I know everyone is sick of year end lists, but I am posting my top 25 favorite albums of 2012 merely for my satisfaction. These lists help me look back on what I listened to in the past, also what awesome music I may have missed that I discovered later on and didn’t include. It basically serves as a time capsule for a particular period in my life. So I’m sorry if everyone is bummed about ‘Best of Lists’, but this isn’t necessarily for you. Unless you dig it, find some new music, or agree with me and if that’s the case then thanks for reading it. Ha!
Phil just finished with his fairly extensive and comprehensive ‘Top 50 of 2012′ list, which I thoroughly enjoyed. His list turned me onto a lot of music that I had skipped or missed this year, but I thought there was enough of a difference between our two picks that it was worth it for me to publish mine as well. If you haven’t read his list yet, check it out here.
Disclaimer: I try my best to keep up with all the tunes that come out in a particular year and I feel like I was able to consume a decent amount of music in 2012. However, I may have missed a vast majority of tunes so don’t take this as scripture. That’s what Phil’s list is for.
25. Death Grips – The Money Store / NO LOVE DEEP WEB
Exmilitary really threw me off when I first heard it so I shyed away from the band initially, but after hearing “I’ve Seen Footage” and “Hustle Bones” I accepted Death Grips into my life. Then the whole fiasco went down with Epic and the band’s second release of the year NO LOVE DEEP WEB. After their total “fuck you” to the their
label my admiration for Death Grips was cemented. Both albums are super gnarly and genius. I do enjoy the Money Store a bit more than NO LOVE, just because it has a bit more of a party vibe.
24. Laurel Halo - Quarantine
Easily the best album cover of the year, which is what initially drew me to Quarantine. Once I listened to it, I was entranced. This is the closest thing to a new school Björk as there has been in quite some time. I know some people dislike the vocals, but I think they are great. There is something about the honesty and rawness of her voice that kills me. This is music for drug induced dreams.
23. The Life and Times – No One Loves You Like I Do
I have always been a huge Shiner fan and was always aware of their front man Allen Epley’s new band (The Life and Times), but I never really gave them the time of day, because I figured that there was no way that his new band could even come close to the awesomeness that was Shiner’s final album and one of the greatest albums of all time The Egg. Boy was I wrong, The Life and Times are amazing. Isaac and I happened to stumble upon their show in SLC this past summer and it was honestly one of the greatest performances of the year, so naturally I went home and listened to their latest album No One Loves You Like I Do and was blown away again. Picture all the heaviness and spaciness of Shiner, but more experimental.
22. Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman: Ascension
I was pleasantly surprised by how solid this album was. Usually when I listen to Coheed there are a few songs that I get bored with or that don’t quite pack the same punch as the others (with the exception of Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow, that album rules from start to finish). The first part of a double album, The Afterman: Ascension is nine tracks of prog rock / space rock bodaciousness. If you listen to track three “The Afterman” and don’t feel any sort of sappy love emotion, you might be dead. I am stoked for the second half of the album to come out early next year.
21. Big Boi - Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors
I was determined to hold of on writing my year end list until this album came out and finally about three weeks
ago it did. I knew I was going to enjoy it after how much I enjoyed Big Boi’s last solo effort, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. The new album may not be as original and fun as his previous album, but because of killer songs like “Thom Pettie” and hilariously pimp songs like the final track “She Said OK”, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors gets a spot on my list. I also really enjoyed the fact that Big Boi collaborated with so many great electro-pop bands on the album, which really gave it a more mellow and smooth vibe.
20. Wild Nothing - Nocturne
Everyone is hooting and hollering about DIIV’s Oshin this year, which is understandable; but I feel like as far as shoegaze dream pop goes Wild Nothing’s second album Nocturne is the real business. Where DIIV is more moody and cold Wild Nothing invoke more romance and a strange perverted happiness in me ( I know it’s weird). I feel like Jack Tatum and Co. where able to build on Gemini a bit more and make Nocturne sound less like Tatum’s demos and more like an actual band. This is an album not to be overlooked and I haven’t seen this on anybody’s ‘Best of List’ yet this year, which is really strange to me.
