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Thread: Albums of the Year 2012 Edition
19-12-2012, 12:37 AM #1
Albums of the Year 2012 Edition
So it's that time of year again where putting things into lists seems like a good idea and we can pick up on things we may have missed and discover new and wonderful sounds.
I'm eschewing the good old numerical list this year. Not for "numbering is fruitless" reasons (justified as they may sometimes be) but more because usually there's a standout album (or three) that I know tops my list, whereas this year, while there's been lots of stuff I've enjoyed, there's been nothing I've absolutely, completely fallen in love with that was actually released this year (closest thing was the debut xx album, ages after everybody else!).
Indeed it's been a year where I've found myself mostly going through a Motown phase in the first half of the year then spending the second going from having the most recent two Half Man Half Biscuit albums to buying nearly their entire back catalogue. I also bought my first jazz album (Miles Davis - Kind of Blue, have to start with the classics yes?) But anyway, enough preamble and distractions, here's what springs to my mind from this year.
Django Django - Django Django - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDjpOrlfh0Y
Best debut album I've heard this year, best Scottish album I've heard this year and if forced to pick I'd probably say it would be my favourite album of the year. Natural heir to the inventiveness of the Beta Band.
Japandroids - Celebration Rock - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SThYnF2_ZQA
Also winner of the Ronseal (TM) sponsored "Does what it says on the tin" award. Short, loud, "whoa-oh" backing vocals. What's not to like?
Sharon Van Etten - Tramp - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zw6_GlbxqrU
Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny - Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWeE_u28myo
One of the worst album titles of the year, but closely pushes Django Django for best debut. Seems to be one of those albums that came out near the start of the year that have been unfairly forgotten about in year end lists.
Perfume Genius - Put Your Back N 2 It - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOpkr8uNWpk
Speaking of bad album titles! Another album that seems to have been forgotten about come year end. Stripped back, heartfelt and aching. Excellent
Soap and Skin - Narrow - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wf-wz5vdyww
Speaking of heartfelt (you can tell I'm writing down albums as they come into my head!) . . . this is a difficult album. In fact I've barely listened to it and frankly never really want to be in a situation where it would feel like it would reflect me mood. An album about loss and pain, an emotional outpouring and yeah . . . that I've listened to it two or three times and it's still in this list says something.
The 2 Bears - Be strong - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6YdAzmTNGQ
After that you might need some cheering up, so why not have some infectious dance music? An album which will always remind me of good times at Bestival this year thanks to the ubiquity of Bear Hug over the course of the weekend.
Anias Mitchell - Young Man In America - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jEPwuSYG6Y
Yes it's not as good as Hadestown. Neither are most albums. Still bloody fantastic folk music though. Two superb albums in a row from Mitchell. Another album I'd perhaps be tempted to declare as my favourite of this year.
Quakers - Quakers - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWHkkVb1raA
My favourite of the small smattering of hip-hop albums I bought this year. As with any project which features a ton of people collaborating there are a few duff moments but quality control is surprisingly high for something with 40 (short) tracks.
Bloc Party - Four - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rk-J1zT7TfQ
Well slap my thigh and call me Sally! Bloc Party are back! Veering from the aggression of Kettling straight to some banjo picking on Real Talk (it shouldn't work, but it does) this is an excellent return to form.
Other Stuff I Really Enjoyed
We Are the Physics - Your Friend the Atom
Rachel Zeffira - The Deserters
Cat Power - Sun
Bat for Lashes - This Haunted Man
The Unthanks - Diversions vols 2 and 3
Bellowhead - Broadside
Sigur Ros - Valteri
Of Monsters and Men - My Head is an Animal
Karine Polwart - Traces
Jack White - Blunderbuss
The Futureheads - Rant
Daphni - Jaiolong
Calexico - Algiers
Allo' Darlin' - Europe
First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar
Then there was the stuff that was good but for me just didn't match up to previous efforts and hasn't been listened to as much; Admiral Fallow, DJ Format, Sleigh Bells, Regina Spektor, Jens Lekman, Euros Childs, The XX, The Shins.
Disappointments of the year
Always bad to end on a downer. The new albums from Islands, Yeasayer and Abdominal just didn't quite do it for me.
