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Posted on by sam
Andrew’s Top 50 Albums of 2012 
50
Happy to You

Miike Snow

Happy to You

As polished as you’d expect from a band who have written and produced for the likes of Kylie, Britney and Madonna, ‘Happy to You ‘ mixes Miike Snow’s obvious pop sensibilities with their own idiosyncratic style. There’s an easy feel to the album that can often mask the creativity of the music but when you dig deeper you see that these seemingly straight forward pop songs are lavished in ideas.

49
Heaven

The Walkmen

Heaven

You know what you’re getting from The Walkmen. If you are already a fan of the band, there’s nothing on ‘Heaven’ that will grab you by the bollocks but there’s nothing on it you will dislike. At times the band almost sound too comfortable as they are so sure of their sound that they seem to toss off songs with ease. The Walkmen carry on doing what they do and why not when it can produce results like this.

48
ANX

Dark Time Sunshine

ANX

One of the most creative hip-hop acts around, ‘ANX’ sees Dark Time Sunshine push their sound into even more obscure places. There’s a whole host of genre’s here and the sneers that it’s a hip-hop album for people who don’t like hip-hop are unfair. It’s simply an album that fans of any genre can appreciate. How can that be a negative?

47
Iradelphic

Clark

Iradelphic

‘Iradelphic’ sees Clark make a notable shift towards a warmer and more human style of music. There are still out and out Electronica moments here but acoustic guitars and piano’s show a totally different side to what he’s done under before. Whereas ‘Totem’s Flair’ and ‘Turning Dragon’ left you pumped, ‘Iradelphic’  leaves you carefree.

46
Quarantine

Laurel Halo

Quarantine

It’s difficult to sum up an album when even after multiple listens you still have no idea what the fuck is going on. At times its undeniably beautiful but at times it’s beyond creepy. What’s really weird is that it often manages to sound both beautiful and creepy at the exact same time. ‘Quarantine’ came out in May and I am still no closer to figuring it out. Maybe that’s why I keep coming back to it.

45
Nude

The Irrepressibles

Nude

A hugely ambitious affair, ‘Nude’  is emotional to the point of disturbing.  Every sweat, tear and ache that Jamie McDermott put into this album  manages to stand out above the lush soundscapes his band create. The whole Gay thing is a side issue, whatever the desire The Irrepressibles 2nd album is an unbelievably powerful accomplishment.

44
http://www.itstartshear.com

Peter Broderick

http://www.itstartshear.com

The album title takes you to a website where you can explore the background of each song  but really the music speaks for itself. Many artists are currently undertaking the delicate, emotional singer/songwriter approach but few reach the genuine beauty that surrounds the best stuff here.

43
Classical Curves

Jam City

Classical Curves

“Fuck yeah”. That’s all I really want to say about this album. That’s how it makes me feel. When listening to ‘Classical Curves’.  I feel like I’m in a dingy club somewhere in London with sweat, beer and pills all around. Luckily though there aren’t any of the mandatory nobheads you’d expect to see at an event like this because the event is actually taking place in my head not in real life. “Fuck Yeah”

42
Skeptic Goodbye

You Won’t

Skeptic Goodbye

On first listens, the debut album from You Know sounds like everything else that you hear on the better radio stations at the moment. On closer inspection though the album reveals itself to have a great depth and a genuine emotional pull. The key to ‘Skeptic Goodbye’ is it’s simplicity. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before but it’s proof that authentic indie folk can still bring out the goosebumps.

41
The Revenant Diary

Mark Van Hoen

The Revenant Diary

Oooh, this is dark.  This experiment came about when Van Hoen found a recording of a track he did back in 1982. Memorised by the strangeness and simplicity of the track, he decided to produce his new album with the same equipment he used back in ’82. The result is one of confusion, paranoia and downright terror. Many attempts at doing this sort of creepy electronica come across as artificial but play this album in the dark at night  and you’ll soon know that those shivers down your spine are very much real.

40
The Orbserver in the Star House

The Orb & Lee “Scratch” Perry

The Orbserver in the Star House

Did you know that Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry can Funk out the Funk AND cast out the Punk? That what he says here anyway. As always Perry’s mental musings are as charming as a child speaking it’s first words and his teaming up with techno legends The Orb seems to have brought out a new life in both parties. There’s nothing life changing here but it’s a truly uplifting listen that begs to played on a Ice lolly sucking sunny day. And as Perry says himself “I am not a rebel, I am a donkey”. Yes indeed.

