Tag Archives: 2012 Albums of the Year

2012 Review – The Lists

17 Dec

2012 Review - The Lists

Last week we posted a series of lists that counted down our favourite tracks, EPs and albums of 2012. Don’t worry if you don’t fancy clicking back and looking for them all, we’ve posted all of them below with links to the full write-ups for your convenience.

Top 20 Tracks of 2012

20. Lovepark – “How Do I See?”
19. Dare Dukes – “Meet You On The Bus”
18. Eye Emma Jedi – “Sin”
17. Wall – “Magazine”
16. MS MR – “Hurricane”
15. She Makes War – “Minefields” (Alphabet Bands session)
14. Seasfire – “We Will Wake”
13. Of Monsters And Men – “Little Talks”
12. Public Service Broadcasting – “Waltz For George”
11. Superhumanoids – “Geri”
10. Arrange – “Caves”
9. Rhye – “The Fall”
8. Olympians – “It Was Words That Sunk Our Ship”
7. Vuvuvultures – “Ctrl Alt Mexicans”
6. Milly Hirst – “Rose”
5. Haim – “Don’t Save Me”
4. Nikki & the Dove – “Somebody”
3. 2forJoy – “Michaela”
2. Embers – “Hollow Cage (live performance)”
1. Spring Offensive – “Not Drowning But Waving”


Top 10 EPs of 2012

10. Haim – Forever
9. San Zhi – Ice Light
8. Alice Jemima – All The Boyfriends
7. MS MR – Candy Bar Creep Show
6. Ricky Eat Acid & Arrange – sketches
5. Milly Hirst – Milly Hirst
4. Paper Crows – Grey Skies
3. Solange – True
2. Vuvuvultures – VVV
1. Public Service Broadcasting – The War Room


Top 15 Albums of 2012

Numbers 15 – 11
15. Professor Penguin – Planes
14. Save The Clocktower – Through The Glass
13. Jack Robert Hardman – Jack Robert Hardman
12. The Penelopes – Never Live Another Yesterday
11. Adrian Younge – Something About April

Numbers 10 – 6
10. Conveyor – Conveyor
9. She Makes War – Little Battles
8. 2:54 – 2:54
7. Toy – Toy
6. Roman Ruins – Homebuilding

Numbers 5 – 1
5. Sameblod – Braided Memos
4. Nikki & the Dove – Instinct
3. Jessie Ware – Devotion
=1. Of Monsters And Men – My Head Is An Animal
=1. Arrange – New Memory



2012 Albums of the Year: Part Three #5 – #1

15 Dec

2012 Albums of the Year 5 to 1

Here we are then with the final part of our albums of the year countdown. We’ve already taken a look at the records we ranked from 15 – 6 and today we reveal who made it into the Top 5 and more importantly who it is who has taken the coveted number one spot.

Before we get to that, here are a few artists and albums who were just outside the Top 15 but still worthy of a mention.

Citizens! – Here We Are
Chairlift – Something
Chad Valley – Young Hunger
Tame Impala – Lonerism
Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

And a reminder of who has featured on the list so far.

Numbers 15 – 11
15. Professor Penguin – Planes
14. Save The Clocktower – Through The Glass
13. Jack Robert Hardman – Jack Robert Hardman
12. The Penelopes – Never Live Another Yesterday
11. Adrian Younge – Something About April

Numbers 10 – 6
10. Conveyor – Conveyor
9. She Makes War – Little Battles
8. 2:54 – 2:54
7. Toy – Toy
6. Roman Ruins – Homebuilding

On to the Top 5 but before we move on, a quick confession. We have got a joint number one at the top of the list. The two albums we have chosen have affected us in extremely disparate ways over the months and try as we might, we couldn’t say we loved one more than the other. One is a sing-along indie gem, the other a heartbreaking piece of ambiance and emotion. You’ll see what we mean when you get there.

5. Sameblod – Braided Memos

sameblod_braidedmemos

Asked to describe their sound, Frederick Rundqvist and Mikael Mattisson classified it as ”hopeful-electronic-mellow-pop with a lot of different influences”, they pretty much nailed it. The album is full of confidence, of sanguinity, even in its darker moments there is an underlying sense of hope. Like the pea beneath the mattress of synthesiser sounds upon mattress after mattress of synthesiser sounds, try as you like, you will still be able to feel it there. “UR Road”, for example, is carefree, joyously whistling away, happy and content with life. It’s flamboyant, animated and uplifting with a smile that is infectious. Similarly, “Always”, which follows it, is the bright sun shining on young, happy-go-lucky people laughing and joking as they travel and jape together across European fields, mountain paths, beaches. All those places beautiful people go in music videos. Not all the tracks are as overtly uplifting but there is a wistful tenderness to almost all, “The Hardest Choice”, which features fellow Swede and purveyor of delightfully warm dream-pop in his own right, Summer Heart, begins and ends with birdsong. Rather than sounding twee, it completely fits the summery feel and transports you to the countryside.