So yeah, I've actually acquired quite a lot of music this year and perhaps the fact that I've not fallen absolutely in love with an album is a side effect of that (though I doubt it as I bought a lot last year too and Fucked Up, Tune-Yards, Lia Ices and The Amazing all got played to what would be to death if I didn't love them so much (and are still getting played this year).
I think one thing I've noticed is that I bought a lot of stuff from artists I already liked and none of them surpassed their previous work (as I said before that's harsh on Anais Mitchell as Hadestown is extra special). Cat Power was on to do so but the album lost its way in the second half (the first half is bloody incredible though). Surprise of the year for me was the return to form of Bloc Party, who almost managed to hit the heights of Silent Alarm.
So what are your picks?
Just noticed I (completely by chance) picked 10 favourites! Is putting things into lists of 10 subconsciously ingrained? I really hope not!
Last edited by Lambchops; 19-12-2012 at 12:43 AM. Reason: Self observation
19-12-2012, 12:50 AM #2
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- Lagoon West, Vermilion Sands
Symmetry: Themes for an imaginary film
19-12-2012, 01:13 AM #3
Had to reorganise my music collection to see what had been released this year, so we have:
Muse- The 2nd Law - Nice but maybe not their best.
The Mars Volta - Noctourniquet - A nice array of songs, but again maybe not their best.
Leila - U&I - Electronica that's been stripped back a little, quite varied in style with some good use of noise.
But the album I bought this year that has probably been my highlight is - Jethro Tull - Thick as a brick.
Yes, it's 40 year old prog rock, but my true test of an album is whether I'll want to play it in years to come.
Conclusion- I should probably get out more.
19-12-2012, 01:20 AM #4
It was a pretty bad year for me. Haven't listened to much new music.
Die Antwoord - Ten$Ion: Can't help but love the rave tunes, hilarious chipmunk voice and machinegun rap. It has charm and energy. The music videos are oustanding, by the way.
I really enjoyed this tier:
The Black Ops 2 soundtrack. An excellent theme by Trent Reznor, really good songs by a Mass Effect composer and a bunch of more or less enjoyable standard OST stuff.
Disappointment of the year:
How To Destroy Angels - An omen_ (EP): boring and forgettable. I hope the full album will be better. Perhaps Trent Reznor's just stretched too thin between various soundtracks, HTDA and the new NIN material.
Blunder of the year:
Linkin Park - whatever the new album is called. I bought it expecting to dislike it and it's really bad. It does have one or two catchy songs but I forgot them too. I like their older stuff, especially Reanimation, and the more recent ones were OK but this is a disaster.
WTF is going on award:
The Prodigy. Where's the new album? They're playing some really massive new tunes. They're "working" on it since early 2011. It has a title. The wait is painful. IMD was a great comeback - I liked both AONO and Baby's Got A Temper - and I hoped they'd work faster now. It's almost 4 years since IMD, which was 4 and a half years after the last one. Well, at least it's not another seven years gap. But please, hurry up.
Disaster of the year:
Pendulum on hiatus, no new recordings until after 2013 because the main dude wants to do wubwub.
19-12-2012, 01:28 AM #5
Laurel Halo - Quarantine: Utterly, utterly brilliant.
Chromatics - Kill for Love: That incredible Into The Black cover gets me every time. I didn't like the Drive soundtrack (or Drive) but Ruth Radelet's vocals make everything so much better.
Andy Stott - Luxury Problems: And here's where the theme becomes apparent. 2012 has been the year of the female vocalist, and the ghostly voice on Luxury Problems counteracts the pitch-black beats perfectly.
The Gaslamp Killer - Breakthrough: After a decade of brilliant mixtapes, EPs, and guest productions, my favorite DJ releases his first full-length (and kills it)
Old Apparatus - Realise/Derren/Aifur/Harem EPs: How to describe Old Apparatus? Each of the group's four anonymous contributors released a solo EP this year, and the consistent quality across the varied styles speaks volumes to the talent coming out of this group.
Hotline Miami soundtrack: Quite simply the most brilliant video game soundtrack ever compiled.
Dinosaur Jr. - I Bet On the Sky: If you don't know, then you won't know.
19-12-2012, 01:56 AM #6
Degial - Death's Striking Wings is what the last Morbid Angel should have been. It's totally killer and defaults to my AOTY because it's the only album that I heard all the way through that was released this year.
Judas Priest - The Complete Albums boxed set. It's a massive cheat to put this here so I'm creating a loophole to include it. The only albums that I don't have in here are A Touch Of Evil... Live and the two that they did with Ripper but those two aren't on here anyway. He's been officially written out of the band's past! Maiden's done the same with Blaze, man it must've sucked to be a metal vocalist in the nineties.
19-12-2012, 06:16 AM #7
Seconding Lambchops with my pick for best album of the year: DJANGO DJANGO! :D
I discovered it soon after it was released early in the year and it has since soundtracked much of 2012 for me. I listened to it while flying around with the hoverbike in Saints Row 3 and while playing various other games. I have the CD in my car so it's served as driving music plenty of times, and of course I listen to it at work often. The song "Default" was my first exposure to the record, and it is insanely catchy, but I think "WOR" has grown to be my favourite since.
The Coup - Sorry To Bother You
This guy has apparently been around since the early 90's but I haven't heard of him until now. Great album. Plenty of dancable songs with groovy beats, but also weightier, more sombre songs.
The Heavy - The Glorious Dead
Their most solid album yet. No tracks that really stand out, just reliably well-built funky sing-along-friendly stuff all the way through. Good driving music.
JJ DOOM - KEY TO THE KUFFS
JJ brings sound weird soundscapes to DOOM's rhymes. It works.
Tenacious D - Rize of the Fenix
Almost as good as their first! No shit!
Leonard Cohen, Zammuto, The xx, Todd Snider, Crystal Castles, Sleigh Bells, NOFX
Last edited by Henke; 19-12-2012 at 07:17 AM.
19-12-2012, 09:15 AM #8
19-12-2012, 09:41 AM #9
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Wow, I hadn't realised how little 2012 music I'd listened to. At least decisions were much easier than expected.
For My Parents by Mono was probably the highlight of the year, though that may be biased by only getting it in the last month. I like a lot of post rock but none of the rest are quite like Mono and this is another great album.
A close second for Yellow And Green by Baroness. It's definitely different than their older stuff, and in some ways lighter, but it works none the less. They even managed to fill both CDs with worthwhile tracks, which is rare enough. Works even better live too. Before For My Parents this would've been a clear winner.
The best of the rest:
Koloss by Meshuggah. I love all their albums and I love the direction they've taken with the last few especially. They've finally managed to settle on a balance between the old styles they used and their albums now have a mix of it all. One of the few bands where I like all the albums they've put out.
From the Shadows by Black Sun Empire. It's hardly revolutionary, more Black Sun Empire, but they keep putting out good music. Their albums continue to be annoyingly hard to obtain in the UK.
And briefly, Four by Bloc Party, Eremita by Ihsahn and a couple of game soundtracks - Journey and Dear Esther. The last two were surprising because I've never been particularly interested in soundtracks before (notable exception for Demon's/Dark Souls) but they work well as standalone music as well as for the games they're written for.
Last edited by Goateh; 19-12-2012 at 09:43 AM. Reason: Tag failure
19-12-2012, 10:03 AM #10
I haven't really been paying attention to new music this year for some reason, but there are two records that really stand out.
* JK Flesh - Posthuman
Justin Broadrick hears my prayers and not only makes a new Godflesh record, but one with better and more danceable beats.
* VCMG - SSSS
Vince Clark sure knows how to use a synthesiser. Damn.
There are some others that I quite like but haven't fully digested yet, like the new Godspeed and Swans records. I expect I'll end up liking them, but albums of the year? I'm not so certain.
Last edited by Jams O'Donnell; 19-12-2012 at 12:31 PM.
19-12-2012, 11:05 AM #11
I think I've only bought 4 albums that came out this year:
Jack White - Blunderbuss: Nothing really surprising, but a solid album. I think I especially like "They weep themselves to sleep", but without the means to test this, I'm not sure.
Mr. Day - Dry up in the sun: Note to self; don't buy an album based on one track. I fell in love with the track "Forgotten Realms", but it turned out the rest of the album is a lot more boring and half of it is not my cup of tea (I like soul, but not in a sugarcoated soft way...). I probably should sell this album.
Sigur Ros - Valtari: Another unsurprising album, but I really like Sigur Ros, so I don't really care. This music really shines when played loud, with a glass of single malt and all the time in the world.
Balthazar - Rats: My "album of the year". I really love the "backing" vocals (it's not really backing vocals when most of the lyrics is sung with, right?) and the vibe of the album. It's a weird mix of a little bit Whitest boy alive, Arctic monkeys and a whole lot undefinable.
19-12-2012, 12:23 PM #12
I'm not that much up to date with music lately but albums I've enjoyed this year are
Muse- The 2nd law
Amazing as always.
Tenacious D - Rise of the phoenix
It took them 10 years to bring out a new album but it was worth the wait!
Devin Townsend - Epicloud
It's good but I miss the old Strapping Young Lad and Devin Townsend days, the heavy stuff was amazing.
Metalcolypse - Dethalbum III
It kind of misses the catchy songs but good nonetheless.
Machinae Supramacy - Rise of a Digital Nation
Once again some great chiptune influenced power metal.
19-12-2012, 10:48 PM #13
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Always get to this time of year and forget half the stuff I loved, so I might have to come back and do a sneaky edit if I remember something. Been a good year though! I've ended up all but abandoning stuff like indie, folk and metal to get deeper into the stuff I love, which means I've missed out and a lot of great stuff mentioned here.
Laurel Halo - Quarantine
The album I was most excited about all year. Wasn't an easy first few listens, which meant initially my reaction was sort of "uh, interesting" rather than loving it. But it just grew on me with every listen to the point it's easily one of my favourite records. Such an astonishingly personal work of music, once you tune yourself to the raw vocals the whole thing just clicks. After seeing her live in November I'm pretty sure she's one of the most talented people in music at the moment, and she needs more recognition for this amazing album.
Cooly G - Playin' Me
Another album I've been waiting a while for. This feels like Cooly G taking the time offered by a long player to make something more substantial, and it works brilliantly. Despite an earlier EP that hinted at what it was going to be like, I never expected her to put her vocals front and centre for the entire album. Like Laurel Halo she goes for a raw approach that makes it feel so much more personal. The whole thing is so full of soul and colour, I think it does what British music does so well by merging the underground with pop music to make something really special.
Jessie Ware - Devotion
Basically, I slowly fell in love with Jessie Ware over the course of this year, and love this album because to me it's like a big "fuck you" to people like Rita Ora chasing after Rihanna's coat tails with boring, generic trash. She's a proper club diva with one foot in the underground scene that makes her so wonderfully, distinctly British. It was great to see someone making a pop album that felt like it had an identity. Devotion sounds like it's from the UK and more importantly, the influence of the London underground scene is still there. I almost don't want her to get much more famous, for fear of her becoming watered down for wider appeal. At the moment she seems to have hit a sweet spot.
(Edited 'cus I'm stupid and thought the album was called Desire for some reason. Can't be that enamoured with her!)
LHF - Keepers of the Light
I'm fairly confident in saying there isn't anyone else in music doing what this crew is doing. This release is more of 'best of' than a proper album, because they have hundreds of tracks that they give away for free in mixes or just play on their Sub FM radio spot. Keepers of the Light is just an attempt to distil their best stuff down into an album, and even then it ended up being 2 CDs. Between them the different members move between jungle, dubstep, 2-step, hip-hop and all their mutated variants. One track doesn't really do them justice so google 'LHF mixes' and go nuts. If you have any kind of love for UK bass music you need to seek these guys out.
A few honourable mentions because I'm rambling like a fool and will be here all night:
LV - Sebenza - The most fun you can have listening to music. Guaranteed.
Motion Sickness of Time Travel - Sprawling sci-fi tracks you can get lost in. Hadn't heard of her before this album, was a random pick that turned out to be wonderful.
1612 Underture - Concept album about the Pendle witches, narrated by Maxine Peake and set to Radiophonic style synths. Sounds pretentious. Is actually funny and engaging.
Shangaan Shake - Remix album full of some of the best producers on the go at the moment. Amazing stuff.
Beneath - Illusions - Just came out so not had much chance to digest it, but Beneath has been one of the best things in the UK underground for a while now so I've no qualms recommending this.