39
Jiaolong

Daphni

Jiaolong

The man also known as Caribou and Manitoba releases an album of out and out House beats that will fill many a floor. It’s plays out like a club mix with repetitive drum loops, bass lines and synth splashes going round and round. It’s impossible to defend it’s lack of origiality, it’s even more impossible to sit still to it.

38
Future Rhythm Machine

Auntie Flo

Future Rhythm Machine

You wouldn’t believe Auntie Flo are from Glasgow when you hear their Afrobeat grooves. That’s a testament to the music itself. Nothing sounds false, nothing sounds forced and the music always sounds refreshingly spontaneously  More importantly,whether you are listening to this at home or in a club you’ll still be jigging about like a big fuck off jigger.

37
One Day I'm Going to Soar

Dexys Midnight Runners

One Day I’m Going to Soar

Although a fan of Dexy’s, I have to admit that I thought this album would be a total bag of bollocks. The last time I heard a Kevin Rowland album he was stood on the front cover in drag and inside he was shouting other people’s songs at me. I thought he’d totally lost it but this shows he still has a lot to give. Similar in style to their brilliant 1985 album ‘Don’t Stand Me Down’, Rowland now sounds like a wily old fox who seems sure of who he is and keeps his overblown yodelling to a minimum. A surprisingly consistent effort.

36
Bloom

Beach House

Bloom

This is a big sounding record for Beach House. When you look back at their early low-fi work they really have come a long way and fast. The grandiose production on most of theses song can leave the album feeling a little one dimensional but when they get it right, they manage to produce the best Dream Pop since The Cocteau twins.

35
An Awesome Wave

An Awesome Wave

I originally dismissed this band as the latest over hyped act who would disappear before you could say ‘The Twang’. It’s a real grower though and it really doesn’t sound like anything else at the moment. The musicianship is a step above most of their Indie peers and each song continues to unravel itself after countless listens. Where they go from here is  anybody’s guess but they have the talent to be as good as they want.

34
MU.ZZ.LE

Gonjasufi

MU.ZZ.LE

Gonjasufi is one of the most original artists around. This short album sees him take his psychedelic Trip-hop into even more ghostly areas. The half finished and half arsed nature of the tracks on ‘MU.ZZ.LE’ add to the overall insanity. Is it just a collection of studio out-takes? Who knows, but it doesn’t really matter. What we have is a brief insight into the mind of a probable lunatic.

33
World, You Need a Change of Mind

Kindness

World, You Need a Change of Mind

How Kindness have managed to record an album that includes a Nu-Disco version of a Replacements song and a cover of The Eastenders Theme without sounding totally naff is something i’m struggling to understand. I suppose the undeniable cheesiness that runs throughout this album actually makes it work. It never takes itself too seriously, it’s catchy as fuck and deep down we all like the Eastenders Theme don’t we?

32
Illuminated People

Islet

Illuminated People

A totally mental record that uses Animal Collective as a clear influence yet never really ends up sounding anything like the band themselves. There’s a lot of styles and ideas here and whilst they don’t all stick there’s enough to make ‘Illuminated People’ one of the most enjoyable debuts of the year.

31
Beard, Wives, Denim

Pond

Beard, Wives, Denim

Kevin Parker and his Tame Impala team mates are all over ‘Beard, Wives, Denim’. Pond say they are not simply a Tame Impala side project and there are small but subtle differences to this band and the one they earn their crust from. It sounds more relaxed for a start. It’s the sound of a band going into a garage and playing psychedelic-rock songs off the cuff for the interest of themselves and no-one else. Luckily, their love of the music transcends to the listener.

30
Keepers of the Light

LHF

Keepers of the Light

This album is 2 and half hours long. A debut album that is 2 and half hours long. Idiots. In fairness this plays out like a compilation (which it isn’t despite some reports) and it’s no surprise as it combines the skills of 5 different producers. As with any album this ridiculously long, not every track will be to your tastes but there’s more than enough here to warrant it being the best Dubstep album of the year by a fair margin. Quite literally hours of fun.

