2012 in Music

This year, music has again become more than a consumptive activity. Through Afro-Hoosier, Canterbury, and my own noodling, I feel like I’m actively listening for arrangements and harmonies, and it feels wonderful to make that transition as a musician.

So what have I been listening to? The top 10 are pretty indicative:

’12 Artist ’11 Change
1 The Avett Brothers 2 (+1)
2 Wilco 4 (+2)
3 Radiohead 5 (+2)
4 Paul Simon 48 (+44)
5 John Mayer 24 (+19)
6 The xx (–)
7 Kings of Leon 9 (+2)
8 The Black Keys 12 (+4)
9 Bright Eyes 11 (+2)
10 TV on the Radio 20 (+10)

The Avett Brothers are riding on the strength of The Carpenter, which is a stellar album. John Mayer also rests on the strength of Born and Raised, which is easily my family’s favorite album of 2012. My experience with Paul Simon reflects that of seeing Sufjan Stevens – concert in November, followed by “woah this is really interesting” for the rest of time. The diversity reflected in his songwriting is amazing. The xx were the coolest “new” sound: very minimalist and sparse, with hip-hop beats and interesting guitar interplay. Their eponymous debut album is a must have.

New Discoveries (YouTube playlist): Alabama Shakes (blues), The Lonely Forest (alt rock), Cage the Elephant (rock), Passion Pit & Handsome Furs (80s revival synth-pop), Portugal. the Man (psychedelic/rock), Of Monsters and Men (folk), Joshua Radin (singer/songwriter), Ben Howard (contemporary), BADBADNOTGOOD (jazz fusion, heavy electronic/hip-hop influences), Morphine (bass/bari sax/drum trio), Kid Cudi (hip-hop), Nero (dubstep), Above & Beyond (trance), and Shpongle (psychedelic/trance).

Concerts: Above & Beyond, Radiohead, The Black Keys, Shpongle, Todd Snider, Outside Lands (Beck, Andrew Bird, Justice, Thee Oh Sees, Antibalas, Alabama Shakes, Portugal. the Man, Sigur Ros, Die Antwoord, Explosions in the Sky), The Avett Brothers, Victor Wooten.