19. Soundgarden - King Animal
I can’t tell you how unbelievably nervous I was for this album to come out. Not nervous because I was excited, but nervous that I thought the band was going to tarnish their legacy (Excluding Chris Cornell’s legacy. That thing got trashed years ago, thanks to some awesome decisions from him personally. Way to go Audioslave and Scream.) So when I finally got my hands on King Animal and gave it a listen, I was relieved that the band didn’t ruin their internal status that they had with me as an all time favorite. Thankfully this album is good and functions as more of a stream lined version of another one of the absolute greatest albums of all time Superunkown. Except for tracks 1 “Been Away Too Long” and 10 “Halfway There” those songs are garbage, cut them out.
18. Joey Bada$$ - 1999
I don’t know a whole lot about this kid except for the fact that he his like 17 years old and from New York and he runs a rap crew called Pro Era. What I do know is that Joey Bada$$’ debut mixtape 1999 is dope. The thing that makes it so dope is the old-school 90′s vibe it has and the amazing flow that Bada$$ and Co. display throughout the albums 15 tracks. My personal favorite from 1999 is track 13 “Where It At” which features another superb J Dilla beat (R.I.P), such a chill laid back feel. 1999 is Something you can really bug out to on a summers afternoon while laying in a kiddie pool.
17. Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror
I know I am risking all credibility by putting Sleigh Bells on this list (sorry Nate and Isaac), but I can’t help it. I am sucker for the sugary sweet vocals and distorted chaos that this group brings. It’s absolute ear candy and I’m not ashamed to express my love for it. The only gripe I have about this band is the live show. While their concerts are insanely loud, it’s mostly just watching to people jump around to a backing track, super lame… although, frontwoman Alexis Krauss is extremely engaging. Sleigh Bells get a live band already!
16. Neurosis – Honor Found In Decay
I wasn’t even aware that this album had come out until Phil posted his review of it. I have always been a casual fan of Neurosis and respected them for their history, but I have never really connected with their music until Honor Found In Decay. There is something less formidable about their sound and delivery on this album. Almost as if the band has become this old tired rusted doom robot that has accepted his fate, but still wants to putter around the earth slowly taking his time starting forest fires and patiently destroying villages. The electronic blips and noises on this album are top-notch as well.
15. Tennis – Young & Old
This is another album I am surprised didn’t make it on to more ‘Best of Lists’. Tennis are calming surf beach pop and I wish that I could have a polyamorous relationship with the husband wife duo of Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore. Their second album is a vast improvement from their first Cape Dory. Where Cape Dory only had a few memorable and catchy tracks all ten tracks on Young & Old are pure bliss. I love this band and someday they will both want to marry me.
14. Kowloon Walled City – Container Ships
I am new to this band and Container Ships was a late discovery and addition to the list, but there is no denying the raw power of this band. I am thoroughly addicted to anything that resembles experimental post hardcore / post rock / whatever and this band satisfies that addiction. After some research through their back catalog it seems that the band toned down the noise rock a bit for some more atmospherics on Container Ships, either way they still rule. Kowloon is the perfect mixture of Fugazi, Snapcase, and Isis. If that doesn’t get you excited you are bogus.
13. Grizzly Bear - Shields
Grizzly Bear are just straight up magical! So magical in fact that I refuse to watch any live clips of them on YouTube, because even though I’m sure that they are great performers I don’t want to ruin the Grizzly Bear fantasy I have in my mind. I know when they come to SLC I’ll break the streak and go see them in concert, but until then I want them to live in my mind. I was obsessed with Veckatimest back in 2008 and now Shields has improved upon every facet of that album. This band’s knack for composition is pure genius.
