The Best Albums of 2012 – According to CD Baby Staff

‘Tis the season for… lists! Lots and lots of lists! Whether it’s a ‘Best of’, ‘Top 20’ or ‘My Favorite’, it’s always interesting to read what’s hot and what’s not in the minds of others.

We thought we’d give you a little insight into the listing (uh, listening) habits of some of the staff here at CD Baby so we’ve compiled a list of our favorite albums of 2012. Some are CD Baby artists and some are not but they are all awesome, at least to someone. So without further adieu, here’s a look at the albums that have been rocked our world this year (in alphabetical order by staff first name):

Anna Held, Director of Customer Service, CD Baby

Artist: Lance Canales & the Flood

Album title:  Elixir

Why it rocks: Kinda like the music I imagine my grandfathers listening to while drinking whiskey and smoking pipes.

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/lancecanalestheflood3

 

Artist: Caspar Babypants

Album title: Hot Dog!

Why it rocks: As a mom with a five year old, I appreciate kids music that doesn’t make me want to wear earplugs.  This is fun and catchy and good for living room dance parties.

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/casparbabypants5

 

Artist: Brad Apple

Album title: Back From Gone

Why it rocks: This is the sort of music I want to listen to while I’m drinking coffee on a Sunday morning.  Or while I’m making jam.

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bradapple

 

Artist: The Honey Dewdrops

Album title: Silver Lining

Why it rocks: Just love the tone here.  It feels like visiting somewhere else when I listen to this.

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/thehoneydewdrops

 

Ben (I can’t just list 5) Hubbird, CD Baby Artist Services

Artist: JP Haynie

Album title: The Sand

Why it rocks: Far and away my favorite album of the year. Studied, well-crafted lo-fi epicness that surges to clamoring heights and recedes to a whisper. Very

much recommended for fans of Phil Elverum (Microphones, Mt. Eerie) who,

incidentally designed the beautiful artwork.

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jphaynie

 

Artist: James & Evander

Album title: Bummer Pop

Why it rocks: Bloops and blips never sounded so human as they do when applied to the masterful songwriting and accompanied by the hushed vocals of Oakland,

CA’s James and Evander. Released early in the year, this is still on heavy

rotation (although it’s most perfect as a summer album).

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jamesevander3

 

Artist: Lemolo

Album title: The Kaleidoscope

Why it rocks: Haunting dream-pop duo from Seattle with perfect harmonies and more dynamics than should be possible. Beach House fans looking for more

interesting vocal delivery and harmonies will not be disappointed.

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/Lemolo

 

Artist: Lulu Mae

Album title: The Mockingbird and the Dogwood Tree

Why it rocks: Nashville husband and wife Joel and Sarah Finley are joined by brothers Ben and Adam Smith to make joyous, full-throated folk/Americana on this their debut full-length record. Amazingly mature and polished for so young

a band, expect great things! (They’ve just released a Christmas EP too!)

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/lulumae2

 

Artist: Moostache

Album title: Anything, Alone

Why it rocks: Fantastic debut from Southern CA fuzz/twang quartet is a healthy reminder that for 40+ years rock and roll was music played on 1 or 2 guitars/keyboards, a bass, and drums. Why fuck with what works?

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/moostache3

 

Artist: Peter Vandrie

Album title: When Something Breaks

Why it rocks: Out of nowhere debut from Swedish singer/songwriter. Especially

considering he’s singing in his second language. Title track is one of my favorites of the year.

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/petervandrie

 

Artist: Greg Brown

Album title: Hymns to What is Left

Why it rocks: Legendary singer/songwriter releases his 26th full-length album. Stripped down to just his voice, guitar, and masterfully haunting accompaniment

from long-time collaborator Bo Ramsey. Some of his strongest work in years.

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/gregbrown2012

 

Artist: Mike Coykendall

Album title: Chasing Away the Dots

Why it rocks: Renowned producer steps out from behind the board for his second solo album, but is joined by some high-powered friends, including Ben Gibbard, Zooey Deschanel, and M. Ward. Don’t let the star-power blind you to the greatness of these songs though.

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/mikecoykendall2

 

Artist: Shoes

Album title: Ignition

Why it rocks: Shoes were DIY before it was cool. These power-pop legends recorded their debut record, Black Vinyl Shoes, in their living room in 1977. After

blowing through the 1000 copies they’d pressed to vinyl, they ended up with a record deal on Elektra. 40 years later, they’re still recording themselves, and have released their first album in almost 18 years. They haven’t lost a step — this is fantastic power pop that stands up with their best.

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/shoes13

 

Artist: Grant-Lee Phillips

Album title: Walking in the Green Corn

Why it rocks: Grant-Lee Phillips’ return to his indie roots (he was one of the first handful of artists on CD Baby in the early days) also marks his return to his native roots with 10 songs exploring his Muskogee heritage.

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/Grantleephillips

 

Brad Bush, Email Marketing Coordinator

Artist: Cool Nutz

Album title: Portland Ni%#a

Why it rocks: Portland, Oregon’s resident rap ruler proves he’s only getting better as he gets older.

