a few posters made by a nine year old about panda bear for school
My Favorite Albums of 2012: #10 - 1
I already wrote about some of the music I enjoyed the most this year over here, and now here are my top 10 albums of the year.
10. Japandroids - Celebration Rock
Japandroids are a perfect example of people just loving what they do and living their dream. The reason they even made this album was for an excuse to go on tour. They had been on tour for so long that they made a new album just so they could keep touring. There’s no grandeur here. It’s simply 35 minutes of blazing guitar rock, all played with relentless intensity and invincibility by two guys who probably can’t even believe any of this is happening to them. From the opening to closing sounds of fireworks, every song is an anthem. Celebration Rock rejoices the past, accepts with the knowledge that the world is not always a beautiful place, and struggles with the idea that the good times may not last forever and the future is unpredictable, but over all of that, it’s a soundtrack to freedom and ambition, appreciating that every second is precious. The title says exactly what this album really is: a celebration of being alive.Favorite songs: The House That Heaven Built, Younger Us, Fire’s Highway
9. of Montreal - Paralytic Stalks
Right from the beginning, after starting off with a bang with “Gelid Ascent”, I was already thinking that I was going to find a new favorite of Montreal album here. Paralytic Stalks is thrashing and rocking, and it’s great. It goes in a direction further away from electronics and more towards live, physical instrumentation and gives their sound an aesthetic that feels more energetic and natural, and I really liked that. It also shows Kevin Barnes in a dark place. He has never shown himself this broken or written a more honest album.
Favorite songs: Ye, Renew the Plaintiff, Dour Percentage, We Will Commit Wolf Murder
8. Titus Andronicus - Local Business
How do you follow up an ambitious, blown-out, epic masterpiece set around the Civil War like The Monitor? You can either try and top it, or go in the opposite direction. Titus Andronicus those the second, and it was probably the best choice to make. Local Business scaled back and went for a more stripped-down, and guitar-driven sound. Although stripped back and simpler, it still maintains the energy that made past releases so good. This album doesn’t go for the same heights as the previous one, but still works well on a smaller scale.
Favorite songs: Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape With The Flood Of Detritus, My Eating Disorder, Tried to Quit Smoking
7. Right Away, Great Captain! - The Church of the Good Thief
It is here that Andy Hull’s cinematic trilogy comes to a somber close. The trilogy tells the story a 17th century sailor journaling his time out at sea, tortured by the memories of wife who has cheated on him with his own brother. This album picks up where the second left off, the sailor returning home after six years with the intention of killing both his wife and brother. After being sent to prison to await his execution for the murders, he describes his final moments, speaks with the ghost of his dead captain, reflects on his past that has brought him to where he is, and details his mental journey as he is finally put to rest. As the finale to the trilogy, I was really looking forward to this one. After the demo for “Blame” was posted on Andy Hull’s tumblr in mid-2011, this became one of my most anticipated for this year, but sort of fell from my memory until just three days before it came out. The major point of beauty here is in Andy Hull’s skills as a songwriter and eloquent storyteller. A quiet guitar or piano back his chilling, soaring voice, vividly conveying the pain in each song to accompany his engrossing lyrics. It is a reflection of absolute grief and realization. Andy Hull’s craftsmanship of a heartbreaking story creates a brilliant finale that displays the power of storytelling through music. Once it’s over, you’ll sit in a reflective silence even after the last note echo’s away.
Favorite songs: I Am Aware, Old Again, Blame
6. Animal Collective - Centipede Hz
There were a lot of details about this album that captured my interest before this was released. The band went more for a live band feel. The songs came out of physically being in a room together and jamming and was recorded that way as well, as opposed to sending files to each other over the internet while they work individually. It implemented mostly physical instruments this time instead of mostly electronics. These initial details really appealed to me, and the more organic, aggressive, and energetic result made this one of my favorite Animal Collective albums. Deakin describes this album best: “From the first note of Merriweather you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I just wanna dance.’ This is more like, ‘This is amazing but I’m confused and I don’t quite know what’s going on and I think I need to listen to it again and maybe I should turn it off.”Favorite Songs: Mercury Man, New Town Burnout, Amanita
5. Tame Impala - Lonerism
This album just rules. It rules hard. While taking influence from 60’s psychedelic rock, it does not sound like it’s trying too hard to revive anything back from the past. Tame Impala brings in their own ideas and is something entirely on it’s own. Lonerism digs deeper into the sounds and ideas of Innerspeaker, and improves on them in every way. It’s rich in textures and splashes of colors. This album is full of jams, and they come one after the other so consistently. It’s full of blissful melodies, shimmering synths, thick and fuzzy riffs, driving rhythms, and layered and warm textures, which all work towards making it one of most enjoyable listening experiences I’ve had this year.