29
The Belbury Tales

Belbury Poly

The Belbury Tales

How to describe this album? Try the soundtrack to a never made 80′s TV show about ghosts. It never takes it’s tongue out of it’s cheek for long enough to described as scary or creepy but it does paint pictures of nostalgic Saturday nights as a youngster where I would sit in front of the TV watching something I quite understand.

28
Here

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

Here

Edward and his Magnetic Zeroes go for a surprisingly stripped down approach on their 2nd album. Where the first album was the sound of 100 hippies travelling around the desert in a camper van, ‘Here’ is the the sound of them relaxing by a fire in the woods. The structure of the songs are the same but the atmosphere is totally different. A very intimate record that you didn’t see coming after their debut.

27
Black Is Beautiful

Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland

Black Is Beautiful

Horror music played on a Casio Keyboard that went out of production in the 80′s. Sounds shit doesn’t it? In practise, the artists formally known as Hype Williams have created by one of the most unique albums of the year and by far the most disturbing. Tracks with little structure with all but one unnamed, the lack of sense of ‘Black Is Beautiful’ is what keeps you hooked.

26
A Different Ship

Here We Go Magic

A Different Ship

Here We Go Magic are a band that I have expected to break through to the mainstream for many a year. Their Indie Rock sound has enough commercial quality to crossover to a wider audience. The fact they haven’t yet shows that either I don’t have a clue what I’m on about or the record buying public don’t. Or both. Or Neither. Anyway, this is another fantastic slab of Neo-Psychedelia pop tunes that will have you humming from the first track to the last.

25
R.I.P

Actress

R.I.P

An entirely different beast to everything  Darren Cunningham has produced before, ‘RIP’ is  a bewildering album in many respects. Almost every track sounds like a House song waiting to get out. It teases you into thinking the trademark pumping beats that Actress has become known for are about to hit you full square in the face before he brings them out of the picture again. It’s a strange, cold world that Actress has created with ‘RIP’ but it’s one you’ll keep going back to and return having discovered a bit more.

24
Melody's Echo Chamber

Melody’s Echo Chamber

Melody’s Echo Chamber

The passing of Broadcast’s Trish Keenan in 2011 was incredibly upsetting for anyone who had the pleasure of listening to her work. She will never be replaced but it’s nice to know her music is inspiring new artists to make great music. Despite the obvious influence it’s totally unfair to class Melody’s Echo Chamber as a mere Broadcast copycat though. Produced by Tame Impala’s workaholic Kevin Parker, this is a real inventive set of psych pop tunes that borrow from the past but leave you hungry for the future.

23
kin

iamamiwhoami

kin

The marketing technique this album used (anonymously debuting every song from kin via strange YouTube videos) raised interest in it long before its official release. Whatever way it happened, I’m glad I know about it. Talk of fellow Swedes The Knife is inevitable but there’s something more here that suggests we have a real talent on our hands. Jonna Lee doesn’t need the gimmiks anymore, she has arrived.

22
Beyond the Sea

Monster Rally

Beyond the Sea

I suppose the songs on ‘Beyond the Sea’ can’t really be classed as songs at all. Here we have 18 short erotic vignettes that create a mood rather than an album. Mirages of a time you never knew but can quite clearly envisage will fill your mind once you let yourself flow with the music as Monster Rally continue to delve into their record collection to create something fresh.

21
Put Your Back N 2 It

Perfume Genius

Put Your Back N 2 It

The production is ever so slightly more expansive and the voice seems less fragile but ‘Put Your Back N 2 It’ pretty much continues where Mike Hadreas left off with 2010′s ‘Learning’. It’s another hugely emotional piece that can leave you feeling hopeless such is the brittleness of Hadreas’ songs and performances. Every inch of his heart has gone into this and his songs will take as much out of you as he has put into them.

20
Galaxy Garden

Lone

Galaxy Garden

Making an album that sounds like it was recorded way before it’s time is hard to do without coming across as insincere. With ‘Galaxy Garden’ Lone perfectly uses the sounds of the past without making it seem cheap. It’s an album that harks back to the dancefloor days of the late 80′s and early 90′s with acid house, rave and Jungle all thrown into the pot. Somehow by using an array of styles from days gone by, Matt Cutler has created something unique in itself.

