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Because the Internet needs another album of the year list… 2012

January 4, 2013

Independent Label Market 2012

Hey below are my albums of the year – a Top 14 in no order, and then a whole loads of others that also aren’t in any order but are below the Top 14 but could be in the Top 14 if I had bothered to listen to them more. And then there’s a whole bunch that aren’t anywhere on the list as I either haven’t listened to them or they’re not very good.

I urge you <strongly> to check out the 405’s Album of the Year section as it’s superbly designed and full of great recommendations and hugely in-depth. I wrote the intro for it, which I have copied and pasted for you here but will only make sense if you check the aforementioned section on the 405 really.

“Every end of year list of recent times could have an identical opening, using the calcified template of “Well hasn’t this been a remarkable year for music?” and the introduction for 2012 is certainly no exception to this formula (for a number of intertwined reasons).

Access to music is at an all time high, in terms of the sourcing of music by the avid proactive listener, but also for artists themselves to get their work heard. Which is one and the same point, essentially resulting in a democratisation of the whole process. The pace of evolution in genres is extraordinary as they continue to fragment: the explosive pieces never settling in a constant state of flux, bouncing off one another at seemingly random junctures like super-charged electrons in a heightened case of causality, jumping between eras.

For every pillaging of past guitar sounds like Toy, there’s a Tall Ships. Experimental techno/idm climbs woozily into bed with wonky, as Actress blends a rich mélange of electronica styles – only to fall asleep where Wild Nothing delivers a pure slice of 80s dream pop. Visceral shit-yourself guitar thrashings by Swans co-exist with the electronic ambience of Halls. Chillwave is dead, long live chillwave-esque. Substitute those words with witch-house. Did they even exist, and does it matter? The result is an amorphous mixture of the flash fire ephemeral with the profound and indomitable; however you tend to describe it as, it’s a fucking exciting time to be a music fan, right?

The list we’ve created is technically a list of 25 albums, but also not. Acolyte readers will be aware of our penchant for the discovery and promotion of new music, and the idea for our end of year list is a continuation of this process in effect. So while we have our top 5, the basis for the rest of the list is for the albums included to act as a footstep for yourselves to become engaged in a related album, by way of our listening recommendation segued with a specific release.

We wanted to create something a shade more timeless that can be referred to in the future for you to enjoy further music, rather than as a self-fulfilling “Oh, here’s what we’ve got as Number 1”. An end of year list is for life and not just for Christmas, eh? The related albums aren’t auto-generated but instead are handpicked by ourselves; we’re not necessarily saying that they’re similar in genre or style, but something that we simply think you’d enjoy if you enjoyed that particular album. It’s about the music and that’s the way it always should be, not some almost arbitrary number adjacent to an album title.

Long-term, the plan is for this to be the foundation of our future end of year lists, and that next year the dots will be connected even further (with a super-laconic intro so it really is only the music doing the talking). We sincerely hope that this proves a useful tool and you go on to discover some formidable LPs that may have passed by your musical radar – and that you then go and buy them from your local record store like a good little benevolent capitalist.”

Toy @ XOYO, London 11/04/12

The Top 14

Actress – R.I.P.  It’s been hilarious reading reviews of the third album from Actress as reviewers attempt to grasp the cluster-fuck of genres it touches upon, yet despite this wild variation the whole package is still executed in such an intrinsic cohesive way. Kind of sums up the ridiculous melange of sounds in the music world currently in a microcosm.

Swans – The Seer Two hours of eviscerating guitar thrashing. Something of a magnum opus from Michael Gira.

Holy Other – Held  Immersive.

Wild Nothing – Nocturne Smoothly produced unadulterated 80’s pop – saccharine synths do their coruscating stuff, as Jack Tatum darkly swoons with a gaggle of mixed metaphors such as this one “velvet tongue so sweet” during TRACK OF THE YEAR ‘Paradise’.

Purity Ring – Shrines Creepy as fuck, in pop terms at least.

Andy Stott – Luxury Problems 

John Talabot – ƒIN

Liars – WIXIW I only just found out it’s pronounced ‘wish you’.

Laurel Halo – Quarantine Her debut on Hyperdub is a nebulous, pitch-bending force and a wholly engrossing listen.

Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It Not quite as Kleenex-grabbing (steady) as his debut Learning, but it’s still a mighty fine progression and an equally emotionally earnest riddled LP with an unnerving beauty.

Tall Ships – Everything Touching Best debut by a British guitar band since guitars got sliced-up after gently weeping.

How To Dress Well – Total Loss 

Scott Walker – Bish Bosch Still haven’t fully come to terms with this. I think it’ll be my favourite album of 2015.

Cold Pumas – Persistent Malaise

Echo Lake @ Camden Crawl 2012

The Rest

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

Blondes – Blondes

East India Youth – Total Strife Forever Technically not ‘released’ in 2012, but the world needs to know about the work of EIY.

Daphni – Jiaolong Dan Snaith is too talented.

Toy – Toy

Voices From the Lake – Voices From the Lake Wow, a techno album that needs – and gets – your attention from start to finish. Rich, nuanced, emotional – whack it in your headphones and get taken away.

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – Trouble Boy is it long (maybe even enormous) but it’s a dance album that a) works as a coherent package, where many others of it’s ilk fail and b) possess an astonishingly high hit-rate in terms of individual goodtime tracks. My go to album if I want something fun/going-outy/dancey etc.

NZCA/Lines – NZCA/Lines Missed out on a lot of lists. The curse of the early year release

Chad Valley – Younger Hunger When I freelance in places I often play music and people love this album as it’s so 80’s and they’re often children of the 80’s and they think it’s from the 80’s and it’s funny.

Kindness – World, You Need a Change of Mind One of the funnest albums of the year via an eclectic pop-disco journey and oddball antics. Again, somewhat overlooked..

Van She – Idea Of Happiness Actually no this is the funnest album of the year. A total electro-pop guilty pleasure, if guilty pleasures exist (which they don’t, just pleasures and nothing else stop apologising for liking something).

Dan Deacon – America

Ital – Dream On (Planet Mu)

Grimes – Visions A lot of debate over this. It strangely featured highly in many sites End of Year lists (scoring No.1 in some), whilst the inevitable backlash has stemmed from others lamenting it’s worth at all. For me it’s a decent pop album with a smattering of fabulous pop numbers, but certainly not consistent enough to warrant placing highly, but inventive enough to be included somewhere.

Vessel – Order Of Noise

Julia Holter – Tragedy 

Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles III They might be portentous assholes, but the duo have progressed with every album thus far, this time into new creepier territory whilst still sounding gargantuan.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! Oh! My! God!

Pinion – Engage From the Perc Trax label (home to Perc surprisingly). More devastating, brutal shit-yourself techno.

Silent Servant – Negative Fascination

Holly Herndon – Movement This is beautiful and weird, in the Laurel Halo-electronic mould.

Raime – Quarter Turns Over A Living Line

Led Er Est – The Diver Haven’t enjoyed as much as the New Yorkers debut album Dust On Common, though it’s still alluring in a bleak kind of way wrapped-up in a cold wave aesthetic.

Forward Strategy Group – Labour Division Yet more from Perc Trax…

Goat – World Music

Halls – Ark

Carter Tutti Void – Transverse

Holograms – Holograms

Friends – Manifest!

Check out my Tracks of 2012 here

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