Top 10 New Albums of 2012

Links lead to posts on this blog unless otherwise noted.

  1. 1. Shearwater — “Animal Joy”
  2. 2. Sun Airway — “Soft Fall”
  3. 3. Wild Nothing — “Nocturne”
  4. 4. Beach House — “Bloom” {mp3: “lazuli”}
  5. 5. Cat Power —”Sun” {mp3: “ruin”}
  6. 6. Bad Books — “II”
  7. 7. Hospitality — “Hospitality”
  8. 8. Sea Wolf — “Old World Romance”
  9. 9. Divine Fits — “A Thing Called Divine Fits”
  10. 10. Now, Now — “Threads”

Runners up: Kishi Bashi, Father John Misty, Sun Kil Moon, The Shins, Tallest Man on Earth.

See also: My Top 10 New Albums of 2010. (Sorry, 2011.)

Sea Wolf {album review}

I’ve been a fan of Sea Wolf since their daytrotter session at sxsw in 2007. I loved the bounce of their lazy guitar hooks and the way lead singer Alex Brown Church’s voice seemed to hover over the mix, dipping in and out of the composition. I listened to “You’re a Wolf” over and over again that spring.

That fall’s “Leaves in the River” {spotify} brought with it a much tighter sound, and this haunting lyrical syllogism:

Black dirt will stain your feet
And when you walk
You’ll leave black dirt in the street.

The band’s 2009 followup, “White Water White Bloom” {spotify}, is where I lost interest in the band. It had the sound of their earlier recordings but none of the soul. It came off as lifeless and over-produced.

Enter Sea Wolf’s third record, “Old World Romance,” released last Tuesday. This is Sea Wolf’s most coherent album to date. Tracks like the opening “Old Friend” feel measured and patient. The guitar assumes a role in the background, creating a more even sound. There’s the unique allure of the  Sea Wolf I heard during that raw daytrotter session; but it sounds like they grew into a more mature skin at the same time, in favor of a more lucid record—both sonically and conceptually.

“Old World Romance” is heavy on allusions to nature and the changing seasons. The fourth track, “Kasper,” takes us into summer:

I think the sky is gonna clear
because the hills turn green as summer nears
but a lightning storm, a lightning storm
can even happen when the air is warm
and I can hear that nothing
calling out to me.

The fifth track, “Blue Stockings,” is about getting to know someone, and the gradual breaking down of first impressions:

Open the window up
the one beside the armoire
I need some cool autumn air
in this baroque hotel room
while you put on your stockings
on the rocker by the mirror
“Put on a record,” you say
We’re both relieved at the idea

The seventh track, “Changing Seasons,” is about renewal and fresh starts:

Sometimes you feel it coming back
I feel that darkness at my back
That’s why I’m always rearranging
And looking forward for the seasons changing.

And the ninth track, “Miracle Cure,” one of my favorites, is a kind of triumph over the preceding hardships:

If I, if I can surround you in beautiful sounds, I will
If I, if I can repay you for coming to save me, I will
If I, if I can be who you want me to be, I will
If I, if I can surround you in beautiful sounds, I will…

Download the AAC file for “Mystery Cure” here:
Sea Wolf — “Miracle Cure” {aac}

And listen to the whole album below or pick it up from your favorite music source.