Lost at Sea and In the Trees
Then again, I always wonder how much of what I find enjoyable in music at a certain time can be attributable to my own psychological bearing at the time, and whether the musical winds are blowing with or against me.
Anyway, 2012 seemed like a year of weak wind to me, but maybe it was the direction I was sailing. Two years ago, I was deep into indie-alt-folk-type stuff. To some extent, Mumford & Sons and Lumineers have taken those sounds mainstream, but, golly, did I get sick of hearing them this year in a way I never get sick of The Tallest Man On Earth or Josh Ritter.
I was going to call Fun. my guilty pleasure of the year, but why call it "guilty"? It was a pleasure to listen to, and as much of a true experiment as we get in popular rock these days: digitized classic rock anthems. I'll take it. My kids liked it too.
I don't have a whole lot of other stand out albums. The Tallest Man On Earth's album was not his best, although it had a number of good tunes (1904 does compete with his best tracks). The Walkmen made good on the promises of 2010's Lisbon, but somehow I was less interested to hear it.
Thank God, then, for Lost in the Trees and their The Church That Fits Our Needs. The subject matter is intensely personal: memories of band-leader Ari Picker's mother and reflections on her death by suicide. Okay, so it's a downer on a lot of fronts (though not as much as you would think), but the music absolutely soars. Picker's band is chock full of classically trained musicians. Which you have to be if you're playing music that owes as much to Shostakovich as Radiohead.
The Church That Fits Our Needs came out in March and it never had any competition over the whole rest of the year. It will be a highlight of this decade. At least, it will if you're sailing the winds I'm sailing.