I’ve released this way too late. We’re already 44 days into 2013. Let’s get on with it!
50. Tame Impala – Lonerism
Give it time, give it time. Wanted to like it more, it kind of clicked in Australia. Now to just wait until it’s warm again.
49. Anais Mitchell – Young Man in America
Such a unique voice sometimes I love it sometimes I can’t stand it. I won’t deny the songwriting ability.
48. Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan
‘Gun Has No Trigger’ is my favourite song they’ve written. Not nearly as difficult Bitte Orca, and for that I thank them.
47. Sebastian Tellier – My God is Blue
French cheesy disco dance party.
46. Angus Stone – Broken Brights
Australian folk-rock singer takes you there and back again. Not normally my scene, but it feels like the edge of the outback.
45. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes – Here
Lo-fi and as sparse as you can be in a ten person band. Nothing as catchy as ‘Home’, but definitely more cohesive than the last one.
44. Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man
Someone really wants to become Kate Bush. Tori Amos did before she got all contemporary pop, let’s hope Bat for Lashes keeps this up.
43. Moonface – With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery
Spencer Krug’s descent into darkness. It’s all doom and gloom up in here.
42. The Shins – Port of Morrow
James Mercer fired the whole band and proved that the Shins were basically a one-man band all along. Their most polished record yet, it also has some great music on it too!
41. Various Artists – Lawless (soundtrack)
The Bootleggers (a band which is basically Grinderman and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds) curate this album which contains some excellent dark and dusty country covers of non-country music. Emmylou Harris joins in.
40. Sharon Van Etten – Tramp
I feel like crying when listening to Sharon sing.
39. Daphni – Jiaolong
A little bit more accessible than the previous works by the man formerly known as Caribou, formerly known as Manitoba (or is it the other way around?). It’s a dance party until the bleep-bloops come around.
38. Florrie – Late
Only 4 songs more from the English pop Goddess, but she’s back on form after her slightly disappointing Experiments EP.
37. Heartless Bastards – Arrow
Laid back rock from a band who was already too laid back. I wish for more rocking out, but i’ll respect the subtlety.
36. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…
Fiona Apple is still angry, but she sounds older and raspier.
35. The Antlers – Undersea
Another EP on the list, this time from the band that had my number 2 album last year. It really does sound like you’re underwater except for the song that sound like Nintendo.
34. Father John Misty – Fear Fun
He left the Fleet Foxes to make some great music. I don’t believe he was the lead singer, but damn, he should of been.
33. Whitehorse – The Fate of the World Depends on the Kiss
Seeing them live really made me appreciate this album even more. I love when I can say that. I also love Melissa McClelland. Now to get Luke Doucet out of the picture…
32. Regina Spektor – What We Saw From the Cheap Seats
It’s been a year where I’ve had way more female singers on the list than usual. Why? Because they’re making the best music! Regina put out a lovely little album here, probably her most accessible yet.
31. Dum Dum Girls – End of Daze
This is where they take off. This is pure bliss in 5 songs. Beautiful.
30. Niki & The Dove – Instinct
You wanted The Knife to sound like a mainstream band, well maybe Niki is for you. Dancey, a bit experimental, but good ole’ Swedish pop.
29. Grimes – Visions
She had a good year.
28. The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter
Still good, but not as good as the last one. Maybe it sounded too much like the last one. I wonder…
27. Various Artists – Don’t Break My Love: A Collection of Lost Memories from Sunset & Clown
A great introduction to a label which doesn’t have much recognition. Also it’s a metal cube you plug in to your stereo. Talk about accessibility.
26. Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music
It feels like the 90′s again. Sometimes we need that.
25. Bear in Heaven – I Love You, It’s Cool
Is this the 80s or the 90s or just something I don’t understand since I wasn’t 18 in 1986.
24. Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It
A depressed man can make some very good music.
23. Shearwater – Animal Joy
Solid release, back on track, not as good as Rook though.
22. Schoolboy Q – Habits and Contradictions
This album is too long, which is to say it is the average length of time of a hip-hop album. It could have been gold, I’ll settle for silver, especially when it has two of my favourite songs of the year and a Portishead sample.
21. Olafur Arnalds – Another Happy Day
A little classical for your enjoyment. Shaun can tell you all about him if you ask nicely.
20. DIIV – Oshin
Hazy surfer shoegaze. The more I look at the cover the more it makes me want to listen to this album again.
19. The xx – Coexist
Their first album sounds like a non-stop party compared to this. Talk about a band showing restraint. Minimalism in rock music taken to a whole new level. I just wish it was as good as the last one.
18. Lana Del Ray – Born to Die
Up and down year for poor Lana. Terrible live performances after 2 big singles. I hear she’s gotten better. Her album is pretty good though, catchy, sexy and sultry.
17. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
It seems like I don’t listen to a lot of loud music based on this list. This acted as that angry album for me this year, even though it has a positive message. More Canadiana please.
16. Beach House – Bloom
If you’ve head a Beach House album you pretty much know what you’re in for with this one.
15. Cat Power – Sun
Chan doesn’t sound so sad anymore, i think she’s decided to get angry and take it out on a synthesizer. Is this a one-off or her new direction for the future. I miss her long hair.
14. Wild Nothing – Nocturne
Early 90s indie updated for all the young ones or the nostalgics. Something really catches me with this album, must be the nostalgia.
13. Poliça – Give You the Ghost
Drums and layered female vocals, surprisingly addictive.
12. Electric Guest – Mondo
A little bit electro, a little bit soul and a whole lotta Danger Mouse make this one work.
11. Frank Ocean – Channel orange
He basically made me start to associate the colour orange with music similar to his when really it should be more of an aquamarine. I liked a few songs, then a few more and now it’s all good.
