Thursday, January 3, 2013

THE TOP 25 ALBUMS OF THE YEAR

#25----CONVERGE-ALL WE LOVE WE LEAVE BEHIND(EPITAPH) Award for the most intense music I heard all year goes to half the songs on this album. The other half were kick ass hard rock songs that also punished. This album is on the list for the sheer intensity of it all, I cant understand what he is saying but man can I hear all that pummelling noise.
#24----CHRIS COHEN-OVERGROWN PATH(CAPTURED TRACKS) Much like a close cousin to the mac demarco album(they are on the same label) this is kind of what I imagined an unplugged normal deerhoof would sound like. since Chris has had time in haunted graffiti and deerhoof it's no surprise that this is indie rock with just that little bit more to push it into "great" territory. The music on this is full of some of the best guitar work I have heard all year. I dont mean that in a blazing solo kind of way. it's all in his tones and subtlety. The effects pedals he uses, things like that. It's understated greatness and that's what this whole album reeks of, understated greatness that seems tossed off while we all secretly know it's not.
#23----THEE SATISFACTION-AWE NATURALE(SUBPOP) The two twin sisters who provided vocals to last year's kick ass Shabazz Palaces album. This is a dark funk/hip hop album with great harmonies. The lyrics are very pro strong women making this kind of a hip hop version of a riot grrl album. The funk grooves are deep and dark and the lyrics can get quite nasty at times but it's always a party around the corner.
#22----KENDRICK LAMAR-GOOD KI,D M.A.D.D. CITY(INTERSCOPE) Straight outta Compton comes Kendrick, we all heard section 80 last year but this one was bigger and better. I would have shaved off the drake/mary j blige/dr dre collaborations but hey that's just me. He came out with one of the most interesting big singles of the year with "swimming pools(drank)" and he managed to pull off an amazing narrative hip hop album in the age of the quick fix single. Backseat freestyle is jawdropping so is madd city. The lyrics are raw and this feels like a classic.
@21----DEMDIKE STARE-ELEMENTAL(MODERN LOVE) What can i say? dark/throbbing/cold/bleak/atmospheric these are all things that make up all demdike stare releases and this was no exception. Much like Tryptich this was a tour de force of what these guys can do. Fully capable soundscapes that twist and turn and never let go. This was and always is the most interesting electronic music of the year.
#20----ANNA MEREDITH-BLACK PRINCE FURY EP(MOSHI MOSHI) Classical maximalist electronic music, yes please, this short little ep gave us big things. The opening track "nautical" is all huge classical ensemble mixed with a stuttering juke rhythm backed by huge dubstep sounds. The next 3 tracks were all great excercises in vintage synth lines. Highly original and a lot of fun and it pretty much came outta nowhere to blow my mind right under the gun of 2012.
#19----FRANKIE ROSE-INTERSTELLAR(SLUMBERLAND) Hated her other stuff. Thought her first album was derivitive garage crap. Her work with the dum dum girls and vivian girls was "meh" and then this. She teams up with one half of fischerspooner and pumps out a classic modern 80s throwback album. The synths have just the right amount of muscle behind them to really take your breath away. Her singing is up in the clouds and soars like something not quite of this earth. It's all very "big" and I am glad she went big because the garage defintely was too small for her talents.
#18----DJANGO DJANGO-DJANGO DJANGO(BECAUSE) We all miss the Beta Band right? I mean come on admit it the Beta Band pretty much kicked a lot of ass then left the indie rock party. Well I am glad Django Django liked them too because this album feels like a complete modern update of the Beta Band sound. Is it a rip off? Maybe, but I think there is enough newness injected into it that it becomes more homage than blatant rip off. These guys wrote catchy as shit modal music with hints of Clinic and a lot of Beta Band and we got one of the best albums of the year because of it. Also award for best liner notes go to them for listing off every single kick ass band ever known in small print.
#17----FOXYGEN-TAKE THE KID'S OFF BROADWAY(JAGJAGUAR) This is what happens when you roll Lou Reed, Bowie, T.Rex,Roxy music and the Velvet Underground together and then toss in the songwriting of the Fiery Furnaces. All over the place glam rock that never ceases to show it's inventiveness. Always twisting, always turning, never stopping. These two kids from Westlake made good on Jagjaguar this year and I hope their album next year will yield the same results, if it does we will have a powerhouse for years to come.