19
America

Dan Deacon

America

More insane fairground anthems from Dan ‘Deacy’ Deacon that confirms his status as my favourite Deacon since John. ‘America’ is Deacon’s most diverse album. The ear splitting manic video game style electro workouts that he is known for is counteracted by a more refined sound as the album reaches it’s climax. It plays out like a video game soundtrack but one that has moved on from it’s primitive roots and now has a genuine story.

18
The Something Rain

Tindersticks

The Something Rain

‘The Something Rain’ sees Tindersticks regain the spark and creativity that they slowly lost following the release of 1997′s ‘Curtains’. It’s a true mood piece, an album that takes you to an empty Jazz bar where you only have the barman for company. This is not just a return to form but an album that people will bring up when discussing the work of Tindersticks in years to come.  For a band with such a huge and grand back catalogue, that is some achievement indeed.

17
Valtari

Sigur Rós

Valtari

It’s not the best album of the year and it’s not Sigur Ros’ best album in any way but ‘Valtari’ still holds enough moments that make it the most moving album of year. When they get it right, no one can touch Sigur Ros in terms of sheer emotional power. This album is a close sibling to Jonsi’s Riceboy Sleeps’ project of 2009. These ambient landscapes seem wider than anything the band have done before and it’s a true thing of beauty. The band have done better and more consistent albums but ‘Valtari’ has more than enough of it’s own charm to triumph over pretenders to their thrown.

16
Celebration Rock

Japandroids

Celebration Rock

Listening to as much music as I do, I’m finding it harder and harder to tell one from anthemic Indie rock band to the next. What makes Japandroids stand out is the genuine excitement and energy their music possesses. Many a band sound excellent live but never capture that magic on record.  ’Celebration Rock’ is so dynamic that you are actually left wondering how they can replicate the rousing sound on this album into a live show.

15
Cathexis (Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Christ.

Cathexis (Motion Picture Soundtrack)

This is a soundtrack to a film about how Artificial General Intelligence transcends with human emotions. That should give you enough warning that this is an ambitious affair. The concepts of the pieces may be hard to comprehend but that’s part of the fun. The mystery of this music is what makes it so enchanting.Just like his former band mates Boards Of Canada did on ‘Geogaddi’, Christopher Horne has created a piece of work that transcends the music itself and makes you explore something deeper inside of you.

14
Visitors

Lazerhawk

Visitors

Daft Punk meet Kraftwerk in space. start sexually abusing each other and have a bastard child. That child is called Lazerhawk. Everything you’d expect from a modern day Electro House album is here. 80′s style Synths, nods to Disco and big fuck off beats but what really makes this album is the crisp, clear production. It manages to sound dated and yet at the same time futuristic. With ‘Visitors’, Lazerhawk has pulled out every Electro Cliché in the book and still made it sound fucking fantastic.

13
FEZ

disasterPEACE

FEZ

DisasterPEACE made their name in the creative but often criticised chiptune scene. A genre of music where the music to the original Snes version of Super Mario Brothers is one of it’s main influences is always going to labelled as gimmicky by some. What DisasterPEACE have produced with ‘Fez’ though is something that a fan of any music can get into. The soundtrack to a video game of the same name, ‘Fez’  may seem like standard chiptune fare but the beauty this album holds takes it much further than simple background music. The shadow of Warp records hold over this album as the mostly ambient pieces drift in and out of your mind to create a pure personal response. You don’t need to play the game to understand this. In fact, creating your own images with the music on offer may be the best option. ‘Fez’ is the best place to go in 2012 if you wish to drift somewhere else.

12
This Is PiL

Public Image Ltd.