Buy it from: Amazon

4. Niki & the Dove – Instinct

Niki_And_The_Dove_Instinct

It was a long time coming and almost all of the songs had been given away for free in one form or another before it even came out, but Instinct was an absolutely amazing piece of pop music. On their debut, Malin Dahlstrom and Gustaf Karlof and showed that pop can be dark and light, pop can exist and flourish in the corner of your mind, probing and stimulating, and pop can still quicken your heart without the need to mainline sugar first. Tune follows big tune as they take the best elements of pop’s history and explode them across the dancefloor. The whole thing is undeniably infectious and in places utterly discolicious. “DJ, Ease My Mind” may start slowly but is soon a mass of compulsive percussion and hands in the air euphoria while “Somebody” makes you wonder what might have been if Prince still wrote like he did in his pomp. Instinct is just an utter pop joy.


Buy it from: Amazon

3. Jessie Ware – Devotion

Jessie Ware Devotion

Blessed with a velvet soft voice that just melts your heart, Jessie Ware broke out big style in 2012 with people falling over themselves to praise her, including a Mercury nomination, and with good reason. We were buying whatever she was selling which was exquisitely executed, soft and emotional pop music laced with R’n’B, electronics and soulful vocals. Devotion is a classy affair reminiscent of the sultry elegance of Sadé or the emotion of Whitney. “Running” is a glorious account of falling in love again while “Night Light” offers moments of simmering, dramatic intensity. Gentle melodies drip over subtle beats; down-tempo in style it may be but it still excites and moves the listener.


Buy it from: iTunes

=1. Of Monsters And Men – My Head Is An Animal

Of Monsters And Men>

From the moment we first heard “Little Talks” we knew there was something special about Of Monsters And Men. A spectacular show at London’s Lexington confirmed it and when we finally got hold of an import copy of My Head Is An Animal it didn’t leave the car stereo for months. It’s an album of rich indie-folk sounds overflowing with charm and whimsy. Largely fantastical in content, the listener is drawn in by its storybook feel. The songs evoke childhood memories, of fairytales, extraordinary adventures across Tolkien-esque landscapes and mythical beasts. All of which is presented by big, full sounds enriched by brass and accordion.

They don’t only do imagination and wonder though; emotion and human nature also play their part. In “Love Love Love” for example which adds fragility and a sense of susceptibility by eschewing percussion. Once you realise the drums are missing, the effect is disarming and the song immediately feels exposed and vulnerable. It is a lovely contrast to the strong and confident early sounds of the album, “Dirt Paws”, “Mountain Sound” and “Little Talks” are bold tales, laden with hey’s and la la la’s. Ready made for an audience to latch on to and sing along with, even if they have never heard the songs before.


Buy it from: Amazon

=1. Arrange – New Memory

arrange_New Memory

It’s hard to believe that Malcolm Lacey is only 19, such is the maturity and emotional depth of New Memory. He’s prolific as well; this was his seventh release as Arrange in two years. Such rapid productivity has not diminished the quality of his output and New Memory is an evocative and heart wrenching piece of haunting ambient sounds and whisper light vocals. Unlike so many artists who use music to convey tales of love won, lost and won again, Lacey’s lyrics recount an abusive childhood. Musically it plays like smoke on the wind, swirling gently it is poignant and ethereal. Lyrically there is such depth of emotion; it is hard not to shed a tear. Listening to “Where I Go At Night” in particular is like having your heart shattered into tiny pieces as he sings to his mother “I’ve been searching for years, and all I’ve got to hear you say is how you hurt so much, and that you blame yourself, but I hurt some too, and I know that you need help. If I could take it all, if I could lift your burden off of you, I would, if I could”. Everything about this record is achingly beautiful; ignore the lyrics and you have some of the most wondrous floating sounds to enjoy, listen to the very real pain in Lacey’s words and you have the most emotionally charged and moving piece of music you will hear in a long long time.


Buy it from: Arrange

So there you have it, our albums of the year list for 2012. It was another great year for music and choosing which albums we wanted to include was surprisingly difficult. Now it’s your turn, which albums did you love this year and what did you think of our list? Over to you.

2012 Albums of the Year: Part Two #10 – #6

14 Dec

2012 Albums of the Year 10 to 6

Here we are again, on an album countdown extravaganza. It’s part two of our three-part look at our 15 favourite albums of the year. Today we will be revealing who took the number 10 – 6 spots (numbers 15 – 11 are here).

As we mentioned before, this is a list of favourites and reflects our somewhat eclectic tastes only. No science or voting was used to determine the order, just simple listening and enjoying.

Let’s crack on with numbers 10 – 6.

10. Conveyor – Conveyor

Conveyor

It’s clear thatConveyor love sound and they love to take and manipulate it; bending, shaping and twisting it until it feels just right. On first listen of their eponymous debut album it may appear that some are quickly discarded so they may play with another, veering off on a sonic tangent heading for who knows where. Listen again and you’ll not only wonder how they could have gone anywhere else, but you’ll hear the bubbling undercurrent of that which they left behind, echoing through the hills and valleys of this new soundscape. On Conveyor, sound begets sound. This is not a difficult album to enjoy; loving it is easy to do. Choruses are as catchy as a childhood virus and just as difficult to shake; “Short Hair” in particular is immune to vaccination and will live within your head for weeks. As will “Mom Talk”; we never thought we would be singing along with lyrics like “Hey Mom,/Hey Mom/Hey Mom/Hey Mom/Hey Mom/Hey Mom/What do you want to talk about today?” but we do each and every time the album is on. Conveyor is an album full of intricate and complex sounds that feel so simple and inviting, playful yet intense.


Buy it from: Conveyor

9. She Makes War – Little Battles

Little Battles

On her second album, Little Battles (and technically her second album on this list after her appearance as part of The Penelopes) Laura Kidd, aka She Makes War deals with the struggles and turmoils faced across life’s turbulent journey. Her beguiling, almost choral vocals are often looped to create light harmonies that sit atop layers and layers of sound. Her dark around the edges pop music is complemented with smooth, almost a cappella ballads which nestle amongst the solemn and the upbeat. Warm melodic harp sounds give way to cold and forceful staccato drum beats. Tonally the record flits from steel like assurance to crystal fragility, raw and edgy to tender and soft. It is an album we have come back to time and time again this year and one that never fails to capture and entice us.


Buy it from: She Makes War

8. 2:54 – 2:54

2.54

It has to be said, nostalgia has played a pretty big part in our adulation for the debut album by 2:54. The two Thurlow sisters, Hannah and Colette, have managed to reach deep inside us and flick the switch marked ‘early teens, getting properly excited by music for the first time’. Growing up in the early nineties with indie in the middle of a peak period makes us instantly predisposed to loving an album that is full of reminisces, not least Collette’s Toni Halliday-esque vocals that swoop over the dark and stormy guitar lines. That is not to say that nostalgia is the only reason we love the album, not at all. It’s just a great record, full of songs that swell into darkness and break into light, though mostly it’s about the dark. The neo-gothic sound that is growing in popularity is given additional beauty here by the sense of space and serenity contained within. It would be worthy of a place on our end of year list even if it didn’t remind us of our youth, but it does so it gets to go even higher.


Buy it from: iTunes

7. Toy – Toy

toy

Toy is an album that quickens the heart with excitement. The psychedelic proggy guitars are all hazy wavy wonderful, lifting you up on a swirling mass of krautrock indie. It’s a kaleidoscope of sound that cascades into your ears from all angles. The seven minutes-plus “Dead and Gone” is a prime example of how the sound builds and drops, swirls, spins, discombobulates and puts you back together again. Evidently Toy recorded their self-titled debut in a studio besieged with smoke machines and lasers to recreate the magic of their live shows, perhaps more bands should do the same if the results are always as exciting as this.


Buy it from: Toy

6. Roman Ruins – Homebuilding

roman ruins

If someone had told you that the guy who drums for Beach House on tour would release an album of his own, that it would be brilliant and even better than the Beach House album released that same year, you would probably have told them to get some sleep as they were obviously overworked and talking crazy. That is exactly what has happened though with Graham Hill’s (aka Roman Ruins) debut album, Homebuilding. It was largely written while Hill was on tour with his pregnant girlfriend left behind and the result is an album of rare beauty about growing a family and home. Delicate ambient sounds blend into soft 80s electro beats while the vocals gently rock you as if a babe in arms. More than any other, Homebuilding is designed to be experienced as an album in its entirety rather than as a collection of tracks. The narrative thread is woven throughout and the vinyl (which is stunning) has even been cut with no gaps so you can listen to it as one continuous piece of music. It is simply gorgeous.


Buy it from: Roman Ruins

We’ve hit number 6 in our countdown, come back tomorrow to find out which albums made it into our Top 5.

2012 Albums of the Year: Part One #15 – #11

12 Dec

2012 Albums of the Year 15 to 11

After counting down our favourite tracks and favourite EPs of 2012, it’s high time we started our look at the albums that we fell in love with over the last 12 months.