#16----DEEP TIME-DEEP TIME(HARDLY ART) In the early 2000s there was a sound by two bands. Young People and Quixotic. It was unmistakable. Very minimal instrumentation, a vocalist that is very remeniscent of Nico. kind of that non-emotion but full of it at the same time kinda thing. Earlier this year 3 1/2 Bangs and Britches had that sound. It's a sound I love and is very unique and Deep Time had it and they had it in the most consistent lp of it's kind to come around in a long while. if you like the aforementioned bands and Stereolab with a little Raincoats thrown in there this is definately your bag.
#15----TRAXMAN-DA MIND OF TRAXMAN(PLANET MU) It's crack it's crack it's crack it's crack it's crack it's crack it's cr...is that annoying? Well then you would probably hate this album. In fact I dont think you would like Juke at all. But for those of us that do this was a gift. It took the typical repetitive style of Juke/Footwork and lifted it somewhere else. Sure DJ Rashad and DJ Storm did this also but to me this is the one that stood out. It pushed the boundaries further and at the same time added a much needed sense of humor to a genre that is funny by nature but I feel the artists sometimes forget that.
#14----MICACHU AND THE SHAPES-NEVER(ROUGH TRADE) Stripping down their sound. Using minimal repetition to create melodies you wouldnt expect. This is post punk done right. It blurs the lines between electronic based composition and rock n roll. It tested the ears. It didnt so much sound like the Raincoats anymore, instead opting for more of a Renaldo and the Loaf sound. It sounded hi-fi and lo-fi at the same time.
#13----TAME IMPALA-LONERISM(MODULAR) Amazing throw back psyche rock. This takes cues from all the best and gives it a modern kick in the pants. To realize this all came from one guy is astonishing. The melodies are catchy the guitar work is intensely good. The lyrics are all there. This is easily one of the, if not, the best rock album of the year.
#12----MAC DEMARCO-2(CAPTURED TRACKS) This is perfect lazy summer music, the guitars shimmer with just the right amount of brown to make these songs sick in the head. This is Real Estate for the mentally ill. If you like to think while you chill out then this funk/indie/jangle shit will get your head movin.
#11----FRANK OCEAN-CHANNEL ORANGE(DEF JAM) If you are a fan of soul music then this is a 10 a perfect 10. It's like a long lost "classic era" stevie wonder album. It's that good. If you dont love soul. This is still great. The production is fantastic and mature. It's minimal when it needs to be and cranks up the volume when appropriate. The lyrics are fantastic. A lot of the lyrics are from a rich kid standpoint who is questioning his position with his upbringing. What is morally right/wrong? Does he want to be included in this rich world? Shit like that. It's an interesting lyrical standpoint and a ballsy one. This is a great album for anyone.
#10----DEATH GRIPS-THE MONEY STORE(EPIC) Like a shot to the gut we knew was coming. It still hurts. It still has an impact, but unlike Exmilitary we could see it coming and it still kicked our asses. Fusing tons of styles together while remaining truly hip hop this is one of the more consistent albums of the year on this list. The shit was dark, scary, pissed off, fun and just a little bit dancey. Why i've seen footage and hacker were not huge hits this year is beyond me. The hooks were there, the major label money was there, but I guess Power 106 just wasnt listening. Good thing we all were.
#9----JAM CITY-CLASSICAL CURVES(NIGHT SLUGS) Slick, corporate, dirty, sleazy a hint of daft punk a hint of electro, samples of basketball games, samples of camera shutter speeds. This was funky and extremely robotic. Makes for one of the best most exhilarating electronic releases of 2012.
#8----DAUGHN GIBSON-ALL HELL(WHITE DENIM) Blending country and minimal techno may sound like shit on paper but the end result Daughn comes up with is anything but shit. Like Johnny Cash behind a turntable. Like the Magnetic Fields with none of the twee and bitterness instead with all the dread and darkness of a great film noir. The samples sent shivers down the spine and the lyrics were like a roadmap to a lost highway. This was late night creeper music and it was much needed. Oh and not to mention he had the 2nd best set at FYF.
#7----ARIEL PINK'S HAUNTED GRAFFITI-MATURE THEMES(4AD) Is this the best worst album of the year? The worst best album of the year? Who cares! Is it one of the best things since "the pod"? Absolutely! If you appreciate shittiness for the sake of shittiness and being a punk ass you will like this. Not all of it is goofy shit, some of his most focused songs are on this thing. This is an album to be hated/loved by just about everyone. There are Byrds like numbers, a Dame Funk appearance, songs about Del Taco and schnitzel. It's all here. He never sells out he only buys in.