This Is PiL

When I heard big Johnny Lydon was releasing a new album with Pil, I was worried. Not overly worried. Not like I would be if I’d been shot in the groin or couldn’t find my penis but worried all the same. This is a man who has spent the last 10 years carrying around the corpse of The Sex Pistols and appearing on reality shows alongside Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock Peter ‘The Asshole’ Andre. I can forgive the butter adverts. The reason being that the fee he got from them payed for this. ‘This is Pil’ might be the biggest achievement by any act this year. This is a band who haven’t got a record label, haven’t released anything worth listening to since 1986 and are led by a man who seemed to have become a caricature of himself. This really should have been a bag of shit but they’ve pulled the shit out of the bag. Vocally, i’d say this is one of Lydon’s best ever. There’s a genuine passion and feeling in the way he yodels above tunes that cover all the styles of Pil’s career. ‘One Drop’, ‘Deeper Water’ and ‘Reggie Song’ are songs that could quite sensibly be named in talk of the bands best ever tracks. It’s not perfect and at 65 minutes it’s way too long but against all the odds Lydon has pulled it off and in turn made us again realise why he is such an important figure in music. Long live Country Life Butter

11
Centipede Hz

Animal Collective

Centipede Hz

The hype surrounding ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’ probably came as much of a shock to Animal Collective than anyone else. A band that were once the best kept secret in modern Psychedelic Pop suddenly broke into the mainstream and everyone had an opinion on them. Not many artists in recent times have had to follow up an album as widely lauded as what’s now known as ‘MPP’. ‘Centipede Hz’ is that follow up and it’s……..it’s not as good. It’s not as cohesive, not as varied and unlike ‘MPP’ there are a couple of tracks you could do without. That said I am one of these that bought into the whole hype of their last album. It’s the one album from the past 5 years that I can comfortably put alongside my all time greats. The only failure ‘Centipede Hz’ has is that it’s not as good as one of the all time greats. Realistically it’s a genuine success. Another album by the Collective that is different to the one that went before it and another album that, after time, will be seen as an excellent addition to their body of work. Despite the copycats coming out in the past few years, there’s only one Animal Collective and when you compare this album to the stuff that came out in the wake of ‘MPP’, you soon realise how great they are.

10
In Our Heads

Hot Chip

In Our Heads

5 albums in and Hot Chip are proving to be one of the most consistent bands of their era. ‘In Our Heads’ is another slab of upbeat synth pop that may fly over you at first but after just a few listens it rewards you with chocolate covered delights over and over (ha ha) again. If you don’t like Hot Chip then there’s nothing here that will change your mind on them. It’s pretty much the same as what’s gone before but glossier and more expansive. If you are a fan though then there is a good argument that shows to be their best effort yet. Hot Chip have always been at their best when pounding out high tempo electro pop and there’s more of that here than on any album they have done before. ‘In Our Heads’ is played and sang with the same nod and wink that has set Hot Chip apart from their Synth Pop contemporaries over the past 10 years. There’s no great departure and it may need just one more true pop classic to make it really special but what we have is a consistent Hot Chip album with no fillers and a strong contender for their greatest achievement. For me that’s more than enough.

9
Isle of Dogs

Tigercats

Isle of Dogs

These cunts sound about 7 year old and their obsession with quirky Indie pop is something I’ve heard 484,356 times before mostly from bands who’s career died a death before they got the mandatory ’3 stars’ from Q magazine. Its music for teenagers who haven’t yet realised yet that life is a pointless ride of friendships with people you don’t like, relationships with women you hate and jobs you only do so you can make plans with friends you don’t like and women you hate.  Its really not music meant for me. At this stage of my musical life I am pondering the merits of Irish folk and making lists of my favourite ‘guilty pleasure’ songs (always a sure sign that you are out of touch with the Yoof) . Whilst all this goes on in my life, this album is a reminder that for all the pretentiousness I hold after years of listening to bands who’s members are clearly mentally, a catchy, twee, immature, free spirited  guitar pop album that says nothing to me about my life is sometimes all I want. If I’m being totally honest, I gain more enjoyment from this album than the last Radiohead one. Just don’t tell anybody. I’m supposed to be a serious music fan these days days

8
Lonerism

Tame Impala

Lonerism

Those of you who need to be at the height of cool to properly function (Hipsters, I think Hipsters call them) should enjoy this album while they can. A backlash is soon to be set upon it. You can’t simply do an album as widely revered as this and get away with it. Soon people will be saying how it’s just another Sub-Beatles tribute with no originality of it’s own. Of course, these people will be always be wrong. There’s no getting away from the sound of  60′s psychedelia (a term I must have wrote 100 times when reviewing stuff from 2012) but Tame Impala ARE different. There’s more to them than just influences from The Beatles and all the other bands from the Fab Four’s era. Wings for one. I only partly jest. ‘Mind Mischief’ is Macca on form in the 70′s. There’s nods to  The Flaming Lips, Queens Of The Stone Age and even Boards Of Canada. The opening to ‘Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Control’ is straight from the school of ‘Music Has The Right To Children’. There’s much more going off here than the future critics will have you believe. Just remember that next year when you’re defending this excellent set of songs.

