Singing About the Midwest and Shaking Hands: My 2012 End of the Year List

Music is important. That was the idea I kept coming back to while I was in the process of making my end of the year list for 2012. I was thinking about my own music, and how important and even essential the creative process feels to me, and I was thinking about my peers (and, in increasing numbers, friends) who get in vans and take their music as far as they can. I was thinking about the three million or so copies of "Some Nights" that Fun. sold this year, and how strange it feels that at least three million people besides myself found enough value in that song to spend money on it. I was thinking about Ghost Key shows in coffee shops and pizza places and how Austin O’Brien pouring his heart into those songs convinced me to take a chance on a genre of music to which I hadn’t previously given much thought. I was thinking about a Joie de Vivre show in Kyle Rotta’s living room where my PA wasn’t powerful enough to make the vocals audible, but that it hardly mattered anyway because everyone there was singing so loud, and I was thinking about a Wonder Years show in the middle of the afternoon in Chicago where Rachel Branson and I got to watch a record that we loved and bonded over and wrote letters about to each other performed from front to back. Maybe it was the adrenaline, or maybe it was raw emotion of the whole thing, but there are parts of that set that I swear I have no memory of because I was so focused on that moment, and as the last notes of "And Now I’m Nothing" rang out, I knew I might never feel anything like that again.

But also knew that I had to keep looking. You can’t close yourself off and assume that nothing is ever going to be as good as it used to be. There are great new records being written every day. There is a burgeoning new scene to replace the one that felt so dead for the last few years. There is always something more to feel and experience and hope for. It’s a lesson I’m learning every day: "My best years may still be ahead of me."

This has been my 2012.

My Twenty Favorite Albums of 2012

  1. The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten
  2. The Menzingers – On the Impossible Past
  3. Joie de Vivre – We’re All Better Than This
  4. The Tower and the Fool – How Long
  5. Fun. – Some Nights
  6. John K. Samson – Provincial
  7. Forever Came Calling – Contender
  8. Swear and Shake – Maple Ridge
  9. Hostage Calm – Please Remain Calm
  10. Daytrader – Twelve Years
  11. Basement – Colourmeinkindness
  12. With the Punches – Seams and Stitches
  13. Masked Intruder – Masked Intruder
  14. Mixtapes – Even On the Worst Nights
  15. Major League – Hard Feelings
  16. Make Do and Mend – Everything You Ever Loved
  17. Alex and the XO’s – North To the Future
  18. The Forecast – Everybody Left
  19. Sharks – No Gods
  20. Hold Tight! – Blizzard of ’96

Honorable Mention

  • No Trigger – Tycoon
  • Pentimento – Pentimento
  • Title Fight – Floral Green
  • Misser – Every Day I Tell Myself I’m Going To Be a Better Person
  • Handguns – Angst

My Five Favorite EPs of 2012

  1. Real Friends – Everyone That Dragged You Here
  2. The Swellers – Running Out of Places To Go
  3. The Menzingers – On the Possible Past
  4. The Wonder Years/Stay Ahead of the Weather – Punk Is Dead. Get a Job.
  5. Candy Hearts – The Best Ways To Disappear

Honorable Mention

  • I Call Fives – Someone That’s Not You
  • Dowsing/Parker – Dowsing/Parker

My Thirty Favorite Songs of 2012

  1. The Wonder Years – Me Vs. the Highway
  2. Fun. – Some Nights
  3. The Menzingers – Casey
  4. Real Friends – Home For Fall
  5. Joie de Vivre – High School Me Would Have Been Pumped
  6. The Tower and the Fool – Dive Bar
  7. The Gaslight Anthem – Biloxi Parish
  8. Daytrader – Letter To a Former Lover
  9. Swear and Shake – Marbles
  10. John K. Samson – When I Write My Master’s Thesis
  11. Hot Water Music – Drag My Body
  12. Parker – Make It Home Safely
  13. No Trigger – Maple Boy
  14. The Swellers – Running Out of Places To Go
  15. Hostage Calm – On Both Eyes
  16. Motion City Soundtrack – Timelines
  17. Sharks – Able Moving Hearts
  18. The Forecast – Everybody Left
  19. Close Only Counts – Carpet Doritos
  20. Make Do and Mend – Desert Lily
  21. Into It. Over It. – Don’t Let Me Cave In
  22. I Can See Mountains – Hey Man
  23. Candy Hearts – Miles and Interstates
  24. I Call Fives – Someone That’s Not You
  25. Alex and the XO’s – Meddling, Mellowing
  26. Late In the Playoffs – The Wayside
  27. Handguns – Long October
  28. Basement – Pine
  29. Forever Came Calling – Contender
  30. Hawthorne Heights – New Winter

Honorable Mention

  • Cheap Girls – Gone All Summer
  • Empires – Hard Times
  • With the Punches – Cags

The Five Best Shows I Attended In 2012

  1. The Wonder Years – The Bottom Lounge, Chicago, IL – 3/17/2012 (Early show, Suburbia I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing performed in full)
  2. Joie de Vivre – The Marilyn Mansion, Normal, IL – 10/15/2012
  3. Real Friends – The Step Back House, Normal, IL – 5/18/2012
  4. Swear and Shake – Tommy’s, Bloomington, IL – 10/4/2012
  5. The Front Bottoms – The Firehouse, Normal, IL – 11/9/2012
  6. The Story So Far – Bradley University Quad, Peoria, IL – 9/14/2012

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