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/coolnutz6

 

Artist: Pacewon & Mr. Green

Album title: The Only Number That Matters is Won

Why it rocks: Alt-rappers get a little more mainstream with guest spots from Snoop, Masta Ace, and Lee “Scratch” Perry.

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/pacewonmrgreen13

 

Artist: Swamp Thing

Album title: Creature Feature

Why it rocks: Canadian rap dudes Timbuktu, Chokeules and Savilion from the Backburner crew bust out some B-movie madness.

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/swampthing

 

Artist: Wordburglar

Album title: 3rdburglar

Why it rocks: Another Canadian rapper from the Backburner fam, and a wizard with lyrics.

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/wordburglar3

 

Artist: Showbot & Macros

Album title: Giantsquidbeats

Why it rocks: The Seattle production duo team up with local underground rappers and put together a non-stop flurry of beats and rhymes.

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/showbotmacros

 

Brian Kruse, CD Baby Customer Service

Artist: BA Johnston

Album title: Hi Dudes!

Why it rocks: BA never fails to bring the skidly romance, 80’s movie references and desperate party captain orchestrations performed on Casio keyboard or acoustic guitar usually shirtless and sweaty… He’s epic. He’s adorable. He’s Canadian. BA Johnston is music’s last hope.

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bajohnston5

 

Artist: Leigh Marble

Album title: Where the Knives Meet Between the Rows

Why it rocks: Leigh turns the light on the dark corners of his emotional reaches with his 3rd full length album. From anger to innocence to a deeper fear… Marble paints us a stark picture with these songs which seem as vital to his existence as the blood in his veins.

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/leighmarble4

 

Artist: Ke$ha

Album title: Warrior

Why it rocks: Yeah, I’m one of Ke$ha’s ANIMALS. Dirty jokes, fuck it all attitude and that DIY vibe from a pop superstar; I’m down. Maybe at one point I tried to resist, but I like to party. And so does Ke$ha. Fingers crossed she won’t break my heart, but for now I quote: “Fight for the fuck-ups, stand up for true love, we’ll never give up…” Yep, I’m down with that.

Link to buy: http://www.myplaydirect.com/kesha/

 

Artist: Coolzey

Album title: Live From The Cave @ Dougman

Why it rocks: Coolzey once again shows his diversity… Not just a rapper, here we find Z with an raw collection of punk, blues & rock songs. Driving is one of the key tracks on the album, displaying the longing and emotional roads the songwriter has travelled to get to this recording. Coolzey is important. Like love, his creativity keeps the world spinning.

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/coolzey8

 

Artist: Jack White

Album title: Blunderbuss

Why it rocks: This guy really gets my goat. I’ve tried to ignore Jack White but I cannot. I don’t want to like him but I’ve ended up somewhat in love. Not sure if I really want to punch him or kiss him… And I get the feeling that is exactly what he wants. Blunderbuss is better with every listen. Dang…

Link to buy: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/blunderbuss/id519241047

 

Scratch that!

Let’s get real.

 

Artist: New D.Q.T.

Album title: New D.Q.T.’s Neighborhood Theme Joint (feat. Dr. Marble)

Why it rocks: So New D.Q.T. is my rapper alter-ego who happens to host a TV show called New D.Q.T.’s Neighborhood. And this is the theme song which opens each episode. The show is like Mr. Rogers for adults with music videos. This weekly program is about hope, music and bikinis. Because I think we all need a little bit more hope, music and bikinis… Welcome to the neighborhood! https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGez0aT6dhKxKo4PgRAzhaxUSKjeO9mO7

Link to buy: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/newdqt1

 

Rebecca McKillip, CD Baby Customer Service

Artist: The Raveonettes

Album title: Observator

Why it rocks: Danish duo’s seventh LP. Lush and nostalgic. Sounds fresh and 50 years old, simultaneously. A daily listen for me since its September release. Recorded at Sunset Sound Recorders where classics by The Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, and The Doors were produced.

Link to buy: http://www.theraveonettes.com/

 

Artist: Frank Ocean

Album title: Channel Orange

Why it rocks: Probably on most top 10s this year, but for so many good reasons! This R&B classic (yeah, I said it) will always remind me of Summer 2012, as it will for everyone who couldn’t stop pressing repeat on tracks like “Thinkin’ Bout You,” “Sweet Life, “ and “Super Rich Kids.”

Link to buy: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/channel-orange/id541953504

 

Artist: Wild Nothing

Album title: Nocturne

Why it rocks: Jack Tatum and crew effortlessly taking on 80s-era dream pop.

Link to buy: http://www.insound.com/Wild-Nothing/A/42737/&from=47597

 

Artist: First Aid Kit

Album title: The Lion’s Roar

Why it rocks: Swedish Sister duo channel their inner folk heroes for one of the most impressive albums of the year.

Link to buy: http://firstaidkit.frocksteady.com/shop.html?disko_cat_music=489

 

Artist: Helio Sequence

Album title: Negotiations

Why it rocks: A foot of water flooded their studio, forcing this Portland/Beaverton band to reconvene in a new space; reconsidering their sound and approach, they created their fifth, and best album.

Link to buy: http://www.subpop.com/artists/the_helio_sequence

 

What were your favorite albums of 2012? Let us know in the comments below!

[Image of CDs from Shutterstock.]



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