My Top Ten Albums of 2012
I know there are still two or three of you interested in this so here goes:
10. Alt-J - ‘An Awesome Wave’ (Infectious) Buy & Hear here
You know what wrankles for a music Nazi like me? When you have to agree with the award-givers. Oh well, an awesome album that takes one listen to know it’s all killer. "He treats the Mercury Music prize with awe". Indeed.
9. Busdriver - ‘Beaus$Eros’ (Fake Four) Buy & Hear here
Tried kendrick Lamar, didn’t like it. Especially those two words ‘Feat. Drake’ (OK, that’s only one track, but still, you know). Busdriver has been my favourite Hip Hop fella (rapper even) for like aaaages. This is his best album. Fascinating, different and literate. What I expected of Mr. Lamar and didn’t get.
8. GOAT - ‘World Music’ (Rocket Recordings) Buy & Hear Here
Crazy Swedish alt-folk beat killers GOAT came top of the Piccadilly Records Best 100 Albums of 2012 and who am I to argue with the best record shop in Manchester? Well, someone with seven albums I liked better I suppose. But this is crazy-good. There’s voodoo afoot here and apparently a link to the village they hail from in Sweden. Super-charged world music, energetic and miles away from anything else on this list.
7. The Walkmen - ‘Heaven’ (Fat Possum/Bella Union) Buy & Hear Here
Another year another fantastic Walkmen album. The one shame is that the first song We can’t be beat isthe best (of a great bunch), one of the best tracks on any album this year and possibly ever. A beautiful song. As ever The Walkmen here keep ii strong but simple. Hamilton Leithauser’s vocals helping to elevate the songs beyond sensitively handled but relatively straightforward rock n’ roll.
6. Sun Kil Moon - ‘Among the Leaves’ (Caldo Verde Records) Buy & Hear Here
I must admit that I bypassed this album at first, thinking “Oh yes, another Mark Kozelek album - sure it will be good. But how good?”. Well, I confirm that, that was an idiotic thing to think. This is among his best work and I only bought it last week. Almost (almost) upbeat and relaxed in parts but with Kozelek’s trademark doleful vocals this autobiographical collection of songs is very special.
5. Kishi Bashi - ‘151a’ (Joyful Noise Recordings)
Once upon a time Singer and multi-instrumentalist K Bashi formed a band called Jupiter One who aren’t all that good but also became a touring member of Of Montreal, who are really good. So when I heard the first song from this album You are the antichrist to me, my interest was piqued ‘That’s quite good’ I thought. Like Sun Kil Moon, I then forgot about it until recently when I looked up a few more tracks on the Hype Machine. And, boy mistake number two. This is superb pop music. Multi-layered, bright-eyed, harmonic and just well, lovely.
4. Moon Duo - ‘Circles’ (Souterrain Submissions) Buy & Hear Here
Side project of Wooden Shjips’ Ripley Johnson, Moon Duo are to mu untrained, unhip ears a bit more, well, straight-up enjoyable than the Shjips. This album is another one I bought late and wished I’d bought earlier. Co-host on my radio show @huwwilliams470 was championing it all year and he was right to. Spacey and psychedelic but upbeat and driven this has rarely been out of my ears since the start of the Xmas hols.
3. Lands & Peoples - ‘Pop Guilt’ (Analog Edition Recordings) Buy Here
Another latecomer and another superb and consciously different (yikes!) album Pop Guilt is the only album of these 10 only available on Bandcamp. Hailing from Baltimore, Lands & Peoples remind me of Field Music. In that they play witty, multilayered alternative pop and seem to enjoy doing it. A real gem.
2. Dirty Projectors - ‘Swing Lo Magellan’ (Domino) Listen & Hear Here
How many more steps up the ladder to immortality can Dave Longstreth et al take? Every track on this album is at least an 8/10 some of them (Dance for You, Unto Caesar) are 10/10. Experimental, cheeky, unusual, ultra-harmonic everything we’ve come to expect from Brooklyn’s finest and much, much more.
1. Maps & Atlases - ‘Beware and Be Grateful’ (FatCat Records) Listen & Hear Here
Another band who just get better and better and better and better. Chicago’s Maps & Atlases are a tad mathy, but in an alt-pop-rock kind of way. Every song on this album is like that first step in Groundhog Day - a doozie. There isn’t one track you’d want to skip, not one moment where you reach for the F Fwd button. 10 great songs, what more do you want?
Bubbling under/Honourable mentions/near misses: Grizzly Bear Shields, Field Music Plumb, Damien Jurado Maraqopa, Lower Dens Nootropics, DIIV Oshin, Swans The Seer, Titus Andronicus Local Business.
For my nieces, Alys and Grace, here are a bucketload of great ‘Girl’ songs on Spotify.
Click on the pic to go to the playlist.
As we say bye to 2011 and wrestle 2012 to the ground just time for me to say:
Happy New Year all, except you Nick Clegg.
Here’s a playlist of 20 tracks from my favourite albums of the year. Click on the delighted owl to open the list in Spotify.
THE REVERSIBLES - ‘Newton told me’
No.1 in a series of a few. Keep tuning in for the next few days.