7
Mature Themes

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

Mature Themes

After breaking into the mainstream with 2010′s ‘Before Today’, Ariel Pink has seemingly turned his back on further commercial success. ‘Mature Themes’ still has the strange synth pop moments that his previous release did but here Mr. Pink delves back into the lo-fi psychedelia of his early work. It’s all of the sounds from his career put together on one cohesive album. The lyrics are mental. ‘Blond seizure bombshells and the blowjobs of death/Bring on the bog and shemales hopped up on meth’ isn’t necessarily something you want to be found idly singing in your new girlfriend’s house. But you will because for all the madness inside this album (the incredibly diverse sounds, the Vic Reeves pub singer style vocals and of course the lyrics) it’s actually catchy as fuck. It’s a pop gem. No, thick people won’t covering stuff off it on X Factor but those who hear it will soon find themselves walking around their in-laws singing ‘Sorry said the fanny to the head/ one-eyed Willie’s ghost is dead/His booty’s somewhere out there in time, oh well’

6
Psychedelic Pill

Neil Young

Psychedelic Pill

I really didn’t know what to expect from this. The first track is over 27 minutes long for a kick off and in all honesty I haven’t truly loved a Neil Young album since ‘Ragged Glory’ in 1990. My confidence in Neil Young  was raised though with the other album he and Crazy Horse released this year. ‘Americana’ was sonically excellent. The tracks were all covers and I often tired of it before it reached it’s conclusion but I was charmed by the whole atmosphere of the album. With ‘Psychedelic Pill’  Young has taken that atmosphere and used it to showcase his own compositions. And it really works. It really fucking works. People claim that people praising artists as old as Neil Young (insert your own joke)are just harking back to the past and not looking for anything new. I say that if this album had been released in 1976, it would be held alongside ‘Tonight’s The Night’ and ‘On The Beach’. And really that’s all that matters. If I hear a batch of songs by any artist that moves me the way ‘Psychedelic Pill’ does then I don’t give a shit if they are 16, 40 or 120 years old. This album just does it for me. It’s like listening to a Young album from the 70′s and whilst that may indeed be ‘looking backwards’, when it sounds this good it would be stupid not to laud it.

5
The Silicone Veil

Susanne Sundfør

The Silicone Veil

Not may albums hit me as immediately as ‘The Silicone Veil’ did in 2012. That voice jumps out of the speakers as soon as she opens her big Norwegian mouth . It’s impossible to ignore. “She sounds like Bjork…..no hang on…. it sounds like Fever Ray, no…..Adele????” . Her vocals are so familiar yet so original. You can’t fail to be impressed no matter what the music is like. And in truth the music isn’t quite so immediate. It’s likely to be the voice that first drags you in but by the end it’s the music you are coming back to. There’s a complexity here that means you will still find something that perks your ears up after a thousand plays. The nearest I can compare Susanne Sundfor to is Bjork but realistically she has a voice all of her own.

4
Awash

Manual

Awash

The award for the ‘Album Cover hat Most Represents What Is Going On Inside’ goes to Danish Producer Manual. This 6 track Mini Album is a dreamy, ambient trip down  IDM Memory Lane as ‘Awash’ goes back to the birth of the most appallingly titled genre in musical history and puts his own stamp on things. This may all sound a little Clichéd and it’s true that Manual doesn’t stray too far from the sound he’s perfected since his debut e.p in 2000 but whilst it may not sound radically different on the surface, his blend of old and new sounds from his back catalogue create something different to what he’s done before. The usual early IDM influences are here of course but  there’s also subtle hints towards Brian Eno and Jon Hassell’s ‘Fourth World’ experiment. There’s an organic sound underneath the layers of snyths and pads that crate an emotional bond with the listener. That’s why ‘Awash’ succeeds and so many albums of this ilk fail. It’s a genuinely human album. It has a character and spirit all of it’s own and whilst ‘Awash’ may seem like something you’ve encountered before, once you get to know it you will see it’s very much it’s own thing. If only it was longer….