Anything By John Carpenter and Alan Howarth Because They Are Amazing - Got a bit obsessed with film soundtracks, particularly horror. John Carpenter is a synth God.
Lastly a shout to Rinse FM for just being amazing, having some truly amazing DJs and label shows, plus podcasting absoluetly everything. So much awesome free music it's a bit absurd. The Dusk & Blackdown show has been right at the front of anything new going on. Hyperdub, Alex Nut, Elijah & Skilliam. It's a big list of vital shows all worth listening to.
Also, Old Apparatus. Haven't had the time or money to get their set of EP's but sabrage is right, they're a talented bunch.
Last edited by DiamondDog; 20-12-2012 at 12:36 AM.
19-12-2012, 11:13 PM #14
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I must be the only one that didn't like The Rize of the Phoenix, to be honest. It lacks a defining song like Wonderboy, Tribute, Kickapoo or Beelzeboss.
Anyway I didn't listen to too much new music or artists in 2012. I liked "Spector - Enjoy it while it lasts" and the excellent excellent tunes by Mystery Skulls, which gives me the kind of chills old Daft Punk did. Also since I moved to Germany I re-discovered EDM a decade later, so I've been listening to buttload of different producers on Songcloud, and some commercials like Swedish House Mafia. Oh my poor feet!
I'll go though the thread to try tome find some good shit I'd like.
Last edited by pakoito; 19-12-2012 at 11:18 PM.
20-12-2012, 06:52 AM #15
20-12-2012, 09:56 AM #16
God this thread makes me feel like an old man who doesn't knwo any of this newfangled music that the young'uns are playing.
I can't really think of a great album i got this year, but having kids limits your ability to listen to many albums. Jack White's Blunderbuss was ok, but didn't really grab me. Muse's new one i might get for xmas, but it's looking a bit iffy.
I think I've most enjoyed the Drive Soundtrack and the similar music linked to on the RPS threads about Hotline Miami and other 80s style indie soundtracks.
I shall now try and listen to all the things in this thread.
20-12-2012, 10:03 AM #17
20-12-2012, 10:15 AM #18
Today was a really rubbish year this is a pre-post I might have some more albums when I finished a few listens to some of the greater albums on the list but to be honest perusing none of them really appeal to me that much so yeah a bit of a barren year this year, it kind of pushed me towards listening to some top 40 songs since they were sometimes more interesting...yeah thats how bad this year was.
Yeasayer: Fragrant World - I really like this album I think if you initially listen to it its a weird direction for Yeasayer but listening to it again its got a lot of nice moments in each song and still very poppy but it has got a nice darker atmosphere to it.
Hot Chip: In our Heads - Very cool and very listenable synth pop that I can't help but love and dance to whenever its on.
Freelance Whales: Diluvia - Haven't listened to it much but for the few times I have it is a lovely lovely album full of lovely magical synth folk songs that just enter you into a place beyond the clouds.
Purity Ring: Fineshrine - a lovely dark synth but twinkly tone with disgusting lyrics showing somekind of weird fecked up relationship. The album it comes off is a little samey to be honest and gets very boring.
Niki and The Dove: Tommorow - This is an epic tune but again has that nice dark synthyness to it that seems to be popular this year probably because of dubstep. Again the rest of the album was a little boring.
Shearwater: Animal Life - A lovely lovely tune just builds up and builds up to an epic finale, the only crticism I have is that i want more of that epic chorus because I feel it ends to soon but thats a good criticism.
Animal Collective: Centipede Hz - Egh. I was excited about this album for two years because MPP was so awesome i just wanted more of it I wanted to see what interesting direction they would go next. But they released this, its just noise with horrible tunes behind that noise and very boring noise at that, ok maybe MPP could be noise at the start but it unwrapped itself to lovely songs that stay with you this one...not so much. Maybe in 3 years time they will realise there mistake and give me a decent album.
Beach House: Bloom: Teen Dream was the dreams that stayed with you, this is the dreams that you forget after you wake up. Surprisingly boring album that slips from your mind after you listened to it. And it doesn't even have several songs that I will listen to all the time like Teen Dream.
20-12-2012, 11:07 AM #19
20-12-2012, 04:00 PM #20
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