Thursday, January 10, 2013

Best Albums of 2012

10. Animal Collective - Centipede Hz
The critics dismissed this album as a group trying too hard to be commercially successful. As somebody who was not fan of their often inaccessible earlier works, I found the shift to more traditional, pop-based song structures and melodies to really expose the band’s talent as it is more difficult to create within a structure. While some songs on this album miss, others rank up there with the best the band has created.

9. Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory
This album pays homage to Kurt Cobain and the 90’s Sub Pop Seattle-era sound. Yet, the band do so in a unique way that doesn't sound like a bad parody. Moody, hard-rocking at times and melodic, but also well-crafted and catchy.

8. Sigur Rose – Valtari
Two Icelandic groups on one list? What are the odds? Known for lyrics created from a made-up language, many overlooked this album as more of the same layered, cosmic, operatic sounds. But it is a patient and beautiful album.

7. The Walkmen – Heaven
A band that consistently makes great albums, I first found Heaven a little hard to embrace. I wanted to hear a band looking to expand its repertoire. But after another few listens, this album grew on me and made me appreciate artists working with a sound they have perfected.

6. Willis Earl Beal - Acousmatic Sorcery
This album is the equivalent of walking down a city street and encountering a street musician that is mesmerizing and brilliant. As lo-fi as any album I have ever heard, but genius in its simplicity. Part blues artist, part Jimmy Hendrix, but in whole a unique, creative artist.

5. Of Monsters and Men - My Head is an Animal
The best thing out of Iceland since Bjork and Sigur Ros, this delicate little album is a fun, playful listen. They are a happy, chipper version of Arcade Fire. 

4. Alabama Shakes - Boys  & Girls
If you haven’t heard or heard of Alabama Shakes by now, you’ve been living under a rock. Anybody who loves Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and Al Green knows that singing with true, heart-wrenching soul is not something that can be faked or mimicked. You have to have that God-given talent. And lead singer Brittney Howard has it.

3. Divine Fits - A Thing Called Divine Fits
Super groups almost never work. Many times, you get artists who collectively compromise their sound. But this combo of Britt Daniel of Spoon fame and Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade joined forces, we got a group that knew how to capitalize on that talent. You get strong essences of Spoon and Wolf Parade in this album, and that’s a very good thing.   

2. Lotus Plaza - Spooky Action at a Distance
What makes this album so great is that it doesn’t sound like a guy fighting to get a single on the radio, yet each song is so elegantly and expertly crafted, you want to listen over and over again. With simple lyrics complimenting well-crafted melodies, this is a must own work.

1. Tame Impala – Lonerism
An album that harkens back to the days of 60’s and 70’s rock, yet has a sound all of its own.  Perhaps I have a soft spot for Aussie rockers, but these guys take more from the psychedelic-era Beatles than they do AC/DC. 


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