I’m not going to pretend like I’m a professional critic who gets the opportunity to pore over every piece of music released in any given week, month, or year. Listening to music and playing music are both crucial parts of my life, hell that is my life, and that’s why I’m here. That doesn’t mean that I’m qualified to tell you “THIS IS THE BEST THING OF 2012, UNQUESTIONABLY”. When I was posting on LifeAfterNirvana regularly, I had gotten into a habit of dressing my articles as something they were not. I took on the persona of a journalist, someone with qualified and trained writing background who was dropping little bombs of musical knowledge on the heads of the uninformed. I’m dropping that pretense now. I’m going to write to you guys more personally. I’m going to write from the perspective of a student of music who enjoys communicating ideas, because that’s what I am and that’s what I do. I spend most of my time playing an instrument that I’m never going to play in the real world, rehearsing with people who may or may not find me compelling and worthwhile, reading about sports, and playing xbox. I’ve decided that if I want to write on LAN regularly again, it’s gonna be fun god dammit. If I try to make it some sort of career builder or trainer like I had originally, contribution just won’t happen any more. So here we go, I’m jumping back into the fold and I’m sharing with you, my friends or random internet stragglers, what I personally enjoyed in music this year.
My 15 Favorite Albums of 2012 –
1. Celebration Rock – Japandroids
Brian King and David Prowse have created an album that restores my faith in rock n’ roll. The genre’s energy, pulse, and unwavering yearn are pushed so heavily to the forefront, strapped to the backs of the 11th hour horsemen come from the north to spread the word of youthful longing, eagerness, and revelation from a pair of dudes pushing 30: hang on to your twenties.
2. good kid, m.A.A.d city – Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick’s album plays like a Spike Lee film. His city throws so much bile at an earnest kid trying to get along, a demon corrupting an otherwise decent person, attempting to mold him into something that resembles the harsh reality of its streets. Instead, Kendrick plays hero and tries to influence change on his oppressor.
3. There’s No Leaving Now – The Tallest Man on Earth
A songwriter cut from the mold of Dylan and Simon, the Tallest Man is a wizard at the helm of his wooden tool constructing elaborate lines of melodic bliss.
4. Shields – Grizzly Bear
No band has the command of texture that Grizzly Bear does. Their compositions are elaborate, sophisticated, nuanced, beautiful.
5. Valtari – Sigur Ros
Where Grizzly Bear hits with restraint, Sigur Ros pounds with ethereal bombast.
6. No Love, Deep Web – Death Grips
Rap’s punk rock saviors, MC Ride and Zach Hill have welcomed us to the new frontier of electro-percussive expression. An album tailor made for 2012.
7. Attack on Memory – Cloud Nothings
Hooks meet sludge. It’s 90’s emo for a new generation. The new pallbearers of angst.
8. Until the Quiet Comes – Flying Lotus
Jazz for the technologically savvy. An introspective look at electronic sound as art. A musician with a laptop.
9. Hope in Dirt City – Cadence Weapon
This is one of my favorites for its eccentricities – Weapon is a rapper with a poet’s grace and a musician’s fanaticism. His production is an eclectic mix of retro soul, AM radio, and modern glisten.
10. Bossalona – Fresh Espresso
Seattle’s best hip hop release of 2012. P Smoov’s production and flow has never been better. Rik Rude is Kemp to Smoov’s Payton.
11. Lord of the Fly – Nacho Picasso
The king of oddball raps, Nacho’s smoked out lines are a scrapbook of 5th grade desk scrawl and inner city fear. Blue Sky Black Death’s production is top notch.
12. Channel Orange – Frank Ocean
A crooner with indelible pipes. The notes he hits and the place from which he writes are worthy of the Grammy nominations, widespread critical acclaim, and fan adoration that Ocean has received.
13. Oshin – Diiv
A band exploring what a traditional lineup can do without the expression of clear lyricism. The music is paramount. It’s chillwave with guitars, but not shitty.
14. On The Impossible Past – The Menzingers
Another solid punk rock album. I like that these existed this year.
15. Detroit Revolution(s) – Clear Soul Forces
Carrying the torch of “conscious” rap, CSF spit like the classic groups of the 80’s and 90’s, but with Rugrats references.