A very rough mp3 of a cassette recording from a rehearsal in Camden, 1987.
Rough recording, best band in the world though. Song is a Go-Betweens cover.
If you like The Smiths, Busking or flat caps, watch this! Paddy Johnston on the Underground…
I’m honouring my 9,000th tweet in the best way I know. With a playlist. These are my favourite ten songs, well, ever.
(CLICK ON THE PIC TO GO TO THE PLAYLIST)
On my radio show each year I do a Festive 50 over two shows. It’s a list of my favourite songs of those I’ve played that year and no artist is allowed more than one entry.
Sunshine Underground Radio Show Festive 50 - 2010
My Favourite Albums of 2010*
*Ten of ‘em, anyway.
Number 10: Sun Hotel - ‘Team Spirit’
Self-released debut from unsigned New Orleans band who describe themselves as ‘post-gospel indie rock’. They sound like a pissed-off Fleet Foxes to me. In a very, very good way.
In a word: swampy.
Number 9: Family Fodder - ‘Classical Music’
First album in ten years for rarely glimpsed, eccentric, Brighton alt-poppers who started playing music in 1975. Wide-ranging, uplifting and unusual in all the usual ways.
In a word: screwy.
Number 8: The Phantom Band - ‘The Wants’
This album nearly snuck by me until it changed it’s mind, turned around and smacked me in the mouth with it’s unflinching, heart-pounding, brilliance. Wondrous alt-rock sounds from the Scottish ‘robo-folk’ sextet on their sophomore album.
In a word: uncompromising.
Number 7: Rogue Wave - ‘Permalight’
Some critics and fellow bloggers felt let down by this album (universal cred-shapers Pitchfork only gave it 5/10) but I felt genuinely uplifted. Sometimes you get a new album and in the way it feels to you it’s exactly what you expected. That’s what Permalight did for me. Simply a great album with great songs that I keep returning to.
In a word: upbeat.
Number 6: Maps & Atlases - ‘Perch Patchwork’
Another great album sniffed at by Pitchfork (honestly, I’m going to have to start making my own mind up about things at this rate). Chicago has always been something of a fulcrum for the alt-rock scene in the US and recently M&A have been a big part of that. A tuneful, vaguely experimental and thoroughly enjoyable second album.
In a word: solid.
Number 5: Tradi-Mods vs Rockers: Alternative Takes on Congotronics Vol.1
A very late latecomer to Congotronics (traditional Congolese music, funked up with electronic wizardry) I was astounded how good this is. Lots of familiar faces from the US alternative music scene: e.g. Animal Collective, Andrew Bird, Deerhoof and the odd alt-country star: Jolie Holland all chip-in. If it’s all this good I really gotta get my Congo on.
In a word: Belgian.
Number 4: Pantha du Prince - ‘Black Noise’
The album I probably put on most as background for working/writing this year, which isn’t damning it with faint praise, it’s a big compliment. Jingly-jangly German post-techno with a slight (slight!) tinge of (gulp) disco. Great staring-out-of-the-window-on-a-train-journey music.
In a word: bright.
Number 3: That Fucking Tank - ‘Tankology’
I generally hate bands that have swear words as names. But then Fuck Buttons really grew on me and its not like I don’t swear or I’m some sort of new puritan. So I got over that, checked out this mob from Leeds on Spotify and bought the CD after one listen. By turns straight-up shouty rock, then a progtastic riff-fest, then fast and furious. A real rock record made by young people because they enjoy what they do. Makes me weep for some of the shit I was into at their age.
In a word: fuck.
Number 2: Fang Island - ‘S/T’
Heyyy man! The only eponymous album in my top ten. Fantastic debut from Brooklyn (where else)-based band keen on organs, bass guitars and harmonies. Starts with the sound of fireworks, like some sort of statement of intent, then delivers, massively, on that promise. A series of short, heavy, harmonic songs delivered at breakneck speed.
In a word: cordite.
Number 1: The Walkmen - ‘Lisbon’
The Walkmen walked right by me for years and were destined to keep right on walking until I spotted a copy of You & Me, their last album lurking in my iTunes. Huh, I thought, I suppose I’d better give that a listen. It got its dirty hooks in me and then i couldn’t wait to hear the new album ‘Lisbon’ which leaked out bit by bit, as albums do these days. Each bit more brilliant and tantalising. A hugely proficient, technically-gifted but unique straight-up rock band at the very top of their game. Every song on Lisbon is a singalong cracker, made for bellowing down the phone to your boss and/or life partner. Even Pitchfork quite liked it.
In a word: favourite.
Spotify link to this album here. (All of these albums other than Sun Hotel are on Spotify, I suggest you listen then buy).
Important: please note that all these albums pale in comparison next to the two EPs released by Hot Club de Paris (the best band in Britain) this year.
A blog dedicated just to those EPs will up in the next few days.
Do I want to see one of my favourite bands cover one of my favourite Christmas songs? Do I ever. Check out The Walkmen doing Holiday Road at the AV Club. God bless the AV Club.
Christmas starts here.
Need to up my Tumblr (why no e?) (anyone?) posts.
There’ll be lotsa lists at this time of year so I spose i’ll catch up.