Best of...

Burgo’s Top 5 Albums of 2012

Hi kids. This is an excerpt of a post I contributed to Masey, listing my top 5 albums of 2012. I’d encourage you to also click through and check out the other contributers’ selections, as there was definitely a diverse bunch.




I have a lot to thank The Oh Hellos for. 2012 saw me lose faith in the music blogging gig, and they were the band that managed to pull me back out of a serious “blogging funk”, with their release “Through the Deep Dark Valley” – which is easily one of the most sincere celebrations of pure music I’ve ever heard.

There’s something about this album that is at once totally accessible (in some respects, it sounds like a band you might have had playing on your block), while at the same time unspeakably beautiful. It’s a weird thing that I’m probably not explaining very well, but the music is… friendly. Warm. Welcoming.

I simply cannot believe that “Through the Deep Dark Valley” is the first full-length album from siblings Maggie and Tyler Heath. It’s just so emotionally rich, with a seamless story, it’s like they’ve been spinning these tales their whole life. An album that really does need to be listened to in its entirety to fully appreciate, I really mean it when I say, “Please listen to this”. Damn near to album of the year for me.

Stand out track: This is really a tough one, because, as a concept album, each song builds on the other. But if I had to pick one, I’d go for “Second Child, Restless Child”.


Straight up, straight forward, chest-beating rock tunes. And “45″ is pretty much a masterclass for bands on how to open an album. It’s just… well, perfect.

Brian Fallon has one of my favourite voices in contemporary music, and on “Handwritten”, he’s in amazing form; sounding even more raw and honest than on “The ’59 Sound” (which, incidentally, was in my “Best Albums of the Decade” post for 00-09, so their track record so far is pretty good with me).

There’s one thing that the Gaslight Anthem do so well, and I love them for it: when you’ve loved and lost, but want to pick your chin up and take on the whole world… this is the album for you.

Stand out track: “Here Comes My Man”


I don’t know what it is with Americana, but it seems to be the genre of music that just skips my head and instantly connects with my heart. I remember the first time I heard Whiskeytown, it was like that. And the same thing happened with the Lumineers. I heard “Flowers in your Hair”, and as soon as the percussion kicked in about 60 seconds into the tune, I was in love.

It absolutely freaks me out to think of this as a debut album. It’s just ridiculously accomplished. More than any band on this list, I think The Lumineers have an incredibly tough job ahead of them. Where they go from this album, I have no idea.

Stand out track: “Stubborn Love”


You know, the lack of recognition for Robert Francis still boggles my mind. I first wrote about him 5 years ago, when I heard his debut album, “One by One”. At the time, the guy was just 19, and inspired something close to hero worship in me.

The guy is now 25 (24 at the time of this album’s release), and still writing songs that are well beyond his years, telling his stories with a dusty road and jack daniels soaked tinge.

“Strangers in the First Place” probably isn’t going to be for everyone, and I accept that by now; but, to my mind, it’s probably one of the best alt-folk records of the last 5 years.

If there was one dude I wanted to be in my own musical career on this list, it’s Robert Francis. The guy is a musical titan.

Stand out track: “Some Things Never Change”


You know, to be honest, I’ll be very surprised if this album isn’t on 90% of the lists in this post. Frank has always been the most intriguing member of OFWGKTA to me, and when I heard “Channel Orange”, I knew there was a reason.

This album is just so, so ambitious. And there are really 100 reasons why it shouldn’t have worked. But it just does.
The thing I love about Frank Ocean’s stuff is that the guy just clearly knows so damn much about music and the shared history of genres… and he somehow takes that knowledge, tips his hat to tradition, and then steps on, pushing boundaries into places where no one else has the guts (or vision) to go.

I dunno. I guess what I’m trying to say is: this is creativity, pure and simple. And it completely blows me away. And while other albums may resonate more for me in terms of playability and comfort, this is – without question – album of the year for me. The scale of what this kid has accomplished is, quite frankly, unfathomable.

Stand out track: “Pyramids”


Best of...

Burgo’s Best Songs of 2012

The usual caveat applies: these are “Burgo’s Best Songs of 2012″, so of course it’s a subjective list. Enjoy.
Oh… and despite the numbers, these really are in no particular order.

1. The Gaslight Anthem – 45
Pretty much a masterclass for other bands on how to open an album. A fantastic, straight-forward, fist-pumping rock tune. 3:30 of pure musical joy.

2. Robert Francis – Eighteen
Super tough call between this one and “Some things never change”. Really, I can’t tell you how I picked “Eighteen” between the two, apart from the mood I was in on the day. 5 years after first writing about Robert Francis, the guy is still soundtracking my life.

3. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Same Love
It says something about Macklemore & Ryan Lewis that the dudes can flip from the hilarity of “Thrift Shop”, and land with “Same Love”. There’s something incredibly warm about this tune, that keeps it from lapsing into the “society issue song” territory. It’s a heartfelt tale, and is one of my favourite songs of the year, both from a personal level and a musical appreciation level.

4. Polica – Wandering Star
Just a great, great album, but this track is undeniably the highlight. If anything, this live version is even better, but the recorded release still gives me shivers.

5. Frank Ocean – Lost
Man, it was a tough call between this one and “Bad Religion”. Both are amazing, but how awesome is this track from Frank Ocean? Just killer.

6. The Presets – Promises
You know, it’s not often you hear dance tunes on this blog. But “Promises” from Aussie outfit, “The Presets” is an exception. This is a tune, plain and simply. Dare you to not sing along.

7. Asta – My Heart is on Fire
So Asta was this year’s winner of Triple J’s “Unearthed High” competition. The “High” refers to “high school”. Yep, a high school girl wrote this song. Hard to believe, right? Honestly, one of the catchiest songs of 2012, high school student or not.

8. The Lumineers – Flowers in Your Hair
When that percussion picks up around 60 seconds into the song, I fall in love every time. Another great album opener, this tune clocks in at just 1:51… but for those last 50 seconds, I relive every happy memory in my lifetime. It’s that kind of feeling.

9. The Oh Hellos – Second Child, Restless Child
Damn near to album of the year for me, The Oh Hellos make me love music again every time I listen to them. Off their debut full-length album, “Through the Deep Dark Valley”, it should be noted that the album is a concept album and really should be listened to in its entirety to get the full value out of each song… but “Second Child, Restless Child” stands out as its own story.

10. Walk the Moon – Anna Sun
Seriously, if you can listen to this song and not sing along with the “What do you know? this house is falling apart/What can I say? this house is falling apart/We got no money, but we got heart” lines, then please leave a comment below. I want to know what it’s like on your home planet.

11. Milo Greene – 1957
Really surprised this track has slipped under the radar… it should be showing up on more end of the year lists. That “I’ll Go I’ll Go I’ll Go I” refrain is just killer.

12. Michael Kiwanuka – I’ll Get Along
Smooth, velvety, warm, funky… yeah, I can live with this tune.

13. Lord Huron – She Lit a Fire
The understated guitar lines in this song are a thing of absolute beauty. She Lit a Fire is a standout track on an album full of great tunes.

14. Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks
Of course this song had to be on this list. Of course, commercial radio stations did their best to ruin this song for everyone, but despite that, I had to include it.

15. The Tallest Man on Earth – 1904

As usual, Kristian Mattsson just kills it with nimble guitar picking and emotion-tinged vocals that just trip right all over your heart.

Full playlist: