So it seems that this being a dad means that there is less time for blogging than I would like. It has been a little longer than I had hoped, but here is the top albums of 2012. Finally. I am going to keep this somewhat simple.
These are the top 40 albums that I listened to in 2012. This seemed to be an album based year for me. A time when I would listen to full length albums. This may be due to me listening to a lot more vinyl, or it could be that I was just too busy to change the tracks. Either way, there were a lot of albums that I really connected with. Certain albums I relate to specific moments, moods, and events. I also spent a lot of time listening to albums from 2011, which solidifies the endurance of some of these albums.
Here are the my top 40 albums. Check them out and support the artists in any way possible. And in case you missed it, here are the top 112 songs of 2012.
40. Imperial Teen – Feel the Sound
This San Francisco band has been around since the mid 90′s, features a member of Faith No More (although they sound absolutely nothing like them), and they managed to release one of those great sumer time albums. This was an album I would play in my car on the way to weddings.
39. Lee Fields and the Expressions – Faithful Man
An album that combines the passion and funk of James Brown with the soul stylings of Sharon Jones. This was an album that brings you back half a century, but doesn’t sound old.
38. Boxes – Stickers
A side project from a member of the great English band Athlete. This is one of those melancholic albums that really doesn’t seem all that sad on the surface. Clean electronics over charming British indie rock.
37. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
I once heard this album described as punk inspired rock for the middle aged man. And as I am slowly approaching that demographic, perhaps that is why I connected with this album. Or it could be the melodies, the sing-along choruses, or the post-punk vibe.
36. Grizzly Bear – Shields
I don’t really know what I was expecting from this album. But this really wasn’t it. And it took me forever to get to the point that I even liked the album. Each listen makes me like it more. Maybe this will be the album I connect with more in 2013 than I do 2012.
35. Bat for Lashes – The Haunted Man
34. Homeboy Sandman – First of a Living Breed
33. Glen Hansard – Rhythm and Repose
When you compare this to some of his work with the Frames, this is one of consistently restrained albums. There are moments where you can feel his voice reach that goose bump inducing edge. But the majority of the time, the album remains one of those albums that just feels safe, in a good way. But not too safe.
32. The Shins – Port of Morrow
31. Lemonade – Diver
This album sources a multitude of influences to create its own sound. But overall it gives a great little summer chill vibe. The 80′s influenced synths, combined with the progressive world beats, and the chilled vocals are perfect for a colourful concoction on the patio.
30. Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again
His 2011 EP made my list, and this album expands upon those songs as a base. He possesses a voice that seems so timeless and well beyond his 24 years of age. And he just may be the heir to the thrones of Bill Withers and Otis Redding.
29. Cold Specks – I predict a graceful expulsion
This is one of soul albums, unlike Michael Kiwanuka’s, that just makes you feel sad. There is an inherent beauty in her voice and the compositions. But it is a haunting beauty. It leaves you feeling an ache deep inside. One of those albums you just have to be in the perfect mood to listen to.
An album that seems to be several years in the making. Featuring several singles that date back to 2010, this collection is a collaboration of two entities that just seems to blend perfectly. Ryan Lewis’ production is the perfect accompaniment to Macklemore’s storytelling.
27. Angus Stone – Broken Brights
Both of the Stone’s (Angus and Julia Stone) released solo albums this year. Angus seems to possess the more universally appealing of the two voices. This album seems to be the perfect hippy folky Australian release. Makes you want to walk out into the outback with a guitar and some friends.
26. A Fine Frenzy – Pines
This is a very conceptual release that differs greatly from her 2 previous releases. Combined, these songs create a story, that culminates in some of her most memorable songs. Seeing these songs performed live brought greater clarity to the vision.
This album exploded and set fun. on a rocket to the top of the charts fueled by the hit “We are young”. The rest of the album carries on in the over the top melodrama that Nate Ruess is know for.
24. Alabama Shakes – Boys and Girls
22. Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg
I expect this album to become even more popular in 2013. This young English singer turns 19 at the end of the month, but his voice sounds like he has been drinking and smoking since he was 2. And maybe he has, because his lyrics and storytelling give the impression of a much older, and experienced, individual.
I wanted to love this album more than I do. But to compare it to its predecessor is a great disservice. I am looking forward to seeing them live this year, and still find myself throwing this album on the turntable and grabbing a book.
20. Ellie Goulding – Halcyon
Her follow-up album comes on the heels of the belated success of her 2010 single “Lights” which is also included on this release. This album is a lot more electronic sounding and subsequently more poppy and danceable. And perhaps more accessible.
19. Efterklang – Piramida
Piramida sources several unique and historical instruments that the band discovered/created. These instruments, and collaborations with artists such as Nils Frahm and Peter Broderick take these songs beyond the standard Efterklang collection. This is an album, not a mere collection of singles. There is depth throughout that will have you searching and questioning what you here.
18. Whitehorse – The fate of the world depends on this kiss
This Canadian duo have some of the best collaborative energy that I have seen in awhile. A varying album that feels cohesive and has too many standouts to standout. There is an inherent rawness in these recordings that nearly captures the exuberance of the live performance.
17. Valgeir Sigurdsson – Architecture of Loss
This score to a Ballet by Stephen Petronio is a showcase of Valgeir’s ability to take neo-classical music and create soundscapes of emotion. Featuring Nico Muhly on Piano and Nadia Sirota on viola, this album runs the gamut of emotions.
This freely released double album features some of the more soberly ambitious compositions of Joseph Arthur’s career. Lyrically, Redemption city borders on spoken word/beat poetry at times, signalling a new direction. A strong addition to his discography.
15. John Talabot – ƒin
Nico describes this albums as harmonic ideas over static structure and likens it to singing along with your vacuum cleaner. I found it to be a brilliant album that I listen at work when I want my brain to function at a higher level.
13. Frank Ocean – Channel ORANGE
Originally this album didn’t live up to its expectations. But the more I listened to it, the more the individual songs stood out. The more I realized that Pyramids wasn’t the only genius in the tracklisting.
12. Hot Chip – In Our Heads
11. Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid M.A.A.D City
A hip-hop concept album that reaches beyond it’s hit singles. The story goes from borrowing a van to find a girl, to the death of a friend in a shoot-out. One of the few hip-hop albums that the skits don’t detract from the album.
10. Chromatics – Kill for Love
09. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar
08. Poliça – Give you the Ghost
07. Nick Waterhouse – Time’s All Gone
Retro Sounds. Great Songs. Chances are you have heard his songs on a show or commercial and just didn’t know it. Or if you haven’t, the sound is so reminiscent of the early days of rock, you just might think you have.
06. Nicolas Jaar (and Various Artists) – Don’t Break My Love
This collection of Nicolas Jaar and some fellow Clown and Sunset label mates was originally released on a proprietary prism. As a collection it represents some of the best chill music I have heard in a long time. It also features 2 amazing Jaar singles and several collaborations.
This isn’t an album that wows you up front. This is an album that envelopes you. It hugs you with its bass. It rubs your back with it’s synths and beats. And then it caresses your neck with her voice. This is no one night stand.
04. Anais Mitchell – Young Man in America
02. Cat Power – Sun
Yup, no. 1 song. no. 1 album. How predictable. But as I mentioned earlier. This album defines 2012 for me. And seeing this album performed live really added to the whole experience. Swedish electro pop that is mainstream enough to be accessible, and experimental enough that it isn’t boring. Instinct is the that I will look back upon and remember the year that my first daughter Neko was born. And for that I will be forever grateful.
Thank you for your attention, and have 2013 that you simply can’t forget.