Top Albums of 2012

Nicky Hug

Here are my top 26 albums from this past year. I had a hard time narrowing it down to even that much. 2012 was filled with great music and it was extremely difficult to chose one album over another.

The first five albums have a little explanation for what I liked about the album and why I picked it above other albums. Remember, I picked these based on my own personal preference which are obviously biased. I am not saying these were necessarily the most revolutionary, best technical, or most appealing albums of the year, I am just saying I liked these the best.

1. Love This Giant – David Byrne & St. Vincent
Most people won’t agree with this decision. Love This Giant wasn’t critically acclaimed but it didn’t bomb either. The most succinct way of summarizing the reception to this album by reviewers comes from some random review I read back when it came out: Love This Giant is exactly what you would expect from an album by David Byrne and St. Vincent. Everyone seemed to think this was a bad thing, and I’m not really sure why. Two of my favorite artists on one album? Two artists with a similar outlook on life and approach to their music? Sounds like a home-run to me. And it was. I think that a lot of the backlash against this album was on the heads of the reviewers. Many of these people expect a revolutionary, game-changing album. It isn’t that, and when they realized that, the reviewers dismissed it. This album sticks to the specialities of the artists behind it: weird and funky music, drawing on a range of influences. This sounds unlike any other album that came out this year, and is completely enjoyable throughout.

2. Shields – Grizzly Bear
If you’ve read my review of this album, you know my feelings on it. Joseph hated it, but I loved it. I thought it was a fantastic, driven album that kept me entertained and attentive for its entirety. It is akin to an onion, peel off one layer and you find another underneath. Repeat listenings only provide even further exploration. Additionally, it can be a perfect background album, interesting enough to sneak into the foreground, but not too distracting. It has been on constant rotation for me since it first came out, and I don’t see that ending any time soon.

3. Blunderbuss – Jack White
Similar to Love This Giant, many people might disagree with me about this choice. However, Jack White is among a few people that I really look up to. His approach to music has been a constant source of inspiration since his days in the White Stripes. His other bands, the Dead Weather and the Raconteurs, provided another side of Jack White but only added to his excellence as a musician. Blunderbuss continues this. Straddling a line between his rock and blues roots, while throwing in some country, the album explores the music that Jack White truly wants to play. In his other bands, there was outside influence on what was played, each band had their ‘genre’ and had to adhere to that for the most part. Also, in the Dead Weather and Raconteurs, White was not necessarily the primary songwriter. Here, he is able to play what he wants to play. He has few rivals in his mastery of the guitar and displays them here, whether he is playing the blues-rock of the White Stripes on “Freedom at 21,” or the toned-down “Blunderbuss”.

4. channel Orange – Frank Ocean
Unsurprisingly, channel Orange is making its way to the top of the majority of year-end lists. This has truly been the year of Frank Ocean, whether it was in his astounding performances (notably at Coachella) or his coming-out as the first openly non-straight musician in the hip-hop/rap genre or in the glowing reviews of channel Orange. From a purely musical standpoint, he deserves it. channel Orange is musically fantastic, Ocean shows off his vocal range and songwriting abilities on every song. His guest choices were on point, with Earl and André 3000 delivering fantastic verses.

5. The Idler Wheel is Wiser… – Fiona Apple
Having not heard much of Fiona Apple prior to this album, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I heard, blew my mind. Apple takes the listener through the depths of her twisted psyche, exploring lost love and other typical song material from a new perspective. Like Ocean, Apple spends a good part of the album showing her range as a vocalist while crafting engaging songs. Each listen adds to the quality of the album, and there is hardly a weak song on the album.

6. good kid M.A.A.D city – Kendrick Lamar
7. Local Business – Titus Andronicus
8. Swing Lo Magellan – Dirty Projectors
9. Lonerism – Tame Impala
10. Django Django – Django Django
11. Sun – Cat Power
12. A Thing Called Divine Fits – Divine Fits
13. Kill For Love – Chromatics
14. Gossamer – Passion Pit
15. The Haunted Man – Bat for Lashes
16. (III) – Crystal Castles
17. Bloom – Beach House
18. Coexist – The xx
19. Mr. M – Lambchop
20. Attack on Memory – Cloud Nothings
21. R.A.P Music – Killer Mike
22. Celebration Rock – Japandroids
23. Sweet Heart Sweet Light – Spiritualized
24. Until the Quiet Comes – Flying Lotus
25. Big Inner – Matthew E. White
26. Break It Yourself / Hands of Glory – Andrew Bird

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2 Responses to “Top Albums of 2012”

  1. Anna on December 18th, 2012 7:51 pm

    Hey wait what about that Lumineer album??
    I love that one and you told me about it!

  2. Ryan on December 18th, 2012 9:40 pm

    I love the Jack White, Frank Ocean, and Fiona Apple pick, but what about some love for Lana del Rey? She was one of the most talked about entertainers of the year, and Born to Die surely got people talking.