Top 10 Albums of 2012: Staff Picks

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Top 10 Albums of 2012 Staff Picks

This year we picked up a lot of writers from all ends of the earth, and after a bit of persuasion, we decided to include the opinions of the many writers that keep this fantastic blog running day-by-day. Here are their choices for album of the year:

Writer: Jonathan Williams

Merchandise - Children of Desire

1. Merchandise – Children of Desire

It’s hard to truly define Merchandise’s latest release because reminiscing upon an LP such as Children of Desire is strange. Whilst the music itself feels fully stretched during the actual listening, the album is ultimately an intriguing blur afterwards. Boasting some of the finest instrumentation and the boldest vocals of the year, Merchandise was ultimately able to create a product that reaches full bloom by unorthodoxly making the listener strain. The tension builds through the album with immense amounts of energy, climax, and noise that leave those patient enough to fully experience Merchandise’s music both physically and mentally exhausted. And though the end result is mysterious and pleasing in itself, actually experiencing Children of Desire while it’s happening is what makes it so enjoyable. After all, it isn’t the destination that defines an adventure, it’s the journey. – Jon

2. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
3. Simian Ghost – Youth
4. Ice Choir – Afar
5. Captain Murphy – Du△lity
6. Lemonade – Diver
7. Toro y Moi – June 2009
8. Purity Ring – Shrines
9. Brothertiger – Golden Years
10. Tennis – Young and Old

Writer: Dan Rodriguez

Faded Paper Planes - The Matter

1. Faded Paper Figures – The Matter

Faded Paper Figures has put together a beautiful album full of breathtaking emotions, powerful expressions and gorgeous soundscapes. The Matter grabs you by the audible shoulders and spins you around tirelessly without ever letting you go. It is one of those memorable records that takes you to a different place and makes you experience new feelings each and every time you sit down to enjoy it. FPF and their album The Matter is my pick for album of the year! – Dan


2. From Indian Lakes – Able Bodies
3. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
4. Tame Impala – Lonerism
5. Grizzly Bear – Shields
6. Born Blonde – What The Desert Taught You
7. Kishi Bashi – 151A
8. Murs & Fashawn – This Generation
9. Flume – Flume
10. A Silent Film – Sand & Snow

Writer: Jared Cady

Purity Ring - Shrines

1. Purity Ring – Shrines

Unique, hypnotic, rhythmic, and effortless would be the most simple way to describe this work. Since forming in 2010, Purity Ring have finished their meteoric rise with the release of the much hyped album, Shrines. Originating from Canada, the band consists of Megan James on vocals, and Corin Roddick in charge of the instruments.

The album features incredibly good songwriting. The hooks are amazing and the lyrics are really something special, and dare I say, next level. Choppy beats with stretched vocals playfully build upon one another in a very self assured fashion. Whilst not exactly deep, it is definitely unique to the scene. At present, there are only a 2 or 3 other bands even somewhat similar to Purity Ring. One of those being the up and coming Glasgow outfit, CHVRCHES.

Built around its singles, “Ungirthed,” “Belispeak,” “Obedear,” “Fineshrine,” and “Lofticries,” it is strong from the get go. Despite being 11 tracks long, there is never a stage when a track feels like a filler, with all offering something to the overall experience. Despite the strengths of its singles, the track “Grandloves” stands out fantastically. – Jared

2. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
3. Metric – Synthetica
4. Santigold – Master Of My Make Believe
5. Grimes – Visions
6. Crystal Castles – III
7. The Rubens – The Rubens
8. Alt-J – An Awesome Wave
9. Flume – Flume
10. Grizzly Bear – Shields

Writer: Robert Treves

Metric - Synthetica

1. Metric – Synthetica

Where do I start, after a year of such interesting and distinguished music. 2012 has seen just about everything, from great breakthrough artists like Alt-J, to returning old timers The Shins, and newly reformed indie giants Bloc Party.

For me, Metric topped it this year with their amazing 5th record Synthetica. Emily Haines’ songwriting talents proved worthy of much recognition once again, after crafting one of the most consistent and well put together albums in recent years. Touching on strong emotions and an eclectic mix of themes the record really hits you where it intended.

