MY FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF 2012
2012 was a tough year for music. At least according to me. There weren't really a lot of releases I was looking forward to since most releases by 'bands' I enjoy were released last year.
Perhaps I didn't spend enough time exploring all the releases properly since it's difficult enough to really digest an album if you have my short attention span. Most music was listened to in my car driving to work or uni. A great deal of the music I listened to was not even released this year. A lot of it was on the 'lighter' side, which never used to be the case. I decided to list my favourite 20 albums in no particular order. Each album fulfilled a different need, so it would be unfair to have favourites I guess.
Also-Joyeux Noel and love as always!
Mount Eerie- Clear Moon & Mount Eerie- Ocean Roar
Phil Elverum got it so right with his two releases this year. It's pretty difficult to describe the sound. His apparent influences for Clear Moon range from Burzum to Steve Reich. One could describe these influences as pretty vast (to say the least), which shows that these albums have a lot of promise. Where as Clear Moon (which was laos released first) is apparently the lighter of the two albums, Ocean Roar hits a little harder. Ocean Roar even includes a Popol Vuh cover, so again interesting influences are at works here. These two releases are defintely the most interesting and rich albums of the year.
best tracks: Clear Moon and Pale lights
A Hollow in the land-Self-Titled
This release once again proves that there is immense talent in South Africa.
The songs are well crafted and sort of hypnotizing. The music is so layered that it
would be difficult to get sick of as there is always something new to discover upon each listen. It doesn't come short of experimentation yet also offers well articulated emotions without going overboard. This is genuine and has without mistake been laboured over with passion and enthusiasm. Since it is a free download too you better be smart and get your internet paws on it.
best song: A call to arms
download it here: http://ahollowintheland.bandcamp.com/
The Cinematic Orchestra-In motion pt.1
I thought I was over this band when every single art house film started using their songs for trailers and when investment companies caught on and sort of spoiled the beauty of their songs for me by giving them a commercial connotation. When this album came out I didn't bother at first until a friend pointed out how good it is. The only downfall is that the album is possibly a little too long (or maybe my attention span is just a little too short?). Other than that definitely a step up for CInematic Orchestra.
best track: Necrology
Olafur Arnalds & NIls Frahm- Stare
Everything Nils Frahm touches turns to gold. Enough said. However, this is more of an Ep than an LP but let's let it slide...
best track: a1
Extra Life- Dream Seeds
Charlie Looker ( the band's frontman) is probably a serial killer or possibly once upon a time used to belong to an Amish community ( I mean that in a good way) and then neglected his roots. This album is heavy. Not in terms of the volume or manner in which instruments or vocals are approached, but rather due to Looker's manic self who's creepy self enriches the album and makes it extremely intriguing. Sort of like when you can't stop watching even though you know the wise thing would be to look a way and keep moving. The band has since the release disbanded, I guess one can only make such intense music for that long. I'm looking forward to seeing what Looker is going to pull next.
best track: blinded beast
Father John Misty- Fear fun
Father John Misty is not the name of a cult leader, but the moniker of musician Josh Tilman (ex- Fleet Foxes drummer). Fear fun is easy listening music, but it tells some sort of story. It's the perfect album to listen to when you're not sure what mood you're in. Having said that, that's what makes this album interesting, it's moodyness.
best track: Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings
Dan Deacon- America
Dan Deacon is strange. He seems hyper active yet in his outbursts there is some sort of careful consideration for everything he does. His music is noisy and assertive. I don't quite get the direct connection to America other than from the titles (four songs have USA int heir title), but an album that sounds like your hyper active friend that never runs short of energy can't be a bad thing right?
best track: USA IV: Manifest
Julia Holter- Ekstasis
Julia Holter came from nowhere. Her songs seem like they could be from another time, sung by some weird elfish thing (hate to admit this). However they are still extremely contemporary, experimental and relevant.
The album impressed me as I can't find a direct or obvious influence. This does not mean that it is extremely unique and weird, but maybe rather that it is sincere.
best track: Our Sorrows
Jacob Israel & A Skyline on fire- Songs for Sunrise
Songs for Sunrise is a soundtrack created to accompany the 1927 silent film Sunrise. The music was originally created for a once off performance at IMPAC film festival. Eventually (a year later) the recorded tracks were finetuned and released for free. The performance took place one last time and now this is what's left. A soundtrack which negotiates a story from a different time and helps to make it strangely familiar. The soundtrack is heartfelt and intense.
best song: In the City Part I (also the most catchy part in the film)
download it here: http://songsforsunrise.bandcamp.com/
Perfume Genius- Put your back N to it
This album is really surprising. It's got well crafted songs and is memorable. A vast improvement from the debut album.The music videos are also quite something. (Pretty) awkard comes to mind....
