Promoting quality music in Knoxville … by any means necessary.
We enjoyed some fantastic music in 2012 at knoxmusictoday.com! And here are our picks as the Top Albums of the year. See if you agree!
The Baltimore duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have released a masterpiece with ‘Bloom’. Every song is an absolute pearl. It is majestic and plush and it is an album that I can listen to on repeat over and over and then play again the next day.
I’ll have to admit, this album is a pitch right in my wheelhouse. Smooth California sounds dominate the entirety of the self-titled debut album from this Los Angeles quintet. It is a remarkably deep album for a debut full-length and it has a few short instrumental-oriented intros to songs that add a refreshing consistency to the overall effort. It certainly meets my Top Albums criteria of being a great album from start to finish.
The songs for this album were written in the early 90s when Drive-By Truckers front-man Patterson Hood was going through the breakup of a previous band and significant personal issues including a divorce. This album is absolutely stunning in terms of its songwriting. It is remarkable that although the songs are from a rock-bottom point of his personal life, Hood manages to tie them together in a manner that provides the listener with a feeling of hope and that victory over depression, addiction, and despair is possible.
With all of the buzz and hype that preceded the released of ‘Shields’, I was prepared to dislike the album. Then I listened to it. And I listened to it again. It quickly became apparent that the album absolutely belongs on the Best of 2012 list. The songs featured on the album are gems in-and-of-themselves and the album has the type of range and depth of musical quality that separates a ‘good’ album from a ‘great’ album.
Honestly, I didn’t appreciate this album entirely until I saw Santi White (a.k.a. Santigold) perform at Bonnaroo in June. Although this album didn’t receive as much hype as her debut album, it is more polished, consistent, and deeper in terms of songwriting than her first album. It’s a fun album, and that is exactly what music is sometimes supposed to be.
Chan Marshall, known by her stage name Cat Power, is a quite complicated and troubled performer and songwriter. ‘Sun’ is the 9th album released by Marshall and represents yet another side of the artist. There is a little bit of everything on this album – electronic beats, synthesizers, piano ballads, and catchy pop phrasing that will knock about in your head. All in all, the result is a wonderfully complex album from an equally wonderfully complex artist.
I’m a bit biased with this selection because I am such a fan of Sharon Van Etten’s 2010 release, ‘Epic’. Her latest album, ‘Tramp’, is an extension of the success of its predecessor with a wider range and depth in terms of song variety and quality. Sharon enlisted a bevy of talented musical friends for this album including The National’s Aaron and Bryce Dessner, Beirut’s Zach Condon, and Jenn Wasner from Wye Oak and Flock of Dimes. However, this album is all Sharon Van Etten and that is more than enough reason for it to be featured as a Top Album of 2012.
Of all the live music I experienced in 2012, I probably saw this Nashville band more often than any other band. Adding up the number of sets at the Bonnaroo and Forecastle festivals, plus the two times they visited Knoxville, it is likely that I saw 6 or 7 Moon Taxi shows in 2012. And I was thrilled at each and every one!
I’ll admit, I was worried about The Black Cadillacs second album. The sophomore offering is often the make-or-break album for bands. But if ‘Run’ is any indication, this local band is headed for greatness. The Cadillacs can bring the RAWK like no other Knoxville area band and although I’m typically not a fan of rock bands who dilly-dally with ballads, the Cadillacs prove that it can be done. And done well. This album is a remarkable achievement from such a young and fresh band. And with all the great bands out there, you must see them live to appreciate their talent. So do it!
I have one beef with this album – it should be a double-live recording that comes packaged with a shot of whiskey and a beer chaser. Kelsey’s Woods have released a fantastic debut full-length album and the band makes every Knoxville-area live show a ‘can’t miss’ event. Get up and get out to see them!