10. Ellie Goulding – Halcyon
She became a dance queen, or shall we say almost. Ellie’s second album shows off her vocal chops once again, but it’s a livelier affair with chipmunk vocals, addictive choruses and some beats here and there. I only remember ‘Lights’ off her last one, I remember most of these. She should keep this up.
9. David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant
David Byrne is a bonafide hero. The music he created in his career has influenced so many bands that he could be solely responsible for much of New York’s sound in the 2000s. Here he collaborates with one of the indie world’s goddesses to create a new fresh sound. Backed by a large brass section, rather than relying on the typical 4 instrument arrangement, Love This Giant sounds unique and unlike anything either of these artists have done before.
8. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar
Good old fashioned country music straight from the country we most associate with country music, Sweden. Let’s not dismiss Sweden as not having any affiliation with country music as Lee Hazlewood’s ‘A Cowboy in Sweden’ came from there many years ago. Two ladies from Sweden make some of the sweetest country-folk you could imagine and do it in a manner which does not disgrace the fine heritage of the genre, but also pays homage to the greats in a track called ‘Emmylou’.
7. Burial – Kindred EP
It’s only 3 songs and about 30 minutes long, but Burial’s Kindred EP easily deserves it’s place in the top ten album of 2012. There is a lot more going on in these songs, which are more like sonic collages, with the beginning and the end of each track sounding dramatically different from one another, often feeling like a whole different song. The highlight is ‘Loner’ where we are presented with the first Burial track that belongs in a club. It’s still really dark, but the beat just calls for your feet to take over. The other two tracks expand on his atmospheric sound and really set the bar high for anything he releases in the future.
6. Hot Chip – In Our Heads
It’s another Hot Chip album! Seems like every couple years a Hot Chip album ends up in my top ten and I say how great it is and how their next one could be their best yet. I admit now that I don’t think that is going to happen because every Hot Chip album is on that same great level and i’ve come to accept that. A consistently great band is very difficult to find and Hot chip is innovative and smart enough to remain in that category for many years to come. In Our Heads is even more reminiscent of the 1980s than their last album and many of the sounds and effects reinforce that. Whatever, its fun, its dancy and its just geeky enough to make it accessible for everyone.
5. Grizzly Bear – Shields
Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest was nowhere to be found on my favourite albums list of 2009 as it did not click for me until 2010. Looking back it should of been in the top ten, maybe even the top 5. Shields is nothing like Veckatimest and that turned quite a few people off. Gone are the multi part harmonies, the strings, the gentleness. Instead Grizzly Bear turned into a rock band, a more complex rock band, but a rock band nonetheless. What Shields doesn’t lack though is great songs. At least 5 of the tracks on this album rank with Grizzly Bear’s best work. Sure there isn’t a ‘Two Weeks’ on the record, but the songs get under your skin after multiple listens and just drive to be listened to over and over. Shields was a departure from their previous work and I believe Grizzly Bear will go back to their earlier style on their next album. This will be the one in their catalogue looked back as the ‘different’ record, but some will consider their favourite.
4. Jessie Ware – Devotion
Last year I praised the return of 80s soul with Jamie Woon’s stellar Mirrorwriting. This year Jessie Ware has taken the 80s soul sound and refined it even further. She’s like a modern-day Sadé with smooth silky singing over songs that scream sensuality, but would not be out of place at a dance club. An album that could find its place on the dance floor, on the radio or in the bedroom, it hurts that more people are not aware of Jessie Ware and her revival of a type of music that has been missing for many years.
3. Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
One of the few hip-hop albums that can claim correctly that it is consistently great from start to finish. Based on his previous output I didn’t think much would come out of this record, but positive reviews started to flood in, I gave it a listen and after a couple of times I was hooked. It’s rare for me to want to listen to a whole hip-hop album over and over, but Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City has the cohesiveness of a good movie or story. It doesn’t rely on interludes or skits unless they play a part in the autobiographical tale. It is full of great songwriting and smart production decisions. It is an updated story of growing up in Compton, reflecting on many of the same issues that gave rise to one of rap’s iconic groups, N.W.A.
2. Chromatics – Kill For Love
A 90 minute late night drive, windows down, a pack of cigarettes within arms reach and no destination. 80′s throwback, shoegaze, Italian-disco, songs that dissolve into silence, seductive female vocals. The Chromatics create a sexy haze of a record with Kill For Love. Starting with a stark cover of Neil Young’s ‘Hey Hey My My (Into The Black)’ flowing into the danceable title track the album weaves a journey through the darkest streets of night hitting stretches of neon-lidden strips and then back into the darkness. The vinyl version was released in hot pink which only reinforces the 80′s feel.
1. John Talabot – Fin
Being a fan on the sideline of electronic music for years, I’ve only had minor forays into the genre, though others have enlightened me on certain sub-sub genres. I can’t classify this album into one of those sub-genres, but it is house music. Possibly Spanish house since Talabot is from Barcelona. What I can tell you is that it has been my favourite album of 2012 since it was released early in the year. It is a culmination of all that makes electronic music good, this is and will continue to be my go-to album to show people what I like about electronic music.
It is full of cathartic payoffs after long build-ups. The songs seem to follow the same pattern buildup/payoff/breakdown/repeat, but the sounds utilized don’t make the album ever seem old or repetitive. It doesn’t sound new, but it sounds fresh and unique. And while it does have its stand-out tracks (see my top songs of 2012) it works much better as a whole, an hour long trip through the mind of one of the best electronic artists today. If I was ever to indulge in creating electronic music this the album I would hope to make, that’s the highest praise I think I can offer.