Muruch’s Top 25 Albums of 2012

2012 was a very good year for music. Sometimes it’s difficult to come up with enough albums for my year end list, this year the problem was narrowing down my choices. Click on the album titles to read the full reviews, purchase the albums, and, in some cases, watch videos and/or download mp3s. Then comment with your favorite albums of the year.

Muruch’s Top 25 Albums of 2012

25. Sugar & the Hi-Lows

…This brilliant collection of songs beautifully marries modern indie-pop with retro rockabilly and soul. The sound is Sun Records meets Raising Sand.

Buy @ Amazon


24. Dala: Best Day

…Dala’s penchant for peppy country-pop harmonies and melodic folk-pop melodies fall somewhere between Lady Antebellum and Sylvie Lewis…sweet vocals, tinkling piano and buoyant strings…a pop culture cornucopia with references to everything from Shakespeare to Annie Hall

Buy @ Amazon


23. Sylvie Lewis: It’s All True

…Sylvie’s elegant voice and delicate melodies elevate even the most simple of tunes to a higher level…a jaunty fable of star-crossed love with just the softest, lightest hint of jazz

Buy @ Amazon


22. Eric McGrath: Little Ripples

…I expect Eric McGrath won’t be Ireland’s best kept secret for long…McGrath’s intimate singing style and breezy, multi-instrumental compositions often fall somewhere between Bright Eyes and Xavier Rudd, which is an extremely interesting and unique place to be. But even such grand comparisons are tenuous, because Eric McGrath is definitely blazing a creative trail of his own.

Buy @ Amazon



21. Julie Lee & The Baby-Daddies

…this gorgeous, classic folk song cycle sounds like it was recorded decades ago…the entire album is lovely and sure to be on my best of the year list.

Buy @ Amazon


20. Bat For Lashes: The Haunted Man

…atmospheric electronics and somber melodies…brimming with all the emotions of a lifetime of regret and a heart full of love…a very pretty and innovative collection.

BUY @ AMAZON


19. Regina Spektor: What We Saw From The Cheap Seats

…Most of it is sheer, breathtaking brilliance…truly exquisite ballads…the spectacular far, far outweighs the bad

Buy @ Amazon


18. The Gaslight Anthem: Handwritten

…Many bands have tried and failed to capture The Boss’ throne, but The Gaslight Anthem have successfully proven themselves to be the true heirs of Bruce Springsteen.

Buy @ Amazon


17. Xavier Rudd: Spirit Bird

…Xavier is one of my all-time favorite artists and his music never fails to amaze, uplift and thoroughly entertain me…Xavier wrote, sang and played every instrument (of which there are many) on this spectacular new collection.

Buy @ Amazon


16. Muse: The 2nd Law

…Not only does The 2nd Law continue that grandiose marriage of arena rock and classical music, but its futuristic electronic twist allows the album to stand completely on its alone. Definitely one for the year end list…weaving thunderous rock, classical song structure and instrumentation with operatic backing vocals into a glorious, cross-genre cacophony.

Buy @ Amazon


15. Jonathan & Charlotte: Together

…the teenage opera duo were this year’s Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent…Talent like Jonathan & Charlotte’s and an album like this doesn’t come along often, so I hope they have a long, successful career ahead of them.

Buy @ Amazon


14. Leif Ove Andsnes: The Beethoven Journey: Piano Concertos No 1 & 3

…a very splendid and beautiful collection…elegantly serene…Andsnes and the other musicians do a superb job in their individual performances of each work. Even more noteworthy is their musical coalescescence.

Buy @ Amazon


13. Garbage: Not Your Kind of People

…grandiose, rocked up electro-pop drama fronted by a wailing red-haired banshee. Their new album successfully captures and modernizes their snarling past glory.

Buy @ Amazon


12. Cat Power: Sun

…shockingly upbeat sound…Cat Power is still as sultry and mysterious as she always was, but the music is very much uptempo…There’s just something so unique about Cat Power’s voice, lyrics and song structure. That unusual quality makes what could be, should be pop songs something entirely different. It’s unpop.

Buy @ Amazon

Cat Power: Ruin (mp3)*


11. Amanda Palmer: Theater Is Evil

…The album explores pop, New Wave and synth rock in a way that is quite a departure from Palmer’s old punk cabaret band The Dresden Dolls, but it often has the same twisted wit, high energy and frenetic pace…the bombastic Theatre Is Evil is the best argument for fan-funded albums

Buy @ Amazon

Amanda Palmer – Do It With a Rockstar (mp3)*
Amanda Palmer – The Killing Type (mp3)*
Amanda Palmer – Want it Back (mp3)*
Amanda Palmer – Trout Heart Replica (mp3)*


10. The Mynabirds: Generals

…Have I mentioned I love The Mynabirds? The thumping, catchy, claphappy, fiercely femme indie sound of their new sophomore album, Generals, is somewhere between Lykke Li and Bats for Lashes. Thus the love…the album is deliciously rife with the band’s signature blend of synth-pop, rock, wails, hand claps and stomps.

Buy @ Amazon

The Mynabirds – Body of Work (mp3)*


9. Wilson Phillips: Dedicated

…a tribute to The Mamas & Papas and The Beach Boys…their harmonies are as lovely as ever and very reminiscent of the two bands who spawned them…a sunny, summery, very catchy and surprisingly well orchestrated collection of classic pop covers.

Buy @ Amazon


8. Khatia Buniatishvili: Chopin

…Khatia Buniatishvili’s Chopin is not only my favorite of the Chopin albums released this year, it’s my favorite classical release of 2012…Her nimble fingers are a perfect fit for the classical piano master’s compositions and her selection from his work is superbly diverse. Buniatishvili’s Chopin is an absolutely exquisite collection.

