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Andrew Leahey’s Top 10 albums of 2012
Question of the Day
After flirting with country music for years, Brandi Carlile dives headfirst into the genre with this woodsy twang-fest. She plays a troublemaking spitfire on “Raise Hell” and a recovering addict on “That Wasn’t Me,” sweetening the deal with mandolin, acoustic guitar and gobs of vocal harmony.
Ellie Goulding’s second album builds a bridge between dance music and art-pop, combining the sounds of an Ibiza nightclub — thumping bass lines, bubbling keyboards, electronic drums — with harp solos and New Age arrangements. It’s easy to point out the similarities to Kate Bush and Bjork, but Miss Goulding blazes her own path thanks to a sprightly, otherworldly voice.
Recorded with the assistance of her boyfriend, Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon, “Voyageur” adds some muscle to Kathleen Edwards’ modern-day folk-rock. The songs are laced with keyboards and strings, and they reach far beyond the twangy genres that have been Miss Edwards’ bedrock for years. “Change the Sheets” is an unabashed pop tune, filled with the same anthemic uplift as a Coldplay single, and “Mint” finds her channeling the harder sounds of Sheryl Crow.
After 50 years of heavy use, Bob Dylan’s voice has turned into the sort of dusty, damaged thing you’d find in an antiques shop, its charm still present despite all the imperfections. On “Tempest,” he rasps his way through a mix of Depression-era folk music and vintage-sounding country tunes. This is the stuff he grew up listening to, and he resurrects these bygone genres with class, whether he’s channeling Louis Armstrong on the ragtime rocker “Duquesne Whistle” or borrowing a few lines from the Mississippi Sheiks.
Like a slow-motion collision of pop and psychedelic rock, “Lonerism” finds Tame Impala channeling the Beatles by way of the Flaming Lips. Multitracked vocal harmonies, astral guitar riffs and keyboards float leisurely into the ether, threatening to take you with them. Gorgeous.
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