Best of 2012: VVN Music

By VVN Network, on 12 Dec 31, 2012

Apple+Idler+Wheel.jpg Looking back, 2012 has been a pretty great year for music. We've had some truly innovative and artistic albums from artists of all ages and, for the first time in many years, we would have to say the modern artists have lead the way.

Yes, this site is about celebrating the lives and music of the veteran artists of music, but we have the chance to review albums from all eras of artists and, when we hear something outstanding, it's important to expose the music to the world.

As always, we don't really want to call this the "Best" of the year as there are tens of thousands of albums released and we only have the chance to really hear a fraction of them. That's why we prefer to call this a list of our favorite albums of the year, the works that moved us, got us singing along and/or made us sit and listen in wonder at the great craftsmanship.

  1. The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More That Ropes Will Ever Do - Fiona Apple - The album that had it all, deep, moving lyrics, quirky arrangements and a wide variety of genres, proving that Apple may not be prolific but, when she does release an album, she makes every second count.

  2. Grand Hotel - The Explorers Club - The greatest album of sixties music not during that decade, this group understands everything that made the music great and have managed to create an album of all new music that you would swear you heard in your youth.

  3. Halcyon - Ellie Goulding - Goulding has managed to mature from a pop chanteuse to a writer of deep lyrics and performer in a mature style in the span of just one album, one of the biggest (and most pleasant) surprises of the year.
  4. Some Nights - fun. - Anthemic, hook-filled music featuring the amazing voice of Nate Reuss, their huge hits are joined seven (eight if you include the bonus track) more songs that are just as infectious. 
  5. That's Why God Made the Radio Beach Boys - The album that everyone thought was impossible, a well-written, well-crafted and perfectly-performed work by the men we never thought would get along well enough to ever commit it to tape.

  6. Boys and Girls - Alabama Shakes - Give Britney Howard the award for the most amazing new voice in music as she belts through the group's wonderful synthesis of rock and Stax-style R&B.

  7. Living For a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran - Jamey Johnson - The best country album of the year, this tribute to the great songwriter Hank Cochran includes many of his biggest hits as sung by Johnson and such greats as George Strait, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, Elvis Costello and Bobby Bare.
  8. The Bright Side - Meiko - Commercial, thoroughly enjoyable album from a voice you've heard on dozen's of TV shows but never knew. 
  9. Wrecking Ball Bruce Springsteen - This one has moved up the list from mid-year as each listen has shown new layers and the real greatness of the album, one dedicated to righting many of the wrongs at this point in history in America.

  10. Someday - Susanna Hoffs - Hoffs was born about forty years too late as her true sole lives in the music of the 60's that she loves. Like Explorers Club, this album would fit as well in the summer of 1966 as it does today.

  11. + - Ed Sheeran - One of the outstanding new singer-songwriters out of England, Sheeran has a gorgeous voice and a way of writing accessible music that should keep him in the public eye for many years to come. 
  12. Americana - Neil Young & Crazy Horse - It so easily could have been a total farce, but Young and Crazy Horse managed to resurrect some of America's greatest songs in quirky new arrangements that made us here them with more understanding then ever before. 
  13. Little Broken Hearts - Norah Jones - Working with DangerMouse may have been one of the most daring things this darling of piano pop ever tried and it was, for the most part, a triumph, creating a whole new dimension to Jones' music without completely removing her laid back style.
  14. Live at Carnegie Hall - Caetano Veloso & David Byrne - Who would have thought that a Brazilian singer with Bossa Nova stylings and one of America's quirkiest, most endearing artists would ever be able to blend their styles and cover each other's music so beautifully.
  15. My Valentine - Paul McCartney - Absolutely not the vanity project that some expected, Paul McCartney's foray into the music of his youth (and before) made for one of the nicest listening albums of the year, from the brilliance of the songs to the perfectly restrained singing by Paul to the wonderful arrangements by Diana Krall.

  16. Love This Giant - David Byrne and St. Vincent - What can we say? This has been a great year artistically for David Byrne as he once again joins with another artist, in this case Annie Clark, in a strange but infectious mix of rhythms, horns and quirky vocals.

  17. Bodyparts - Dragonette - When is the music world going to finally give this great electro-pop group their due? Best known for their collaboration with Martin Solveig on Hello, Bodyparts (their third album) is another infectious group of songs that are as fun as they are danceable. 
  18. Slipstream - Bonnie Raitt - Raitt returns to form, sounding her best since the days of Nick of Time and Luck of the Draw after a number of years of middling material. Here, she mixes it up well, style wise and sounds like she has been reinvigorated after taking seven years off.

  19. Red - Taylor Swift - One of the surprises of the year, Swift continues in her self-biographical mode but the addition of songwriting partners and moves into a much larger variety of genres (calling it a country album is really stretching it) makes this one of the more interesting albums of the year.

  20. Any Given Day - Emily Hurd - A late entry into the year's offerings, Any Given Day showcases the singer's sultry, bluesy voice.