Favorite songs: Why Won’t They Talk to Me?, Music to Walk Home By, Apocalypse Dreams, Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
4. Perfume Genius - Put Ur Back N 2 It
A man and a piano. Something that everyone has heard, but not like this. The beauty of this album come from it’s simplicity and honesty. I haven’t heard an album this raw and emotional in a while. What’s really interesting is how no song lasts more than a little over three minutes, but manages to pack so much emotion in each one. Mike Hadreas is working through a history of pain, and you can hear it in his fragile, quivering voice stripped bare of anything but pure emotion. It’s heartbreaking, devastating, delicate, and haunting. It is an album’s worth of struggle and scars that may never fully heal. It weeps from every crack. He paints portraits of a lifetime of domestic abuse, homosexual repression, suicide, drug addiction, and prostitution. And all the while, there is the underlying hope that there hopefully will be change.
Favorite songs: Dark Parts, Hood, Sister Song
3. Grizzly Bear - Shields
Grizzly Bear was a band that I wasn’t too big on before, and this was an album that I wasn’t really looking out for. I did like previous albums, but there was something about them that I couldn’t quite grasp what I was listening to. I could listen to an album all the way through, but once it was over, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what I had just listened to. But here, I did not find this problem at all. Shields is much more abrasive, while releasing all energy with such control and precision all the way from the opening riff to the closing piano line. This is Grizzly Bear at the height of their instrumental, harmonic, and compositional craft. This album explores and pulls off a common ground between so many different styles and structures without ever sounding disjointed. It creates walls and barriers just to have them come crashing down, swirl around, sprawl, dissolve, and do it all over again. The contrast of tumultuous and tranquil creates an interesting dynamic that’s never been achieved by this band before, and makes it one of the most satisfying releases this year.
Favorite songs: Yet Again, Sleeping Ute, Sun in Your Eyes
2. Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan
Dirty Projectors was another band I was never very interested in. This was another album I wasn’t watching out for, so I was even more surprised with what I heard when I first listened to “Gun Has No Trigger.” Swing Lo Magellan is a departure of the layered and eccentric previous albums, and is instead with added structure, and for the first time, a much more stripped down sound. While these songs are more direct and accesible than anything else they’ve done, there is still a whole lot of musical exploration put into this album. Even with a more scaled back approach, Dirty Projectors are still one of those most eclectic bands I’ve heard. David Longstreth’s melodies, harmonies, and rhythmic complexity work together flawlessly. Still filled with angular guitars, jumbled rhythms and beats, beautiful female vocal harmonies, and the contrast between dissonant sounds and bright vocal melodies, this is one of the most interesting albums to listen to this year. Also, Amber Coffman and Haley Dekle do some wonderful things with their vocals.
Favorite songs: About to Die, Gun Has no Trigger, Swing Lo Magellan, See What She Seeing
1. Sigur Rós - Valtari
As a return from their hiatus after scrapping a nearly completed new album in 2009, this was my most anticipated release this year. When the first song, Ekki Múkk, was released, I could not stop listening to it. Then the album came out, and it was one of those albums that once you start listening to it, it takes over you and you’re into it until the very end. It’s one of those albums that doesn’t have it’s full effect unless you’re in a certain mood, and once you’re in that mood, you’re left motionless in the dark while it envelopes and overwhelms you completely, leaving you completely vulnerable. The music resonates within your deepest self and allows you to think with total clarity. It creates picturesque landscapes and textures. There’s something otherworldly about this music. Valtari found a return to 2001’s mellower ( ), but it’s not that album. “Valtari” is Icelandic for “steamroller”, and there is something fitting about that title, as Jónsi described the album with “the music kind of just rolls over you.” While ( ) was sound rolling you over, building and reaching triumphant heights, and exploding to transcendence, Valtari is a steamroller rolling over you, slowly and clunking along, still moving endlessly along the whole way through. It’s lethargic and sluggish, but at the same time billowing, floating, and majestic. No other album this year resonated with my like this one did, and it was my obvious choice for my album of the year.
Favorite songs: Varúð, Ekki múkk, Rembihnútur
Father Time - Animal Collective
Luck, it’s not real. Though my feelings say it’s real. Maybe it’s only real when someone blinds you when they had always been so kind to you.
- Sigur Rós - Valtari
- Animal Collective - Centipede Hz
- Grizzly Bear - Shields
- Right Away, Great Captain! - The Church of the Good Thief
- Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan
- of Montreal - Paralytic Stalks
- The Shins - Port of Morrow
- Titus Andronicus - Local Business
- Perfume Genius - Put Ur Back N 2 It
- Japandroids - Celebration Rock
- Tame Impala - Lonerism
- Jens Lekman - I Know What Love Isn’t
- Spiritualized - Sweet Heart Sweet Light
- Jason Lytle - Dept. of Disappearance
- Passion Pit - Gossamer
- Beach House - Bloom
- Mount Eerie - Clear Moon
- Godspeed You! Black Emperor - ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
- Stars - The North
- The xx - Coexist
“With the Beach Boys thing, from Sung Tongs on it’s been a band we’ve been associated with or a reference point,” said Portner. “And I think when it got down to making Strawberry Jam and people said, ‘Oh, it’s a Beach Boys thing again,’ and we were like, did you even listen to the record? I don’t get that in that at all. When it becomes this lightning rod to make people understand something, we’re not annoyed but we just don’t get it.”