#6----FIONA APPLE-THE IDLER WHEEL IS WISER THAN THE DRIVER OF THE SCREW AND WHIPPING CORDS WILL SERVE YOU MORE THAN ROPES WILL EVER DO(EPIC) Stripping down to just drums and piano for this one I feel Fiona really wanted to focus on her voice and the emotion carried by the voice, especially given the last track "hot knife". This album is probably her deepest emotionally. There isn't too much to say about this album other than it is a welcome addition to her discography, it's incredible, and if you like her and havent heard it yet you need to.
#5----LE1F-DARK YORK(GREEDHEAD) With surprising production choices and sounds, this was the one hip hop album that kept me guessing for half of 2012. His flow is great. Dark mixed with light. The lyrics are preposterous and like I said every song is different and twists and turns within itself to reveal a very easy to listen to but thick album, heavy on warped synths and fucked up dirty south rhythms.
#4----BETH JEANS HOUGHTON-YOURS TRULY, CELLOPHANE NOSE(MUTE) The best debut album on this list. This is one of the best singer songwriter albums I have ever heard. She created her own voice while infusing each song with it's own distinct musical voice. This is powerful shit. her voice needs to be compared to the likes of Adele or whoever is the big "great singer" right now. Her music is a bit more adventurous than her peers. This went virtually ignored and I think that is a crying shame.
#3----SCOTT WALKER-BISH BOSCH(4AD) The most pretentious high art piece of shit this year and the most low brow scum sucking release put out by a major indie this year and everything in between, is genius. This guy is almost 70 and he has the balls to create Swans like industrial clamor amidst sounds of actual farts. Yes, my friends, actual farts. That brings me to the best musical moment of 2012. In the middle of his song "corpse de blah" after about 4 minutes of dread and deep baritone vocals and screeching violins and terrible things...a light emerges from the left speaker. A question mark in the form of a fart. Then another and another and three more followed by him singing about sphincters. This collision of seriousness and pure childishness is what makes this album one of the year's best.
#2----ZAMMUTO-ZAMMUTO(TEMPORARY RESIDENCE) So you quit the Books. Apparently it was a pretty shitty breakup. What do you do? Well, you take the sound you pioneered and add whatever you want to it. What do you add? You add autotune, robot voices, acoustic guitar, tons of echo, a huge dose emotion and a lot of pop music bubbling under the surface. This is how you create one of the most exciting and fun albums of the year.
#1----BLACK DICE-MR. IMPOSSIBLE(RIBBON) I said it before and I will say it again. There is no other band like Black Dice. This is the best Black Dice album. Yes they have made similar sounds and have been doing basically the same thing since 2005 now but this, I feel, is where it all came together. Like a disgusting mashup of funk, punk, blues, soul, noise, pop, hip hop, industrial...you name it they threw it in and swirled it around until it was something they could call their own. This is probably the most forward thinking album I have heard this year and therefore deserves a spot at the top, for pushing shit forward, for not compromising, for forcing you to listen to music differently I award them the top honors for 2012. RUNNERS UP: RYAN POWER-I DON'T WANT TO DIE(NNA TAPES) DEERHOOF-BREAKUP SONG(POLYVINYL) LILACS & CHAMPAGNE-LILACS & CHAMPAGNE(MEXICAN SUMMER) JULIA HOLTER-EXSTASIS(RVNG INTERNATIONAL) THE MEN-OPEN YOUR HEART(SACRED BONES) TRAILER TRASH TRACYS-ESTER(DOUBLE SIX) RAIME-QUARTER TURNS OVER A LIVING LINE(BLACKEST EVER BLACK) ANGEL OLSEN-HALF WAY HOME(BATHETIC) ANIMAL COLLECTIVE-CENTIPEDE HZ(DOMINO) ZEBRA KATZ-IMA READ(JEFFREE'S) AZAELIA BANKS-FANTASEA(SELF RELEASED) OF MONTREAL-PARALYTIC STALKS(POLYVINYL) MOUSE ON MARS-PARASTROPHICS(MONKEYTOWN) DEAN BLUNT AND INGA COPELAND-EBONY(HYPERDUB) TAKEN BY TREES-OTHER WORLDS(SECRETLY CANADIAN) ANDY STOTT-LUXURY PROBLEMS(MODERN LOVE) HIGH ON FIRE-DE VERMIS MYSTERIIS(EONE)

2 comments:

  1. Love your list. You know that there was a lot of great music released when Deerhoof releases an album and it doesn't make the "Best of" list. I've heard a lot of good things about Lief "Dark York", but I can't find it to preview on Spotify or Soulseek. Definitely agree that Micachu, Tame Impala and Thee Satisfaction deserve their spots on the list. If you or your readers are interested, you can check out my list at

    http://eclectic-grooves.blogspot.com/2012/12/favorite-albums-of-2012.html

    Would love to hear what anyone thinks about the list, and encourage them to share their list as well.

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    1. thanks for sharing Kevin! I'm sorry I forgot that comments aren't set up to publish automatically, I didn't mean to prevent this from showing up until just now.

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