Saturday, December 8, 2012

Yeah, yeah, yeah...It's Our Favorite Albums of 2012

And we're here again.  It's that time in December when i debate if i should go ahead and spend the time it takes me to compile and post about my favorite albums of the year (in-ter-net?), or if i should wait another couple of weeks to take a listen to some last minute albums (Scott Walker anyone?).  But what the hell?  Everybody else is doing it, so why shouldn't i do it too?

So without further ado...

Action Bronson - Blue Chips:  As i've said a hundred times before, i love hip-hop mixtapes.  More often than not, they are more fun and creative than any kind of proper album.  "Blue Chips" is no different.  A fat, bald, bearded, Algerian New York slimeball laying down some sick lines over producer Party Supplies' random beats and samples, all the while leaving in all the mistakes and hiccups.  Excellent.

Beach House - Bloom:  The duo behind Beach House are nothing if not consistent.  Each album takes them further down their dreamy pop path.  And while their previous work was good, "Bloom" knocks it out of the park.  One of their tunes is based around a sound from the Zelda video game, and that's all i need.

Chromatics - Kill For Love:  This one seems to be on everyone's list.  And with good reason.  Dreamy electronics, pretty vocals, a pitch perfect Neil Young cover, and a collection of songs that's damn near perfect.  "Kill For Love" should be in everyone's collection.

Dinosaur On Fire - Sleep Moon Voyage:  The artist describes his record as the soundtrack to a kid playing and defeating a video game.  And that's what it is...and that's awesome.

The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends:  Not so much a proper album as a collection of songs from a multitude of sessions with a multitude of different artists.  Nick Cave, Tame Impala, Bon Iver, Neon Indian, Ke$ha, Yoko Ono, and on and on and on.  I realize the Lips have a new record due next year, but this collection is a lot of fun and suits me just fine.

Flying Lotus - Until The Quiet Comes:  Another artist with a consistent body of work who just nailed it this year is producer Flying Lotus.  "Until The Quiet Comes" moves all over the place, but still plays like one solid and haunting concept.

Philip Glass - Rework:  Yes, a remix album has made the list.  But it's a very different kind of remix album.  Think of it more as reinterpretations.  A great collection of artists like Beck, Dan Deacon, Pantha Du Prince, and more take apart the classical works of composer Philip Glass and restructure them into something remarkable.

Julia Holter - Ekstasis:  Weird and quirky and eclectic, Julia Holter's second album is intoxicating.  It can be a little difficult, but very rewarding, a droney wonderland.

Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music:  Finally the angry, aggressive, political hip-hop album i've been waiting for.  Killer Mike is pissed (like Ice Cube was back in 1990 before family movies and Coors Light commercials), and he calls out everyone for their bullshit.  The production work from El-P only accentuates that aggression.  Fantastic.

Lower Dens - Nootropics:  Apparently all Jana Hunter had to do to rediscover her muse was to ditch her Devendra Banhart associations, move to Baltimore, and create moody, echoed jams with a bunch of dudes. It worked.  The band's second album burns and soars and aches.

Frank Ocean - Channel Orange:  I can't add anything to internet ether in regards to what's already been written about Frank Ocean and his excellent "Channel Orange" album.  All that i'll say is that i usually can't stomach 99% of modern R&B music.  It makes my ears bleed.  But this album kills.  And it makes me want to get down.

Pallbearer - Sorrow and Extinction:  Dope smoking metal heads from Arkansas with a devotion to Black Sabbath and a crushing sound to cave your skull in.  Sign me up.

Quakers - Quakers:  One of the funnest hip-hop albums i've ever heard, featuring a bevy of rappers doing their thing over the excellent production of Portishead's Geoff Barrow.  You must own this.

Spiritualized - Sweet Heart Sweet Light:  Seeing as this is the best work from Jason Pierce and co. since 1997's "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space," there's no way it could not be on my year-end list.  Continuing the psychedelic journey he began in the 80's with Spacemen 3, "Sweet Heart Sweet Light" unfolds like some lost Velvet Underground record.  Please disregard the stupid album art.

Andy Stott - Luxury Problems:  Entrancing and addicting from the very first echoed vocal, the record then begins to slowly churn and bubble under whispered synths and stoned beats.  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.

Swans - The Seer:  A sprawling, dark, creepy, unsettling cacophony of sound from the always formidable Swans.  It's their masterpiece.

Symmetry - Themes From an Imaginary Film:  The album title sums up Johnny Jewel's opus.  It's the perfect score to hard burning modern film noir, and endlessly listenable.  Why don't you listen to the whole thing now?  You've got 2 free hours right?

Tame Impala - Lonerism:  Australia's Tame Impala just make fun psyche-rock jams that are catchy as hell, and their latest album just perfects what they were already doing.  Above all, it just puts me in a great mood.

Trust - TRST:  I gotta be honest with myself, this is my favorite album of the year.  Gothed-out, Depeche Mode-inspired pop songs.  I'm a sucker for that kind of stuff.  Pasty white kids unite!

Vaura - Selenelion:  Part prog-rock, part math-rock, part metal, Vaura's debut album is totally the kind of thing old record store employs secretly recommend to their like minded clientele.  You're either a part of the club or you're not.  (You totally want to be in the club.)

Wreathes - Wreathes:  Since we're all supposed to be dead in two weeks anyway, here's a bonus record for my year end list.  Wreathes sounds like a bunch of drunk Gypsies together in an abandoned warehouse, reading occult materials, beating the hell out of a bunch a classical instruments, and chanting a mantra to the old gods.  Seriously, what is there not to love about that?

So there you have it.  Until we meet again.

(Favorite songs of the year to come.)

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