LIST: Top 10 Albums Of 2012

This is very late, but here is the 2012 top albums list. Both rising artists and established legacies released memorable albums. The following ten albums stuck out the most.

10.) Hot Chip – In Our Heads

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British electronic band Hot Chip’s fifth studio album is a step up in maturity and consistency from their previous work. Standouts “How Do You Do?” and “Flutes” anchor this quirky album.

9.) Sleigh Bells – Reign Of Terror

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Sleigh Bells refined their sound from debut Treats to sophomore effort Reign Of Terror. Guitarist/producer Derek Miller’s furious beats still attack the listener, but singer Alexis Krausse’s vocals are more pronounced than before. This album is a step in the right direction, as the duo can build on it for future releases.

8.) First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

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Harmonies. Lots of them. That is what Swedish sister-duo First Aid Kit is all about. There is nothing better than two cute-as-buttons girls, dressed in retro 60’s sundresses singing beautiful well-crafted melodies. They translate their talents to second album The Lion’s Roar. Album highlight “Emmylou” sounds like a tasteful Dixie Chicks song. Closer “King Of The World” triumphantly concludes the solid effort.

7.) Crystal Castles – (III)

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Toronto electronic duo Crystal Castles have created a string of excellent, ever-evolving self-titled albums. Their self-titled debut has a video game rave feel to it, while sophomore effort Crystal Castles (II) is a mix of pop sweetness and screech-punk fury. (III) is more a hybrid of Crystal Castles (II)‘s sound. Some harsh tracks, but not as all-out as “Doe Deer.” The band has found a nice middle ground, though.

6.) Divine Fits – A Thing Called Divine Fits

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Supergroup Divine Fits, composed of members of Spoon and Wolf Parade, proved doubters wrong with their cohesive and catchy debut. The two singers Britt Daniel and Dan Boekner mesh together so well, trading off tracks seamlessly as if they had played together for years. This collaboration worked out quite well compared to the awkward David Byrne & St. Vincent combo.

5.) Jack White – Blunderbuss

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Jack White, the savior of rock in the early 2000’s, released his first ever solo album in 2012 with a favorable result. He mixes styles of old-time rock and blues quite well. Singles “Love Interruption” and “Sixteen Salteens” stand out and give the first half of the album momentum. Let us thank Jack again for helping us rock in the electronic age.

4.) Passion Pit – Gosshammer

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Passion Pit built on its sugary electro-pop melodies from debut Manners. Though the music is in major keys and sounds happy, the lyrics are desperate and longing. It is an interesting combination that is especially tactful in sophomore effort Gosshammer. Thanks to single “Take A Walk,” the bands popularity has surged, as a show at Madison Square Garden is in the mix.

3.) Beach House – Bloom

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The early ’10’s has been very flowery. From Radiohead’s 2011 single “Lotus Flower” to Christina Agilera’s 2012 album Lotus, to Beach House’s comforting album Bloom. The guy-girl duo’s fourth album is very similar to their previous work, but is not necessarily a bad thing. They add to their signature dreamy sound with keyboard loops and electronic drumming. Opener “Myth” gets things going quite well, setting the tone for the rest of the soothing album.

2.) Purity Ring – Shrines

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Newcomers Purity Rings exploded into 2012 with their debut album Shrines. This album gets under your skin. Singer Megan James sings about ribs and bellies over hip-hop beats and pulsing production. “Fineshrine” and “Bellispeak” are excellent night time jams.

1.) Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls

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Alabama Shakes is exactly what 2012 was not musically. They are a breath of fresh air in a digital world. The band has a soulful, genuine sound that translates well on debut Boys & Girls. The album has excellent pacing, as it balances out its peaks and valleys well. Singer Brittany Howard’s powerful, pitch-perfect vocals gel the band together.

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SHOW REVIEW: Beach House @ Wilbur Theater 10/15/2012

“Dream pop, I’m interested to see what this is like,” the 40-year old female usher said as she helped people to their seats in the modest Wilbur Theater. Dream pop is the genre that best describes Beach House, a guy-girl duo out of Baltimore. Beach House has gained steady momentum over the years from their self-titled 2006 debut to festival appearances to this year’s critically-acclaimed Bloom. Their smooth and warm melodies soothed the crowd of 1,200.

