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Style & Culture

How I Hear It: My musical experiences throughout 2012

Around this time last year, I wrote a column about the music I fell in love with during the year, exploring what I was into on a month-by-month basis. That was fun, so I’m going to do it again. Instead of using my Date Added column on iTunes, I found this website, nicholast.fm, that gives me my top played artists or songs of every month through last.fm, a site that tracks the music you listen to.

January to March: Youth Lagoon, “The Year of Hibernation” (2011)

In mid-January, I was looking at year-end top-albums lists, and this came in at No. 50 for Pitchfork. I was captivated from the beginning, and now this is my most played album since I started using last.fm in October 2010. It’s cerebral; it’s atmospheric; it’s emotional, and it’s everything I’ve ever wanted in an album.

March: Self-titled Townes Van Zandt album (1969)

I started listening to this folk-country singer after seeing him listed as an inspiration for Youth Lagoon’s Trevor Powers. Van Zandt was overlooked during his lifetime, but his 1969 self-titled album is gentle and emotionally varied, carried by his one-of-a-kind, whiskey-soaked voice.

April: Eels (2009-2010)

I have been listening to this group for a few years since hearing several of their songs in “Shrek.” In April, I got curious about what they were up to, so I checked out a trio of concept albums they put out in 2009 and 2010: “Hombre Loco,” “End Times” and “Tomorrow Morning.” “Fresh Blood” is a creepy stalker-rocker; “Little Bird” is the prettiest, most fragile song on the planet. The entire trio is worth playing through at least once.

May: Wilco, “Sky Blue Sky” (2009)

Talk about their 2011 album, “The Whole Love,” which became one of my favorites upon release, was hitting the web and Wilco was one of those bands I had always been meaning to check out but never had. So I downloaded 2009’s “Sky Blue Sky” and immediately fell in love with “Impossible Germany” and every other track.

June: Classic Brazilian music (1963 to 1970)

I was looking for something new to listen to this summer, so I started wondering what the countries we don’t hear much from were up to. I found a top albums of all-time list from Rolling Stone Brazil, and two of the names that came up near the top and frequently throughout were Jorge Ben and Novos Baianos. Ben was more of a classic samba artist while Novos Baianos played a brand of Brazilian rock known as Música Popular Brasileira.

August to September: Lymbyc Systym, “Symbolyst” (2012)

During the summer and a few months after, I was writing for a music website called 365 Albums a Year. I had written a post about an album by instrumental electronic rock group Lymbyc Systym. Their manager took notice, sent me a digital copy of their newest album a month ahead of its release date and set up a phone interview between me and one of the band members. I was thrilled to have that opportunity and to have “Symbolyst” early because, while its peaks aren’t as high as those of previous albums, it is their most consistent record.

October: Neil Young, “Psychedelic Pill” (2012)

The album “Psychedelic Pill” leaked about a week before its Oct. 30 release, so I snatched that up and played the whole thing through something like six times in two or three days. I’ve written enough about Neil Young in this paper the past couple months, so I’ll stop here.

November: Bear Mountain, “XO” (2012)

I found this EP through an email service I subscribe to called MySpoonful, which sends a profile of an upcoming artist to your inbox once a week. I checked these guys out, and their electronic indie-pop immediately appealed to me, since that was a genre I was hoping to explore more at the time. If MP3s wore out like vinyl records, they would have been unlistenable in no time.