Last year we listed 50 albums over two days, which was frankly bonkers, so this year we are aiming for something much more manageable. Having looked at 20 tracks and 10 EPs, we thought we’d split the difference and go with 15 albums. We will countdown five albums each day over the next three days and reveal our choice for number one on Friday, when we will also list out a few albums that didn’t quite make the final 15, just for fun.

As with the tracks and EPs, this is a list of favourites and reflects our somewhat eclectic tastes. Trust us when we say, you are unlikely to find a list like this anywhere else. It’s one reason we love music as much as we do, everyone has a different opinion and we can introduce each other to new sounds all the time.

Here are numbers 15 to 11 on our albums of the year list.

15. Professor Penguin – Planes

Professor Penguin

Melody is King of this soundscape and the horns, strings, keys, drums, vocals etc merely subjects sworn to its allegiance. The 10 tracks swim effortlessly along and each arrangement is as soft and dreamy as the last. It is no wonder the guys have been attracting the attention of 6Music and Brian Eno. With each listen more and more of the depth and beauty is revealed, the subtly and emotion of the lyrics unfold before you, drawing you still deeper into its warm and inviting embrace. Take your time with this, listen properly and without distraction and you will be rewarded.


Buy it from: Professor Penguin

14. Save The Clocktower – Through The Glass

Save The Clocktower - Through The Glass

We love good pop music, our tracks and EP lists show that much, so it pretty much goes without saying we love Through The Glass which is dripping in psychedelic pop dancibility. Save The Clocktower have created rich and bold sounds that holding their head high, big smiles beaming on their faces. “Better Than Ever”, for example, which features guest vocals from Company Of Thieves’ Genevieve Schatz, has a sweet hook and a chorus that borders on anthemic. It embraces the best of pop, from across the genres. At every turn there are wafts of half remembered melodies or beats from the past. This element of familiarity no doubt helps the record get under the skin of the listener but it is the never ending mobius-groove running throughout that will get you. Even on slower jams like “It Happens” there is still enough to have you swaying from side to side, if not singing along loudly and joyously.


Buy it from: Save The Clocktower

13. Jack Robert Hardman – Jack Robert Hardman

'Jack Robert Hardman' Artwork

Our very own letter ‘H’, Jack is currently gathering a great deal of attention from the music world for his track, “Plymouth”, and with good reason. Its feather-soft, ethereal feeling washes over you and soothes your soul. Before “Plymouth” though, came the eponymous debut album from which it is taken and quite the superb piece of song-smithing it is. Building on the classic 3minute pop song mantra and using his musical magpie tendencies to pluck elements from the world around him and craft them into something entirely new. Stylistically he is able to jump around without ever jarring or leaving the listener confused. Be it “Famous”, a Simon & Garfunkel-esque ballad of cracked beauty, or “Lights of London”, a light near-dance track that is full of bounce, or even the playful and utterly charming “Conveyor Belt Of Love”, Jack takes us gently with him leading us along his musical mosaic.


Buy it from: iTunes

12. The Penelopes – Never Live Another Yesterday

The Penelopes Never Live Another Yesterday

Never Live Another Yesterday is an album crammed with futuristic jams built on retro foundations. Full of energy and effervescence, our French heroes have taken their 80s electro influences and blitzed them with a soupcon of Gallic flair and vibrant pop hooks. “Sally In The Galaxy” and “Now Now Now”, in particular, are fantastically catchy and danceable, the kind of tracks that you can’t get enough of on a summers day, driving in the car with the windows down and not a care in the world. The male/female harmonies are rich and infectious, with lead singer Axel’s quiet gruffness complemented perfectly by the sweetness of Laura Kidd’s backing. In a year of many great pop records, The Penelopes have produced a cracker that stands up there with the best of them and which deserves multiple and repeated plays.


Buy it from: Amazon

11. Adrian Younge – Something About April

Somthing About April

Recorded as if it was the soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t exist, Something About April is modern soul at its very best. It’s crammed with reference points that ring out across the generations of what would now be called urban music. Crooning 50’s vocals, 60’s Motown, deep and fuzzy beats, 70’s funk, hip-hop and dance, all are bursting from within this multifaceted and deeply wonderful album. We also love picking out some of the melodious homages within the tracks ( The Godfather theme and The Beatles are our favourites). Originally released last year in the US and beyond, it earns its place on our list by virtue of its summer 2012 release here in the UK. We may have got to it later than everyone else but that just makes us appreciate its soulful grooviness even more.


Buy it from: Amazon

So that was part one, come back tomorrow for part two where we will reveal who made it to numbers 10 – 6.