Popular Hits of 2012
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Gotye – Making Mirrors (Universal Republic)
The success of “Somebody That I Used to Know” overshadows the rest of this album, which continues to meld the best of eighties-era album-pop with modern flourishes. Phil Collins wishes he still had an album like Making Mirrors in him.
Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball (Columbia)
Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts (Blue Note)
Carrie Underwood – Blown Away (Sony Nashville)
Jason Mraz – Love is a Four Letter Word (Atlantic)
Fun. – Some Nights (Fueled By Ramen)
The band’s sophomore album blends stadium-sized alternative-pop with elements of hip-hop through the band’s collaboration with producer Jeff Bhasker, who worked on Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The stylistic mash-up resulted in the year’s biggest pop surprises, including “We Are Young” and “Some Nights” (video below).
Train – California 37 (Columbia)
Tim McGraw – Emotional Traffic (Curb Records)
Carolina Chocolate Drops – Leaving Eden (Nonesuch)
Counting Crows – Underwater Sunshine (Collective Sounds)
The band’s eighth studio album features Matthews’ strongest songwriting since Before These Crowded Streets. Stephen Thomas Erlewine, of AllMusic, writes: “there is no real attempt to broaden their audience, nor is there the self-conscious stretching that marked some of Matthews’ 2000s albums.” Highlights: “Gaucho” and “Drunken Soldier”
Shinedown – Amaryllis (Atlantic)
Lionel Ritchie – Tuskeegee (Mercury Nashville)
Flobots – The Circle in the Square (Shanachie)
David Crowder Band – Give Us Rest (Six Step Records)
Waco, Texas’s best-kept secret, David Crowder crafts innovative modern worship consistently album by album. This year’s Give Us Rest showcases his band’s sound across two full-length LPs, merging traditional worship with boundary-pushing forays into electronic-tinged pop. Check out “After All (Holy)” and “Oh Great God, Give Us Rest” to hear Crowder at his best.
Matchbox Twenty – North (Atlantic)
ZZ Top – La Futura (Universal Republic)
The Killers – Battle Born (Island)
The Wallflowers – Glad All Over (Columbia)
Moses Luster – Stands Alone (Dark Heart Recordings)
This independent release creates what I’d call “apocalyptic folk,” a series of twisted takes on runaway fundamentalism melded to ear-catching melodies steeped in both folk and pop traditions. Add a vocalist who owes as much to Tom Waits as Johnny Cash, and it’s hard to miss the mark.
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Among DVD releases this week, David Milch runs out of Luck while the Men in Black continue to fight alien invaders and the Prohibition-era looms large in Lawless. Plus: Whitney Houston’s final film, Sparkle, hits home video after disappearing in theaters.