By Taryn Nobil, Western High School
9:51 AM EST, December 31, 2012
Independent music's best
The Canadian rock duo’s sophomore album, Celebration Rock, is a volcano of pleasant noise, erupting with bombastic guitar arrangements and explosive choruses of declaration. Its lead single, “The House That Heaven Built,” was named the 24th best song of 2012 by Rolling Stone.
9. The Maccabees
After peaking at No. 4 on the UK charts and touring the U.S. with Florence + The Machine, it is no wonder this British band is one of the most buzzed about breakouts of the year. The group’s third album, Given to the Wild, solidified it as 2012’s greatest overseas import. The Maccabee’s unearthly innovative indie-rock record earned a Mercury Award nomination for album of the year.
8. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
This alt-folk supergroup earned high praise for its second studio album, Here. The heart of Here palpitates with life, love and charming chants. The Zeros’ happy-go-lucky vibe transcends standard hippie rock—it warms spirits and raises souls.
7. The xx
This English trio has nailed an atmospheric algorithm, one part alluring vocals and one part sensual beats. The xx developed its trademark smooth sound with this year’s Coexist, its second studio album: a narrative of romance and heartbreak, intimacy and loneliness. The rising electronic dance scene is an evident influence, spurning a progression in the musical style.
6. Walk the Moon
When iTunes sold Walk the Moon’s lead single, “Anna Sun,” for free as Single of the Week, it received an enormously positive response from hipsters and mainstream listeners alike. It soared on the radio waves with frequent airplay on Sirius XM and became a dance anthem of the summer. Walk the Moon’s self-titled debut album established the band as up and coming experts in indie pop-rock.
5. Imagine Dragons
Originally an underground indie gem, Imagine Dragons seeped into the mainstream when the video for the track was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award. After being featured in the trailer for The Perks of Being A Wallflower, “It’s Time” became the anthem of our generation. The group’s first studio album, Night Visions, received massive critical acclaim and hit No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart.
4. Passion Pit
For Passion Pit’s sophomore studio effort, singer-songwriter Michael Angelakos drew lyrical inspiration from recent tumultuous episodes of bipolar disorder. Once again, Angelakos managed to wrangle his deeply troubled mind into a beautifully crafted album containing elements of pop, rock and electronica. He escalated Passion Pit’s signature synth-driven sound with some new soul, pouring all of his heart and voice into R&B-inflected tracks like “Constant Conversations.”
“Somebody That I Used To Know” morphed this little-known experimental artist into a full-blown pop culture phenomenon. The video for the track was imitated countless times, most notably in a skit on SNL. Viral videos, including Walk Off the Earth’s multimillion-hit Youtube cover, catapulted Gotye to fame and sent the single straight to No. 1 on the charts, where it stayed for a record-breaking eight weeks.
This year’s most successful breakout band was no doubt this New York City-based trio. Nate Ruess’s vocal range knows no limits, breathing life into every song on their bestselling sophomore album, Some Nights. The hit single “We Are Young” became a commercial success as it was featured in a Superbowl commercial and covered on Glee, but despite being overplayed, it retains its influence as the anthem of America’s youth.
1. Marina and The Diamonds
Welsh solo artist Marina Diamandis coined her stage name, Marina and The Diamonds, to honor her fans—“The Diamonds”—who supported her from the start. A singer-songwriter sensation in a world of pop “artists” who lack the ability to produce their own music, Marina turned music media on its head when she rose to fame by word of mouth—and a cult-like Tumblr following. Her groundbreaking approach to pop soared in this year’s concept album, Electra Heart, inspired by different female archetypes constructed by society: the Primadonna, Su-Barbie-a, the Teen Idle and the Homewrecker. This is more than a simple story of lovelorn tragedy, but a harshly true tale of a society brainwashed by sex symbols and in desperate need of change. The lyrics are honest and heartbreaking, but they culminate with a message of hope not only for love, but also for the music industry. While her first album incited buzz and rave reviews in the indie community, this year’s sophomore effort Electra Heart truly asserted her as a force to be reckoned with. This “Primadonna” girl is poised for indie pop-stardom.