best track: Hood
Michael Gira is unpredictable. He is sort of likeable and yet so misleading. This double album is NOT easy to digest. After the previous Swans full-length we were fooled into believing that they'd made it easier for us, but this is not the case. This album is not an easy listen but so worth it. Despite the long songs (longest being 32min), there are also bits that are a little catchy (Lunacy). The album has an impact as it simply features Swans doing their thing, with you listening or not.
best track: Mother of the World
The Ocean Doesn't Want me- As the dust settles
This album is the most underrated release on my list. I have often wondered what would happen if these guys were in a different country where there is more of an appreciation for this type of sound. This album took about 3 years to make (obviously including the songwriting) and let's just say it shows. As the dust settles takes the genre a little further and challenges what a lot of heavy music has become by introducing a new element which remains unidentifiable yet clearly present. The lyrics are on a different level and the music drives them well.
favourite song: This castle stands alone
buy now & name your price: http://theoceandoesntwantme.com/
Beach House- Bloom
Yes yes yes...another Beach House album. Not going to explain.
best track: Myth
This album did not deliver. It had so much promise as the single Apples made us believe, but it definitely does not live up to Efterklang's previous work. However, Efterklang is still one ahead of most bands, so when they produce something standard it still outsmarts the rest. Despite my initial rejection of the album it is a pretty soothing album that could have been better, but regardless still grows on you.
best track: Between the walls
Advance Base- A shut in's prayer
Owen Ashworth has something to get off his chest, he has had for a while. Ashworth is the guy behind Casiotone for the painfully alone, which has been going for 13 years. He has released a couple of albums and then decided to change his name. I'm not sure why. Maybe because he is emotionally maturing (as are his songs) and this called for a fresh start? His music is sort of like someone that mumbles a side comment which might seem unimportant at the time, but on second thought seems sincere and spot on. (Also- O.Ashworth only owns this plaid shirt)
best track: New Gospel
Godspeed you! Black emperor - 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
I am no fan of bands reforming after being on a several year hiatus (Refused, ATDI, and no this!). Most bands lose their credibility when they have their grande comeback. When I heard that GYBE reformed I was far from thrilled. I was rather irritated because it seemed like 'selling out' (i know i know). When months later a new album was announced I grew even more sceptical. Luckily I was curious enough, and as much as I want to say "it's OVER", I really enjoyed this release. It's just good ol' Godspeed!
favourite song: We drift like worried fire
Grizzly Bear- Shields
Grizzly Bear's strength is that they are a consistent band that writes solid memorable tracks. This album has a few really good, well-written, layered songs on it. The only problem is that the 'filler tracks' could be a little more exciting to maintain the balance. Songs like Gun-Shy and Yet Again make one want to listen to it yet again and again though, so just as Grizzly's other albums it has proves itself by offering a few super solid songs.
best track: Gun-Shy
Frank Ocean-Channel Orange
This one is hard to put down. Not because it's not good enough, but rather because I hate admitting to myself that I actually like an R&B album. Frank Ocean made a massive entrance when he came out of the closet earlier this year. All the music blogs posted his letter. It was well written and sincere, which made people curious (or me at least). So eventually (months later) when running dry of music, I finally budged. I am glad I did.
best track: Pyramids (duh)
Lower Dens- Nootropics
A friend pointed this band out to me. I liked the album cover so figured why not (shallow, I know). This album is defined by its minimal approach. The songs are stripped down to the 'bare necessities', but that's where its charm lies. Apart from being good living room dance music it also serves long distances rather well:).
best track: Lamb
Despite only getting my hands on this album about 2 weeks ago, Molly needs to be on the list. I only discovered her sound this year. I mostly listened to her album 'These things take time' (2008), which is still a better release than History. However, History features a fantastic cover of You only hurt the ones you love, which I can't stop listening to.
best track: You Always Hurt The One You Love
John Maus- A collection of rarities and previously unreleased material
This should probably not be on here. All of these songs were released pre 2012. Another 'best of' of previously unreleased Maus tracks has been released only about a year prior to this. Thus, this only leaves one with about 8 'new' tracks. Yet, these tracks are well worth it and since it's the first time we're hearing them the '2012' tag seems fair enough. Another thing that makes this great is that the Album cover is by Wolfgang Tillmans (say whaaat).
best track: Bennington (2007)
(this guy knows all about sweatin' it up)
Chelsea Wolfe-Unknown rooms: a collection of acoustic songs
Not too smooth neither too raw. Also not goffff.
best song: Boyfriend
Death Grips- The Money Store
The Men- Open up your heart
Aesop Rock- Skelethon
Peter Broderick- www.itstartshear.com
Oren Ambarchi-Audience of one
A Watermark High-In Flux
The Antlers- Undersea