12. Purity Ring – Shrines
Continuing on with the magic and fantasy them is Purity Ring. Shrines is basically the soundtrack to Tinker Bell’s LSD induced flight around Never Never Land. Megan James vocals are almost childlike and paired with the glitched out dream-pop bounce beats of Corin Roddick it makes for a serene sounding mix. This is Purity Ring’s first album and I always wonder what bands will do with their second release after becoming so popular right from the beginning. I hope their new stuff still sticks with Shrines whimsical vibe.
11. Chelsea Wolfe - Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs
Chelsea Wolfe’s voice is amazing and her music is the perfect mix of doom folk ambience. I was a little wary of Unknown Rooms, because I initially thought that it was going to be just Wolfe singing and playing her acoustic. Luckily it was a lot more than that. Wolfe’s backing band is one of the most talented groups of musicians ever assembled. The group along with Wolfe are able to create the best dark down tempo music while still avoiding all the obnoxious gloom that comes along with all things gothic. Apokalypsis ruled and Unknown Rooms does too. Also, I highly recommend looking up Wolfe on YouTube. She does a lot of random performances and sessions that are usually really interesting variations of her already recorded songs. Mazzy Star only wishes she could be this cool.
10. Torche – Harmonicraft
Torche are the happiest most intense metal band of all time. I have loved this band for quite some time and Harmonicraft gives me even more of reason to. This band supplies giant riff after riff. Torche are like Happy Birthday Cake party metal and any heavy band that is rad enough to put pony-goat dragons spewing rainbows on their album cover is always gonna be best friends with me. If you get a chance to see this band in concert, I suggest you do so. Easily on of the most intense live shows out right now.
9. Daughn Gibson – All Hell
If Elvis, The Smith’s, Massive Attack, and Waylon Jennings all had a “Slumber Party”, Daughn Gibson would be the pleasure toy that they would all pick out. All Hell provides the best soundtrack to a rainy day or boring afternoon with it’s mix of all kinds of electronic elements and reverbed out acoustic americana jams, I love how low Gibson’s voice is, it really gives his music a soulful nostalgic feeling.
8. Zambri – House of Baasa
I have to give Uncle Nate credit for this one. He had posted about Zambri a while back and when I heard their sound I had to become involved. Zambri is composed of two sisters who make some over-driven synth music. I was listening to this in my car with a friend and his first reaction was “This sounds like two psycho ex-girlfrineds from the 80′s”. While I don’t completely agree with my friend, I can understand where he is coming from. House of Baasa is filled with all kinds of echoed mood and their songs almost have this out of control desperation and loneliness to them. Also, the drums and beats on this album on House of Baasa are really engaging. Zambri you can stalk me anytime.
7. Marriages - Kitsune
Marriages is made up of members Emma Ruth Rundle, and Greg Burns from Red Sparrows (Dave Clifford also from Red Sparrows contributed to Kitsune). I like to think of Marriages as a more streamlined version of RS with some ghostly female vocals over the top. I have always been a big fan of RS and Marriages gives me the RS vibe with a touch more shoegaze. Kitsune is the group’s first release and consists of one giant song cut up into 6 different tracks. I am very excited about this band and I hope they continue to put out more quality stuff. Marriages need to come to SLC, I haven’t seen them live yet and I really want to.
6. Meshuggah – Koloss
Meshuggah are the ultimate brain scramblers. I don’t get into a lot of seriously heavy stuff because in my opinion there’s not a lot of variation or originality going on, but Meshuggah are an exception. After their 2002 breakthrough album Nothing the band kind of went on a weird journey. They released I, which was one 21 minute long drawn out song. With Catch Thirtythree another giant song cut up into 13 tracks; they decided to program their amazing drums instead of having Thomas Haake track them, which was a huge disappointment. On obZen it seemed that the band put all their creativity into one song on the album “Bleed” and let the rest just kind of become vanilla. With their latest Koloss, they are back in full destruction. Every song on the album is controlled chaos, solid album from start to finish. Seriously this band is so brutal!
