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Sound Waves Top 40 of 2012

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Here is the much-requested list of some of the best albums of 2012. This year, listeners of Sound Waves submitted their picks too. It was a great year for debut albums as well as a few career defining records from some legendary artists.

1. Divine Fits A Thing Called Divine Fits (Merge). Brit Daniel [Spoon] and Dan Boeckner [Handsome Furs] have a ton of fun on their funky, hook-laden party record. Would that not be nice? 

2. Alabama Shakes Boys & Girls (ATO Records). The success story of the year. A group of kids from various bands unite for their love of classic Muscle Shoals rhythm and blues. The sound is gritty and swampy, just like the real thing.

3. Jack White Blunderbuss (ThirdMan/Columbia). White breaks out his inner blues and makes a record that has so many styles, you can only hang on for the ride in his tricked out ’56 convertible.

4. Of Monsters And Men My Head is An Animal (Universal). What a house-party in Iceland might sound like with glockenspiels and accordions.

5. The Lumineers The Lumineers (Dualtone). Quite a debut by this Midwestern band that writes folksy melodies that are uplifting and spirited.

6. Twin Shadow Confess (4AD). George Lewis Jr., recording as Twin Shadow, is a New Wave  Romantic from the Dominican Republic who writes gorgeous lush songs.

7. Mumford & Sons Babel  (Glassnote). The immediate success of their second U.S album took the band by surprise. No sophomore slump here. The songs sound a bit more polished, but Babel loses none of their fiery passion.

8. Jimmy Cliff Rebirth (Universal). The comeback album of the decade. A return to the roots by this reggae legend

9.  Michael Kiwanuka Home Again(Interscope). What a voice. If Michael had recorded this album in 1972 he might be listed with Bill Whithers and Marvin Gaye. An accomplished studio guitarist, Michael moves in front of the microphone.

10. Lord Huron Lonesome Dreams (Iamsound). First full length album by leader Benji Schneider since moving from the Midwest to sunny L.A. The weather agrees with him.

11. First Aid Kit The Lion’s Roar (Wichita). The exquisite vocal harmonies of Swedish sister Johanna and Klara Soderbergmakes, sounds like came from Emmylou Harris and Joan Baez. In fact, they wrote a song about “Emmylou.” Timeless folk music by this upcoming duo.

12. Beach House Bloom (Sub Pop). Another solid record. True the melodies sound somewhat familiar, but that’s what makes this Baltimore duo so irresistibly charming.

13. Bat For Lashes The Haunted Man (Capital). Natasha Khan's anxiously awaited third album moves forward with brilliant lyrics and polished sound.

14. Cat Power Sun (Matador). After break ups and other issues Chan Marshall is now down right sunny.

15. The Shins Port of Morrow (Columbia). Frontman James Mercer brings what he learned from  Dangermouse to his new lineup in The Shins. No longer the quirky indi band, The Shins polishes their pop melodies to brilliant shine.

16. Passion Pit Gossamer (Columbia). Some might have written leader Michael Angekakos off after he was dealing with health issues, but Gossamer is a fine collection filled with chippy electro arrangements and choruses.

17. JD McPherson Signs & Signifiers (Rounder). Lo-fi, rockin' blues played by a gentleman who did his homework. This is what happens if you let a punk rocker into Sun Studios.

18. Father John Misty Fear Fun (Sub Pop). A solo record from J. Tillman, while his other band The Fleet Foxes go on hiatus. Sound like Tillman had some pent up energy for this lively record that leaves the hush sound of The Foxes behind.

19. Grizzly Bear Shields (Warp). I don’t always know what they sing about, but Grizzly Bear writes beautiful labyrinth songs that can bring dreams to life like a “Sleeping Ute.”

20. DIIV Oshin (Captured Tracks). More atmospheric psychedelic grooves from Brooklyn.

21. Dum Dum Girls End of Daze (Sub Pop). A major breakthrough ep from the girls who rock to the music of Ronettes.

22. Frankie Rose Interstellar (Slumberland). After spending time with the Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls and Crystal Stilts, Rose takes over the dance floor with Interstellar.

23. Sharon Van Etten Tramp (Jagjaguwar). The third album, Tramp, finds Sharon almost whispering her desires to you. This is a fragile voice, not a text message.

24. Walkmen Heaven (FatPossum). The Walkmen finally bring it all home after a decade.

25. The Fresh & Onlys Long Slow Dance (Kamado). Some jangly guitar that sound great at a summer beach party.

26. Wild Nothing Noctune (Captured Tracks). A hazy blend of The Cure type mix for iPads.

27. Purity Ring Shrines (4AD). Purity Ring sounds like a beach party for clubs.

28. Tame Impala Lonersim (Modular). This dreamy, spacey collection of modern rock is somewhat lonely too.

29. Alt-J An Awesome Wave (Atlantic). Some weird sound and blips make Alt-J a band to watch.

30. Hot Chip In Our Heads (Domino). Warmer and gentler Hot Chip. Intelligent songs that still can shake your grove thing.

31. Polica Give You The Ghost (Mom+Pop). Electro beats with heart and soul. One of the years best.       

32. Dr. John Locked Down (Nonesuch). It takes The Black Key’s Dan Auerbach to add just the right amount of spices back into Rebennack’s New Orleans gumbo.

33. Neil Young & Crazy Horse Psychedelic Pill (Reprise). Young’s first album of new music with Crazy Horse in over ten years. In Neil’s new autobiography he says he has given up drugs. Neil Young has found the fountain of youth with Crazy Horse.                                                            

34. Damien Jurado Maraqopa. Hard to believe it is Damien’s 10th album in 15 years. Good things come to people who wait... and enlist a great record producer like Richard Swift.

35. Allen Stone Allen Stone (ATO Records). If the guy from Simply Red had a son, he would sound like Allen Stone. A hippie kid from Washington, Allen has a soulful voice that will continue to set the world a blaze.

36. The Avett Brothers The Carpenter (Universal Republic). Another mature affair by the frantic banjo kickers. This one continues the pace set by producer Rick Ruben with more thoughtful songs of growing old and paying the bills.

37. Gotye Mirrors (Universal). The Australian artist hits the mother load with the irresistible single “Somebody That I Use To Know”. Can’t help thinking he knows Peter Gabriel though.

38. Band Of Horses Mirage Rock (Columbia). Mirage Rock is the bands big rock record. Producer Glyn Johns [Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones] adds a cohesive sound.

39. Heartless Bastards Arrow (Partisan). Songwriter Erika Wennerstrom’s voice has just the right amount of time worn weariness to be heartfelt.

40. Calexico Algiers (Anti-). These Southwestern rockers soak up some New Orleans music for a spicy blend of blues, Latin, Caribbean and South America.

Originally from Boston, Todd Kennedy began volunteering at WFIT 89.5 FM in 1992 as a late night jazz DJ. In 1998 he was hired as Director of Operations and in 2004 he became Program Director until his retirement in 2022.