Correct Behavior is a killer rock record that manages to sound both completely effortless and like a new classic already. Nicole Yun really comes into her own as front woman, crushing the delivery on both snot-nosed anthems like "Wonder" and gentle rockers like "Summerset." The band's newly expanded line-up means songs are deeper and more complex, and the sequencing of the record is just brilliant, transitioning from punk-y rockers to dark, new wave-y sounds before ending on a low-key note. This is a record I can listen to over and over and never tire of.
See also: Music Video Mondays: Eternal Summers Get Ready to Rage; What I'm listening to: Eternal Summers (via Philly.com)
4. Tame Impala, Lonerism
Lonerism's thick, swirling psychedelics surprised me the first time I listened to this record, which sounds more like The Beatles than anything I've heard in years (which is a good thing.) This record is so dense and so encompassing; listening always feels like entering into some trippy fantasy world. I love the way this record makes me feel -- so open, and relaxed -- and I love the way the songs flow together effortlessly. What really sets Lonerism apart though is the fact that it's not just a dreamy journey -- Kevin Parker touches on topics like love, isolation, and happiness while covering everything in a blanket of clouds.
3. King Tuff, King Tuff
King Tuff -- the debut record from LA-via-Vermont rockers King Tuff -- is a record that knows better than to take itself too seriously. It's peppered with hand claps, and jaunty power chords, and lyrics about hanging with friends and smoking pot. It's low-key, and fun, and shuffles along at midtempo, offering easy-going jams that you feel like you've heard a million times before. And that's exactly why I like this so much: when I'm listening to music in the car, or on my stereo as I hang out in my apartment, this is exactly what I want it to sound like. It's comfy and familiar like a worn-it hoodie, and I could laze about listening all day.
2. Savoir Adore, Our Nature
Savoir Adore have something special going. There are tons of bands out there making similarly dreamy, sparkly pop, but none doing it quite as well as Savoir Adore. It's an energy, I think, that allows core duo Paul Hammer and Deidre Muro to craft these magical, floaty songs imbued with passion and energy. Perhaps it's the overarching storyline that ties Our Nature together -- the story of an unlikely love between a girl and a monster -- but I think it's something more. It's a nuanced understanding of dance beats (which underscore exuberant ragers "Loveliest Creature" and "Sparrow"); it's an ability to craft melodies that progress in ways you don't expect; and to draw out emotion genuinely, with music that expands and contracts like a heart beat. This record is so beautiful and so transportive, it's hard to believe these guys aren't huge.
See also: INTRVW: Savoir Adore; My Top 30 Songs of 2012: Nos. 10-6
1. Django Django, Django Django
Of all the records I listened to this year, none seemed as unique and enveloping as Django Django, the debut record from the Edinburgh foursome of the same name. Django Django exists completely in its own world: a world of windswept deserts and futuristic cowboys; where the future meets the past as classic rock tropes are reinvented with electronic flourishes and collaged together into something new and interesting. This is a record that reminds me that music can still be new and creative, and it helps that it actually sounds good, and isn't angular and inaccessible (like early Dirty Projectors). There's so much I love here: the lush harmonies atop relentless chugging on "Hail Bop"; the quirky, bloopy bounce of "Default"; the thick, drippy refrain of "Zumm Zumm." Mostly though I love that this record is such a fun listen -- which always keeps you guessing and intrigued.
See also: My Top 20 Records of 2012: Nos. 10-6
My Top 20 Records of 2012: Nos. 15-11
My Top 20 Records of 2012: Nos. 20-16
My Top 30 Songs of 2012