– Robert

2. Mumford & Sons – Babel
3. The Shins – Port Of Morrow
4. Tame Impala – Lonerism
5. Best Coast – The Only Place
6. Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls
7. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
8. Alt J – An Awesome wave
9. Diiv – Oshin
10. Grizzly Bear – Shields

Writer: Jordan Welsh

Sigur Ros - Valtari

1. Sigur Rós – Valtari

In a year that saw so many new acts break through, one would do well not to overlook the return of an old favourite. Icelandic icons Sigur Rós reasserted themselves as emperors of the emotive with the release of Valtari. Despite no track being quite like the last, the album carries a palpable sense of humanity and tension throughout and has been hailed as one of the band’s best overall works. If this is indeed the last we hear from Sigur Rós, they’ve done themselves a credit in their finale. – Jordan


2. Wild Nothing – Nocturn
3. Beach House – Bloom
4. Cat Power – Sun
5. Mumford & Sons – Babel
6.Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon
7.Purity Ring – Shrines
8. The Lumineers – The Lumineers
9. Passion Pit – Gossamer
10. Atlas Genius – Through The Glass

Writer: Christian Turner

Jack White - Blunderbuss

1. Jack White – Blunderbuss

I’m a huge Jack White fan, so I was distraught by the White Stripes break-up back in 2011. However, when I heard the news of a solo record, I was overjoyed to say the least!

Blunderbuss was a great debut for Jack White; not only because he put together an incredibly well rounded record, but because he showed his abilities as a solo player by moving past the hand of his many ex-bandmates, and proved that he could create a great record even on his own ground.

What was most exciting to see though, was to see that White still had it after all this time. He really can do no wrong so it was no wonder that Blunderbuss was the first record I bought on vinyl. I have fond memories of the Stripes, and I look forward to making more memories from whatever else he puts out — especially if he continues to put out records like this. – Christian

2. Passion Pit – Gossamer
3. Father John Misty – Fear Fun
4. Right Away, Great Captain! – The Church Of The Good Thief
5. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist
6. George Barnett – 17 Days
7. Purity Ring – Shrines
8. The Killers – Battleborn
9. Propaganda – Excellent
10. Sufjan Stevens – Silver & Gold

Writer: Shawn James

Stalko - Grandiloquence

1. Stalko – Grandiloquence

After visiting a live concert of the band in Malta a few months ago, my infatuation with Stalko has quickly begun to flower for the resident folk group. Through their foot-stopping energy on-stage, to their 11-track album Grandiloquence, I have grown a sense of pride for my local indie talents.

With an album title that speaks more to a orchestral CD than a rough n’ tough folk album, it is best to assume that Stalko meant business when making Grandiloquence. While possibly one of the most under assessed albums of year, Grandiloquence draws high in comparison to Mumford & Sons‘ Babel on account of it’s full blend of folk instrumentation and ear-grabbing energy. However, while I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s a hot contender with Babel — being the masterfully produced album that it is — I can confidently say that it stacks up pretty well — especially for an album of at least half the budget. – Shawn

2. Sigur Rós – Valtari
3. The xx – Coexist
4. Wild Nothing – Nocturne
5. Grizzly Bear – Shields
6. Beach House – Bloom
7. Djano Django – Django DjangoGrimes
8. Tall Ships – Everything Touching
9. Grimes – Visions
10. Passion Pit – Gossamer

Writer: Ben McArthur

Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d city

1. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city

As 2012 draws to a close, I haven’t heard anything as powerful or focused as Kendrick Lamar’s major-label debut. Kendrick is as captivating and entertaining a storyteller as ever, using his unorthodox, engrossing lyricism to deliver some of the most thrilling bursts of emotion he has ever recorded. Tracks like “Money Trees” and “Backseat Freestyle” are some of the biggest bangers of the year, counter-balanced by more the sensitivity of “Poetic Justice” and “The Art of Peer Pressure.” And while this simple pop sensibility could be reason enough to love GKMC, Kendrick has taken his knack for conceptualism even further and put forth a truly meaningful analysis of his generation’s shortcomings. Each track acts as a sort of movie scene, tied together by skits featuring Lamar’s friends and family and ensuring an almost perfectly cohesive artistic journey. Good kid, m.A.A.d. city is proof that artistry in mainstream hip-hop is not a thing of the past, and that the genre may have found itself a new king. – Ben

2. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
3. The Maccabees – Given to the Wild
4. Jessie Ware – Devotion
5. Alt-J – An Awesome Wave
6. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
7. Badbadnotgood – BBNG2
8. Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes
9. The xx – Coexist
10. John Talabot – fIN
11. The Weeknd – Echoes of Silence
12.El-P – Cancer 4 Cure
13. Grimes – Visions
14. Tame Impala – Lonerism
15. Grizzly Bear – Shields

Matt Pendrill

Editor-in-Chief | View all post →