5. 2:54 – 2:54
2:54 is the definition of sultry. The band is fronted by another sister duo, Collete Thurlow (vocals / guitar), Hannah Thurlow (guitar), and backed by two dudes in their rhythm section, a perfect combination. I randomly stumbled upon their pre-release single “Scarlet” and was hooked. I’ve probably listened to this album close to 100 times this year and I am still not sick of it. The songs are just simple, but have great rhythms to them and even better guitar work. My overall favorite thing about this band is Collete Thurlow’s vocals, pure seduction!
4. Deftones – Koi No Yokan
Look, I feel guilty putting the Deftones this high on my ‘Best of List’. Normally when the DTones put out an album it is my automatic #1 for the year, but there is something about this album that isn’t quite there. I have spent the past month or so trying to absorb Koi No Yokan and I can’t seem to connect with it. Don’t get me wrong, the album is still really good. I’m just not insanely obsessed with it as I have been with their past releases. However, the three song sequence of “Gauze”, “Rosemary”, and “Goon Squad” has to be one of the best trinities of songs in some time. Even though Deftones didn’t absolutely blow me away with their new album, even their somewhat sub-par jams are still 10 times better than most bands best efforts. I still love you Chino!
3. Captain Murphy – Duality
I was really down on hip-hop this year (sorry I’m not really feeling all the Black Hippies stuff) until the past couple months came with a couple of seriously amazing mixtapes. I’m not gonna pretend and act like I knew of Captain Murphy until it was revealed that he was Steven Ellison a.k.a. Flying Lotus, so I missed all the hype and mystery that was associated with the build up to the release of Duality. Regardless of the fact that I’m not hip and “in the know”, Duality is captivating, genius, and hilarious all at the same time. The samples, flow, and beats on “Mighty Morphin Foreskin” alone make this album worthy of being at the top of my list. There’s nothing like a cartoon rapper releasing an album based on becoming a cult leader to restore my faith in the hip-hop game. Haha. Free Download Link
2. Baroness – Yellow & Green
I loved Baroness’ first full length Red Album, it seemed like the band and their sound was basically Mastodon Jr. Then when Blue Record came out I lost my passion for the band. Blue Record really bugged me for some reason, I think some of it was how obsessed everyone became with that album and the band at the time. So I was hardly excited when I heard that Baroness was releasing a double album, but once I heard “March to the Sea” I was back on their bandwagon. Baroness far exceeded anything they had ever done with Yellow & Green and furthermore they destroyed everyone’s expectation of them to pieces. It still sucks that they had that gnarly bus crash; because if they would have been able to stay on the road, Baroness probably would have been one of the biggest bands of the year. Get well Gentlemen.
And finally …
1. Cities Aviv - Black Pleasure
It’s out of character for me to put this seemingly random hip-hop mixtape at the top of my ‘Best of List’, but I have to do it. It’s that amazing! I thoroughly enjoyed Citites Aviv’s last release Digital Lows and that album was also pretty high on last years list, this years Black Pleasure is even better. I love the dirty industrial claustrophobic 80′s vibe the whole album has. The beats are some of the coolest I have heard in a long time and the mysteriousness of Gavin Mays vocals buried under these mechanical sounding beats makes the album all the more appealing. I have read reviews on the album stating that the reason that Mays’ vocals are buried so deep is because he is unsure of his rhymes. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The vocals are mixed lower because it matches the cold and lonely feel of the album’s concept of trying to find pleasure where there is none. This is an album that concentrates on the disconnection and dystopia that everyday life is evolving into. If you listen to the extraordinary flow on “Simulation” and don’t agree with some of what Mays is saying you are in total denial. Black Pleasure is a classic album, that I’m not even sure the people involved truly appreciate. Maybe because its too ahead of its time. Like I tweeted before, “Black Pleasure is like having a wet dream with a Terminator” and that’s probably what the future is basically going to consist of…Ha!! Free Download Link
Well there you have it friends. Long read I know, but thanks for sticking with me. I would love to hear any comments or criticism regarding either my ordering of these albums or albums that I may have left off. All in all, it was a great year for tunes. I discovered a lot of great new bands and the bands that I already thought were great just further cemented their status of greatness in my mind. Thanks again for reading. Happy New Year!