Highlights:

  • Lead Vocal Greatness: Victoria Legrand’s vocals sound like melted chocolate; or a warm fire on a winter’s day. The sound levels were spot on.
  • Light Show: The band has a cool setup of giant vertical rectangles behind them with horizontal lines resembling windows with shades over them. These fixtures would light up and change colors to the beat of the music.
  • Tight Instrumentals: Guitarist Alex Scally and the band’s touring drummer laid the groundwork for their enchanting songs.
  • Wishes”: One of the stronger numbers off of Bloomthis song gradually builds to an intense climax that served as a strong ending to this show.

SHOW REVIEW: Crystal Castles @ House Of Blues Boston 10/6/2012

Crystal Castles brings new meaning to the word “chaos.” They do so in a well-mannered, controlled way. During their early set Saturday evening, the band was never visually in sight due to the constantly changing pattern of strobes, lasers and multicolored lights. The bass was stronger than any of the other shows reviewed this year. Hypewoman/vocalist Alice Grass floated kneeling atop a sea of outstretched arms in the crowd as she screeched and crooned. Crystal Castles has the clubby “untz” factor yet stays tasteful.

Highlights:

  • House Of Blues Coolness: This venue, despite the criticism of high prices and tight security, grabs the best talent to come through New England. The shows at HOB Boston are always high energy and memorable.
  • House Of Blues Lameness: Doors opened at 6:30; the headliner ended their set at 9:30. Way too early for a Saturday night.
  • Double Encore: The band left stage and came back twice. After the second encore, the audience craved more.
  • Dancing & Grooving: The audience was dancing like they were at a Top 40 bar at Faneuil Hall.
  • Glow Sticks: They were everywhere.

FESTIVAL CORNER: Austin City Limits Webcast Schedule

Festival giant Austin City Limits, taking place Friday October 12th through Sunday October 14, is webcasting on Youtube for your viewing pleasure. Find the webcast here starting at 1:30PM Central Daylight Time this Friday. Festival headliners include the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jack White and The Black Keys. Also playing are Band of Skulls, Gary Clark Jr., Bassnectar and Alabama Shakes.

SHOW REVIEW: Purity Ring @ Centennial Common Boston 9/29/2012

Thank you, Tastemakers of Northeastern University, for throwing a free outdoor show featuring the super chill, super fresh electronic duo Purity Ring. The male producer and female vocalist have gained tons of momentum with the help of their much-hyped debut album, Shrines. Despite laid back hip-hop beats with haunting vocals, Purity Ring aided the college kids in dancing and crowd-surfing like it was Woodstock ’99.

Highlights:

  • Outdoor Setting: Live music outside goes together like peas and carrots. Nothing beats a show with the company of friendly trees, the night sky, and a cool, refreshing breeze.
  • What Kind Of Instrument Is That?: Producer Corin Roddick keeps the bass heavy and the beats bumping. Visually, he uses drumsticks and hits six different beacons to make synthesizer noises. The beacon-looking devices light up when he hits them.
  • Crowd Fun: A few songs into their set, vocalist Megan James requested that the crowd be more “riotous.” Surprisingly, they followed.
  • No Encore: With only one album out, it is difficult to create a full set of music. Unfortunately their set only lasted about an hour.

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS: Jack White @ Agganis Arena Boston 9/28/2012

Jack White: Member of three critically acclaimed bands, ear-busting guitarist and successful record company owner. The man has talent and business skills. His most famous song from The White Stripes, “Seven Nation Army,” has been immortalized as a Euro soccer and American Football anthem in stadiums across the globe. After pursuing a solo career and releasing the commercially and critically successful “Blunderbuss,” Jack White brought a song catalog a mile long to BU’s Agganis Arena.

Highlights:

  • The Backing Band: An all-female cast joined Jack onstage including a super dexterous drummer, a stand-up bassist, a fiddler, a slide guitarist, a keyboardist, and a back-up vocalist/tambourine player.
  • White Stripes Classics: One song that stuck out was the White Blood Cells opener “Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground.” It was moderately slow, but head-bang worthy.
  • Solo Singles: Blunderbuss highlights included “Love Interruption” and “Freedom At 21.”
  • Shreddage!: The recordings do not do Jack White’s guitar work justice. His solos sound so crisp, fast and high-pitched live that it is almost comical. These are the moments when you wish it was a smaller venue.
  • Sing-Alongs: All in attendance yelled to the unforgettable riff in “Seven Nation Army” to end the show.

UPDATE: New Look, New Name

This is a little late, but this blog has changed names from “Live Music Lives Here” to “Here Comes The Fun.” The site also changed looks. The intention is to switch from a live music site to an all-inclusive home of music. HCTF incorporates festival outlooks, album streams, album reviews, lists, and yes, live reviews. Thank you for continued support and we hope you return!