My last post was about the concept of taste, good and bad and how can that possibly really be defined. So I'm here to define my taste for you for 2012. These are my favourite albums of 2012. The ones that drilled into my heart and brain. They have variances in style but I guess they are mainly rock based with crucially plenty of melody, heart and emotion and hopefully originality. 2012 seemed like a good year for music. Probably quiet to start but strong to finish. Especially that week in September that hit like a cyclone. In one remarkable week we received new albums from Grizzly Bear, Woods and Menomena. All of them sublime and all finishing in my top 5 albums of the year. Up until then I was pretty certain the debut album from Father John Misty would rise above all, but it proved that Portland trio Menomena would come out on top. Their heart breaking and honest album struck a chord like few others. There were, in the end, other albums that didn't strike with me. I can easily see the artistic merit of Frank Ocean's opus but I guess the style didn't gel with me. Albums from Japandroids and Grimes also didn't hit with me. I really couldn't see the fuss over those two. There were disappointments too. Band Of Horses, Silversun Pickups and The Shins released albums that ranged from bad to average. But let's not dwell on the negative. Here's to my favourite albums. These all excited and delighted me in 2012!
After Brent Knopf left we possibly weren't sure what would happen next. I doubt we expected an album of this magnitude and complexity. This music relates on so many levels. It has grooves and moves thrashing out everywhere and contains an emotional honesty rare in any form of music. It's angry, confident, fun, revealing in each and every song. Every time I listen to this album I discover something more. I'm actually stunned I don't see this more on top 50 lists. It belongs there and how. This is an ebullient, scary good album of great, great, music.
2. Shields-Grizzly Bear
Is there a band on earth more on top of its game? This is four supremely talented musicians making music that is complex and engaging at all levels. Each listen revealed a little bit more. It's harmonies and melodies overload at times. The arrangements are supremely magnificent and like all good music it has a startling emotional complexity. "Shields" will only get better in time too. When some faddish 2012 music will fade in time this album will resonate strongly for decades.
MP3: Sleeping Ute
3. Fear Fun-Father John Misty
This album made me smile like no other in 2012. Each song was just so much fun and so incredibly warm. J. Tillman stepped out from behind the drum kit and showed off his voice and even his dance moves. He embraced the Laurel Canyon sound and delivered us song after song of ridiculous melody and golden harmony. This is purely great music.
MP3: Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
4. Bend Beyond-Woods
Man, do I love this band and this album. Speaking of melody this New York band does it better then anyone. Their songs are mostly short and sweet but they are oh so sweet. The opening chords hit instantly and often, producing songs that lodge in your cranium and stay for days. I don't think any other album this year had the ability to stay and stay with me.
MP3: Wind Was The Wine
5. Bloom-Beach House
"Myth" signaled greatness from the opening second and this superlative album didn't let up or let me down. The Baltimore duo weave a magical tapestry creating songs of grace and beauty. The arrangements are subtle and complex, giving us music full and imagination and verve.
6. Heaven-The Walkmen
Maturity doesn't have to mean stagnation. The Walkmen are the perfect example. They are growing old gracefully, creating music that is stirring and powerful. They might be mellowing a touch in their style but they are producing albums of graceful power.
MP3: Line By Line
7. Allelujah! Don't Bend Ascend-Godspeed You! Black Emperor
I wasn't expecting a new album, but I was oh so grateful for one. This legendary band returned after a long break with a slab of power and divine beauty. "Mladic" would become the song of the year. Twenty minutes of epic glory. A statement. We need this band in our lives.
8. Clear Moon-Mount Eerie
If Phil Elverum didn't exist I think we would have to invent him. The man is a genius, a musical savant. In 2012 he released two album of greatness. Two albums that connect with the heart and the earth that we live on. This one was marginally better.
MP3: House Shape
9. Local Business-Titus Andronicus
Following the monumental masterpiece that was "The Monitor" was always going to be a tough ask. So the band went smaller and still managed to give us a great album full of rage, fun and honesty. It screamed, it cried, it laughed. It puked. I loved it. It made me scream with pleasure.
MP3: Ecce Homo
10. A Thing Called Divine Fits-Divine Fits
What happens when Britt Daniel and Dan Boeckner form a band. A band that knows how to write a damn fine song. There was plenty to love here even if the music didn't steer too far from the Spoon/Handsome Furs template. But that's hardly a bad thing. Intoxicating.
MP3: Civilian Stripes
11. America-Dan Deacon
If not as great as "Bromst" this was a damn fine album. The first half was a pleasure, a sugar rush. The second half gave us the epic "USA" suite. Dan's the man!
12. Charge Group-Charge Group
Australia's finest produced the finest Australian album of this year. Their second album was robust, stirring and complex. Sweeping and epic, it was rewarding and satisfying.
13. Heartbreaking Bravery-Moonface
Any regular reader would know of my high esteem for Spencer Krug. He once again produced the goods with epic songs of lyrical dexterity and dripping emotion.
