Sunday, 13 May 2012

2012 Recommended Albums

After months away I've decided on yet another new format/system. The albums I've enjoyed the most will appear here on a continuing thread, along with a brief description and links to tracks and music videos (but I'll try not to get it cluttered). I've also made a page for upcoming releases I'm anticipating, and any relevant info, tracks and videos released ahead of its arrival. I hope there will also be time/space for longer reviews and features in the future too. And if you reckon I've missed something message me or leave a comment here and I'll respond.

Steve Albini engineered sophmore LP from Dylan Baldi and co., Attack On Memory serves as a great modern punk record, spanning eight firey, emotionally-friendly tracks.
Music Video: "No Future / No Past" 

Fans of synthy, syrupy new Romantic-obsessed tunes should definitely check out Something, which contains what will probably remain some of the best of this year.
Interactive Music Video: "Met Before"

Himanshu - Nehru Jackets (mixtape)
(Download link)
Debut solo mixtape from Das Racist's Himanshu, produced entirely by Mike Finito. Heems is joined by a plethora of guests to make one of the most hard-edged, consistent Das Racist releases.

Track: "You Have To Ride The Wave ft. Danny Brown and Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire"

Sharon Van Etten - Tramp
Her third album in four years, Tramp showcases Sharon Van Etten at her most potent and dangerous. A potent set of confesional breakup songs, produced by Aaron Dessner of the National.
Music Video: "Leonard" 
Perfume Genius - Put Your Back N 2 It
The second Perfume Genius album gives singer Mike Hadreas a stage to present a multitude of swift musical statements, whilst documenting the darkest recesses of the human psyche.
Music Video: "Hood"

Frankie Rose - Interstellar
Ex-Vivian Girl drops her band The Outs to craft an exceptionally dreamy post-punk album. Interstellar never strays from either its prettiness or its poignancy, and superbly demonstrates a musician evolving into their own unchartered style.
Music Video: "Gospel/Grace"

Grimes - Visions
("Genesis" Single of the Week feature)
Grimes stands tall as one of the most creative one-woman bedroom projects, offering an effervescent yet melancholic gothic pop album that refines previous efforts and provides some of her biggest singles to come so far.
Music Video: "Oblivion" 

Big K.R.I.T. - 4eva N a Day (mixtape)
(Download link)
Before coming Live From The Underground Big K.R.I.T. takes us through the highs and lows of a day on his third and most consistent mixtape, 4eva N a Day. His debut can't come soon enough.
Music Video:"4evaNa Day (Theme)"

Daniel Rossen - Silent Hour/ Golden Mile EP
("Saint Nothing" Single of the Week feature)
Daniel Rossen sidesteps his Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles duties to release his first solo EP, yet retains his mesmeric style and craft for songwriting.
Track: "Silent Song"

The Men - Open Your Heart
As its name and cover suggests, Open Your Heart is a much warmer and straightforward album than last year's often solitary-feeling Leave Home. It's also as varied and as fun as the Men have sounded yet, and an essential record for the modern rock and punk canon.
Track: "Open Your Heart" 

Zammuto - Zammuto
Nick Zammuto has found a new conduit for his post-Books musical output. His solo album is playful and expressive whilst continuing to walk the tightrope between acoustic and electrronic music, yet has a strange organic quality of its own.
Music Video: "The Shape Of Things To Come" 

Death Grips - The Money Store
Death Grips delivered what I thought to be the best album of 2011. With The Money Store they may have made one better. A thrilling, disturbing and compelling beast of a record, that resets the bar for hardcore hip-hop. With No Love scheduled shortly, 2012 may be the year of Death Grips.
Music Video: "I've Seen Footage"

Torche - Harmonicraft
Harmonicraft sees Torche inventing a whole new way of combining heaveanly with heaviness. It may be the cutest metal album on the block, but packs an irresistible euphoric weight you won't find elsewhere, along with the most badass album art you're ever likely to see.
Track: "Kicking"

Burial - Kindred (EP)
The dubstep giant's most recent release proves that he is able to step out of the comforts of his signature sound. Three long, progressive sections make up over 30 minutes of essential Burial, the most unique item in his discography so far.
Track: "Kindred"

Lone - Galaxy Garden
An eclectic yet stunning display of 90s-inspired house and rave, with BoC-style textures; fans of Lone should know what to expect by now. Galaxy Garden is a vibrant statement of Matt Cutler's signature sound, highlighted by collaborations with footwork master Machinedrum.
Track: "Crystal Caverns 1991"

El-P - Cancer For Cure
For over ten years El-P has been respected as one of the best lyricists and producers in underground rap. On Cancer For Cure he is on fire in both respects. A loose concept album about truth, lies and the systems in charge, C4C is an angry, socio-political tour-de-force that doesn't let up.
Music Video: "The Full Retard"

Beach House - Bloom
Although not the monumental forward leap Beach House's 2010 favourite Teen Dream was, the refinement in songwriting and subtlety in dynamic shift Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have made with Bloom is enough to make another special, unmissable effort.
Music Video: "Lazuli"

