Hey, it's June. And 2012 has been a magical year for music so far, so I thought I'd list my favorites.
This is just really a list of albums and songs I've bought and loved this year, so I haven't heard everything. There are still a ton of records out there I have yet to buy and hear (like new CDs by Gossip, Ladyhawke and King Tuff), but I'm getting there. So keep in mind, this is just my own personal favorites list.
Nicki Minaj, "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded" – You either love her or you hate her. I call her Queen Nicki, so you can imagine how I feel about her. From her heavy-hitting rap tracks like "Beez in the Trap," "Come on a Cone" and "I Am Your Leader," to her fun pop songs like "Whip It," "Starships" and "Pound the Alarm," Nicki just rules. And yes, I know the pop songs aren't that brilliant, but I have more fun listening to those songs than just about anything else out there in any other genre. That counts for something. And if you can't get behind those songs, just listen to "Come on a Cone" – an incredibly genius rap song. One of the best released in years. Bow before the queen.
Terry Malts, "Killing Time" – Such a joyous, loud, messy punk record.
Justin Townes Earle, "Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now" – I think JTE writes lyrics by opening a vein and pouring his blood on a page. I think he writes music by mixing a bit of the stars and earth with his hands, and then picking up his guitar while his hands are still dirty. His lyrics are always honest, painfully so. His music is both comforting and disarmingly beautiful. He makes the best country music.
Sanitgold, "Master of My Make-Believe" – It's not quite as pop or immediately captivating as her debut, but it still grabs you by the neck like any good Santigold work. There are a lot of sounds going on but they all lead down satisfying and mind-bending rabbit holes.
Alabama Shakes, "Boys & Girls" – I'd rather see this band live than listen to this album, but it'll do until I can make it to the next show. It's a shame the band's powerful Zeppelin-meets-James Brown sound doesn't come off that well on the album, but it's still worth a listen.
Best Coast, "The Only Place" – Take away the super-sunny pop, add a bit more rock 'n' roll, keep in the confessional lyrics, and ka-boom, you have the new Best Coast record. I adore it.
The Lumineers, "The Lumineers" – If this folk-pop album were a person, it would iron its shirts, give you a firm handshake and look you in the eye. It's earnest, and that's refreshing.
Of Monsters and Men, "My Head is an Animal" – There are a lot of really beautiful sounds on this album. It's atmospheric and pretty. Makes me feel like I'm somewhere and someone else when I hear it.
Tennis, "Young & Old" – Timeless pop music. Not the kind of pop you dance to at a club, but the kind of pop you listen to on sunny days with the windows rolled down, and you don't really have anywhere to be.
Water Liars, "Phantom Limb" – Gorgeous and moody. Packs a quiet punch.
Gaslight Anthem, "45" – One of my favorite songs released this year, but then again, this is one of my favorite bands. It's a great rock 'n' roll track, wonderfully urgent and full of emotion.
Rye Rye, "Boom Boom" – I haven't bought her album yet, but I love this video game-inspired single. So much fun.
Scissor Sisters, "Shady Love" – OK, I don't love "Magic Hour." But I adore "Shady Love." I never would've thought Scissor Sisters could have pulled off a rap song, but this is one of the most fun songs out there.
Phillip Phillips, "Home" – Try this: Play this song for one of your indie rock music snobs, and see them scratch their heads. It's not Fleet Foxes, but it sounds like it! It's not Band of Horses, but it sounds like it! Nope, ladies and gents, it's an "American Idol" winner, and this a gorgeous, wonderful song. It may have been produced by "AI," but whatever, a good song's a good song, and this one's good. Really good.
Kanye West, "Mercy" – With West, Big Sean, 2 Chainz and Pusha T, it doesn't get much better than this. Weird and wonderful.
The Tallest Man on Earth, "1904" – Such a beautiful folk song, but then again, that's all the Tallest Man on Earth knows how to make. So ready for his new album.
Alrighty. I think that's it. I have a feeling I'm forgetting someone... hope not, but if I do, I'll make a separate post.
What's your favorite music of 2012 so far?