2012 had more than a handful of impressive debut full-lengths, including Alabama Shakes’ Boys & Girls, Porcelain Raft’s Strange Weekend, and Jack White’s Blunderbuss. The tracks below don’t even begin to scratch the surface of debuts this year, but these are a few of my favorites.
The buzz band of 2011 did not disappoint. If you have yet to give this record a chance, you’re only hurting yourself. It’s more than just “Southern rock”. It’s rock and soul at it’s best, due in large part to Brittany Howard’s incredible voice.
♩Alabama Shakes – Heavy Chevy [from Boys & Girls]
Chilean indie-pop at it’s best. I have no idea what they are singing about, but I love it. This particular track sounds like M83 in Spanish.
♩Astro – Panda [from Astro]
Bright Moments is the brain child of multi-instrumentalist Kelly Pratt (best known for his work with Beirut and Arcade Fire). Natives is a very uplifting record (i’ve heard it described as “sunny-pop”). Whenever I listen, I feel like going on adventures. With tracks like “Tourists”, “Travelers”, and “Drifters”, maybe adventures is exactly what Pratt had in mind.
♩Bright Moments – Travelers [from Natives]
Critics shat all over Clock Opera’s debut full-length, but I enjoyed it immensely. Was it perfect? No, but how many perfect albums are there? Ways To Forget has a handful of fantastic tracks, including “Let Go The Lifeboats”, “11th Hour”, “Belongings”, “Move To The Mountain”, and best of all, the lead-off track “Once And For All”.
♩Clock Opera – Once And For All [from Ways To Forget]
Exitmusic’s (Brooklyn husband-wife duo Devon Church and Aleksa Palladino) Passage was one of my top 10 albums of 2012. An amazing and emotionally charged record that I seem to enjoy more with every listen. If Beach House were to team up with Sigur Rós, I imagine it would sound like this.
♩Exitmusic – White Noise [from Passage]
J. Tillman (former drummer for Fleet Foxes) released his debut solo album as Father John Misty this year. I’m still a bit surprised with how much I like Fear Fun. I’m generally not a fan of freak-folk/jam-band music, but there’s something about Father John Misty’s sound that I like. I should also add that this was one of my highlights at this year’s Outside Lands. One of the best set’s I caught and it was totally on accident.
♩Father John Misty – Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings [from Fear Fun]
Jack White is one of God’s gifts to rock music. Easily one of the most prolific rock musicians of my generation. Now, after music slutting it up in so many great bands over the years, White released his first solo record this year, Blunderbuss. If you’re not hooked on this record after you listen to “Sixteen Saltines”, there’s something wrong with you. Robin Hilton (NPR: All Songs Considered) puts it best — “White writes better about youth and the teen years, the school years, better than anybody.” Mr. White totally blew me away at this year’s Outside Lands. If you get the chance, you MUST see him live.
♩Jack White – Sixteen Saltines [from Blunderbuss] [stream]
The Lumineers debut is folk-rock at it’s best — gritty, raw, and heartfelt. I’m very interested to see what’s next for this Denver trio.
♩The Lumineers – Stubborn Love [from The Lumineers]
Porcelain Raft is the brain child of Italian born Mauro Remiddi. Over the last couple of years, Remiddi has teased us with some impressive EPs and singles and toured extensively, with the likes of The Antlers, Youth Lagoon, and M83. His debut LP, Strange Weekend, is one of my favorites. Definitely in my top 10 of the year. With so many great tracks to pull from, i’ll make it easy on myself and go with the first track I ever heard.
♩Porcelain Raft – Drifting In And Out [from Strange Weekend]
Purity Ring is an indie-electronic duo from Canada. I’ve heard them compared to The Knife, which is a bit of a stretch in my opinion. If I were to compare them to anybody, you could find some production similarities with Crystal Castles. With that said, they have a really cool, very synth heavy, sound that they’ve made their own.
♩Purity Ring – Fineshrine [from Shrines]
Tanlines are an electronic, indie-pop duo from Brooklyn. Mixed Emotions was a strong debut and an undeniably fun record. Bummed I missed them out Outside Lands this year.
♩Tanlines – All Of Me [from Mixed Emotions]
When I listen to the experimental and up-beat sounds on Vacationer’s debut album, Gone, I go on adventures in my memories. I can’t help but picture myself as a carefree kid at the lake every summer, crushing on girls i’ll never see again. Gone is childhood memories and chill-wave music wrapped into one and I love it.
♩Vacationer – Be With You [from Gone]