Dave Aju - Heirlooms
Using instruments and samples of his late father's jazz recordings as inspiration, Heirlooms is a compelling record of pristine microhouse and contorted funk from the mind and body of Dave Aju. Narrated with powerful, Sun Ra-like vocals, it could become a classic.
Track: "Ms. Reposado"

Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music
El-P's other concern in 2012 was to produce the entirety of Southern hip-hop veteran Killer Mike's R.A.P. Music. A career highlight for both figures, this unexpected partnership brings the classic album within Mike's grasp, and the recognition he thoroughly deserves.
Music Video: "Big Beast" (ft. Bun B, T.I. and Trouble)

Laurel Halo - Quarantine /
King Felix - Spring (EP)
After experimenting for a number of years, Laurel Halo releases her debut album on Hyperdub. It's beautiful yet threatening, vocal-led, science fiction-like ambient music, which takes her a step away from the equally fantastic Spring EP she released a couple of months prior as King Felix, which substitutes the vocals for intricate dubstep beats.
Track: "Light + Space" (from Quarantine)

The Walkmen - Heaven
Seven albums in and the Walkmen are showing no signs of leaving. Heaven may be their most mature and straightforward album to date but it's a card they play well, as the quality of songwriting here has arguably never been better.
Music Video: "Heaven"

Japandroids - Celebration Rock
If fist-pumping, no-nonsense, good old- fashoined rock and roll is your thing, then Celebration Rock is the album for you. These two Vancouver rockers keep their energy constantly high and their lyrics intense in their short but explosive second album.
Music Video: "The House That Heaven Built"

Hot Chip - In Our Heads
The best Hot Chip album to date also serves as the essential summer record, as each moment the dance-pop fusionists cram into its runtime provide a dizzying rush of everything great about the eighties, with a modern immediacy and euphoria.
 Music Video: "Night and Day"

Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel...
The multi-talented Fiona Apple returns with her fourth album after a seven-year wait, reminding the world the incredible powers of her challenging, introspective and confrontational songwriting.
Music Video: "Every Single Night" 
Ty Segall Band - Slaughterhouse
Ty Segall provides the ultimate garage rock monster, the first album recorded with his live band and yet another fantastic rock album for this year. Well, some albums rock, and some albums slaughter.
Track: "Wave Goodbye"
Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan
Refining his songcraft to its simplest yet, and abandoning the idea of concept altogether, David Longstreth has crafted a timeless album of unique moments, that form the latest chapter in the great American songbook. Essential.
Music Video: "Gun Has No Trigger" 

Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
A modern R&B classic, Frank Ocean's major-label debut continues the legacies of both Voodoo and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, via the sparkling vulnerability of Stevie Wonder. And thus, a star is born?
Single of the Week feature: "Pyramids"

The Antlers - Undersea (EP)
Proof, should it be needed, that the Antlers have enough ability and musical ideas to execute an EP of continuous themes and elegance, more than many other bands struggle with across a proper-length album. These are 22 minutes you'll want to return to.
Track: "Drift Drive"
Producer supergroup consisting of Hudson Mohawke and Lunice, this short but explosive, humourous and energetic EP shows what a real "dream collaboration" can make. Hip-hop's biggest names may have found themselves a new place to look.
Music Video: "Bugg'n"

alt-J (∆) - An Awesome Wave
A triumphant debut album, An Awesome Wave shows off all of alt-J's quirks through derranged vocals, innovative polyrhythms, smart songwriting and storytelling. Another great album for the summer and one with more than a handful of hits.
Music Video: "Breezeblocks" 

Liars - WIXIW 
"The sound of WIXIW is tense, brooding and claustrophobic; in short the exact result of a band using their previous experience to venture into unknown depths". For Liars "going electronic" doesn't have to be the sign of an ageing band running dry on ideas.
Music Video: "No. 1 Against The Rush"

Ab-Soul - Control System
Of all of the rappers and groups crossing over into the mainstream, there are fewer that suggest they could bring something unique, even necessary than Ab-Soul and Black Hippy. Control System is powerful evidence for both, that could only have someone with passion, humour and an unfaked quirkiness.
Music Video - "Pineal Gland"
Swans - The Seer
The Seer is a masterpiece for Swans, that genuinely does draw from all phases of Michael Gira's musical career: the sounds of a lush plethora of acoustic instrumentation, with the massive force of the central band unit. A sprawling, cinematographic album.
Track: "Mother Of The World"

Wild Nothing - Nocturne
Jack Tatum's lyrics, song structures and tasteful nods to his influences add up to a sincere talent, and there are enough musical ideas happening for the album to work satisfyingly well. Nocturne successfully bucks the "style over substance" argument for dream-pop out of the water.
Track: "Paradise"
Deerhoof - Breakup Song
The joy of Breakup Song is not knowing in what way it's going to go next. After you've realised the formula the album takes, it's simply a matter of following it's windy trajectory wherever it jitters. The message of Deerhoof has always been fun, but Breakup Song increases it's potency to unrelenting levels.
Music Video: "FĂȘte D'Adieu" 
Angel Olsen - Half Way Home
Half Way Home feels like a special album; a strangely nostalgic one at that. This is painful music, and Olsen makes no bones about wanting to break your heart. A welcome discovery, and easily ranks beside the best albums I've heard this year.
Single of the Week feature: "Acrobat"

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