…though it has bathed this month (OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THAT DOESN’T EVEN REALLY MAKE SEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENSE!!!!!!!!!).
Did not think I would stumble upon an album I could really rock out to this year. I have this unfortunate tendency to listen to hipster music, which usually ends up being too wimpy or too annoying to capture the classic rock or 90’s rock tempo that really got me interested in music (and that a lot of dudes my age will still listen to exclusively). And yet, indirectly coming from a man I almost exclusively only talk to about professional wrestling, I was introduced to a heck of a rock and roll album from Rival Sons. I can hear it resembling The Black Keys. Yeah, that’s right, The Black Keys. Except I like this album better.
And now, in no particular order and with absolutely no details added, here are ten other songs you need to get into. Some of them are on really enjoyable albums (John Mayer – no really, John Mayer – put together a pretty fantastic record this year, that I’m sure will only grow on me), so don’t just stop with one song if you like what you hear. Happy listening, folks! Oh, and welcome back. (That last part was to me – Google Analytics tells me that you losers kept coming back even when I didn’t write for 3 months.)
Okay, if you stuck through it this long, I’m rewarding you with your own personal dance party. If you’re not already a child owner, you just might be by the end of this Frank Ocean tune: