The combining of Nada Surf’s focus with their high spirits made The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy one of the most optimistic records the band has released to date. The same confidence that has been with band over the years felt even stronger here as the group seems to be at peace with their indie rock status. “When I Was Young” was a track that received lots of play around the office and the entire album was boosted by the added guitar of Doug Gillard (Cobra Verde, Guided By Voices). This gave The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy an extra depth to the record that only got better after every spin and landed it right at number 50.
Nada Surf: The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy [Fire Note Review 1/20/12]
Philadelphia’s John The Conqueror brought a very familiar sounding dirty blues rock right at you full throttle on their self-titled debut. The trio’s Black Keys vibe had some critics dismissing them for not bringing anything new to the table but I thought that was exactly the point – why change up a winning formula. John The Conqueror did not recreate the wheel here on their debut but instead made a record that was dependable, solid and timeless!
John The Conqueror: John The Conqueror [Fire Note Review 10/30/12]
Allo Darlin’ are a London-based four piece that is fronted by the silky smooth pop vocals of Australian Elizabeth Morris. The sophistication of their album did not stop at its infectious singles as Europe is a record that when you hear it, you believe in everything track that comes at you. There was no over singing, no gimmicks, no pure sugar – just plain and simple solid indie pop with a purpose. It was easily one of the top releases in the genre and firmly lands at number 48 overall.
Allo Darlin’: Europe [Fire Note Review 5/2/12]
Erika Wennerstrom and her strong soulful vocals returned with the release of the Heartless Bastards fourth album Arrow. With memorable riffs around every corner Arrow raged, ebbed and flowed rock n roll. There were both T. Rex inspired tracks and more acoustic numbers that kept a diversity to Arrow in its 10 powerful songs over a whopping 52 minute running time. In many ways Arrow was a fresh start for the Heartless Bastards and it turned out to be the perfect starting point for anyone wanting to get onboard.
Heartless Bastards: Arrow [Fire Note Review 2/10/12]
Sun hailed the return of Chan Marshall and her moniker Cat Power as it had been six long years since she last released a record of original material. One big difference on Sun, compared to her previous work, was that she wrote, played, recorded and produced the entirety of the record by herself. This helped push Sun to the next level as Chan performed under her new instruments and arrangements with a new found confidence. Sun does not represent the Cat Power of the past but the here and now Chan Marshall, which freely shared her strength on each and every track making Sun one of the better releases this year!
Cat Power: Sun [Fire Note Review 9/4/12]
Right from the supporting rolling piano keys on album opener,”20 Days And 20 Nights”, The Fresh & Onlys once again shifted their ever evolving sound on Long Slow Dance. For this outing the band had an undertone of 80’s style college rock which had plenty of pep and gave Long Slow Dance a retro feel while still being completely 2012. All of the new angles here blended with The Fresh & Onlys past musical outings and made it easy for fans to connect the dots. Long Slow Dance is one of The Fresh & Onlys best records to date and there is no reason that the band will not just keep climbing up from here!
The Fresh & Onlys: Long Slow Dance [Fire Note Review 9/6/12]
The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
Epic Records 
It has always been about the voice with the piano being a close second when it comes to Fiona Apple. Fast-forward 16 years and now Fiona Apple resurfaced again with just her fourth long player The Idler Wheel (insert crazy long title here). The beauty of this new album was that it all came back to the voice and piano again! It was a record that you instantly respected and just sat back in awe on how Apple can move so graceful but yet be so forceful. It was a true return to form on The Idler Wheel which quite possibly will become even stronger with age but definitely deserves its place on the Top 50.
Fiona Apple: The Idler Wheel… [Fire Note Review 6/19/12]
The Men already proved to be one of the harder hitting post-punk groups out there after last year’s thrilling Leave Home record took everyone that listened by surprise. The Brooklyn band then came right back with Open Your Heart and it surpassed last year’s performance. Open Your Heart embraced all of the quartet’s musical influences and explored their own style of surf riffs, country twang, psychedelic, guitar solos and of course punk rock. The record had an un-assuming and un-cocky attitude which made Open Your Heart completely engaging. The Men were not afraid of taking some risks that worked and Open Your absolutely did not take long to get into but was impossible to put away!
The Men: Open Your Heart [Fire Note Review 3/6/12]
Lord Huron’s first full-length album was a well-balanced work of beauty and humility, focused on both the simplest things and the grand view. Lonesome Dreams was both lush and energetic while successfully cherry-picking the essence of past and present folk-inflected rock groups. There was not a weak song on the album and a complete balance, focus and scope which made for a rewarding album that deserved its spot on the Top 50 and made Lord Huron an artist to watch in the coming years!
Lord Huron: Lonesome Dreams [Fire Note Review 10/8/12]
Thee Oh Sees have released a significant amount of music over their time together, which is why Putrifiers II excited and delighted with each spin. One moment the record was a fire breathing fuzz wonderland, the next it was a slow pace think piece. Thee Oh Sees included their signature style here as well as introduced some nice, new touches from the best of sunshine psych, garage growls, and dreamy ballads. This enabled Putrifiers II a spot on the Top 50 and really helped separate Thee Oh Sees from the pack.
Thee Oh Sees: Putrifiers II [Fire Note Review 10/3/12]