TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2012 (Listen on Spotify)
10. Divine Fits – Divine Fits
The concept of a supergroup has been distilled to tasteless dribble as of late—but the combination of Spoon’s Britt Daniel and Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner is most deserving of such a title. Divine Fits combines the best elements of both aforementioned outfits in a tightly-crafted effort that’s maturely concise and exploratory in nature.
9. Wild Nothing – Nocturne
The market for shimmery lo-fi pop rock is nothing short of saturated at the moment, but no one manages to make such a familiar sound feel so distinct as Wild Nothing. The same driving melodies that made Gemini great are present on Nocturne—but a graduation to expanded instrumentalism and a range of production risks elevate this record to places its predecessor simply didn’t venture.
8. Lambchop – Mr. M
Likely to be heard in a West Texas saloon on “Rat Pack Night,” Lambchop’s 11th effort, Mr. M, is the biggest anomaly on this list…but it’s also one of the more likeable albums included. Here, we find Kurt Wagner warbling about Millennial issues like taking pictures with camera phones juxtaposed with issues of a more personal nature—and somehow it all seems to compile quite nicely.
7. Mount Eerie – Clear Moon
Clear Moon and its counterpart, Ocean Roar, offer up a kind of foggy, faraway sound that instantly places the listener in a place that’s both refreshingly singular and depressingly solitary. Conjuring up plenty of comparisons to Mark Kozelek’s Sun Kil Moon project, the acoustic guitar jangling paired with airy percussion and foley noise is at once calming and nerve-wracking.
6. Tame Impala – Lonerism
No outfit did more with what’s already been done in 2012 than Tame Impala. Their second album, Lonerism, is a superb homage to 1960s psychedelica, humming with guitar fuzz and synth whizz like a lost collection of Beatles sessions recorded in India. The whole thing warps and washes its way through, making for very fitting accompaniment during the hazier moments of your day.
5. Tanlines – Mixed Emotions
Expanding and improving on the calypso-tronic efforts of 2010’s Settings EP, Tanlines has created some of the most entertaining music of the year on Mixed Emotions. Pulsing with tropically-influenced synths and lazy vocals, it’s not a chore imagining this album’s 11 tracks smoothly emitted over the scene at a rooftop LA pool party…which, I’m sure, happened about six thousand times last summer.
4. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Raucously fun and lyrically bombastic, the Japandroids’ sophomore effort clangs as loud as the best house party you’ve been to and leaves you with an equally deserved hangover. While it will only ever feel right to chant along to the nine tracks on Celebration Rock with arms draped around close friends, it’s not unlikely that this Canadian duo will be making rounds with some of rock’s great rebels, in front of khaki-wearing corporate types, for the duration of 2013.
3. Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE
Betwixt all the trendy drama surrounding Frank Ocean’s sexual orientation is the kind of artist that R&B has sorely missed for a more than a decade. Not since D’Angelo or Aaliyah has one singer from the genre been so universally praised, and with good reason. channel ORANGE is an assured masterpiece of modern love and lust…a hipster portrait of adolescence without any of the clichéd hipster hangups.
2. Twin Shadow – Confess
Like the soundtrack to some unproduced Lost Boys sequel, Confess is the kind of John Hughes-on-coke schlock that could only feel right if done right. Thankfully, George Lewis Jr. is the right man for the job. Clad in a leather jacket, riding a Triumph, Lewis champions the post-pop slickness of Confess in ways his contemporaries can’t.
1. Father John Misty – Fear Fun
It’s not like J. Tillman is the first guy to adopt the Laurel Canyon sound for this second decade of the new millennium, but he might be the most strung out. Unlike artists like Dawes who can’t seem to escape the jaded confusion of middle-20s life, on Fear Fun, Tillman is confident in his drug-addled existence, painting bizarre stories of ayahuasca binges and seedy men of the Hollywood underground. Though largely schizophrenic, this record is a triumph from start to finish—and it’s likely we haven’t quite seen the last of Father John Misty, the Dodgers fan and the ladies’ man.
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Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan
Patrick Watson – Adventures in Your Own Backyard
Niki & The Dove – Instinct
Beach House – Bloom
Sigur Ros – Valtari
Yellow Ostrich – Strange Land
Mac Demarco – Cooking Up Something Good
The Helio Sequence – Negotiations
Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man
Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn’t
Carly Rae Jepsen – Kiss
Passion Pit – Gossamer
The Killers – Battle Born
Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city
Sun Kil Moon – Among the Leaves
St. Lucia – St. Lucia
Exitmusic – Passage
Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It
Bloc Party – Four
Nick Waterhouse – Time’s All Gone
Purity Ring – Shrines
Dan Deacon – America
Lost Lander – DRRT
Bear In Heaven – I Love You, It’s Cool
Diiv – Oshin
Kishi Bashi – 151a
The Men – Open Your Heart