Sunday, 23 December 2012

Albums of the Year 2012

As 2012 puts on its pipe and slippers and starts to relax in front of the fire, it's time to reminisce about the last 12 months. 2012 was pretty excellent all round (remember that little Olympic party that London threw in the summer?) - musically there were lots and lots of good albums, although I'm not sure there were that many truly great ones. Time will prove whether the albums below were real classics or just a flash in the pan, but for what it's worth here are my favourite records of the year.

1. alt-J - An Awesome Wave
An intriguing and beguiling album - great production (especially the percussive sounds), unusual melodies and arrangements, intelligent and dark lyrics all combine to make a fresh, undefinable sound and a band with a great future. Sometimes the Mercury Prize judges get it right!

2. Oddisee - People Hear What They See
Hands down the best hip hop album of 2012, on his debut album as a fully fledged rapper Amit 'Oddisee' Mohamed crafts an assured, intelligent and classy record. Whether he's examining his own life (on You Know Who You Are) or ripping into US capitalism (on American Greed) he never fails to entertain.

3. Pinkunoizu - Free Time!
A Danish band with a Japanese name, this is high concept lo-fi psychedelia that manages to sound like it's been made in the four corners of the globe and in the middle of outer space, all at the same time.

4. Perfume Genius - Put Your Back N 2 It
Although at times achingly fragile, there is a deep, underlying strength to this album. The gentle melodies and haunting arrangements hide the lyrics of someone who is prepared to fight for what they believe in and for who they love. As Mike Hadreas (aka Perfume Genius) said this year "If Rick in Pittsburgh or whatever isn't going to listen to my music because I'm gay, fuck it".

5. Tame Impala - Lonerism
A glorious blend of The Beatles, glam rock, The Flaming Lips, Electric Light Orchestra, Pink Floyd, Super Furry Animals and lost more. Best played incredibly loud and very often.

6. Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka - They!Live
Recorded in Berlin, but influenced equally by the UK and Detroit as Germany, this is a deep, warm dance record, full of light and shade, with guest vocals from Abigail Wyles on a number of tracks. Since I bought it back in January it's slowly but surely crept into my head and become a firm favourite.

7. Gang Colours - The Keychain Collection
Smouldering, moody, mostly calm but occasionally petulant, this is a simple, melodic and elegant album. Influences range from James Blake to Gold Panda with a fair bit of originality too. Like the shy boy at school, you should let this album ask you out on a date - it'll be worth it.

8. Ryan Davis - Particles Of Bliss
Melodic German tech-house, similar in feel to last year's Dominik Eulberg album. At times melancholic, bit always melodic, and a cut above most electronic dance music.

9. Chrome Canyon - Elemental Themes
Like the soundtrack to the best 80s film John Carpenter or Ridley Scott never made, this is a record that pays dividends if you listen to it all in one go and sink into the universe it creates.

10. The Gaslamp Killer - Breakthrough
Released on Brainfeeder earlier this year, this is an immense mix of music and styles. Unfairly criticised in some parts as being nothing more than a collection of sketches, while it occassionally misses the targer this is a record that's not afraid to aim high.

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