ONE. Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell. There was so much anticipation for this record and it delivered in a huge way as well as massively exceeded expectations. His faint voice and light instrumentation is perfect.
Note: in becoming a continued student of the relationships of music and spirituality, Sufjan's words and songs are especially intriguing. This article is worth a read.
TWO. Leon Bridges: Coming Home. I'm a fan. I love the fresh soul he brings and tribute to Sam Cooke.
THREE.(tied) David Ramirez: Fables. David's work has always resonated well with me. I am a fan of David as a person, as a songwriter, and as a performer. For him and Noah to team up to make this record was a really great gift this year gave.
THREE.(tied) Noah Gundersen: Carry The Ghost. Haunting, beautiful, arresting, tasteful, art. That's all I got.
Note: This record had PHENOMENAL album art. Philip Harder's work on this cover is really incredible.
FIVE. Mutemath: Vitals. I knew that Mutemath was coming out with a record, but I honestly did not expect for it to be so good. I have listened to it so much, and this song is one of my favorites of the whole year.
And in no particular order:
- Ryan Adams. 1989. I love that he did this. I love that he didn't care. And I actually really enjoy it.
- Sandra McCracken. Psalms. Sandra infused so many beautiful melodies into the Pslams - so thrilled for her and how this turned out.
- Jon Foreman. The Wonderlands. Jon's writing shines so brightly through this series of EPs
- Adele. 25. I am not the only one who liked this record a lot.
- Matthew Perryman Jones. Cold Answer. This record seemed to fly totally under the radar, but has some gems on it.
- Brandon Flowers. The Desired Effect. "Between Me & You" is one of my standout tracks of the year.
- Rayland Baxter. Imaginary Man. Rayland has a super fresh voice and a lot to say.
- Chris Stapleton. Traveller. There are only a handful of people or guideposts that I personally look to for music recommendations. Seth posted about Chris Stapleton right when the record came out and I gave it a gander then and immediately thought "What a voice!" America has also caught on and that is fun.
- Lovelite. Hopeful Strangers. Always solid.
- The Japanese House. All releases. TJH is one of the greatest surprises of the year. Cool vocals, some heavy emotional distortion. I love it.
- Oh Wonder. Oh Wonder. Simple and pretty. Some great piano riffs.
- Beirut. No No No. I never gave Beirut a listen before this year and my interest was piqued when I saw their new record released. The sonics and melodies on this record are phenomenal.
- James Bay. Chaos & the Calm. Zero to hero in a seemingly short time and he deserves it.
- Justin Bieber. Purpose. This is an amazingly catchy record.
- Julien Baker. Sprained Ankle. Last "JB" of this list and a pretty important record as far as faith + music is concerned.
- Hillsong United. Empires. Standard greatness.
- Tobias Jesso Jr. Goon. Feels old-timey and I dig it.
- Matthew E White. Fresh Blood. Just enough groove to keep it fresh.
- Coldplay. A Head Full of Dreams. Getting slightly better with every listen.
- Joy Williams. Venus. New Joy & new songs made a great combo. Some solid tracks, but "Sweet Love of Mine" is a standout.
- Ben Rector. Brand New. Ben is a kind man and consistently putting out great work. Stoked on how this record came out.
- Slow Meadow. Slow Meadow. The best instrumental music out there at this point.
- Ivan & Alyosha. It's All Just Pretend. Simply solid.
- Lord Huron. Strange Trails. Continuing down the trail they blazed.
- Lapsley. Understudy. Quite the arresting voice.
And I want to hear about your favorite records. Tweet me! @p_dodd
P.S. Interesting graphic Spotify gave me this from their Year In Review function:
I have always meant to compile a list of my favorite records from the past year. Music in general is too valuable to me not to share ... especially when it's music I love!
So here are my top 25 records of 2012. I'll start with the top 5 and then share the next 20 in no particular order. Enjoy!
FIVE. David Ramirez: Apologies. David is the definition of raw talent. I heard it put really well earlier this year when a friend said, "That guy is on the Ryan Adams level." I couldn't agree more. The songs get better and better. Buy it here.
FOUR. Sigur Ros: Valtari. This was the perfect record for Sigur Ros to release in keeping with their trend of giving the world music for thought, for inspiration, and to separate each listener from the world's distractions. Buy it here.
THREE. Milo Greene: Milo Greene. I was a latecomer to this party, but these songs and arrangements strike something inside of me I can't yet place. Maybe it is the fact I wish I had written these songs. Buy it here
TWO. Matthew Perryman Jones: Land of the Living. As a Kickstarter backer for this record and spoiling myself by listening to it for the first time driving through California mountains, the brilliance of this record would be just as present if I listened to it in a junk yard. Most of my favorite combinations of lyrics and melody from the year are on this record. Buy it here.
