5 Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory
Cloud Nothings continue to build on their growing momentum. Attack on Memory feels like a real statement piece that packs a mix of nod your head to pump your fist anthems. It’s an album that recalls power of their influences without being too wistful or derivative for its own good.
4. Liberteer – Better to Die on Your Feet Than Live on Your Knees
Let’s be clear on one thing; this album is not for everyone, which is what makes it so captivating. Coming in at a frantic 27 minutes, the 17 songs produce a blend of banjo, horns, guitars, and growls that would make Hank III salivate at the seamlessness.
3. Loincloth – Iron Balls of Steel
With an album title like this, you know what you’re getting. A pounding 38-minute triumph, Loincloth enters the arena with one goal in mind: to punch you in the mouth with sheer riff and technicality. This isn’t for the faint of heart, but those who choose to explore it will be pleasantly surprised by amount of work and craftsmanship that went into making the first LP from the band.
2. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar
Depending on the day of the week, this album could easily fall into the top spot. This duo is arguably doing folk better than anyone in the game right now. For a Swedish group, they pay better homage to Americana than most in the country that coined the term. This album has as much hushed confidence as it does earnest self-awareness. Sorry boys, but 2012 is looking to be the year of the woman.
1. Sharon Van Etten – Tramp
When I first heard Epic, I immediately became a Sharon Van Etten fanboy. I considered it to be a silent, criminally underrated album of 2010. And then I waited to see if my enthusiasm would pay off on her next album. I had to pull myself out of my “I <3 SVE” daze to realize something deeper. She’s got “it”. What is “it”? An acute sense of self-reflection that shines through darkness and introspection to create a beautiful, sonic experience that seems to be about much more than the music at times.