3
Be the Void

Dr. Dog

Be the Void

Simply put,  ’Be The Void’ is the most melodic and catchiest album of the year. You’ve heard it all before of course. 60′s influenced guitar pop with nods towards  psychedelia and every song seeming like a long lost take from ‘The White Album’.  Dr. Dog’s 7th album isn’t going to create a revolution. What it will do is have you singing your heart out. Some songs sink into the subconscious on early listens. Others you thought were dull soon reveal themselves to be just as energetic and tuneful as your old favourites. When an album can pull you in so many directions when trying to determine it’s best moment you know you have a winner on your hands. 47 minutes of pop bliss full of songs you feel you’ve known all your life. Not many will say this is Dr. Dog’s best album but that’s exactly what I’m doing. And not just that. In a year where 60′s guitar music seems to have once again found it’s way to the next generation, ‘Be The Void’ stands tall above the lot thanks to that old thing that many people forget about when making music. The Songs.

2
MA DOOM: Son of Yvonne

Masta Ace & MF DOOM

MA DOOM: Son of Yvonne

“A concept album about the mum of 50 year old rapper Masta Ace where he raps over recycled MF Doom beats at number two? Are you ill, sir?”. Maybe I am. Maybe this is just a mix-tape. Maybe it’s lazy just to rap over your favourite samples from Doom’s ‘Special Herbs’ series. It doesn’t matter. The facts are that this is an album with no fillers, a genuine concept to get lost in and one that  breaths new life into the already glorious beats. Anybody can relate to Ace’s stories past. You may not have shared the same life as him but you can still put yourself into the picture he paints with his lyrics. It’s really an album about childhood. A reflection of the past. That’s why these old beats work despite having been heard many times before. The samples are the backdrop to a story and act as the perfect soundtrack to Ace’s tales of the past. Think how you never heard ‘Perfect Day’ in the same way again after watching Trainspotting. ‘Stuck in the Middle with You,’ after Reservoir Dogs. “Unchained Melody’ after Ghost. The crafted animated adventures of the past Ace spits out mean that every song on ‘Son of Yvonne’ has the same effect. These samples are now forever entwined with Ace and his wordplay on days gone by. Here is a selection of great stories with a great soundtrack. No matter how it came about, ‘Son of Yvonne’ is a fantastic piece of work from the minds of two legendary artists.

1
Tempest

Bob Dylan

Tempest

It’s hard to imagine now but from 1977 to 1997, Bob Dylan’s musical output could not even be praised as patchy. One album in that period, 1989′s ‘Oh Mercy’,  gave critics and fans hope that there was something left in the Zimmerman tank but it turned out to be false optimism. Follow up  ’Under The ‘Red Sky’ returned to Dylan the unremarkable once again. Then in 1997 he released ‘Time Out Of Mind’. It came out of nowhere. Suddenly Dylan was making albums that could genuinely be considered great again. Soon after the release of ‘Time Out Of Mind’ he nearly died after contracting histoplasmosis. Rather than putting an end to his resurgence, it seemed to inspire him even more. The albums he released throughout the naughties were all well received by fans and critics alike as his sound harked back to old blues, roots rock and folk songs with Dylan’s ever intriguing lyrics giving listeners much to enjoy. ‘Tempest’ is the first Dylan album of the new decade. Musically it sounds just as out of step with modern times as his recent outings. That’s it’s charm. It doesn’t really sound like anything else I’ve heard in 2012. The ancient sounds and melodies take us to a different world in another time. A time before Dylan himself changed the musical landscape. Lyrically his wordplay is waspish. He sounds as ravaged and rueful with his tales of violence, murder and love as he did on ”The Times They Are a-Changing”. Of course that was a different Dylan back then. This one isn’t as relevant as that one. He doesn’t speak for a generation anymore. He doesn’t speak for anyone but himself. And make no mistake he still has something to say, more so than pretty much anybody else around. He is Bob Dylan after all. 35 albums in and he is still making music that you’ll take to the grave with you. He may not excite you like he did in the 60′s or have the same purpose as he did in the 70′s but he remains as fascinating. You’ll miss him when he’s gone.

Top 50 Albums of 2012

Written By Andrew Hague

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