ONE. Michael Kiwanuka: Home Again. The best sound I heard this year. It amazes me how different guys with guitars enter the music scene with unique sounds, but the production and instrumentation on this record blow me away more than any other. It is the freshest collection of songs I have come across in a long time and is well-worthy of being number one on this list. Buy it here.
- Lord Huron: Lonesome Dreams. Having loved the vibe their record puts out, I was pleasantly surprised when their live show had more of an "islandy" feel than I expected. Buy it here.
- Paper Route: The Peace of Wild Things. Rock geniuses with incredible programming talent. And they have so much energy live. Buy it here.
- The Tree Ring - Brushbloom. I Iove so many things about this record: the ode to San Diego's nature and topography, the incredible arrangements, subtly perfect harmonies. Listen here and buy here or here.
- alt-J: An Awesome Wave. I had the chance to watch them play a few weeks ago and their live set rivaled their record, which says a lot. Buy it here.
- Lecrae: Church Clothes. An incredible record to run to, there is no surprise how it charted Number 3 on the Billboard 200. So much truth so well said. Buy it here.
- Sara Watkins: Sun Midnight Sun. Sara is full of raw talent. As far as acoustic & folky instruments make music, her collaboration with Blake Mills produced one of the best collections I can remember. Buy it here.
- Sucre: A Little Bird. I almost forgot to include Sucre on this list, but I wore this out when it came out in April. So glad for melodies like these. Buy it here.
- Asgeir Trausti: Some sweet Icelandic word. Austin and Jordan told me about Asgeir Trausti after their autumn trip to Iceland. They described him as an "Icelandic Bon Iver" and I listened to it for a few weeks straight. I couldn't get enough, especially of Leyndarml. Unfortunately, you can't purchase this record, but you can listen to it here.
- Walk The Moon: Walk The Moon. This band is making pop-rock cool again. Watching their set in November was captivating. I walked in to the House of Blues just after they started their set and everyone was moving. The energy was palpable. This record is a great representation of what I saw that night. Buy it here.
- Lovelite: In Three Persons. Lovelite & Tyler Chester are a "power team". The songs all have specifically incredible qualities, but my favorite is " Every Breath is a Chance". Listen to and buy it here.
- Frank Ocean: Channel Orange. You can't go very far these days without hearing about Frank's first record. What I appreciate about this record the most is there are no rules (i.e. a 10 minute song). Buy it here.
- John Mayer: Born & Raised. John Mayer can do no wrong. This record is timeless. His playing could not be more perfect. His honest songwriting couldn't be more transparent. I love it. Buy it here.
- The Digital Age: Rehearsals. New circumstances pushed these guys to new territory, and I love where they're going. Lots of sound for fans to be excited about. Buy it here.
- Taylor Swift: RED. Continually impressive that she writes these incredibly catchy songs herself. You know you like her too. Buy it here.
- Greg Laswell: Landline. Greg is such a great songwriter. Love how he approaches his craft. The record's title track is a highlight for me. Buy it here.
- Father John Misty: Fear Fun. I loved the latest J. Tillman record, and have kept my loyalty even among a name change. Buy it here.
- J. Thoven: City Maze. There is a bright future ahead for this 5-piece group of guys. Aside from being genuine people, their knack for good songs is developed way past the level you would expect a new band to be at. You will be so pumped when you see their SerialBox Presents session. Buy and listen here.
- Lauren Chandler: The Narrow Place. You might have seen my thoughts on Lauren's EP recently, but I am so stoked on how this EP turned out. Worth several listens after you buy it. :) Buy it here.
- Hauschka: Substansial. As a novice writer, I would have a hard time describing to you the circumstances and emotion when I first heard this record. However, it couldn't have been any more picturesque. Although it didn't come out this year (2004), I played it enough to be on my "top records list" for the next 3 years. Buy it here.
- Young Oceans: Young Oceans. Music with spiritual value is rampant, but Young Oceans stands out to me above the rest. Listen to it and I think you'll know what I am referring to. Buy and listen here.
Thanks for reading! Excited for the year of music ahead.
If you're a fan of M83, great melodies and arresting worshipful lyrics, Andrew & Jen have put together a collection of songs you will really enjoy.
Some highlights for me:
- "Brother & Sister" starts the record with an incredibly welcoming call to listen ... "He is the one who changes our lives." I love the hauntingly clear tone in Andrew's voice.
- "Every Breath is a Chance" to sing of Your worth. The combination of melody and lyric is introspectively brilliant.
- "Your Love is as Wide as it's Tall" has beautifully pensive beginning and I love the proclamation of "There's a secret hidden in our skin / of this ancient hope we have within."
- The riveting piano on "Wonderful Jesus".
Killer production by Tyler Chester and they have the best manager in the world in Daniel Gonzales. Not to mention the ultra-talented cast of players on the record! (I'm looking at you Dan Bailey, Darla Hawn, Tyler Chester!)
Now give it a listen and then buy it here.
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