Buy @ Amazon


7. Escort

…Escort is a seventeen-member “disco orchestra”…definitely one of the more unusual and delightful acts I’ve heard…I can’t imagine a more fun and catchy album being released next year.

Buy @ Amazon

Escort – Makeover (mp3)*


6. JD McPherson: Signs & Signifiers

…Where did this guy come from?…McPherson’s music is a delicious mix of brassed up retro soul and rumbling vintage blues-rock. It’s been a very long time since I was struck by such an intense sense of awe while listening to an album…sound like classics by Little Richard, Jackie Wilson or The Big Bopper with a bit of Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and Sun Studios-era Elvis thrown in.

Buy @ Amazon


5. Goodnight Texas: A Long Life of Living

…who is this band and how can anyone make an entire album of music this good? Song after song, I would think I’d heard the best of the album only to be even more amazed by the next track. This is music for any band to aspire to and for any music fan to get very excited about.

Buy @ Amazon


4. Norah Jones: …Little Broken Hearts

…Norah has finally found a dark, dreamy sound interesting enough to successfully break away from those old coffeehouse categories without losing the mellow charm that made her famous. Produced by Danger Mouse, …Little Broken Hearts spices up pretty post-breakup pop anthems with luscious splashes of noirish electro-rock.

Buy @ Amazon



3. Fiona Apple: The Idler Wheel…

…Fiona Apple’s first album in seven years, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, weaves the fierce emotion, poetic lyrics and masterfully constructed compositions of her previous releases with a much more rugged recording style and strong splashes of jazz. The collection is somewhat unexpected and strange, but it’s also exquisitely beautiful and brilliant.

Buy @ Amazon


2. The Vespers: The Fourth Wall

…The songs on The Fourth Wall break the barrier between folk and pop and also genre-hop through blues, gospel and rock…all wrapped up in dulcet harmonies and strikingly beautiful instrumentation.

Buy @ Amazon


1. Anais Mitchell: Young Man in America

…Anaïs Mitchell is like a modern day Woody Guthrie or Bob Dylan. Her epic lyrical narratives echo Guthrie’s masterful talent for blending the literary with the ordinary, while her fierce and unique vocal phrasing as well as her intricately multi-layered arrangements take Dylanesque to a whole new realm….Young Man in America is both an ambitious recording project and a beautifully rich tapestry of classic folk songwriting. Anaïs Mitchell just may be my generation’s most talented singer-songwriter.

Buy @ Amazon

Uploaded by Wilderland Records

*all mp3s, streams & videos uploaded by & posted w/ permission of artists, labels and/or their PR reps

The Vespers: Better Now Video

“Better Now” was the standout track from The Vespers’ brilliant new album, The Fourth Wall, and the band recently released the official video for the song. The Fourth Wall remains one of my favorite albums of the year and you can expect to see it fairly high up on my top albums list in December.

Buy @ Amazon

The Vespers Official Site

The Vespers: Free EP Download

To celebrate the release of their brilliant new album, The Fourth Wall (click title for my rave review), The Vespers are offering a free, legal EP download. The EP includes three songs from the new album, two from their previous release and one new live track. You can download the mp3s by entering your email address in the Noisetrade widget below.

Buy The Fourth Wall @ Amazon

The Vespers Official Site

The Vespers: Free Album Download

The Vespers’ entire debut album, Tell Your Mama, is available as a free, legal download by entering your email address into the Noisetrade widget below. You will also be given the option of leaving a tip/donation for the band. And you can still download a free, legal mp3 from their spectacular new album, The Fourth Wall, in my rave review.

The Vespers: The Fourth Wall

The Vespers’ sophomore album, The Fourth Wall, will be released on April 3rd. Composed of sisters Callie and Phoebe Cryar and brothers Bruno and Taylor Jones, the Nashville quartet has been described by others as a “‘Southern Folk Pop Family Band” and they call themselves “two sisters, two brothers, four friends, ten instruments, one fun little folk band.” The songs on The Fourth Wall break the barrier between folk and pop and also genre-hop through blues, gospel and rock…all wrapped up in dulcet harmonies and strikingly beautiful instrumentation.


Momma says I can’t be healed, Papa says I’m through
They say I can’t use my eyes, never be good as new
Oh, but I’m better now
Why do you shake head no?

On first listen, the opener “Better Now” struck me as simply a beautiful folk song. It wasn’t until I read the press release that I learned the lyrics were inspired by the Biblical account of the blind man healed by Jesus. However, this is no Gospel song. Rather, it examines the bittersweet relief and frustration felt by a man whose vision has been miraculously restored, but his friends and family don’t believe his story. Lyrics aside, the melody and vocals are gorgeous and set upon a lush, multi-instrumental arrangement.

“Close My Eyes” gradually mingles electric guitar with banjo, culminating in a frenzied multi-instrumental finale worthy of Flogging Molly.

“Got No Friends” is a jaunty little song that is both lonesome and hopeful, while “Lawdy” grows from a haunting folk melody into a robust, bluesy thump.

“Jolly Robber” is a buoyant pop ditty that hints at traditional Jewish folk. “Grinnin’ in Your Face” is another, fiercer blues track flush with howls, claps and stomps.

“Footprints in the Snow” is an ominous strummer perfect for a Western movie soundtrack, and “Winter” is a delicately melancholy and lovely finale for this entirely exquisite album.

The Vespers – Better Now (mp3 expired)*

*mp3 posted w/ permission of band’s PR rep

You can download a free, legal EP with mp3s from this album via this post.

The album is not yet available for purchase, but should be at the links below closer to the release date…

Buy @ Amazon

The Vespers Official Site