Here we are again, standing at the end of the year, looking out, hoping we don’t all meet our end on December 21’s “apocalypse.” But in the event that does happen, at least we can look each other in the eyes at this point and say it’s been a fun ride. The music was pretty damn solid. I wouldn’t say it was the absolute best year in music, because frankly it just wasn’t. There was a lot of good music, but I had a tougher time this year pickin 20 albums for my top 20 than I did in 2011, mostly because I didn’t want to put any albums on there that I wouldn’t choose to come back to for years to come. So hopefully it turns out that way, but who knows. Only time will tell, and that’s one thing we’re unsure of. So, cheers, bishes, hope to see y’all come 12/22/12.
Oh and one more thing…and this will come every year. I have to proclaim that most of these opinions are mine and only mine. I did some crowdsourcing from my Sunset fam here, but in the end, my opinion trumped all. Pretty terrible, right? Hey, don’t hate on efficiency. But really, I can’t say I was able to listen to every album that came out in 2012. I think I’d have been fired from my day job long ago if that was case. But I did listen to a ton of albums, and some of the ones that you might expect to make the cut just didn’t do it for me. A bunch of music bloggers are likely going to say that Grimes, Sleigh Bells, and Death Grips’s releases were hands down album of the year material. But they didn’t do it for me. So I didn’t include them. That’s the nature of this blog, and I intend to keep it that way. Straight talk: these are my opinions, and with that, these are my jams.
Click through to continue reading about our Best Albums of 2012
20. Reptar, Body Faucet
(Vagrant Records, May 2012)
Reptar is another group making odd music, but it doesn’t sound like what anybody else is making (the closest comparison I can think of might be Vampire Weekend?), and that’s what draws me to it. After their enormous EP release in 2011, the bar was set very high for Body Faucet. There were certain things they nailed, and there were some areas where they seemed to fall short. For the most part, though, they still nailed those fun harmonies and obscure instrumental sounds that brought Reptar to my attention to the first place. This album was slower than their original EP sound, but
I don’t want to lose you / Don’t want to let you go/ We fit together so well/ Folds into folds – “Three Shining Suns”
Favorite Song: Three Shining Suns
19. Oberhofer, Time Capsules II
I have listened to Oberhofer‘s Time Capsules II the way a kid from the ‘80s would have listened to a The Smiths’ album. I mean, I’m sure I’m not the first to come up with that comparison. The two bands sound completely different but both embrace the yearning angst of teen love. I can prove this by quoting “Heart,” Time Capsules II‘s opening track, “All that I asked for was a little bit of heart, I gave you my love and you tore it apart.” I love it and hate you, you bitch.
I’ll just keep on stumbling / Right now it feels too humbling / To tell you what I want / And the city’s feeling queer and crass / With beer cans growing blades of grass to look like something new – oOoO
Favorite Song: Haus
Written by Arjun
18. George Barnett, 17 Days
(Independent, March 2012)
It was an ordinary day when I stumbled across George Barnett‘s music. I had been looking for some new music to listen to, and I turned to our general submissions inbox and saw an email from a young man named George Barnett. I gave the music a listen and realized I had come across something pretty extraordinary. This young man, 17 at the time, wrote and recorded this entire record by himself. He played every single instrument (trying naming each of the instruments on the album, you might even have a hard time doing that!) on here. 17 days is a stunning collection of songs that tell George’s story, which is one we can likely all relate to. I think George has a bit of buttoning up to do to his sound, but in all, this young man has a big future ahead of him. 17 Days is evidence of that.
And the fear will not break through/ You are flawless light and truth/ And I’m wasted on this youth/ But stay with me you make me smile/ Please stay here and make me smile – Make Me Smile
Favorite Song: 17 Days
17. Purity Ring, Shrines
(4AD, July 2012)
Part of me hates when people call a specific song or album “atmospheric.” I don’t understand that. Isn’t all music part of the atmosphere? It seems really vague. And then Purity Ring releases Shrines, and there isn’t a word invented yet that can describe their music. So it’s atmospheric. It’s incredibly atmospheric! It is so atmospheric and the bass just bounces and strange synth choices mess with your mind, and meanwhile, these sounds are accompanied by some of the most oddly specific, gruesome, and possibly romantic lyrics I have ever heard.
Get a little closer let it fold / Cut open my sternum and pull / My little ribs around you (Cue Seth Rogen saying, “What the fuck, man!”) – Fineshrine
Favorite Song: Fineshrine (But really, it keeps changing)
Written by Arjun
16. The xx, Coexist
(Young Turks, September 2012)
Coexist is exactly what you could expect as a follow-up to The xx’s critically acclaimed debut. It finds the English band opting for the same minimalist sound of the first album with a few surprises thrown into the mix, especially in the percussion. It is no secret that Jamie xx had an eventful few years since 2009’s xx. Coexist finds a more confident Jamie xx bringing percussion to the forefront of the music, making for a more interesting and accessible listen. There are not many words spoken on this album, so each word must have been immensely scrutinized. I think the lyrics of The xx can be compared to a Louis CK stand-up bit. Louis does this thing where he takes the most complex topics and simplifies them to something so basic and primitively funny. On Coexist, The xx takes the idea of love and breaks it down to its simplest parts. This deconstruction results in some of the saddest, cheesiest, most romantic lines ever put to music.
Fiction when we’re not together / Mistaken for a vision something of my own creation – Fiction
Favorite Song: Angels or Try
Written by Arjun