14. Centipede HZ-Animal Collective
Not their greatest album? Well, it's still better than 90% of music being made out there. This was difficult at times and certainly challenging. Perhaps that's why I love them so much.
15. We Keep The Beat Found The Sound See The Need Start The Heart-Jonathan Boulet
Hello Australia! Don't sleep on this band. Drop the Boy and Bear and get some Boulet in your life. It's ecstatic and euphoric. Fun and ferocious.
This band consistently produces albums of dark, brooding hypnotic music. This was perhaps their best album yet. Pushing the boundaries and making us all happier for that.
17. No One Knows What Happens Next-Hallelujah The Hills
File this under 'most under rated band in the world'. There's nothing wrong with guitars and drums combining to produce songs of stark honesty and great melody.
18. Tramp-Sharon Van Etten
The album that brought Sharon to a whole wider world. Her voice soars and glides with little effort. With the help of some esteemed friends she produced a truly great album.
19. Ocean Roar-Mount Eerie
Pale Lights, Pale Lights, Pale Lights! What an opener to a wonderful album. I really can't wait to see these songs produced live in January.
20. Open Your Heart-The Men
Holy crap! My hair is on fire! This struck like a sledgehammer and did not let up. Ferocious and angry this is the sound of punk in 2012. Just play it loud for full benefit.
21. The Carpenter-The Avett Brothers
Country, blue grass, rock. Whatever you wish to call it The Avett Brothers do it as well as anyone. Once again they have crafted an album of enormous heart and purity.
22. The Bloom and The Blight-Two Gallants
Seemingly critically ignored I wish to plead this duo's case. Angry, fiery music with the utmost passion and brimstone. This album always gives me a kick just when I need it most.
23. Prophet-Ramona Falls
Out now totally from the Menomena family, Brent Knopf is staking his claim with music of subtlety and nuance. Music of fierce intelligence.
24. Boys and Girls-Alabama Shakes
An album that came with plenty of hype but totally lived up to it. Soul for the 21st century. Brittany Howard's voice rises like a sentinel, swallowing us whole. Happily.
25. The End of That-Plants and Animals
You really shouldn't be sleeping on this Montreal band. If not at the supreme heights of their previous two albums there was still plenty to love and adore here.
26. I Predict A Graceful Expulsion-Cold Specks
A stirring and luminescent album of delirious peaks. It has been described as doom soul which does go somewhere close to giving you the idea of the effect of this album.
27. Put Your Back N 2 It-Perfume Genius
If you want and need emotional honesty and raw wounds then Mike Hadreas is the man to see. The songs are short and brief, but boy do they pack a big punch.
28. Acousmatic Sorcery-Willis Earl Beal
His story was a mystery. Where did he actually come from? But whatever this album contained many lo-fi gems infused with nuance and grit.
29. The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do-Fiona Apple
Seven years was definitely worth the wait for this quixotic woman to return with an album of electric songs, brimming with passion and revealing emotions.
30. Swing Lo Magellan-Dirty Projectors
Like most Dirty Projectors records this album contained highs and lows. Peaks and troughs. But the highs were knocked out of the park. There is no one quite like this band.
31. Total Dust-Dusted
Holy Fuck's Brian Borcherdt delivers songs that are minimal but muscular.
32. Spooky Action At A Distance-Lotus Plaza
Bradford Cox is not the only talented member of Deerhunter.
33. Blunderbuss-Jack White
His first solo album does much to increase the Jack White legend.
34. Toward The Low Sun-Dirty Three
After a long absence the legends return a album full of depth and beauty.
35. Maraqopa-Damien Jurado
Jurado is easily one of the best songwriters on the planet.
36. Shut Down The Streets-A.C. Newman
Newman's third solo album is a mellower yet still essential effort.
37. The Way We Move-Langhorne Slim & the Law
Rocking and rolling. Hearts asunder, much fun had here.
The Books are no more but this a good substitute for me to pin my ears on.
39. Valtari-Sigur Ros
The Icelanders still know how to create a world unlike any other.
40. The Clearing-Bowerbirds
Dark and tempting, this is quite simply a beautiful album.
41. Dark Shores-Strand of Oaks
Full of mystery and shining moments of melody.
42. Bill, Dance, Shiner-Bearhug
One of Australia's best young bands produce a commendable debut album.
43. Break It Yourself-Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird once again gives us a rich and complex musical creation.
44. Putrifiers II-Thee Oh Sees
Wild, wacky, chaotic and full of fun. But also depth.
45. Attack On Memory-Cloud Nothings
Epic and huge. Did I say huge?
46. Eight And A Half-Eight And A Half
Canada still has it. This was a delightful listen.
47. We Are All Fire-Cars & Trains
Sweet little melodies wrapped in meaning and substance.
Calexico returned with another fine and rewarding album.
49. Let's Go Eat The Factory-Guided By Voices
What do you mean they only released three albums this year?
Last but not least. A hypnotic statement.