As December begins to roll on through just as swiftly as the rest of the year did, it's been a hard process to narrow down my favorite releases from the state this year. 2012 was yet another fantastic year for North Carolina artists, many of our favorite local darlings have begun to achieve more national success than one could have ever imagined. Acts like Midtown Dickens have begun getting the national attention they deserve from outlets like NPR, Mount Moriah signed to Merge Records and announced their sophomore LP (to be released in February 2013), and countless fantastic new acts have found their footing and began making waves in our already overflowing music scene.
With Hopscotch growing larger than ever before, bringing in highly esteemed acts like The Roots and Jesus and Mary Chain, the tobacco state has been getting heavy praise for it's tightly packed, deep-rooted community of musicians. While touring artists were bringing in fans from across the country it was local acts like T0W3RS, Jenny Besetzt, and Hiss Golden Messenger that left Hopscotch'ers floored...and rightfully so! 2012 was filled with an insane amount of wonderful North Carolina tunes, so without further ado I give you my ten favorite releases of the year:
10. Pastoral - JKutchma & The Five Fifths
9. Home - Midtown Dickens
8. Baobab - Baobab
7. Transcendental Youth - The Mountain Goats
Throughout the years John Darnielle has proven to be one of the most talented songwriters of our generation, the man can perfectly capture desperation within his often manic vocals but at the same time manage to coax the listener into maintaining a sense of hope for better days. Darnielle's songwriting takes the listener on an emotional roller coaster, and Transcendental Youth contains this in multitudes. Transcendental Youth is The Mountain Goats most polished record to date, with crisp recordings of this tight trio backed by a beautiful arrangement of horns from Matthew E. White, the band has come quite a long way from lo-fi bedroom tapes. From humble beginnings to a triumphant victory call, Darnielle continues to stay true to what gained him notoriety in the first place, songs that build real characters with real emotions, songs that make you feel for these people you've never met before. Take for example, "Harlem Roulette" a song chronicling the last days of a young Frankie Lymon before he overdosed on heroin. The Mountain Goats continue on with a mantra of fighting like hell, and whether that be within the confines of a song or within a career that just never seems to falter, The Mountain Goats will do just that.
6. Shake My Head - Spider Bags
5. Some Army - Some Army
4. The Clearing - Bowerbirds
3. Primitive Ways - Oulipo
2. Only - Jenny Besetzt
1. A Stone, A Leaf, An Unfound Door - River Whyless